10 Things That Get Us in the Mood (to Read)

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.This Top Ten Tuesday, the theme was things that make us instantly want to read a book. There are lots of things that get us in the mood, but we’ve managed to narrow it down for you. (Mostly.) Note that this is a list from both Gracie and I but we’re not saying what belongs to whom. Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.






10 Things That Get Us in the Mood (to Read)


Monsters (and I’m talking proper *creatures*, not vampires and werewolves, thank you!)

If you put a Megaladon, a gigantic Squid, or even just some part of a monster like it’s ferociously intent eyeballs on the cover… I’m sold! Gimme. Gimme gimme gimme gimme.

Demons (or Possession)

Book cover for The ExorcistI may be an atheist, but if you tell me someone’s immortal soul is in danger, and some do-gooder is gonna have to go toe-to-toe with Satan or one of his minions? Let me grab the popcorn and I’m there!

Haunted/Haunting (or Ghosts. Ghosts is a good word too.)

Demons are the ultimate scary, but there’s something deliciously shiver-inducing about a haunted house (or car. Or anything, really.) The creak of a floorboard, the faucets turning on suddenly, a dark figure looming behind you when you look in the mirror. It’s all good. (And by good I mean terrifying, of course.)


Lovecraft / Cthulhu (Coolthulhu!)

Book cover for The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror by John Llewellyn ProbertIf you didn’t expect Lovecraft or Cthulhu to show up on this list, then you obviously don’t know where you’ve ended up. And you might want to back away slowly. Lovecraft’s mythos is legend, Cthulhu is awe-inspiring, and that is all there is to say about that.




The book cover for We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. TaylorI know, I know, I’m a walking cliche, but I love going into a book knowing I can anticipate a good shoot-em-up happening in space.  In terms of things that get us in the mood to read, you can’t go wrong with a long, strong phallic symbol getting ready to wreck death and destruction on some alien scum! *cough* Or a cute story about an AI named Bob works for me too.



Book cover for Tau ZeroYes, right on the heels of talking about phallic symbols, I’m bringing the word hard into it. However, I’m talking about hard science fiction, of course. So if you thought otherwise, well, we should be friends. That’s all there is to that.


Book cover for Book of CthulhuJust to prove I’m not a lecherous female (most of the time), we’re back to playing it perfectly innocent. I’m always drawn to collections of short stories whether they’re by the same author or a variety of authors. If it’s an anthology that has the words ‘Haunted’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Lovecraft’, or ‘Cthulhu’ in the title then it’s instant attraction.




Book cover for The Laptev VirusOooh, there’s just something about those words that make me happy. I don’t need it to promise death and destruction upon the world, of course (shut up, Coolthulhu Crew). But a breath-taking thriller starring something that needs to be stopped just in the nick of time, preferably by a smart-aleck anti-hero? Mine mine mine mine mine mine! (FYI, Laptev doesn’t have an anti-hero, but it’s still a bloody good read.)


Book cover for Shutter I love photography, so any time there’s a book with a horror or paranormal bent that involves cameras, I’m going to pick it up. I just have to. There’s not even a question about it. (I might pick it up and put it right back down after reading the back cover, but I am, at least, going to lift it from the shelf and cradle it gently whilst I peruse its prose.)


A Great Cover

Book cover for The Red TreeOkay, this isn’t a word or anything like that, but it’s true. There have been times when both of us have picked up a book we might normally not even look twice at just because the cover was so eye-catching. There are books I’ve carried home from the bookstore that I never end up reading, but I had to get it just because the cover was so shiny fantastically well-drawn or conceptualized.

Proof of Concept Review (Sci-Fi Drama)

Book cover for Proof of Concept by Gwyneth JonesProof of Concept: On a desperately overcrowded future Earth, crippled by climate change, the most unlikely hope is better than none. Governments turn to Big Science to provide them with the dreams that will keep the masses compliant. The Needle is one such dream, an installation where the most abstruse theoretical science is being tested: science that might make human travel to a habitable exoplanet distantly feasible.

When the Needle’s director offers her underground compound as a training base, Kir is thrilled to be invited to join the team, even though she knows it’s only because her brain is host to a quantum artificial intelligence called Altair.

But Altair knows something he can’t tell.

