The best books that shove a sharp stick up the arse end of perceived reality

Who am I?

Born in the era of the space race and The Sky at Night I was entranced by the moon shots, and avidly read sci-fi and fantasy. An atheist, I became fascinated with world religions, largely due to my increased interest in quantum physics. Which seemed, with its explosion of light and energy from the void, to validate intelligent design. I discovered Gnosticism along the way, and found that it mirrored some of my own conjectures: That a creator may be flawed, misguided, or malevolent, and may not be the most powerful entity, or even the devil, in a pseudo underworld, with an unknown, all-powerful, entity beyond.

I wrote...

Lucifer's Child

By Gideon Masters,

Book cover of Lucifer's Child

What is my book about?

"Expert bodyguard required. High possibility of Death. Leave for foreign parts within the week. Three months or less. Dependent on ability to survive. £75,000.”

John read the psycho ad with incredulity. Against all reason, he found himself considering the prospect: He met the criteria: Thirty years a cop. He was an “expert”. Foreign parts? Who cares! Six-month prognosis? Time enough! Early death? No issue! She would remember the man of action he'd always been, not a cancerous and feeble cripple. £75,000 would nicely replenish the savings he'd taken from Helen, chasing non existent cures. He was in..! And so, the irrevocable chain of events were ignited, that would, ultimately, resurrect and rebuild John's psyche, and thrust him to the forefront of the salvation of humanity.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Nine Princes in Amber

Gideon Masters Why did I love this book?

Amber is the first shadow of a pattern drawn in the blood of its creator. A magical place of colourful and princely characters, full of plots, and intrigue. Endless shadow worlds of Amber, ripple out through infinity, stamping the multifaceted order of existence into all-encompassing oblivion. The courts of chaos (primal  embryonic birth-place of the creator) span the void. Unstable, violent, full of chimeric royalty, intent on destroying the pattern, and re-establishing the dominance of existence. Earth shadow culture and technology, are imortant to the princely magician Corwin (pretender to Amber's throne) in his war aginst chaos...

Despite its complexity, Zelazny manages to lace his dreamscape with copious quantities of wise-cracking humour, and somehow, creates a mesmerising world that expands the senses yet, is easy bedtime reading.

By Roger Zelazny,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Nine Princes in Amber as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most revered names in sf and fantasy, the incomparable Roger Zelazny was honored with numerous prizes—including six Hugo and three Nebula Awards—over the course of his legendary career. Among his more than fifty books, arguably Zelazny’s most popular literary creations were his extraordinary Amber novels.

Now officially licensed by the Zelazny estate, the first book in this legendary series is now finally available electronically.

Carl Corey wakes up in a secluded New York hospital with amnesia. He escapes and investigates, discovering the truth, piece by piece: he is really Prince Corwin, of Amber, the one true world…

Book cover of The Dancers at the End of Time

Gideon Masters Why did I love this book?

Love this madcap romp into the ultimate future of humanity. A few humans with rings of power that tap the energy of stars, to nano manipulate environments and desires. Paradoxically, they are unempathetically innocent, decadent, and unconsciously cruel. They collect unsuspecting time travellers and aliens to place in their environmental menageries, for the display and amusement, and, hopefully, green-eyed jealousy, of their contemporaries. Prim Amelia Underwood, plucked from her mundane, strait-laced, Victorian existence, wins the heart of her captor and gains her rings. Unhinged by what she has experienced, her own realised imagination is horrifically spectacular, beyond anything the inhabitants can conjure, or compete with. And her adventures, back and forth through time, begin. Manipulated by the enigmatic imposter Lord Jagged.

By Michael Moorcock,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dancers at the End of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enter a decaying far, far future society, a time when anything and everything is possible, where words like 'conscience' and 'morality' are meaningless, and where heartfelt love blossoms mysteriously between Mrs Amelia Underwood, an unwilling time traveller, and Jherek Carnelian, a bemused denizen of the End of Time.

The Dancers at the End of Time, containing the novels An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands and The End of All Songs, is a brilliant homage to the 1890s of Wilde, Beardsley and the fin de siecle decadents, satire at its sharpest and most colourful.

Book cover of The Once and Future King

Gideon Masters Why did I love this book?

Who wouldn't want a serious dark age romance to open in horror, and then slip into the Disney landscape of the sword in the stone, before delivering a legendary and literary masterpiece? Make no mistake, this is a serious book from start to finish, capturing the full magical significance of the Arthurian legend, in a spellbinding story of incest, intrigue, plot, and counterplot, set against a heart-rending love triangle, and delivering a coup de grace ending, that is full of both despair and hope, for the future of England and humankind.

By T. H. White,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Once and Future King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Voyager Classics - timeless masterworks of science fiction and fantasy.

A beautiful clothbound edition of The Once and Future King, White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend.

T.H. White's masterful retelling of the Arthurian legend is an abiding classic. Here all five volumes that make up the story are published together in a single volume, as White himself always wished.

Here is King Arthur and his shining Camelot, beasts who talk and men who fly; knights, wizardry and war. It is the book of all things lost and wonderful and sad; the masterpiece of fantasy by which all others are…

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Gideon Masters Why did I love this book?

Everyone should read this book. No matter the knowledge we gain, our planet and our perceptions remain small. Despite being a light read, this highly entertaining and humorous book subtly expands our perception of reality, and undermines our prejudices and narrow-minded thinking. It turns existence inside out, with a lateral objectivity that consistently challenges inhibited thought. 

Jumping through spatial dimensions with the maximum improbability drive, powered by an improbably nice cup of tea, served by a manically depressed robot. 

An omniscient computer that delivers the answer to life the universe and everything, that is so simple it cannot be understood, except by a lady in a cafe, in Rickmansworth; who gets to tell no one, because the earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic by-pass, at the same time as she reaches her understanding. 

This all upsets the mice greatly.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

Book cover of Dune

Gideon Masters Why did I love this book?

We are small people on a small planet, but our imaginations are vast. A fact wonderfully manifested in this book by Frank Herbert. This story is populated with galactic civilisations who have explored every technological, cultural, philosophical, and spiritual backwater. Yet, still there is war, cruelty, and obsession with power. Evolution is in a cul de sac. A God's presence is required to achieve the next ascendant step into a stable future. The prophetic, genetically bred product, of Ben Geserit witches, Paul Atreides, could be that God. But he would lose his humanity and enslave theirs. Typically, every faction both fears, and wants to control, the power of any would be God. This is the dilemma (our dilemma) of human progression. Perhaps humanity should be careful what it wishes for. 

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

51 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

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Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…

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