Dear Kindle: Do You Know What Science Fiction I Want to Read? (Part 2 of 2)



Happy Thursday!

Last week, the first part of this post went live. Today I'm back with a look at the science fiction box sets of books that Amazon/Kindle recommended. Plan to spend a little extra time reading this part, friends. It's a longer section of the list than the last and (because we're talking about boxed sets) the descriptions are a little bit longer.

A quick recap/overview of how this is going to work. In this post:
  • I'll tell you the name of the book/box set
  • How well the book/box set is rated on the platform I'm examining
  • A quick summary of the book/box set based on its description
A few extra notes that are pertinent to this examination/half of the post:
  1. In case you did not pick up on it in the title, this is the second of a two part post. I took a look at the top 25 recommendations total and there were a ton of box sets on the list, so I decided to split it in half.
  2. For my examination of all Kindle recommendations, I will be noting whether or not the book/box set is enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program.
  3. For the box sets, I will be answering the question of how much interest I have in it instead of whether or not I would add it to my to-be-read (TBR) list.
  4. All of the recommendations are presented in the order they appeared on the recommended science fiction books list. No, it did not occur to me until after I had downloaded a few first-in-series books, split the list in half and started writing summaries for the books listed in the first part that I had some repeat authors on the list. That is a BIG FAT OOPS on my part, and I sincerely apologize.
Ready to get into it? Good, because so am I!



* - available in ebook format through Kindle Unlimited program only

1. Surviving the Fall Box Set: The Complete Surviving the Fall Series - Books 1-12 - Mike Kraus* (4.6 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
This post-apocalyptic/dystopian series follows married couple Rick and Dianne Waters in the aftermath of a devastating attack that destroys all internet-connected devices in America. Rick gets stranded thousands of miles away from and must make his way back while Dianne holds down the fort.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not at all. I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm starting to burn out on the whole post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre.

2. Freedom's Fire Box Set: The Complete Military Space Opera Series (Books 1-6) - Bobby Adair* (4.6 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
In this alien invasion and colonization series, an interstellar war a generation ago has left the people of Earth enslaved to the alien race that conquered it. When a new alien race comes along with plans to annihilate the planet, Dylan Kane and other people are pulled into the fight - and given an unimagined chance to free themselves.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not enough to get me to click on the Buy Now button. Alien invasion stories aren't really my thing.

3. Jack Forge, Fleet Marine Boxed Set (Books 1-9) - James David Victor* (4.2 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
Unwilling Fleet Marine recruit Jack Forge turns into an top-notch soldier and inspired leader against hostile aliens in this series where one secret can turn everything upside down.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not much. I think the book description is what is killing it for me, though. What does that say about the power of a well-written description?

4. The Last Survivors Box Set: The Complete Post Apocalyptic Series (Books 1-6) - Bobby Adair, T.W. Piperbrook* (4.6 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
A post-apocalyptic series set 300 years after the fall of modern society, where wind-born spores are turning men into vicious creatures bent on destroying what is left and dissension amongst the survivors is on the rise, a mother must protect her son.

How much does this box set interest me?
Between the book description and the genre (post-apocalyptic fiction), the answer is an overwhelming no.

5. Adventures of the Starship Satori: Books 1-6 Complete Library - Kevin McLaughlin* (4.2 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
Former spouses Dan and Beth Wynn are reunited for adventures amongst the stars on the ancient Starship Satori, along with billionaire businessman John Carraway, rogue hacker Charline Foster, and former elite soldier Andrew Wakefield. This box set is - per the box set description - "the opening six-book arc" of a series with nine books released so far.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not especially. The description is too vague to give me a good sense of whether or not I would actually find it interesting. I'd have to go to the description for the books in the series, and that's more work than I want to do (especially for a post like this, where I'm looking at so many recommendations).

6. Mimic: The Space Shifter Chronicles Boxed Set (Books 1-9) - James David Victor* (4.4 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
Higgens, janitor on a galactic mining vessel and aspiring space engineer, and Mimic, a shape-shifting alien from a previously unknown race, become friends and fight to save Mimic's race from extinction.

How much does this box set interest me?
In spite of its classification as a space opera, this one interests me quite a bit. Higgens and Mimic sound like the kind of quirky, fun characters I like to read about.

7. Blackbeard Superbox - Michael Wallace*(4.8 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary: (from Amazon box series description)
In the aftermath of an interstellar war with an alien race, Captain James Drake is unjustly court martialed. But Drake won't go down without a fight. Rather than surrender, he'll lead his loyal crew into the frontier worlds to repair and rearm. Fighting the treacherous Lord Admiral Malthorne, Drake makes alliances with aliens and smugglers to clear his name and defeat treason in his beloved homeland.

(quick note: this box set is a combination of two series by the author - Starship Blackbeard and The Sentinel -  that set in the same universe)

How much does this box set interest me?
Not much. I don't know what else to say.

8. Lucky's Marines: Book 1-4 Complete Mission Pack - Joshua James* (4.3 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
A box set with four books out of a planned nine-part series about what happens after Marine Lance Corporal Lucky Lee Savage is ambushed behind enemies and left for dead. He's stuck with a handful of privates with no experience, a too-ambitious foul-mouthed AI, and no clue as to what is tearing a hole in the fabric of space-time.

How much does this box set interest me?
Based on the summary I just wrote? That would catch my interest. The first sentence of this box set's description on Amazon, however, killed it for me - "Like Jason Bourne had a baby with Aliens and raised it on Starship Troopers." I'll leave it to you to guess which two of the three movies mentioned destroyed it.

