[an error occurred while processing this directive] Good Books List - By Author

Good Books List - By Author, With Commentary

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Commentary on authors is gradually being added as procrastination from real work...

Abbott, Edwin A.

Flatland (non)

Flatland is of course the archetypal popular math book. Life in 2D has its problems... See also Dewdney's Planiverse and the lesser known sequel Sphereland.

Adams, Richard

Watership Down (fan)

Adams, Scott

Bring Me The Head of Willy the Mailboy (hum)
Casual Day has Gone Too Far (hum)
I'm Not Anti-Business, I'm Anti-Idiot (hum)
Journey to Cubeville (hum)

What can I say? Everybody loves Dilbert. Me too.

Akutagawa, Ryunosuke

Rashomon and Other Stories (fic)

Includes multiperspective short story that inspired Kurosawa's movie.

Albom, Mitch

Tuesdays with Morrie (non)

Allen, Roger MacBride

Allies & Aliens (sf)
Farside Cannon (sf)
The Ring of Charon (sf)
The Ring of Charon, The Shattered Sphere (sf)
The Shattered Sphere (sf)

Hard SF. The Charon/Sphere series is fun - a physics grad student screws up and the Earth vanishes. Puts my troubles into perspective...

Anderson, Poul

The Boat of a Million Years (sf)

The Boat of a Million Years is one of these large timespan novels - most of it is from a few thousand years ago til now, and the last section is in the far-distant future. So the it's a nonstandard blend - the first two-thirds is essentially historical fiction about a few people who find that they're immortal, and how they both hide and try to find others like themselves. Then the last part is the hard SF of their interstellar journey away from a future Earth which they no longer feel a part of, into the unknown.

A fine book - although I don't quite understand why the friend who lent it to me thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Chacun a son gout...

Arnason, Eleanor

Ring of Swords (sf)
The Sword Smith (fan)

I've also read Woman of the Iron People, but wasn't blown away by it.

Asaro, Catherine

Spherical Harmonic (sf)
The Quantum Rose (sf)
the Skolian Empire saga (sf)
the Skolian Empire series (sf)
Primary Inversion
Catch the Lightning
The Last Hawk
The Radiant Seas
Ascendant Sun
The Quantum Rose
Spherical Harmonic

The Skolian Empire series is a set of interlocking novels about the members of the Ruby dynasty, key players in a massive galactic political power struggle. The individual novels are far more standalone than most series. The telepath good guys are the only ones who can run the machines of a long-extinct empire that handle long-distance communication, but their empathic power also makes them prime targets for their Trader enemies. The backstory is that a few thousand years ago, Mayans were abducted by aliens and stranded on faraway planets. By the time of this series, the Terrans are a third political space-based empire, although they haven't been at the focus of any of the novels yet.

Which brings to mind the somewhat similar backstory of Patricia Kennealy's Celtic series, where Terrans of several hundred years from now are exploring space and are shocked to find an existing empire of Celtic druids that have both spaceships and magic. But Kennealy's Celts left Earth on their own ships when threatened by the spread of Christianity, rather than being abducted.

Atwood, Margaret

Cat's Eye (fic)
The Robber Bride (fic)

I keep meaning to read more by her, but haven't yet.

Austen, Jane

Emma (fic)
Persuasion (fic)

Another what can I say? Of course you've heard of her. She's somewhat like Miss Manners, in that she's snippy with maximum politeness.

Auster, Paul

Mr. Vertigo (fic)
Timbuktu (fic)

Mr. Vertigo is a somewhat surreal book about someone who learns (after much study) to levitate, one of my longstanding unrealized dreams...

Timbuktu is told from a dog's point of view, but Auster manages to steer clear of anthropomorphic sentimentality.

Baker, Kage

In the Garden of Iden (sf)
Mendoza in Hollywood (sf)
Sky Coyote (sf)

In the Garden of Iden is a time travel book mostly set in Renaissance England. A botanist is surprised to find the contemporaries aren't all as barbaric as she first assumed, when she falls in love with one.