Kir, like all humans, is programmed to ignore future dangers. Between the artificial blocks in his mind, and the blocks evolution has built into his host, how is he going to convince her the sky is falling? – Goodreads

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We Are Legion (We Are Bob) Review (Hard Sci-Fi)

Title: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) | Series: Bobiverse #1 | Author: Dennis E. Taylor | Narrator: Ray Porter | Length: 9 Hours 30 Minutes | Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01L082SCI | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased | Purchase on Amazon

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad. – Goodreads

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Mission of Gravity Review (Classic Hard Sci-Fi)

mission-of-gravityMission of Gravity is a SF novel by Hal Clement. The title is a play on words, one meaning “the force which pulls” & the other being “extremely serious or important”. It was serialized in Astounding Science Fiction, 4–7/53. Its 1st cloth publication was in ’54. It was 1st published in paper in ’58. Along with the novel itself, many editions (& most recent editions) of the book also include Whirligig World, an essay on creating the planet Mesklin  published in the 6/53 Astounding. He published two sequels, a ’70 novel called Star Light & a ’73 short story called Lecture Demonstration. Mission of Gravity was nominated for a Retro Hugo Award for ’54.

For a profit & adventure, Barlennan would sail thousands of miles across uncharted waters, into regions where gravity played strange tricks. He’d dare the perils of strange tribes & stranger creatures–even dicker with those aliens from beyond the skies, though the concept of another world was unknown to the inhabitants of the planet of Mesklin. But in spite of the incredible technology of the strangers & without regard for their enormous size, Barlennan had the notion of turning the deal to an unsuspected advantage for himself–a considerable enterprise for a being very much resembling a 15″ caterpillar! – Goodreads

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Arkwright Review (Hard Science Fiction)

Arkwright: Nathan Arkwright is a seminal author of the twentieth century. At the end of his life, he becomes reclusive and cantankerous, refusing to appear before or interact with his legion of fans. Little did anyone know, Nathan was putting into motion his true, timeless legacy.

Convinced that humanity cannot survive on Earth, his Arkwright Foundation dedicates itself to creating a colony on an Earth-like planet several light years distant. Fueled by Nathan’s legacy, generations of Arkwrights are drawn together, and pulled apart, by the enormity of the task and weight of their name. – Goodreads

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Solar Express Review (Hard Science Fiction)


Solar Express: You can’t militarize space. This one rule has led to decades of peaceful development of space programs worldwide. However, increasing resource scarcity and a changing climate on Earth’s surface is causing some interested parties to militarize, namely India, the North American Union, and the Sinese Federation.

The discovery of a strange artifact by Dr. Alayna Wong precipitates a crisis. What appears to be a hitherto undiscovered comet is soon revealed to be an alien structure on a cometary trajectory toward the sun. Now there is a race between countries to see who can study and control the artifact dubbed the “Solar Express” before it perhaps destroys itself.

Leading the way for the North American Union is Alayna’s friend, Captain Christopher Tavoian, one of the first shuttle pilots to be trained for combat in space. But, as the alien craft gets closer to its destination, it begins to alter the surface of the sun in strange new ways, ways that could lead Alayna to revolutionary discoveries—provided Chris can prevent war from breaking out as he navigates among the escalating tensions between nations. – Goodreads

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Don’t Be Intimidated by Hard Science Fiction

This post is inspired by many of the conversations I’ve had over the last year or so when I’ve been talking science fiction with people. I think people are needlessly scared of hard science fiction. It makes me sad, because they don’t know what they’re missing out on. So we’re going to take a closer look at it today.

What is Hard Science Fiction?

Although there are many sub-genres of science fiction, most can immediately be identified in one of two broad classifications. Hard science fiction and soft science fiction. Many books combine the two quite well, but some can really only be defined as one or the other. Many science fiction readers have definite preferences when it comes to seeking out books in this rather vast genre.

Hard science fiction places emphasis on scientific accuracy within the work. Science must also play a solid role in the story itself. (Ie: The characters should probably face at least a few problems based in science – such as in The Martian.)While the amount of detail contained within a piece considered hard science fiction can vary quite a bit, it still has to have firm groundings in science. S. A. Barton covers this quite well in his article “I have to be a scientist to write hard science fiction, right?

Well-known hard science fiction authors include: Arthur C. Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Alistair Reynolds.

Soft science fiction is a bit more lenient in the technical / scientific accuracy department.  It has more of an emphasis on soft/ social sciences such as economics, politics, psychology, etc.  Soft science fiction novels are often what we would consider dystopian works. Some of the most well-known would be 1984 and Brave New World. However, that is not always the case. For example, Ender’s Game is a prime example of soft science fiction. Even though it’s based in space, and they’re training to fight an alien species, the story is really about what Ender Wiggin goes through  to become what they need him to be. It explores how isolation, alienation, favoritism, and sleep deprivation (amongst other things) can affect the mind and developing personality.

Well-known soft science fiction authors include: Ray Bradbury, Lois Lowry, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Hard Science Fiction Doesn’t Have to be Scary

From personal experience and conversations with associates, as well as commonly held beliefs, hard science fiction is definitely considered the most intimidating of the two main sub-genres. People often equate the term hard science fiction with veritable bricks of books filled with pages of physics and mathematics. In other words, not only do they sound intimidating but they also can sound boring to someone who has never read one before!

I know when I first heard about Tau Zero and read the reviews on it, I was very wary. It sounded intriguing, but “pages of mathematics”? No, thank you!  But I kept seeing it mentioned, and as I got more into hard science fiction I knew I needed to give it a try. What I found out was this, though: While it was quite heavy on the math, my understanding (or lack thereof) really didn’t make a difference in my enjoyment of the story.

This was also the case in The Martian.  “All the science” put off a lot of people from reading it. This is one of my favorite books. Do you know how much I actually understood of the science detailed ? About 30 percent, honestly. Weir established some baseline common-sense stuff, and he went from there. I had no problem just going along with a lot of the more technical information he got into, because I already knew from the stuff I did understand that he wasn’t shoveling excrement. (Sorry, I had to.) Again, my lack of complete understanding in no way impacted my enjoyment of the story.

Hard Science Fiction is Fun!

It also seems like a lot of the people who wax poetic about hard science fiction are able to talk about it in-depth. They have a firm grounding in the science expounded upon. They know why x and y happen when someone does z.  It’s not uncommon to find reviewers of hard science fiction that will pick apart the book for the mistakes the author has made. Is it because they just can’t resist pointing out the errors because they’ve got a bit of a teacher in them? Or are they doing it to display their intelligence? It’s actually considered a bit of a game to find the errors. I don’t necessarily see the fun in that because finding errors in books drive me nuts!

What I do know is that when I read a review that dissects a hard science fiction novel for errors, or expounds upon the technical accuracy, I still don’t get a sense for if it was any fun. And hard science fiction can be fun. Jack McDevitt’s Moonfall is a perfect example of this. In Moonfall, a comet is heading straight for the moon, where humans have just opened a moonbase. They have five days to try to get everyone that was on the moon (including the vice president) to safety, and to prepare the world for the havoc wrecked by the fallout of the impact. (If this whole “moon getting destroyed” sounds vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. Moonfall is better.) McDevitt’s work is solid in its science, well-paced, and full of action. They should have made this book into a movie instead of Armageddon or Deep Impact.

Now, there are some hard science fiction novels out there that are a bit less thrilling. One could even say they’re deadly boring. However, the entertainment factor has  nothing to do with the subject, and everything to do with the writing ability. In the hands of the right writer, hard science fiction can provide you with edge-of-your-seat thrills or it can ensnare your imagination. Take Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. It’s not exactly what one might call a thrilling, action-packed work. However, even years after reading it, I remember the sense of wonder I got from reading about the spaceship. The way I could perfectly visualize the interior. I remember being in love with the situation that Clarke put in front of me, and having my eyes opened to just how cool it would be to have a discovery like that actually happen.

Hard Science Fiction Doesn’t Mean Hard to Read

I think too many people are missing out on great books because of the prospect of not understanding what they’re reading. Or that they think it’ll be walls of boring technical data. A talented author should be able to keep his characters and story firmly rooted in hard science fiction without boring the reader to tears. Now, I think some talented authors can get lost to the fascination of what they’re writing about, and start writing less for the audience and more for themselves. When that happens, you get a bit of a case of word inflation and a lessening in the overall enjoyment of the story. (Again I’ll reference Seveneves and add  Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. Both are very talented writers that got a little too involved with their subject.)

You might have even already read books considered hard science fiction, and not even realized it! Consider the following two books.

Ready Player One


Did you know Ready Player One could be considered hard sci-fi? Well, the technology of the Oasis is very believable, isn’t it? From what we know of games like second life, and where we’re headed with virtual reality, it makes sense. Cline doesn’t go into huge amounts of detail on how Oasis works, but the fact is that we believe that it could work because it’s based off technology that we already have or are developing!

Ringworld is an interesting one. I initially had trouble believing that it could be considered hard science fiction, but I read into it, and it is plausible. There are some errors in the original novel that Niven corrects in The Ringworld Engineers. It’s not perfect, but it is a thoroughly entertaining read.  



