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Reader opinions sought for idea I have

As longtime readers of this site are aware, there are a lot of gaps; important authors whose works are either entirely absent, or who are only represented by a handful of reviews.

I thought it might be interesting to pick one author who's under-represented in this way, and concentrate on reading every single F/SF title by that author I can put my hands on. In other words, get at least one well-known writer up here whose entire fiction output is reviewed. So I'd like suggestions of who you'd like to see given that focus.

People have, in a general way, made these suggestions before. They'll say I need more Iain M. Banks, or why the hell haven't I reviewed Dune yet, or that kind of thing. I thought I'd start this thread so all the requests could be concentrated in one spot.

So think about it. Send me either one name that stands out for you above all others, or send me your Top 10 list in order. Do it however you like.

Keep in mind that once I tally all the responses (as I'm not doing a traditional "click one" poll here, I expect every single response to have a different suggestion, but hey, that's forums for you) and decide who I'm going with, I will still be keeping up to date with all of my new and advance reviews, and reading the selected author's books inbetween. So you needn't worry I'm going to let the new titles slack.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Gene Wolfe, The Knight was good but The Book of the New Sun, dare I use the word, is a masterpiece.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

My vote goes to Banks, because I still can't wait for your review of the last short story in his The State of the Art.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I agree with Lex. Iain M Banks needs more coverage. Oh, and so do Joe Haldeman and Tim Powers.

While I'm dredging my memory for deserving causes can I recommend a few other authors from the UK? (I already think you do an excellent job of covering the UK publishing scene but I thought it wouldn't hurt to have a few other options). Anyway, some, and in some cases all, of the work from the following is worth a look:
Justina Robson
Neal Asher
Robert Holdstock
Ian Macdonald
Ian R Macleod
Mary Gentle
M John Harrison

Keep up the good work

Richard Hayden

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Gene Wolfe definitely

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

If I had my my choice I would say Robert Silverberg, but to read all of his stuff (especially before 1965) would be a waste of your time - I do believe that his middle period and all his short story collections should be read, however. What do you think?

I would aggree with Gene Wolfe but would also include:
Clfford Simak (unfairly forgotton)
Ursula K. LeGuin
Ian R. MacLeod
Cordwainer Smith
R.A. Lafferty
Fritz Leiber
Alfred Bester
Samuel R. Delaney
Connie Willis
Roger Zelazny

What about any of these?

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Sean Russell
Gene Wolfe

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

This is an author you need to read. Period. As soon as possible.

Alexander Jablokov.

I've only read his 'A Deeper Sea,' but that (and he) is something your database is sorely lacking. It takes place in 2015. A team of Russian scientists are trying to recreate the conditions in the past that made dolphins, among other things, talk to us. I wouldn't say it's giving anything away to say they succeed, espescially because that's revealed on the back cover.

I think you'll really like this novel.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

A follow up to my last one:

His fist novel is called Carve the Sky:

Here's Amazon on 'A Deeper Sea':

By the way, how do you hyper-link text so you can just click on it?

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Basic HTML hyperlinking tutorial.

Fantastic Fiction tells me Jablokov only wrote 5 novels, so he's a guy I could probably take care of fairly quickly. I know I have a copy of Carve the Sky around here someplace.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Hi, I know you have lots of books to read and as many reviews to write but I'm patiently waiting for some Gene Wolfe:)

Love this website! Keep it up.......

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Might as well throw in my two cents and suggest A.E. Van Vogt...especially since that's at least one author that hasn't been covered...also, Kevin J. Anderson (who I saw at Dragon-Con last year) completed what would've his last book...a sequel to "Slan" called "Slan Hunter". Unfortunately, van Vogt came down with Alzheimer's and was unable to finish it. Luckily, he left enough notes for Anderson to complete it.

Besides "Slan" I'd suggest "The Voyage of the Space Beagle" because a) it's being reprinted by Tor via its' Orb TPB reprint line and b) it served as a precursor to "Star Trek". Another Van Vogt book I'd recommend is "Cosmic Encounter", a later work (published in 1980) that has a pirate ship in the 18th Century deal with two spaceships from the distant future, one of which is a battleship crewed by robots. That one may be a little harder to find as it's not in print.

For a more recent author, I'd recommend Timothy Zahn (whom I also saw at Dragon-Con). Yes, he's become known for his "Star Wars" novelizations, but before that, he had already established a solid (if not spectacular career) in the field. In fact, he's probably the only author who doesn't have an official website, no doubt spending a lot of his finishing his next novel.