Banchoff, Tom

Beyond the Third Dimension (non)

Mathematics for a broad audience - one of the best such books on 4D, with lots of pictures.

Banks, Iain

A Song of Stone (fic)
Complicity (fic)
The Crow Road (fic)
Whit (fic)

Same guy as Iain M Banks, but without the M it's not SF. These books all have a cruel/macabre streak to them, which somehow hits home more since they're in contemporary settings.

Banks, Iain M.

Against a Dark Background (sf)
Consider Phlebas (sf)
Excession (sf)
Feersum Endjinn (sf)
Inversions (sf)
Look to Windward (sf)
The Player of Games (sf)
The State of the Art (sf)
Use of Weapons (sf)

One of my favorite SF authors. Most of these books are set in the Culture, a future society with long-lived humans and refreshingly irreverent sentient machines. The AIs, ranging in size from wasps to moons, have great names. Although the Culture is a utopia of sorts, the books manage to be almost unremittingly bleak. I love them, although my mother objects to the fact that usually everyone's dead at the end. (The same could be said of Shakespeare...)

Inversions is (mostly) non-Culture, not quite up to the standard of the others, but with a similar theme - the interwoven stories of two people in self-imposed exile, dealing with the barbaric culture around them.

Feersum Endjinn isn't a Culture book, and took me a while to get into because the half of it in the voice of the main character is spelled phonetically. It's worth reading anyway, just persevere.

Bantock, Nick

the Griffin & Sabine trilogy (fic)
Griffin & Sabine
Sabine's Notebook
The Golden Mean

Whimsical correspondence between two people, in the form of postcards sent to each other between exotic locales. Mostly pictures, but a fun way to while away an hour.

Barnes, John

A Million Open Doors (sf)
A Million Open Doors, Earth Made of Glass (sf)
Apostrophes & Apocalypses (sf)
Candle (sf)
Finity (sf)
Kaleidescope Century (sf)
Mother of Storms (sf)
One for the Morning Glory (fan)
One for the Morning Glory (fan)
Orbital Resonance (sf)
Orbital Resonance (sf)

One for the Morning Glory is an idiosyncratic reworking of the archetypal fantasy story of the hero's quest. And a must-read for anyone who enjoys wordplay!

A Million Open Doors and Earth Made of Glass explore the culture shock of moving from one world to another, when travel becomes a matter of stepping through a portal instead of decades of ship travel. Earth's colonies comprise the Thousand Cultures, many of which are synthetic cultures inspired by works of literature, created by various eccentrics who sent off colony ships with idiosyncratic versions of "history" in their archives. The advent of the portals wreaks havoc with the self-identity of each of these cultures.

Orbital Resonance is a coming-of-age story, reminded me a bit of David Palmer's Emergence. (If I'm remembering it correctly...)

Mother of Storms and Kaleidescope Century are both near-future, but not related to each other. Didn't like them as much as the others.

Finity is the best novel I've read that uses the quantum many worlds hypothesis as a plot device, since Barnes doesn't let physics exposition get in the way of the story.

Apostrophes and Apocalypses is a book of short stories and essays.

Barton, William

Acts of Conscience (sf)
Dark Sky Legion (sf)
When We Were Real (sf)

In When We Were Real, the male protagonist escapes a matriarchal society to become a corporate mercenary, for lack of any better alternative. Reasonably bleak future despite functional immortality - people don't die of natural causes, but they can be killed -and often are, since the corporations don't put much value on human life. Nonhumans (cyborgs, gengineered "optimods", robots) are legally chattel, as are some humans. The flavor reminded me a bit of Ian McDonald's The Broken Land or Desolation Road. It's not the best book I've ever read, but it's the first book that I've read that rang true about the bleak psychological implications of extended lifespans - that it's not just an unbroken wonderland of eternal happiness, but that you'd often be forced to episodically rebuild a new life/home multiple times, often through circumstances not of your own choosing.

Beagle, Peter S.

The Innkeeper's Song (fan)
The Last Unicorn (fan)
The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and other odd acquaintances (fan)

Fantasy but not swords 'n sorcery. Gentle is a word that comes to mind...

