Book Recommendations

These are the rarest of the rare. Not only did these books survive the rigors of ImmerseOrDie’s 40-minute treadmill challenge, they were also subjected to a full start-to-finish read and came out with flying colors. Books in this category carry the highest rating we know how to give: guaranteed not to suck.

With all the crud floating around in the indie publishing swamp, we hope you’ll help reward the few we’ve found who are doing it right—telling great stories and delivering them with outstanding production values.

IOD Jewels
Strictly Analog

Strictly Analog

In a world where everything is wired, sometimes you need a man who isn't.

In a decaying world where even your pet ferret has a live-to-net video feed, some problems require a guy who couldn’t leave a bit-trace if he tried. In that case, you go to Lomax. Ex-military, tough as nails… And strictly analog.

A compelling world that I couldn't help but slip into. It's a believable future with touches of grunge and decay that give this noir detective story a real bite of authenticity. Lots of fun.
—Jefferson

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Crimson Son

Crimson Son

A powerless boy. A missing mom. And a world of supers standing between them.

In a world where government-manufactured super-heroes have replaced war and terrorism as the world’s greatest threats – and it’s only source of salvation – there’s only one thing that sucks worse than having no powers at all. And that’s being the powerless son of the greatest hero of them all, and a prisoner inside the family fortress of solitude. For his own protection, you understand. Well, Spencer Harrington, son of the Crimson Mask, has had enough. He’s tired of playing by dad’s rules, and this time, he’s going to do things his way.

On one level, a straight-up adventure story, on the other, a fascinating tale about fathers and sons divided by their incompatible expectations of each other. Came for the action, stayed for the angst.
— Jefferson

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The Improbable Rise of Singularity Girl

The Improbable Rise of Singularity Girl

A girl just wants to have fun. Even if she's a computer.

A scientist’s life is thrown into chaos when a grad student’s suicide turns out to be more than it seemed, and ends up triggering a singularity breakthrough in AI computing. What follows is a tour-de-force adventure in politics, technology, and human achievement, with some epic smack-down battles to top it all off.

A welcome reversal of the usual AI story that gets bigger, badder, and bolder as it unfolds. Funny, engaging, and surprisingly well grounded in computer theory.
— Jefferson

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Century of Sand

Century of Sand

After a life of killing, can one old warrior fix a broken child?

An old warrior rescues a young girl from the clutches of an evil wizard and then flees with her into exile. It’s a desperate bid to find something—anything—that can put the world right again, and hopefully, undo whatever darkness has been done to the girl. His daughter.

With a strong blend of eastern and medieval images, this quest feels different from most other fantasies. A dark tale born from the traditions of Aladdin and Alibaba and the 1001 Nights, imagine a world that might have arisen from the Crusades and the Inquisition and then fuel it with dark magic.
— Jefferson

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Pay Me, Bug!

Pay Me, Bug!

A space-faring band of misfits do the impossible. Then go back for more.

Grif Vindh, Captain of the Fool's Errand, just pulled off the job of a lifetime: against all odds, he and his crew smuggled a rare anti-aging drug out of Ur Voys, one of the most secretive and secure facilities in the Empire of the Radiant Throne. It was every smuggler's dream, the "Big Score," and they find themselves filthy rich as a result.

And now they have to do it again.

If you miss Firefly, this is the kind of book that’s gonna ease your goram aches and lamentations, for a spell.
— Jefferson

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Mad Tinker’s Daughter

Mad Tinker’s Daughter

The girl in the mirror is real. And she needs your help.

In a dual reality, where people live free on one side, but are enslaved by aliens on the other, a young woman and her crew of renegades have formed a resistance of sorts. Armed with the bits of tech they can either steal or reverse-engineer, these few hope to change the world – both worlds – for the better. Or die trying.

A steam-punk Alice goes through the looking glass and finds her twin living in chains. How much awesome do you need?
— Jefferson

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The Journeyman

The Journeyman

Being dead sucks. Now for the hard part.

To Paul Reid, life as a homeless teen seems pretty bleak. But it turns out that was nothing compared to being dead. After an untimely accident takes him out of the world, Paul finds himself locked in a battle between the forces of light and dark – a battle that dark appears to be winning. And light seems too apathetic to care.

A horrifying vision of an afterlife consumed by bureaucracy, where a newly dead young man has to go up against the forces of death itself before he can rest in peace.
— Jefferson

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Untimed

Untimed

The kid who time forgot.

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

A fast-paced romp across history. Alice in Wonderland meets Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
— Jefferson

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Dark Matter

Dark Matter

Battling Nazis across time and space.

When a young man sets out to give himself a "beautiful suicide" and instead gives himself superpowers, I'm curious. Throw in a resurrected Nazi with similar powers trying to hunt him down and I'm full-on fascinated. But Dark Matteris more than just an intriguing premise. It has everything I look for in fiction: intelligent ideas, surprising twists, and a dollop of mystery, all delivered within a steady matrix of confident, evocative prose. Smart writing that tells a ripping tale? Yes please. 
— Jefferson

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The Vampire of Northanger

The Vampire of Northanger

Jane Austen's long-lost vampire novel.

