The best science fiction and fantasy series that influenced me

Kyt Wright Author Of Sirkkusaga
By Kyt Wright

Who am I?

I was born in 1957, the year the Space Race started when the USSR launched its first satellite and grew up with astronauts and cosmonauts on the TV. Yuri Gagarin and Gordon Cooper were familiar names to me as a child but I only really started to take notice as the Apollo programme ramped up. Science fiction influenced me at an very early age with books like Kemlo and Tom Swift and, having pestered my English teacher with my embryonic works decided at seventeen to write my own novel. Some years later and just short of sixty I finally wrote Sirkkusaga and now have seven published works out there - as well as two anthologies.


I wrote...

Sirkkusaga

By Kyt Wright,

Book cover of Sirkkusaga

What is my book about?

Set in an alternate dimension following a catastrophic war it deals with the trials, tribulations, and life journey of a quirky singer called Sirkku (Sirki) Vigsdottir, and her lovers – both male and female. There are two books out at present and I plan on a further pair to complete the cycle.

The books I picked & why

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Triplanetary

By E.E. Smith,

Book cover of Triplanetary

Why this book?

I read these as a young teenager and loved them, they’re star-spanning, rip-roaring tales of civilisations pitted against each other across the universe. Triplanetary is the first book of the Lensman series but we have to wait until book two; First Lensman, for the arrival of the titular characters.

The good guys (Hooray! Including Earth, of course) have an advantage in that certain of them have been selected by the Arisians to wear a device called the Lens - which allows them to harness their mental powers against the Boskonians (the bad guys - boo!), who are assisted by the evil Eddorians.

It’s all good fun, and I admit to the stories having influenced me slightly.


A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs,

Book cover of A Princess of Mars

Why this book?

Written by the author perhaps better known for Tarzan, the series takes place on a Mars very different to the one we know and follows the adventures of John Carter who is mysteriously transported to Barsoom - where he finds himself a stranger on a very hostile planet. Of course, being an Earthman, Carter is stronger than the native Martians and soon becomes a powerful warlord with a winsome female partner.

When written, this was science fiction combined with sword and sorcery at the very dawn of the genre, it is perhaps gung-ho by today’s standards but as a callow youth I found them irresistible.


The Colour of Magic

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of The Colour of Magic

Why this book?

What can be said about these that hasn’t already been said? Obviously intended as an affectionate spoof on the fantasy genre, the Discworld has garnered a following as great as that of Tolkien (albeit with tongue firmly in cheek) and has covered virtually every subject known to man (and troll, dwarf, undead, etc.).

My favourite story is probably “Guards! Guards!” in which we are introduced to the cynical and hard-bitten captain of the Watch, Sam Vimes – along with his motley crew.

Another character of which I am particularly fond is Death, represented as the typical skeleton in a black robe with a scythe. Death always speaks in small caps and has a voice described as the sound of tomb doors slamming but despite this has an almost protective attitude towards humanity – he also likes cats.

Then there are the Witches… I could wax lyrical about the late Mr. Pratchett’s work forever but the best thing to do is read them yourself.


Rivers of London Vol. 1: Body Work

By Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan (illustrator)

Book cover of Rivers of London Vol. 1: Body Work

Why this book?

Urban fantasy novels following the adventures of a police officer called Peter Grant who discovers he has magic powers and is brought under the wing of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale - the last officially sanctioned police Wizard with the rivers themselves represented by various magical characters. The series starts as a sort of police procedural and is very enjoyable and easy to read.


The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume One

By Gordon Dahlquist,

Book cover of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume One

Why this book?

A three novel serial with tones of Victorian adventure and steampunk fantasy that sets three disparate characters against a mysterious cabal with influence in the government of an unnamed European country (possibly an analogue of Victorian England) – with the sinister glass of which the books are made able to record and play back real-life events (quite often sexual or violent) to be experienced (quite literally) by the reader.

Each chapter of the books are seen from the point of view of one of the main characters; Miss Celeste Temple – a stereotypical Victorian adventuress and heir to a fortune who finds herself drawn to both Cardinal Chang – neither a cardinal nor Oriental, he is a dichotomy, capable of extreme violence but with a decent side and a love of poetry; and to the Contessa – ostensibly evil, she is a beautiful, cunning and deadly woman who seems to pursue her own agenda

The last is Doctor Svenson – a military man who is dismayed by the failings of his employers and throws his lot in with the others.

There has been a mixed reaction to the series but I think they are fascinating and worth a read.


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