Bear, Greg

Beyond Heaven's River (sf)
Blood Music (sf)
Darwin's Radio (sf)
Eon, Eternity (sf)
Eon, Eternity (sf)
Heads (sf)
Legacy (sf)
Moving Mars (sf)
Psychlone (sf)
Queen of Angels (sf)
Queen of Angels, Slant (sf)
The Infinity Concerto, The Serpent Mage (fan)
The Infinity Concerto, The Serpent Mage (fan)
The Venging (sf)

I've liked everything he's ever written. Mostly it's SF, except for the fantasy series of Infinity Concerto and Serpent Mage. Many of his books deal with the possible implications of nanotech. It's the focus of Blood Music, but forms the backdrop of some of the others.

Beard, Henry

Zen For Cats (hum)

Benford, Gregory

Against Infinity (sf)
Cosm (sf)
Eater (sf)
Matter's End (sf)
Timescape (sf)
the Galactic Center series (sf)
Across the Sea of Suns
In the Ocean of the Night
Great Sky River
Tides of Light
Furious Gulf
Sailing Bright Eternity

The Galactic Center series starts near-future with Across the Sea of Suns, but by Great Sky River it's far future where the sentient machines dominate the galaxy. Humans are barely surviving in the fringes, like cockroaches, desperately using technology they no longer understand as they try to avoid total extinction.

Against Infinity (not a Galactic Center book) is set on Ganymede, about humans trying to hunt an alien artifact. Matter's End is a short story collection.

I was deeply disappointed by Foundation's Fear, the first in a trilogy set in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe. The characterization was just as wooden as Asimov's - I expected much better from Benford. I'm refusing to read the other two, since Brin and Bear are also favorite authors that I don't want to have a bad taste in my mouth about...

Cosm and Timescape are both contemp/near-future accounts of physicists discovering cool stuff. Classic hard SF, well done. Cosm is about creating and observing a universelet. (His academic left-bashing a la Foundation's Fear was a bit tiresome, though.) Similar subject matter to Lethem's As She Climbed Across The Table, but of course a very different book.

Bertin, Joanne

Dragon and Phoenix (fan)
The Last Dragonlord (fan)

Your basic fantasy about a long-lived weredragon - subplots include foiling the bad guys (evil magicians) and finding a mate (after hundreds of years, after almost giving up hope). But really quite well done, despite my snippiness (I just finished One for the Morning Glory, so I can't help but be arch).

Bester, Alfred

The Demolished Man (sf)
The Stars My Destination (aka Tiger!Tiger!) (sf)

Everyone raves about how well Bester's books stand the test of time, and it's true. Much less dated than most of his contemporaries. The protagonist of The Stars My Destination is a man who can teleport interplanetary distances when everyone else can only do short hops.

Bester, Alfred and Zelazny, Roger

Psycho Shop (sf)

I was certainly surprised to come across this book in the New section, since both authors are dead. It was a (partially posthumous?) collaboration. A little zany, but fun. Not as self-indulgent as Zelazny at his worst.

Bishop, Terry

The Pickup Artist (sf)

Block, Francesca Lia

Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books (fic)

Borsook, Paulina

Cyberselfish (non)

Boyett, Steven R.

Treks Not Taken (hum)

Boynton, Sandra

But Not the Hippopotamus (hum)

Fourteen cardboard pages. Big type. A good thing to read when you need a bit of cheering up. I keep it in my office.

Bradley, Marion Zimmer

The Heritage of Hastur, Sharra's Exile, Exile's Song, The Shadow Matrix (sf)
the Darkover series (sf)
The Planet Savers
Sword Of Aldones
The Bloody Sun
Star Of Danger
Winds of Darkover
The World Wreckers
Darkover Landfall
The Spell Sword
The Heritage Of Hastur
The Shattered Chain
The Forbidden Tower
Two To Conquer
Sharra's Exile
Thendara House
City Of Sorcery
The Heirs Of Hammerfell
Exile's Song
The Shadow Matrix

I read the entire Darkover series years ago, but haven't looked at it much since. I did reread the Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile in order to remember the background for Exile's Song and The Shadow Matrix, which deal with Lew Alton's daughter.