Anyway, a couple of his more recent and non-SW books:

Manta's Gift
The Green and the Grey
Night Train to Rigel & it's sequel The Third Lynx

In addition Baen Books has reprinted some of his early works...notably the "Cobra" & "Blackcollar" series of military SF.

That should do for a starter...hope this helps.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I have to chime in on Gene Wolfe. I am a relative newcomer to sci-fi. I just finished Shadow & Claw. Wolfe is a revelation. I am looking forward to the next two books in the series. I am sorry it took me this long to find him. This site is terrific. I now have a laundry list to read. So more Gene Wolfe reviews would be really cool. How about reviews of the better graphic novels ?

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Graphic novels I'm not into, though I've read a handful I like (they tend to be the alternative and underground ones, not SF or superhero). But with so many votes for Gene Wolfe, I will say...more is on the way!

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

There are so many to choose from, and most of the greats (past and present) are already mentioned. Here is my list of possible authors:

Michael Moorcock
Jonathan Carroll
Stephen Donaldson
K. W. Jeter
Ian McDonald
Richard Morgan
James Morrow
Christopher Priest
Geoff Ryman
Tim Powers
James P. Blaylock
Sheri S. Tepper
Karen Traviss

There were so many more I could have listed. It seems a shame that so many authors and novels will go unread in the average person's lifetime. We need to make sure that we pick and choose our reads wisely.

Personally, I would love to see a review of The Digging Leviathan by James P. Blaylock on this site sometime.

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Ok, I have another recommendation..."War for the Oaks" by Emma Bull. It's one of the most liked of the "urban fantasy" genre.

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How about Phillip K. Dick? It surprises me you have'nt reviewed any books by him.

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Oh my god, I can't believe I haven't seen any Garth Nix in here.

Garth Nix titles, in order of relevance and importance:
Shade's Children

Also, thanks for your review of Havemercy - I'm a huge fan of Jaida Jones' from her large body of work on the internet, and I enjoyed your perspective even though I'd already bought the book before I found this page.

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You're right about Nix. I've been wanting to catch up with him for ages. Especially as I've also heard very strong praise for his Keys to the Kingdom series. Thanks!

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I haven't actually gotten into his K2tK yet - I was mildly put off by the Dark Tower series and haven't revisited his more recent stuff since.

While I have your attention, I do have something of an odd question for you -- my focus in the world of sci-fi/fantasy has been relatively narrow up til now, and I was wondering if you could recommend any sci-fi or fantasy novels that capitalize on or otherwise incorporate elements of the Western genre? Futuristic space-cowboy stories a la Firefly are okay, though classic, real-as-corn Westerns are much to be preferred if anything comes to mind.

Oh, and thanks for putting Nix on your list. ;)

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Nothing I've read recently leaps to mind, though it occurs to me that Stephen King's Dark Tower series, with its protagonist the Gunslinger, certainly seems to incorporate Western iconography into its fantasy milieu. I haven't finished the series yet, mainly because I remember picking up book one way back in the day and being a little flummoxed/underwhelmed by it. I hear they get better.

If I can think of anything more I'll let you know.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Hm. Well I'm actually working on the Gunslinger series right now. I'll admit I had a similar reaction to yours initially, in spite of the fact that the storytelling in and of itself was oddly compelling. But friends swear by it, so I'm giving it a chance. *shrug*

Thanks for your thoughts, and do let me know if anything comes to you.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

A few spring to mind:
Ursula K LeGuin (any and all, recently "Lavinia" was extremely enjoyable)
Robin McKinley ("Sunshine", "Dragonhaven", etc)

These two authors were instrumental in my changeover from general young adult fiction to actual SF/fantasy "literature." They really deserve notice. McKinley is often pegged as a YA author, but this seems to be mostly because of a general lack of explicit sexual situations. The quality of the prose is as high as anything marketed to adults (often higher). That said, "Deerskin" and "Sunshine" are specifically released as adult titles because of certain aforementioned elements.
(It must be said however that because of your site I've discovered many authors that I hadn't read before.)

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Two writers immediately come to mind:
Iain M. Banks
Walter Jon Williams

The latter is vastly, vastly underrated. So underrated that alot of his stuff is out of print, unfortunately. :-( Check out his Dread Empire's Fall trilogy (which is in print) for space opera. For cyberpunk, check out Hardwired. Aristoi, Days of Atonement, Voice of the Whirlwind and Metropolitan are other standout novels (at least to me).

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Two great authors that you have missed are:

Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson.

Really good books...

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Sanderson is happening in September.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I am currently reading the first book in the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. Very, very enjoyable read so far. He has annotations of his books on his website, as well, so after I finish a chapter, I read the annotations for that chapter. It's a great way to get some insight into the author's mindset as he's writing and why he did things a certain way, etc.

I'm kicking myself for not discovering this guy sooner, seems like a great person as well as a good writer.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have


Just dropping in to give a huge thank you for the site, which has turned me on to a number of some of my now favorite sf/fantasy books. (A few duds too, but what the hell )

I noticed that you haven't reviewed anything by David Eddings, and I consider his "Belgariad" series and its sequel series "The Mallorean" to be at the top of the heap when it comes to pure reading entertainment. I share a lot of favorites with your 5 star list, so I thought you might like them.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Joe Abercrombie's trilogy would be nice place to start, it's been widely considered one of the best new fantasy writers in quite some time.

64 page sample of the first book (US edition)

Not saying he's one of the classics (yet), but it's one of those important writers that shouldn't be left out

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Dear Thomas,

Hardly a priority in relation to so many of the current authors listed here, but just wanted to remind you of Robert L. Forward (Dragons Egg).

I only do so because this is A.C. Clarke style SF at its very best in my view and I would just like others to have opportunity to discover this work. I am biased because of the impression it made on me 20 years ago but I believe this particular novel to be 'landmark' fiction for the SF genre.

Yours Sincerely,
Jim Parr

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I was somewhat surprised to see no reviews at all of books by Philip K. Dick or Ursula K. LeGuin.

1) Philip K. Dick (especially VALIS).

2) Ursula K. LeGuin (especially THE DISPOSSESSED and THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS).

In addition, while you have reviewed the following authors, I didn't see a review of the following titles which I think are excellent:


4) Neal Stephenson: THE DIAMOND AGE

5) Dan Simmons: HYPERION

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a relatively new British SF writer, published by Gollancz. His Stamping Butterflies and 9-Tail Fox are excellent examples of his stories combining story telling, 3D characters and Jon's own brand of using modern science without the reader noticing.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I know it's late, but let me put in my vote for Ursula K. Le Guin as well. And while I would not want to suggest that you go through all 46 of his books, some Jack Vance would be nice, too.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

SciFi is a wide genre of fiction that comprises creation of speculations from Science and Technology. I trend to prefer some categories of SciFi more than others myself; for instance Post Apocalyptical plots (William Forstchen's One Second After, Larry Niven's Lucifer's Hammer, etc.).

I think users would benefit from a classification of reviewed books. Here's an example:

* Set in the background of an alternative time line or history.
* Presence of aliens and outer space, super-humans powers
* Consequences of new scientific discoveries like cloning, mutation, genetic engineering, space travel, robots, cyborgs, telepathy and psionics.
* Exploring the different political and social systems between the present and the past by some scientific means.
* [...]

I also think that details about the books should be added to the site, i.e. number of pages, or duration (if audiobook), wikipedia link (if available, which often is).

Finally, I think the most important authors/books to review first would be those who received an award, i.e. Hugo and/or Nebula. And, in addition to the forums, it would be interesting to have (registered?) users rate books that Tom has read. Therefore, each book would receive 2 ratings, one from Tom and one from us, users.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

No question that the author you're looking for is C.J. Cherryh. She has written an amazing amount of fiction over the years in multiple genres, and all of it is worth reading, although in my opinion, you would do well to start (and possibly end) with those set in the Merchanter-Alliance universe. Since you haven't reviewed any of those particular titles, I think she is very poorly represented on your site.

My recommendation: start with "Cyteen", and go from there. Even if you choose a different author for this project, read Cyteen.

And, as long as I'm recommending, I see that you have not reviewed a single book by Connie Willis. "The Doomsday Book" won awards, but "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is my favorite of hers, and possibly my favorite book, period. Willis is an excellent writer, and would also be a good choice to investigate.

I'm shocked, frankly, that you haven't reviewed "Armor", by John Steakley. It's one of the best. He's written all of two books, I believe, so if you're feeling lazy, pick him for your project. :)

Last, Jim Butcher's "Alera" series is just as good as the Dresden files. Definitely worth reading.

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I went back and read the other responses.

I second the suggestion of Robin Hobb. The Farseer trilogy was very good. The rest are less so.

Also, I see someone else mentioning Neal Stephenson. Diamond Age is good, but Cryptonomicon is better. Since you like the Baroque Cycle so much, you really owe it to yourself to read Cryptonomicon.

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You mention that John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar is a masterpiece but you don't have a review. It would be wonderfully helpful if you did!

Stand on Zanzibar

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

Ursula K. LeGuin is quite possibly the most poetic and powerful SF/Fant. writer in history. Everything I have read by her has been top tier, and she sorely needs some representation on your website!

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David Brin - The Uplift Series - I'd recommend Starting with Startide Rising even though Sundiver was technically the first book in the series.

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One More - Utopia Hunters by Somtow Suhcaritkul, I read this book when I was 12 (I'm 30 now), and I recently found a copy in a used-bookstore, it stood the test of time rather well. I think the Author Stopped Writing SF, pity.

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In terms of an author whose entire body of work recommends itself as a whole, I would love to see a comprehensive review of Ursula K. Le Guin. I feel like hers is one of the biggest names currently absent from the extensive collection of reivews you've done.

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Michael Crichton seems to be a famous author. (I'm not really sure if he's considered a SF author, though.)
I've read a few of his books and they are generally entertaining. They also generally lack any type of character development.

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Stephen King, perhaps?

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How about books written by Tom Kratman alone? BTW, he has actually read the Koran and is very familiar with the Arab world.

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Michael Crichton and Stephen King generally don't interest me, though a number of people have encouraged me to try the Dark Tower series, and I may yet do it. I've read a number of King's books outside of my reviewing work, and while I think much of his early stuff is quite good (The Shining, 'Salem's Lot), for the most part, they tend to read the same, with the same stock characters appearing in almost every story. I tried reading Under the Dome but lost interest about 400 pages in. As for Crichton, I will always be a huge fan of The Andromeda Strain. But for the most part I consider him to have been a workmanlike writer of mainstream potboilers, some of which, like Jurassic Park, happened to be SFnal.

Re: Kratman. Considering that Baen does not send out review copies, and that dozens of other fine publishers do, and are generously providing me each month with enormous stacks of books to read and share, it is unlikely I will get to any of Kratman's solo novels any time soon. I certainly don't have an objection to reading work by someone whose politics or other views I disagree with, but I won't exactly put myself to any trouble to get my hands on it.

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How about Ursula K. LeGuin?

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Robert Jordan.

Ok, ok... for real?

Clark Ashton Smith

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

I see this thread is still open after three years, so I'll throw in some ideas.

Piers Anthony -- Macroscope

Isaac Asimov -- The End of Eternity, The Gods Themselves

Lloyd Biggle* -- anything

Algis Budrys* -- Rogue Moon

Glen Cook -- The Starfishers trilogy

Ron Goulart* -- anything

R. A. Lafferty -- anything

C. S. Lewis -- the space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength)

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle -- The Mote in God's Eye

Chad Oliver* -- Transfusion (a novella, IIRC)

Eric Frank Russell* -- Wasp (or anything)

James H. Schmitz* -- The Witches of Karres, The Demon Breed (two novels)

Clifford Simak -- Way Station (or anything)

John Wyndham* -- Re-birth

Timothy Zahn -- Spinneret

Roger Zelazny -- Lord of Light

* I consider these authors under-appreciated. Ron Goulart is known for humorous SF. And speaking of humorous SF, have you ever read The Butterfly Kid, by Chester Anderson and Michael Kurland?

Re: Reader opinions sought for idea I have

In case you're still interested in further input:

I'm wondering why you haven't reviewed the following titles yet:

"A Song Called Youth" (the "Eclipse" trilogy) by John Shirley (it will go back into print next year, which might be a good opportunity to review it)

"Schismatrix" by Bruce Sterling

and of course all the good stuff by Iain Banks (esp. "The Algebraist")...

Keep up the great work, you're a fine reviewer indeed!

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Are you still taking suggestions? If so I would like to suggestion the historical fantasy books by Juliet Marillier - most notably the Sevenwaters books (though those are just my personal favourites)

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Thanks for asking. Without a doubt, the biggest living name in Sci-fi- BEN BOVA

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