Today's recommendations are by Jack Campbell. Jack Campbell (aka John G. Hemry) is a retired U.S. Navy officer and the New York Times bestselling author of the Lost Fleet and Lost Stars series. His most recent books are The Lost Stars - Perilous Shield and the stand-alone alternate history novella "The Last Full Measure". Coming in May will be the next Lost Fleet book, Beyond The Frontier - Steadfast. He’s also written several SF novels as John G. Hemry (one series featuring Sergeant Ethan Stark and another, Paul Sinclair), and a lot of short stories.
- Madeleine Robins' Sarah Tolerance stories are noir detective stories with an alternate history twist (among other twists). Imagine The Maltese Falcon or The Thin Man set in Regency England, with an Agent of Inquiry (private investigator) named Sarah Tolerance whose mind is as sharp as the sword she wields with expert skill. Miss Tolerance moves from the lowest whore houses of London to the heights of society as she pursues mysteries, solves murders and avoids threats to her life. Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner are sometimes mistaken for Regency Romances, but anyone who likes a good detective novel where the hardboiled protagonist has to stir the dregs of society to find the answers to mysteries should enjoy these brilliantly realized stories. They'll also learn some sword play, since Madeleine Robins makes her fights as realistic as everything else about the period.
- We're coming up on the one hundredth anniversary of Fifty-One Tales by Lord Dunsany, which was originally published in 1915. He was one of the first writers of modern fantasy, and this collection of what are now called short short stories gives a good look at how brilliant he could be. The short pieces are sometimes moody, sometimes humorous, sometimes just plain beautifully written, but they are never boring. They don't feel dated, either, in their comments on modern trends that seem just as pointed and relevant now as they were when written (such as the vision of an angel angrily adding on to hell to make room for the marketers who sold unsafe food for children). You don't have to buy this book (it's available online in a variety of forms), and it's well worth the time to see a real artist of words at work. Just one of the shortest pieces in here, "After the Fire", sets out in three short paragraphs what others have used entire novels to try to say.
- The books in Kristine Smith's Jani Killian series (Code of Conduct, Rules of Conflict, Law of Survival, Contact Imminent, and Endgame) never got the attention they deserved, but they are still out there for anyone who wants an excellent read steeped in espionage and double-dealing that captures the reality of it all better than most thrillers set in the modern day. (They are real enough to make me wonder if "Smith" knows more about that sort of thing than she lets on.) The books accurately evoke the life of an undercover operative in a tale in which Jani never really knows who to trust and sometimes can't even tell who she herself really is. Aliens, interstellar travel and genetic engineering further complicate things. Jani is a great character in a great story. Kristine Smith is working at getting the earlier books re-released in ebook format and possibly POD, so keep an eye out for them.