- Ursula Le Guin. It should not have taken this long for me to get around to reading Le Guin, but I’m glad I finally have made it – not least because now I have some half-glimpsed sense of what SFF has lost with her death. Her novels are thought experiments, character studies and things of wonder all at the same time. Even those that were published half a century ago feel fresh and exciting and radical.
- N.K. Jemisin. Mainly for The Fifth Season, which is the angriest book I’ve read since Kameron Hurley’s God’s War, and twice as textually tricksy. But I also enjoyed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which treats religion quite differently from most fantasy.
- Kim Stanley Robinson. I only read 2312 last year, but I’ll definitely be reading more of his work. 2312 is that rarest of things, lyrically-written hard SF, and it pushes at gender and sexual norms in a way that’s also extremely unusual for the genre.
- Hannu Rajaniemi. I can’t honestly say I understood The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, but they are gorgeous things, intricate and gleaming as cyberpunk clockwork. (That’s a thing.)
- Steven Brust. I’m not going to claim that the Vlad Taltos novels are high literature, because, you know, they’re not. But they know they’re not too, and that’s partly why they’re so much fun. And, in their own way, they push back against our expectations of high fantasy.
- Christopher Priest. I enjoyed The Islanders! I loved its Pale Fire-ish vibe – but I didn’t think it was that different from Pale Fire, either. Still, I’d be very happy to read more Priest.
- Samuel Delany. Another classic author who I feel I should have got round to a lot sooner. I was very surprised by Nova, and I’d like to read more.
- Ben Okri. I didn’t like In Arcadia. I did, however, like Starbook, very much; and, independently of whether I like his work, Okri’s clearly an important author who’s doing some very clever stuff with his prose and his ideas.
- Octavia Butler. So I’m still slightly side-eyeing some of Butler’s choices in Parable of the Sower (no a romance between an eighteen-year-old and a fifty-year-old is not appropriate) but, again, she’s a classic author with some scarily prescient things to say. (During Parable of the Sower a reactionary demagogue who wants to relax labour laws gets elected president of the US. I’ll just leave that there.)
- Iain M. Banks. Consider Phlebas was a little chilly for my taste, but apparently the Culture novels do get better, and Banks is good at conjuring that sense of wonder that’s difficult to get outside SF.
(The prompt for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)