Darkover is a world ruled by the comyn, a red-haired feudal overlord caste with laran - psychic powers which can be amplified by matrix crystals. Many of the books deal with the conflict caused by its rediscovery by the Terran Empire, since it turns out to be a lost colony that's unenthusiastic about being reabsorbed.

MZB can be a little heavyhanded sometimes, but mostly keeps it under control in this series (unlike, say, The Firebrand). Some of her other books like Hunters of the Red Moon aren't really worth recommending. I bet if I reread The Mists of Avalon I'd put it on the good list, but it was so long ago that I can't really remember my reaction to it.

Bray, Patricia

Devlin's Luck (fan)

Breashears, David

High Exposure (bio)

Biographical novel from the climber who made the IMAX movie Everest.

Briggs, Patricia

Dragon Bones (fan)

In Dragon Bones the protagonist has pretended to be an idiot for years to avoid being killed as a threat to his father the king, and is ambivalent about shedding the mask. Swordfighting, magic and dragons are key plot elements, and dwarves do pop up in a subplot, but it's a well done and not derivative coming of age story.

Brin, David

Brightness Reef (sf)
Glory Season (sf)
Heaven's Reach (sf)
Infinity's Shore (sf)
Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War (sf)
The River of Time (sf)
The Transparent Society (non)

The Uplift series is set near-future where the Earth comes into contact with galactic civilization only to find that it's a weird anamoly - all known intelligent species were created by others, in an unbroken chain lasting millenia back to the mysterious Progenitors. Startide Rising is very high on my list. The Uplift War is almost as good, Sundiver (the first one) is not quite so good. The next trilogy (Infinity's Shore, Brightness Reef, last one TBA) doesn't quite live up to Startide Rising, but I really want to find out what happens!

Glory Season is a totally different universe, a seafaring world with significant gender role differences from our world.

The Practice Effect is somewhat fun - a physics grad student ends up on a world where one of the laws of thermodynamics doesn't hold. But it's not up to the standard of the Uplift books. The Postman is also a decent post-apolcalypse story of one man's effort to bring back civilization by donning a uniform and delivering mail. I bet if someone else wrote it I'd put it on the list, it only suffers by comparison to his other stuff.

Bronson, Po

The Nudist on the Late Shift and Other True Tales of Silicon Valley (non)

Nudist on the Late Shift actually does do a halfway reasonable job at communicating the flavor of Silicon Valley, which is a hard thing to do. I was prepared to hate it, since I'd read some excerpts of his previous book (The First 20 Million is Always the Hardest) and thought it was absolutely inane, a very second-rate imitation of Douglas Copeland's Microserfs. But I picked it up in a bookstore and had to buy it to find out what happened to all the people whose stories he tells...

Brunner, John

The Shockwave Rider (sf)

Even though it dates back to the 70's, Shockwave Rider is sometimes cited as proto-cyberpunk, because of the hero living the cracks of society who hacks into master database to manipulate the system at will plotline.

Brust, Steven

Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (sf)
Issola (fan)
Issola, Dragon, Orca, Athyra, Phoenix, Taltos, Teckla, Yendi, Jhereg (fan)
Jhereg,Yendi,Teckla,Taltos,Phoenix,Athyra (fan)
Jhereg,Yendi,Teckla,Taltos,Phoenix,Athyra, Orca,Dragon (fan)
Orca (fan)

The Jhereg series is sword and sorcery, but not at all Tolkeinesque. The terminally sarcastic assassin Vlad is both a witch and a sorcerer, and suffers from the handicap of being a short-lived human. The dominant Draegerans live to be a thousand, have a rigid caste system, and usually despise Easterners (humans). Since Vlad is also a member of the criminal caste, he's got yet another strike against him. Good thing he's got a few friends in high places.

This series is also unusual in that it gets better, not worse, as it goes along. Even if you aren't totally blown away by Jhereg, give the next few a try anyway. Soon you'll be addicted.

