Top 5 Science Fantasy Series

Science fantasy is a genre that combines certain elements from fantasy and science fiction. Common elements include: robotics, wizards, spaceships, dragons, advanced weaponry, and magic. Popular subgenres are: urban fantasy, Gaslamp fantasy, space opera, dying earth, planetary romance, and post-apocalypse. Please refer to my Fantasy vs Science Fiction post for a more detailed analysis.

  1. The Corean ChroniclesLE Modesitt, JR.

This was the first set of novels I read by Modesitt and I was thoroughly impresseLady-ProtectorFinald. Modesitt is a fantastic storyteller and managed to effortlessly create a scientific yet magical world. The Chronicles follow the life and adventures of Alucius, one of the few remaining Talented. Corus is a splintered continent and is slowly decaying due to a lack of infrastrutuce. A magical disaster triggered the fall of a powerful civilization a millennia ago. Today, the citizens of Corus live in a world with contentious governments, strange animals, and a mysterious race of supernatural creatures. Since the fall of civilization, few people remember how to harness the magic of the land. As a result, only a few of the Talented remain. Once again, Corus is on the brink of major changes as the evil forces of Matrial mount an invasion. Alucius and his talent are one of the few barriers to complete and utter destruction. This series is well written and the narrative remains consistent through all the books. Unlike most series, I found all the books to be equally fantastic in their own right. There is little filler. I highly recommend The Corean Chronicles. It is best to read the series in order; otherwise most of the development in later novels will not make sense.

Reading Order:

  • Legacies
  • Darknesses
  • Scepters
  • Alector’s Choice
  • Cadmian’s Choice
  • Soarer’s Choice
  • The Lord-Protector’s Daughter
  • Lady-Protector
  1. The Space Trilogy-CS Lewis

This trilogy was also published as The Cosmic Trilogy. Lewis was a fantastic writer and few modern authors weave such intellectually stimulating novlewis_spaceels. Most people are familiar with Lewis because of his fantastic Chronicles of Narnia series. However, Lewis also wrote an amazing science fiction/fantasy story called The Space Trilogy. Nowadays these books have fallen into obscurity, which is a real shame.  A contemporary of Tolkien, Lewis drew upon his knowledge of Tolkien’s works, the Arthurian legend, Greek Mythology, and Christian Theology to create this fantastic trilogy. The trilogy follows the experience of Elwin Ransom, a British Professor. One day while out walking, Ransom is kidnapped and transported through space to a different planet. He manages to escape his captor and sets out on a journey to explore the planet and study the inhabitants. The first books, Out of the Silent Planet, serves as an introduction to Ransom and sets up his adventures in the next two books. These books are deeply philosophical and require multiple readings. The story explores the fight between good and evil as taking place on a universal scale and the repercussions caused by this struggle. Lewis maintained that each book is a standalone and can be read independent of the others. However, the narrative arc is much more rewarding if all three books are treated as trilogy. If you want a nuanced and thought provoking science fantasy adventure, these are the books for you.

Reading Order:

  • Out of the Silent Planet
  • Perelandra
  • That Hideous Strength
  1. The Dune Saga-Frank Herbert

This is a classic and groundbreaking science fantasy series. Dune, the first book, won the 196tumblr_neeagzmJuY1tpdqt1o6_4006 Hugo Award and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Also, Dune is one of the best-selling science fantasy novels of all time. Herbert had a difficult time finding a publishing house willing to take a chance on Dune. Over twenty houses rejected the manuscript. Then Chilton Books, known for auto repair manuals, took a chance and published the manuscript. The rest is history. Set thousands of years in the future, The Dune Saga explores an advanced civilization that has banned artificial intelligence but has developed highly sophisticated technology and pioneered advances in mental and physical abilities. This is a feudal interstellar society where each of the top noble houses control a planet and owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor. The saga follows Paul Atreides and his family. House Atreides is commanded to take stewardship of the troubled desert planet Arrakis. This planet is the only known source of the highly addictive spice drug mélange. This drug is important for two things: interstellar travel and life extension/ability enhancement. Whoever has control of Arrakis has the ability to overthrow the empire. The main narrative explores the politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human development of Arrakis. The majority of these books are excellent, though the last three are rather weird. Brian Herbert, Frank’s son, and Kevin J Anderson have written an equally fantastic prequel series.

Reading Order:

  • Dune
  • Dune Messiah
  • Children of Dune
  • God Emperor of Dune
  • Heretics of Dune
  • Chapterhouse: Dune
  1. The Thrawn TrilogyTimothy Zahn

No science fantasy list can be complete without mentioning Star Wars at least once. I ahtte_2m not a huge advocate of “fanfiction” book series. Though, I am partial to Kevin J Anderson’s Young Jedi Knight Series. A majority of the Star Wars extended universe fiction is not worth reading. However, a few of the Star Wars authors manage to create believable and engrossing stories. I have purposefully avoided the majority of the Star Wars novels; I only read ones that have been recommended to me. The Thrawn Trilogy is one of the best extended universe trilogies I have ever read. This trilogy begins five years after the events in Return of the Jedi and follows the campaigns of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn. The main villain of the trilogy, Thrawn is a blue-skinned, red-eyed general who steps in to lead the Imperial army after Vader and the Emperor are killed. The first book opens with the New Republic, the renamed Rebellion, fighting against the surviving remnants of the Imperial Resistance.  The leaders of the New Republic struggle to set up a functional government. On the fringes of the galaxy, Thrawn’s handpicked geniuses are slowly gaining strength and preparing to mount a devastating attack on the New Republic. After he convinces a Dark Jedi to join his forces, Thrawn is confident in his plan to overthrow the tenuous freshman government. Out of all the Star Wars series in print, this is one of the few worth reading.

Reading Order:

  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command
  1. Incarceron & SapphiqueCatherine Fisher

While this is not a series per se, I am including these two books due to the originality of theIncarceron plot.  Incarceron & Sapphique are young adult novels about Finn and Claudia, two rebel adolescents with ties to the Warden of Incarceron. In this world, Incarceron is a sentient and self-contained prison. The Sapienti wished to incarcerate all known criminals and repair their morals in order to create a perfect society. Seventy Sapients and all the prisoners were sealed off from the rest of the world in order to control all outside variables. The Warden was left outside to monitor the experiment and intercede if necessary.  The Sapients created Incarceron, a tireless automated overlord, to help exert control over and rehabilitate the prisoners. However, the experiment failed and all the prisoners are in danger because the Warden has abandoned them and Incarceron has no boundaries. Local legend has it that Sapphique, an exceptionally talented Sapient, managed to escape, but few believe this tale. The outside Realm is frozen in time after King Endor decreed that innovation stop in the 17th century. This prohibits the development of science, cripples the Sapienti, and delays the rescue of the prisoners. While not as engrossing as the other books on this list, Incarceron & Sapphique are an interesting exploration about the ethics and motives behind prison rehabilitation. Also, I have yet to discover any other book that casts a sentient prison as the antagonist.

Reading Order:

  • Incarceron
  • Sapphique

4 Comments on “Top 5 Science Fantasy Series

  1. Check out “The Volstovic Cycle” by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett. That will make your list when you’ve finished. 😉

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    • Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into the series once I finish slogging through my current literary adventures. 🙂

      Like

  2. Pingback: Week in review, week ending 11/9/14 | Random thoughts of 210Darryl

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