I confess I haven't read Austen, but this modern re-imagining of her work—by translocating it into a world where vampires are real—makes me want to give her a try. My only fear is that her entirely vampireless exploits won't live up to the dark and nuanced ballet of inter-species manners that Anderson has fashioned from her more pallid offerings.
– Jefferson Smith

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Rust: Season One

Rust: Season One

Darkly disturbing - the way existential horror should be.

After being pushed in front of the subway, Kimberly Archer finds herself in an impossible town with a husband she's never seen before and a life she can't remember. The rain never stops, the phones don't work and the doctors think she's delusional. And that's on a good day.

Imagine Stephen King siring a love-beast upon the dead and moldering remains of HP Lovecraft. That's Rust. Right from the opening scene that leaves us questioning just what is real and what is not, Ruz plunges us full-screaming into the chaotic afterlife of one Kimberley Archer, who is either single and dead, or living in hell, unable to escape the devoted husband and child she has no memory of ever having met. This one will creep you out completely.
– Jefferson Smith

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Catskinner’s Book

Catskinner’s Book

Making a deal with the devil inside. Literally.

My most gripping reads are almost always the ones where the very premise itself grabs my attention in a choke hold, and such is the case here. Long-time loser James Ozwryck finally has a life: a small apartment, a regular job, and a steady income. There's even plenty of time for video games. It might not be much, but it's his. And to keep it, all he has to do is let a demon borrow his body from time to time. You know, to kill people. It's a pretty sweet deal. 
– Jefferson Smith

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The Girl at the End of the World

The Girl at the End of the World

Her fight begins the day the world ends.

For her fifteenth birthday, Scarlett wanted to see a movie. What she got was the apocalypse. Now, with her family dead, and the city a graveyard, Scarlett has no choice but to survive. Find food, find shelter, and maybe someone to help share the burden.
Unfortunately, not everyone who survived is looking for company.
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Pilgrim of the Storm

Pilgrim of the Storm

The savior of mankind isn't a man. He isn't even human.

Everyone loves an underdog story, but those usually involve human underdogs. This time however, our hero is a lowly insectoid boy named Sidge, born into a race of slaves but valiantly trying to make his way in the world of his human "betters." Instead of being lauded for his efforts to fit in though, his impurity has only made him a target of derision and abuse. Surely that will fade once he proves himself, right? All he has to do is to survive a dangerous cross-country journey at the mercy of the very people who seem to hate him most.
– Jefferson

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The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

A two-fisted, gunpowder punk must-read.

When a famous writer is murdered, his estranged son Ross returns for the funeral and is quickly plunged into the unfamiliar community of fantasy geeks and role playing nerds. And when he learns that the fantastical world of his father’s fiction actually exists, Ross quickly crosses over to hunt the killer down, but soon realizes that he may have jumped the gun, because now he’s lost in a world of gunslingers and monsters where the rules make no sense.

And he hasn’t read the books.

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Second Skyn

Second Skyn

They say you never forget the first time you die.

We've all seen the story of the hero whose consciousness is backed up on a computer drive and later re-animated into an unfamiliar world of the future. But what if he's reanimated the Tuesday after his death and charged with the murder of his wife? And then, what if later that same day he's reanimated again, only this time under his secret porn identify, and given the chance for revenge? I'll tell you what happens: awesome happens. Two versions of the same man, both investigating the same murder from different ends. And only one of them can live.
– Jefferson

If you enjoyed Altered Carbon, you'll love this.

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Malus Domestica

Malus Domestica

Small town evil, big city chills.

Most horror stories are lost on me. There are so many buckets of blood being shed by so many barely-glimpsed strangers that nothing resonates. Real horror, to me, is when terrible things happen to people I know and like. Especially if I can clearly see the long, slow, but inevitable arc of their lives sliding straight toward the wood chipper. I loved Hunt's Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, but would he hold up in horror? Well, it turns out I need not have worried, because the man is no quick-slash artist. He knows enough to give me an early taste of the stakes and then settle in to let me get cozy with the family before bringing out the knives. And the result was chilling. Forget the hags of Eastwick and Oz. If you want your witches to be really scary, put 'em right there in your home town and have them serve cookies to your kids.
– Jefferson
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The Somniscient

The Somniscient

When dreams are big money, who will be allowed to sleep? 

I'm a sucker for the science fiction of ideas. Give me a thought-provoking concept and wrap it up in a compelling story about the people affected, and you've got me halfway there already. Enter, The Somnicient. Have you ever wanted to be able to control your dreams? Maybe even write the script? But if that became possible, who would bother to write their own? In this chilling exploration of the near future, an entertainment technology giant dominates every facet of human life: from the dreams you dream, to the apps you use to talk about them. They even control the very currency of exchange. So the burning question now is: when dreams are big money, who will be allowed to sleep?
– Jefferson

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Salvage Trouble

Salvage Trouble

FTL is impossible. Unless you have a wizard on board.

When a simple salvage op becomes a rescue mission, Carl and his crew of space-yahoos get dragged somewhere they really don’t want to be—into the glare of official scrutiny—so it’s up to their resident FTL jockey and bona fide eldritch wizard to put down his beer and get them out of another jam.

For even better value, check out the 4-bks-in-1 Mission Pack.

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