He's also written some Three-Musketeers-esque books about the same world, set hundreds of years earlier. Since I really hate that style of writing I can't recommend them (Five Hundred Years After and The Phoenix Guards). I'm also not overfond of Brokedown Palace, a fantasy not connected with his others.

Buechner, Frederick

Son of Laughter (fic)

Bujold, Lois McMaster

A Civil Campaign (sf)
A Civil Campaign (sf)
Cetaganda (sf)
Diplomatic Immunity (sf)
Falling Free (sf)
Komarr (sf)
Komarr, A Civil Campaign (sf)
Memory (sf)
Memory (sf)
Shards of Honor (sf)
The Curse of Chalion (fan)
The Spirit Ring (fan)
the Miles Vorkosigan series (sf)
Shards of Honor
The Warrior's Apprentice
The Vor Game
Brothers In Arms
Borders of Infinity
Mirror Dance
A Civil Campaign
the Miles Vorkosigan series (sf)
the Miles Vorkosigan series (sf)
the Miles Vorkosigan series (sf)

As you can see from the number of times I admit to reading the Miles Vorkosigan series, I'm totally hooked. It could be categorized as military SF, but a *much* higher caliber than your basic space opera. I'm not even sure why it's so compelling to me, but I'm not alone in this. The only book in the series that I'm not rabid about is Ethan of Athos, which is merely OK.

The Spirit Ring is a quite reasonable fantasy book, but not nearly as addictive as the Miles books.

Bull, Emma

Bone Dance (fan)
Falcon (sf)
Falcon (sf)
Finder (sf)
War for the Oaks (fan)
War for the Oaks (fan)

The War for the Oaks is in the (larger than you might think) fantasy subgenre of contemporary elves live among us, music is tied to magic. Wait, stop - don't roll your eyes and move on - it's the best example of this genre that I've found, much better than books like Lackey's nonrecommended Serrated Edge urban elf series or Gael Baudino's vaguely remembered Gossamer Axe, which give this area a bad name. If you're a fan of the Minneapolis band Boiled in Lead then you've got to read this one too, since a show of theirs is a key plot point in the book. (And along those lines the drummer Robin is the spacey Aibynn character in Brust's book Phoenix.)

Finder is also elf-oriented fantasy, but with a slightly different twist: it's in the shared Borderlands world, check out also the elf books by yet another Minneapolis fantasy writer, Will Shetterly. Another note of encouragement: don't let the phrase "shared world" send you screaming for the door -- I know that most shared worlds books are just inane, but I really enjoy these.

Falcon is SF not fantasy, a little cyberpunkish, quite worthwhile.

Burger, Dionys

Sphereland (non)

A sequel to Abbott's 1884 Flatland, gets into the questions of curved spaces: the intrepid explorers strike out into the unknown, come across their own town from the other side, but insist they kept going straight the whole time.

Burns, Olive Ann

Cold Sassy Tree (fic)

One of these ramblingish Southern novels full of eccentrics and such.

Bury, Stephen

Interface (sf)
The Cobweb (fic)

Bury is a pseudonum for the combination of Neal Stephenson and his uncle. The Cobweb is hilarious in a similar way to Zodiac, but about espionage instead of environmentalists. Interface is about a near-future presidential election and mind control of the candidate.

Busch, Heather and Silver, Burton

Why Cats Paint (hum)

The very best of deadpan humor, both the artspeak and the photos are impeccably done.

Butler, Octavia E.

Adulthood Rites, Imago (sf)
Blood Child and Other Stories (sf)
Clay's Ark (sf)
Dawn (sf)
Mind of my Mind (sf)
Parable of the Sower (sf)
Parable of the Sower (sf)
Patternmaster (sf)
Wild Seed (sf)

Calvino, Italo

Cosmicomics (sf)
Invisible Cities (fic)

Both Cosmicomics and Invisible Cities are whimsical, but with slightly different tones. Cosmicomics is several tales about beings living near the beginning of the universe. Calvino is a great enough writer to pull this off: it's not hard SF about neutron density, it's about these often absent-minded characters.

