3 book recommendations for May, 2022
Wow, thank you for the overwhelming outpouring of support for Reap3r.
When you’ve invested years of your life into writing a novel, it’s simultaneously exciting and really scary to finally set it free, so hearing what the story means to you means the world to me. I’m thrilled it’s resonating with so many of you.
Incidentally, if you want to interview me on your podcast or invite me to speak at your event or, you know, adapt the book into an HBO series or whatever, just hit reply and we’ll work something out.
And now, books I love that you might too:
Debt by David Graeber will reframe how you see the world by revealing the long and fascinating history of how moral, social, financial, and every other form of debt has shaped human affairs since humans became, well… human. Painstakingly researched and endlessly surprising, this is one of those rare scholarly books where the density of ideas is matched by storytelling that will suck you in and make you want to find out what happens next.
Exit Strategy by Martha Wells is a spacefaring adventure starring Murderbot—a sarcastic killer robot pressed into rescuing its human friends from the clutches of a predatory mega-corporation, even though it would really rather just cozy up and stream soap operas. This is escapism in the very best sense: it whisks you away into a compelling world populated by characters who genuinely care for each other and help each other grow even as they find the courage to face down overwhelming odds.
The City & The City by China Miéville is a murder mystery set in a European city that exists simultaneously in two parallel dimensions that inhabitants can flip between. This liminal geography is so richly imagined that, in many ways, the city itself is the protagonist of the story, challenging you to recognize the fundamental strangeness of everyday life on whatever streets you call home.
Bonus recommendation: When in doubt, raise others’ aspirations.
Things worth sharing (about Reap3r, to celebrate its release):
I’m a longtime fan of Robin Sloan’s mind-and-heart expanding novels and newsletter, so it was an absolute delight to open his latest missive and stumble upon this incredibly generous passage. Robin’s kind words made me reflect on how offering genuine, specific praise is a superpower that enriches the giver, the receiver, and anyone in the vicinity by pointing to something you love, and thereby calling more of it into being (that’s why this newsletter is all about pointing to books I love!).
Over on the Securities podcast, Danny Crichton interviewed me about Reap3r and writing near-future science-fiction. We recorded at a studio in West Oakland, a few blocks from where key scenes in the novel take place.
Seth Godin, bestselling author of Tribes, Linchpin, and The Practice: “Classic Peper. Fast-moving, thoughtful, classic science fiction. Ripped from the (very) near future, this is a rollicking and sometimes poignant thrill ride. Definitely a one-sitting book, so make sure you don't have work the next day.”
The same day he shared that review, Seth also mentioned my novels in a blog post about the “smallest viable audience”—an idea that has long informed how I publish.
Rebecca Hiscott, managing editor at Stripe Press: “I couldn’t put it down! I wanted to cancel my plans and spend an entire day reading it from start to finish, but managed to do it in two.”
Nathan Baschez reviewed Reap3r for Every, riffing memorably on the story’s underlying themes.
Brian Merchant, editor of VICE’s Terraform: “Peper is the reigning king of speculative thrillers.”
Christopher Brown, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy, and Campbell Award-nominated author of Tropic of Kansas, Rule of Capture, and Failed State: "Reap3r is a rarity in contemporary science fiction—a smart, engaging and deeply humanistic work of futurism that keeps the pages turning with the material of real life.”
Reap3r is my tenth novel, but my first time narrating an audiobook—which is an art all its own—so Brian Krespan’s glowing audiobook review made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Mariel Rošić hosted me for a special Interintellect salon about the power of speculative fiction—lots of group participation and a high idea-to-word ratio.
The Critiquing Chemist ran a wonderful review.
Eric Walker and Don Houts blogged about it.
Transfer Orbit and Locus included it in their roundups of new science fiction books.
Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter was one of the design comps we used for Reap3r’s cover, so this was fun to see.
Samuel Arbesman, scientist in residence at Lux Capital and author of The Half-Life of Facts and Overcomplicated: “Fast-paced and chock-full of ideas, weaving together scientific and technological wonders with deeper questions around the human condition—a delight from start to finish.”
John Carmack, creator of Doom, Quake, Oculus, etc. shared a passage that brought to mind the explosion in AI generated art.
Isha K. reviewed it in a lovely thread.
Eva Hagberg, author of When Eero Met His Match and How to Be Loved: “Peper has this ability to write about the future in a way that is at once completely recognizable and totally imaginary and extremely realistic and also optimistic while also being utterly compelling enough to galvanize our present—also, his books are just so fucking fun to read.”
Berit Anderson is one of those people who always asks questions that challenge you to think even more deeply about things you've been thinking about for years, so it was a joy to talk to her about Reap3r on the Future in Review podcast.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my writing and want to support it, invest in my creative process so I can do more of it. Oh, and tell your friends. We all find our next favorite book because someone we trust recommends it. Culture is a collective project in which we all have a stake and a voice.
Eliot Peper is the author of Reap3r, Veil, Breach, Borderless, Bandwidth, Neon Fever Dream, Cumulus, Exit Strategy, Power Play, and Version 1.0. He publishes a blog, tweetsmore than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.
"Reap3r is a gleaming near-future thriller in the tradition of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and P. W. Singer/August Cole."
-Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough