We live in a world of big brands, big names and celebrities, as is so wryly satirised in Ben Elton’s most recent comedy gold: Upstart Crow. In some ways, we have always had this culture. The gladiators of ancient Rome were much like the Olympic athletes we worship today. The Forum philosophers were no different to the TV personalities we watch now, offering advice on everything from sex to home-improvement.
But, the difference between our world and the ancient one (even going back only a hundred years or so) is saturation. There are simply so many more people than there used to be.
How then, can we find the gold, when everyone has a blog, everyone has a self-published book or song or film, and everyone is crying out to have their voices heard? It’s not easy, but one way is through simple recommendation. Who is being recommended and who isn’t? And who are people being recommended by?
This last part is so key. Many people I know blindly will buy anything which makes the Man Booker longlist, but really, only certain types of novel ever make it to that list, and often, they are books which are current with a particularly pertinent political or sociological theme. I’m not knocking that, but for me, timeless insight into humanity (I’m quoting Ben Elton again) is always preferable to a clever current opinion.
So, we all know who the big names are, but who are the smaller voices, no less valuable, no less insightful, but perhaps not as public as they might have been where they born 200 years earlier?
Here’s my list of 3 AWESOME independent authors, writing in a variety of genres, who I believe are worth your time and money and commitment. Please, take my recommendation and check out their stuff. Most of it is beyond reasonable in price – and all of it is excellent.
(in no particular order)
Recommended Title: Remnant (Book 2 of Crucible Series)
I became aware of Moira Katson’s work after discovering she had worked on City of the Shroud, a strategic video-game set in a fantasy universe. Her narrative was intriguing, complex and felt fresh, especially in a genre in which story is often put to one side. It was then I discovered her range of novels; I picked up Remnant (she recommended it for me) and was simply blown away by the pathos of it. She writes with a sure hand, offering immense insight into the emotional worlds of her characters. Always psychologically real, always exciting and focused, her narratives explode (sometimes literally) with surprises. Full of twists and sensitive prose which slowly seeps into your heart, she is one for anyone who loves SCI-FI or FANTASY with real human dimensions to it.
Recommended Title: Sick (Book 1 of the SICK Series)
Christa’s Sick series is incredible, and showcases her amazing feeling for character voice. Never a line out of place, an action out of sync, or an erroneous thought to be found. Like a method actor, she seemingly becomes her characters, rendering their voices in methodical prose which ensnares you. Her feeling for voice and character soliloquy never detracts from her sense of pace, however; her novels are dynamic and full of action. What’s more, she knows how to build and turn a twist, and even better, to impart the reader with Shakespearean dramatic irony. For anyone who likes PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR in the vein of King’s Misery and Finder’s Keepers, then Christa is the one for you!
Recommended Title: At the Edge of Night
I first became aware of Michael Bray when my story appeared alongside his in Dark Hall Press’s Technological Horror Anthology. I quickly realised that the energy and feeling of his prose set him apart, as well as his certain exploration of extreme human emotions: fear, desperation, suicidal depression, feverish madness, longing. Rather than coming across as cartoonish or exaggerated, as they often do in the hands of amateurs, these states are presented with subtlety and depth and speak to true human experience. This is, perhaps, Michael’s greatest strength and why his novels are becoming more and more widely read.
Mesmerising prose, fantastic characterisation and intriguing explorations of humanity’s underbelly: all good reasons to go for Michael Bray. I’m a particular fan of his short fiction, and hence, have recommended his 28 story collection At the Edge of Night.
I hope you all enjoyed this list. Please, let me know if there is anyone you would add to it. Let’s build a network of people, all sharing awesome innovative new fiction. It’s not about being hipster, it’s about finding what we like in a world where it’s hard to do that (because there is so much to find). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above list and your own favourite independents.
As always, you can follow me @josephwordsmith, where I’m pretty chatty, and tweet aLOT about 2000AD.
Have a great week peeps!