Invisible Cities is an entire bookful of exquisite vignettes, a few pages each, about different fantastic cities (within the framework of Marco Polo telling stories to the Khan). I read this book at exactly the right time and place: right after visiting Tokyo for the first time, a dense week with a perfect combination of work and play, and often fraught with a sense of discovery. I was on my way from the hotel to Narita airport, in a dreamy and somewhat disoriented mood, about to head to yet another new city for a temporary life of three months before finally returning home. The perfect state of mind for these stories, which reminded me a bit of Borges crossed with Marquez.

Card, Orson Scott

Capitol (sf)
Children of the Mind (sf)
Enchantment (fan)
Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide (sf)
Ender's Shadow (sf)
Flux (sf)
Hart's Hope (fan)
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (sf)
Songmaster (sf)
Songmaster (sf)
The Abyss (sf)
The Worthing Saga (sf)
The Worthing Saga (sf)
Treason (sf)
Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories (sf)
Wyrms (sf)
the Tales of Alvin Maker (fan)
Seventh Son
Red Prophet
Prentice Alvin
Alvin Journeyman

All of Card's earlier work is wonderful: Songmaster, Wyrms, Treason, and the Worthing Saga. Sadly, the quality goes downhill, to the point where I'm not including his latest on the list anymore (the Call to Earth series). Pastwatch just barely squeaked on. The Alvin Maker series will probably make it onto the list when I get the latest one and reread all the rest.

But back to the good stuff: the original Ender's Game short story is absolutely amazing. If you haven't already read the novel, read the short story first for maximum impact. Then go read the novel, so you know what's going on in the second book of the series, Speaker for the Dead, which is also excellent. Xenocide and Children of the Mind aren't as good, but are still worth checking out.

Hart's Hope is fantasy, not SF, quite lyrical. The Abyss is a movie tie-in, but far surpasses most books in that genre.

Carey, Jacqueline

Kushiel's Chosen (fan)
Kushiel's Dart (fan)

Carr, Terry, ed

The Best SF of the Year 16 ('87) (sf)

Carroll, Jonathan

From the Teeth of Angels (fan)
The Land of Laughs (fan)
The Marriage of Sticks (fan)
The Wooden Sea (fan)

Carter, Raphael

The Fortunate Fall (sf)

Cary, Lorene

Black Ice (bio)

Despite the name, it's not cyberpunk. It's an autobiography of being one of the first black students at an exclusive private boarding school in the sixties.

Chan, Jackie

I Am Jackie Chan (bio)

Chatwin, Bruce

The Songlines (fic)

Cherryh, C.J.

Brothers of Earth (sf)
Chanur's Legacy (sf)
Cuckoo's Egg (sf)
Cuckoo's Egg (sf)
Cyteen (sf)
Cyteen (sf)
Downbelow Station (sf)
Finity's End (sf)
Foreigner, Invader, Inheritor (sf)
Forty Thousand in Gehenna (sf)
Hammerfall (sf)
Hestia (sf)
Merchanter's Luck (sf)
Precursor (sf)
Rider at the Gate, Cloud's Rider (sf)
Serpent's Reach (sf)
The Faded Sun: Kesrith, Shon'jir, Kutath (sf)
Tripoint (sf)
the Chanur series (sf)
The Pride of Chanur
Chanur's Venture
The Kif Strike Back
Chanur's Homecoming
Chanur's Legacy

I highly recommend every SF book ever written by Cherryh. Many of them are set in the Union/Alliance universe, in the middle of a long-term war between the two cultures. Most of them focus on the Alliance or the merchanters, but a few (among the best: Cyteen, Forty Thousand in Gehenna) are Unionside.

In contrast to the usual hero-saves-the-day story pattern of SF, her protagonists are usually people dealing with untenable situations not of their own making. It's bleak, but in a life-is-inherently-unfair way that's very different from Banks or Hand.

Another noteworthy aspect of her books is complete gender equality, which is so basic an assumption underlying that society that it goes totally unremarked by everyone involved. I'd call this a very feminist position, arguably more so than the many, many books where the female heroine must contend with societal restrictions. Less common are the ones where the gender roles are reversed (as in Brin's Glory Season), or there are no men at all (Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean, Griffith's Ammonite).

