You wouldn’t be hitting EoB if you didn’t appreciate smart, witty writing by smart, witty people.
That’s why, if you’ve inexplicably missed it so far, you’ll appreciate the fiction of Martha Wells. She writes with grace and concision, creating worlds unlike others you’ve read. Her characters are flashing quick, with ironic wit that will pierce your eyes. If words ever failed me, they would do so now. She’s good at what she does.
She’s generously posted on-line the entire text of her first novel:
I’d be neglecting your welfare if I didn’t mention that you can also command to be printed a paper copy of the book from Lulu. Paper is really what books are all about, us Net-heads to the contrary. And it’ll be easier for you to re-read it in a few years when all that remains is the memory of how much you enjoyed it.
The Element of Fire is justly considered a classic in the field. I will not risk over-selling it to you. You’re big, you know what turns you on. You can go to her site and try it out for free. When you’re done, then you can see about buying her other books.
You may want to consider perusing the rest of her site, as it’s packed with more chewy nuggets. She also actively maintains an open LiveJournal, and discusses the writing process in detail, as well as responding to specific questions.
I feel a need to make something pellucidly clear here. Martha is my friend, has been for several decades.
I’m not doing her a favor by mentioning her work today.