Don’t be afraid to give hard science fiction a chance. It’s only as intimidating as you let it be. Also, remember that there’s absolutely no shame in walking away from the book if you’re not enjoying it. Too many good books out there to waste time on one that doesn’t thrill you!


Willing to give it a try now?  Check out this list to give you some ideas of what to read.

23 Best Hard Science Fiction Books




Book Spotlight! Rift (Rift Saga #1) by Andreas Christensen

Book Spotlight BannerCoolthulhu Presents a New Book Spotlight on:

Rift by Andreas Christensen

Rift Synopsis: (Scroll-box, as it’s a bit long.)

 In the ruins of what was once North America lays the Covenant, a nation forged by the iron will of the Moon people, who descended from their dusty refuge on the Moon after the Fall. The Moon people are wealthy, ruled by a strong government who protects its citizens from the dangers from outside their borders. Their greatest achievement is having learned the secret of immortality, and every citizen has the opportunity to live nearly forever if they choose to, a life of riches and abundance.

The English are the descendants of the original inhabitants of this place, and they live very different lives from that of the Moon people. They only live to serve the greater good, and citizenship is something few have the opportunity to earn. At the age of fifty all non-citizens are subjected to mandatory euthanasia. In order to maintain a sustainable society, they are told.

Every year a number of girls and boys at the age of eighteen are selected for Service to the State. The brightest and most talented are sent to become Students. The strong, the fighters and the athletes become Janissaries, a band of soldiers protecting the northern border from the enemies of the Covenant. The Wardens, a secretive organization known to operate far to the west, near the Rift, which makes up the border to the wastelands, sometimes choses one or two initiates, but nobody knows what becomes of them. And then there is the Corpus, where the whip rules and backs are bent.

Those who complete their Service, may become citizens. And although they will never be equal to the Moon people, they will have access to all the riches and opportunities granted by the Covenant leadership to its citizens.

As Sue is nearing Selection Day, she secretly hopes to be chosen, despite having to leave her mother and brother behind. She doesn’t crave glory or wealth though. A man or woman with citizen status can do a lot of good, and although few return to their home towns, Sue hopes to return to give her family a better life on the other side of Service.

But the Covenant is rotten to the core, and as she begins to learn its secrets, Sue must question everything she has always taken for granted. Soon she will find herself in dire peril, for she has seen the truth and there will be no turning back after that…

This science fiction dystopian trilogy is set more than two centuries after the events of Exodus, in a future dystopian society forged from the ashes of global disaster.


Publication Date: Dec 29, 2014

Pages: 259

Genre: Science Fiction

Where to Buy: Amazon – Its free! Grab it while you can!

Current Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Andreas ChristensenAndreas Christensen is an independent author with 15 distinct works under his belt.

His overall Goodreads Rating is: 3.85 (from 1,885 ratings!)

His Amazon page is here.

His website is: ChristensenWriting.com




TTT: Hard Sci-Fi Books Every Science Fiction Fan Should Read


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Top Ten Tuesday is brought to your screen courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is 10 Books every [x] should read. For once, I’m not going to do horror!

From Wikipedia:

Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy or technical detail or both.

This list isn’t going to just include books I’ve read, as I honestly haven’t read nearly as much hard Sci-Fi as I’d like. It’s also going to be at least half a TBR for me, as I constantly see some of these books being recommended to people who like hard Sci-Fi. However, I’m not going to tell you which is which! (Though if you don’t know at least one of them, then you obviously don’t know me well!)

Top 10 Hard Sci-Fi Books Every Science Fiction Fan Should Read

Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)The Andromeda StrainThe MartianSeveneves

AuroraRevelation SpaceContactSpin (Spin, #1)

Manifold: Time (Manifold, #1)Moonfall

  1. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir
  4. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  5. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds
  7. Contact by Carl Sagan
  8. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
  9. Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter
  10. Moonfall by Jack McDevitt

There are many lists of hard sci-fi books out there, and the same names tend to pop up again and again for a reason, I think. Even if the technology they display in their books is currently outdated, the books themselves can still be great reads. Now, there’s a few on this list that I’ve eyed and determined I’ll get to eventually, but what I’ve read of them kind of intimidates me, to be honest! There’s also a few on this list that I just honestly did not think were that great, but other people love. However, in terms of recognizable hard sci-fi, these seem to be the most ‘entertaining’ for what it’s worth. Books like Tau Zero could have appeared, but…nope. Nope. No way. Not happening. Math makes my head hurt and it is supposedly filled with mathematical equations!

Leave your lists, and your guesses on which ones I *haven’t* read below!