Many people, including me, appreciate her portrayal of alien psychology as, well, alien. Many SF books have the trappings of difference, but just change "blaster" to "tommy-gun" and you could be talking about gangsters in 30's Chicago. Not so here. See especially Cuckoo's Egg and The Faded Sun series (both not Union/Alliance).

The Rider series is also not set in the Union/Alliance universe. Horse-like aliens are in a very uneasy symbiosis with human settlers. A *far* cry from the sweetness-and-light telepathic horses of Lackey. Although now that I'm free-associating it brings to mind the inimical horse-like aliens of Tepper's Grass.

While I love her SF, I dislike her fantasy. There's one series which I just can't even finish into despite repeated attempts. Years ago I put down the Gate of Ivrel after reading 20 pages. This year I actually made it through that and Well of Shiuan, but Fires of Azeroth and Exile's Gate are still sitting in the unread stack. It reminds of me of the unrecommended Diadem series by Jo Clayton: you keep getting thrown from one alien world/culture to another, so fast that you can't summon up the energy to care about any of them. There are several other fantasy books, like The Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Jewels, that I've plowed through but not enjoyed.

Chesler, Phyllis

Letters to a Young Feminist (non)

Christian, Deborah

Mainline (sf)

Good but not great - the protagonist can slip between streams in the infinite number of parallel universes but can't re-enter a thread after leaving it. Obviously it's quantum-mechanical but the plot doesn't bog down in the long physics lecture sequences that some other authors like Greg Egan are prone to insert.

Avoid her other book Kar Kalim, a pretty godawful fantasy where the arrogant mage finally learns humility but at terrible cost to two entire worlds. Yeah, whatever.

Clarke, Arthur C.

2001 (sf)
Childhood's End (sf)
Imperial Earth (sf)
Rendezvous with Rama (sf)

Many of Clarke's earlier books are classics well worth reading. The idea of geostationary communications satellites comes from one of his stories. 2001 is definitely worth reading, and is in the elite and small category of good SF books made into great movies. (Tevis's The Man Who Fell To Earth and Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which was made into Blade Runner, are also in this category. Herbert's Dune is in the great book, terrible movie category. )

Back to books. I found the 2001 sequels (2010, 2030, 3001? etc) disappointing.

Imperial Earth is a great coming-of-age story about an elite member of the outer solar system colony on his first trip to Earth. Rendezvous with Rama is a hard SF must-read about astronauts exploring an alien spaceship that enters the solar system.

Avoid the turgid, gee-fractals-are-so-neat Ghost from the Grand Banks and probably a lot of the other later life ones.

Clayton, Jo

Drinker of Souls, Blue Magic, A Gathering of Stones (fan)
Shadow of the Warmaster (sf)
Shadowplay, Shadowspeer, Shadowkill (sf)
Skeen's Leap,Skeen's Return,Skeen's Search (sf)

Clayton is a somewhat acquired taste, and most of her stuff is out of print these days. The Skeen series is perhaps the most accessible place to start. I read the entire Diadem series just because I wanted to know what had happened to Shadow previously, but it's a little too disjointed to actually recommend. I've got a total of a shelf and a half of her stuff, but a lot of them unrecommended fantasy that all kind of blur together in my mind.

Clayton, Patricia Jo

Fire in the Sky, The Burning Ground, Crystal Heat (sf)

Same person as above, these are a continuation of the Shadow/Shadith books.

Cleveland, William S.

The Elements of Graphing Data (non)

Every scientist that does anything at all with visual data analysis should read this book. I should read it again...

Cockayne, Steve

Wanderers and Islanders (fan)

Colette, and Phelps, Robert, ed

The Collected Stories of Colette (fic)

Prolific early 20th century French writer of autobiographicalesque shorts, many about romantic love.

Constantine, Storm

Burying the Shadow (fan)
The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire (sf)
The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit (sf)

Post-apocalyptic with a rather different twist - a new race of parthenogenic hermaphrodites, the Wraeththu, wrest control of the planet away from the human race. Human men can be "incepted" as Wraeththu by an infusion of their blood. While the Wraeththu are hermaphrodites, there's definitely a far stronger masculine than feminine influence. Although Constantine's tone is inimitable, if Samuel Delany were a Goth perhaps he'd write something like this...