9. Capital Fleet: The Complete Ixan Legacy Series Box Set - Scott Bartlett * (4.2 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
About twenty years after the Ixan Wars, a fragile peace seems to have been established and no one wants to believe the alien race responsible for destroying it would come back. When Captain Vin Husher's prediction is proven right, he and his crew will have to fight an enemy armed with weapons no one could have imagined to save the galaxy from destruction.

How much does this box set interest me?
The description for the series, like many others, is pretty vague. I had to go to the three books in the series to cobble together the summary in this post. Based on the Amazon description for this box set and reviews which say the series is based in a universe established in a previously written series? That was enough to kill any interest I might have had.

10. The Colossus Collection Box Set: A Space Opera Steampunk Adventure (Books 1-4 + Bonus Material) - Nicole Grotepas * (4.0 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
After successfully fending off a murderer, Holly Drake finds herself in prison for defending herself. A mysterious figure is able to get her exonerated and released, but they have a job for her - steal a priceless jewel before it gets moved off planet. Only problem? Holly's not a master thief.

How much does this box set interest me?
Quite a bit. I'm really enjoying the steampunk genre as a whole at the moment. Also, how is this the first steampunk box set recommendation they tossed my way? Hmm?

11. Atlantis Quadrilogy - Box Set (Books 1-4): Project Atlantis, Book 1 - Destination Atlantis, Book 2 - Colony Atlantis, Book 3 - Beyond Atlantis... - Brandon Ellis, Christian Kallias* (3.4 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
Books 1-4 in a five part series based around rebel archaeologist Kaden Jaxx and the events that unfold after he is forced to decode hieroglyphic writing on the pyramids of one of Jupiter's moons.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not much. The product description on Amazon mentions Stargate Atlantis (one of my favorite science fiction shows of all time) as one of multiple influences, which should be something that catches my interest. After reading reviews on the individual books in the series, Kaden Jaxx's backstory sounds like the writers tried to combine Major/Lt. Colonel John Sheppard from Stargate Atlantis with Dr. Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1. That kind of thing is a huge turn-off for me.

12. Navigator - The Complete Series - SD Tanner (4.2 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
When an alien species takes over the world, a group of humans has to use a new, untested technology to save it from Armageddon.

How much does this box set interest me?
I have no interest in picking up this series.

13. Gateway to the Galaxy Box Set Books 1-3 - Jonathan Yanez, JR Castle* (4.3 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary: (from the Amazon series description)
Frank and Marine Space Corps One find themselves across the galaxy in a WWE smackdown with the legions of a boss-level villain.

But the party’s just getting started.

He donned the mantle of a celestial knight to impress a girl, well, an empress. Now destiny’s calling in a debt.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not much.

14. Martian Quadrilogy Box Set: a Mars Space Opera Series: Books 1-4 - Brandon Ellis, Christian Kallias* (4.5 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
After aliens destroy humanity, they turn their attention to the last human outposts on Mars. Humanity's only hope of survival rests in archaeologist Ozzy Mack and the clues that have been buried in ancient Martian ruins.

How much does this box set interest me?
Not much. Also, is it just me, or has 'archaeologist on another planet' become a trope in science fiction?

15. Universe in Flames - Box Set (Books 1-5 + bonus Novella) (Earth Last Sanctuary - Ryonna's Wrath - Fury...) - Christian Kallias* (4.2 star rating as of May 2019)

Brief Summary:
Star Alliance pilot Lt. Chase Athanatos and his friends are looking for a place to hide so they can maybe not get annihilated after the Star Alliance is attacked. When their troubles follow them to Earth, they will have to fight for the survival of an entire galaxy.

How much does this box set interest me?
Again, not much. The "gods coming back to Earth as men" stories seem to be popping up everywhere these days, and while space opera/alien invasion could be a really good twist on it, it's not enough. That part could have something to do with my continued disgruntledness over Richelle Mead's incomplete Age of X series, though.



I mentioned in the preliminary conclusion section of the first part that I would be talking more about the number of KU recommendations in this post, so that's the point I'm starting at today for this part. Because 14 out of the 15 recommendations on this list are available electronically through KU (and 18 out of the 25 overall).

Let that sink for a second. Only one of the box sets recommended is not exclusive to KU.

If I felt like profit motivation was a noticeable factor in the recommendations with books, then I would have to say there's a similar motivation with the box sets. The only difference is that I think Amazon is trying to push me towards enrolling in KU as a reader. They're saying - "Sign up and you can read all these box sets for free."

(The KU program as a whole is complicated subject that I have complicated feelings about, so I'm going to behave myself for now and let you know that I *might*  write a Tuesday blog about all of it in the near future instead of sounding off here.)

One thing that occured to me this week - that should have occured to me sooner - as I read through box set descriptions is that Amazon might not just be pulling from their information about the books I've purchased to make their book recommendations. Multiple box sets specifically mentioned that fans of the Stargate Universe (including Stargate Atlantis) should also like the box set. I don't make it a secret that I am a fan of Stargate SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis, and I've watched episodes not available in my house on DVD through Amazon Prime Video. I doubt that's a coincidence.

To wrap it all up, the only thing that truly surprised me about the initial recommendation list was the number of box sets versus books. In retrospect, even that should not have been much of one. Retailers can be money-hungry beasts.

Lastly, I think recommendations are a great feature for websites, but they can only predict what you will be interested in based on the information they've been able to gather about you and others who use their website/buy from them/etc. No recommendation list is ever going to be perfectly tailored to your tastes. If my experience is any indication, a change in taste only highlights the disparities between how you feel and the information the recommender has about you.

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