Summer is almost here! It’s time to trade in the platemail and Stormtrooper gear for chainmail bikinis and shorts and get on down to the beach. For a great day seaside you’ll need comfy towels, stylish sunglasses and thirst-quenching drinks, but that’s not all: you’ll need some cool books. Here, in no particular order, are my top five picks for this season’s fantastic beach reads.
1) War of the Spider Queen – Various Authors. (Vol. 1, Vol. 2., April 2012)
The Drow Elves of the Forgotten Realms are among the Dungeon & Dragons franchise’s most popular creations. Readers just can’t get enough of this secretive, often-evil race of subterranean fair folk dwelling in the Underdark metropolis of Menzoberranzan. While R.A. Salvatore’s Drow antihero Drizzt Do’Urden may have put the dark elves on the fantasy map, their world is a vast and treacherous one that is too big for just one story. A decade ago six books were released that would define the dark world of the Drow. That series was The War of the Spider Queen. This year our friends at Wizards of the Coast released a massive two book omnibus edition of all six books to mark the ten year anniversary of their release. Maybe I’m cheating a little bit by including all six books here as my number one beach read, but I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than finding a little shelter from the sun in the endless depths of the Underdark, but hey, it’s one series…and more importantly, my list!
2) The Third Gate – Lincoln Child. (June 12, 2012)
Whoah! A rugged adventurer and his team of researchers head deep into a foreboding African swamp in search of a legendary Pharaoh’s tomb that could hold an artifact of incredible power? Forget the beach, I want to read this one right now!
3) The Last Policeman – Ben H. Winters. (July 10, 2012)
Earth is directly in the path of a killer asteroid: an extinction-level event is unavoidable. While most people spend their time praying (or doing less pious things to mark their last days on Earth), Detective Hank Palace works to solve a murder mystery. It’s a seemingly futile gesture in a world that’s falling apart, but Palace has his reasons.
4) Railsea – China Miéville. (May 15, 2012)
In this homage to Moby Dick, a physician’s apprentice struggles to find his place among the rough and tumble crew of the moletrain Medes, a locomotive plying its way across the endless railsea in search of an elusive giant mole. Sailors and giant, subterranean rodents? It’s a perfect beach read, provided that you are able to keep from worrying about what might lurk under your towel…
5) Year Zero – Rob Reid. (July 10, 2012)
The intergalactic community became hooked on Earth’s pop music the moment it reached their ears. Now a backlog of music piracy fines threatens to bankrupt the entire universe, and the aliens are coming to Earth for revenge. Can low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter save the world? Author Rob Reid was involved in the creation of Listen.com, an early entry in the then-burgeoning world of online music, so suffice it to say that he knows his stuff. This should be a fun read.