Cooley, Martha

The Archivist (fic)

The story gradually unfolds through parallels: the lives and loves of an archivist and T.S. Eliot. The intrusion of a student into the archivist's life brings on memories of his late wife: both are/were haunted by both the Holocaust and Eliot.

Cooper, Susan B.

the Dark is Rising series (fan)
Over Sea, Under Stone
The Dark is Rising
The Grey King
Silver on The Tree

The Dark is Rising series, like Lewis's Narnia books, is best read young. Pre-teen, if possible. I was somewhat disappointed when I woke up on my eleventh birthday and didn't have the powers of an Old One, like Will Stanton.

Coupland, Douglas

City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver (non)
Generation X (fic)
Microserfs (fic)

I read City of Glass just a few days after moving to Vancouver, which was good timing. It's a nonfiction book about the city, but with the same flippant sense of humor as his fiction.

Microserfs I read a while back, when it first came out - funny and snide, about the lives of developers at Microsoft. Although now that I think about it, the timing would have been better had I read it the summer I spent at Microsoft Research. It does do a reasonable job of communicating the feeling of the state of mind you have after lock yourself in your office for 57 hours to hack madly. As does Ellen Ullman's Close to the Machine, although her book is more introspective.

GenX, his most famous book, is my least favorite of the three. My memory is vague, but despite being a GenX-er myself I didn't identify so much with the slacker main characters, I just wanted them to get a damn life and find something to be passionate about. Or maybe I'm confusing it with another book that irritated me.

Crowley, John

Aegypt (fan)
Beasts (fan)
Engine Summer (fan)
Little, Big (fan)
Love and Sleep (fan)
The Deep (fan)

"Dreamy" is I think the best word for Crowley's books. The Deep, Engine Summer, and Beasts are his early books - read long enough ago I can't remember much about them, but definitely not set in the present. Little, Big is the first one of his I read, and I always appreciate a book that forces me to look up words in a dictionary (not as many as Wolfe's, of course, but still a respectable number). A somewhat magical realism-y take on contemporary life. Aegypt was an interesting, if slightly Umberto Eco-esque, musing on Gypsies. The subsequent Love and Sleep felt like a rehash of Aegypt's themes.

Czerneda, Julie E.

Beholder's Eye, Changing Vision (sf)
In The Company of Others (sf)
the Trade Pact Universe series (sf)
A Thousand Words for Stranger
Ties of Power

In the "Trade Pact" series, the Clan is a telepathic species which is visually indistinguishable from Humans, but highly xenophobic. A Clan woman realizes that Joining with a Human man is the only hope of saving her inbred species, but most of the rest of the Clan is committed to block this heresy at all costs. Reading this book soon after the latest of Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance books made the similarities pretty glaring: cross-species telepathic pairbonding in the face of all odds. But both series are a diverting, if not a deep, read.

Dai, Sijie

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (fic)

Dalby, Liza

Geisha (non)

Dawood, N.J., trans

Tales from the Thousand and One Nights (fic)

Most people have heard of the Arabian Nights, but a lot of it is filtered through a 50's TV or Disney movie interpretation. The at least somewhat more authentic text version is refreshing.

Delany, Samuel R.

Babel-17 (sf)
Dhalgren (sf)
Driftglass (sf)
Nova (sf)
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (sf)
Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (sf)
The Einstein Intersection (sf)
The Motion of Light on Water (bio)
Triton (sf)

One of my favorite SF authors, I even like his bio. Driftglass is a book of shorts, the rest are novels. Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand is perhaps his best, although I find them all compelling. He deals a lot with gender and sexuality: many of his books explore some of the social implications of a future society where a sex change is a minor outpatient procedure that's done in an hour. (Varley has a similar premise in some of his books, but a quite different tone - almost frenetic compared Delany's more lyrical style.) His more fantasy-ish Neveryon series I didn't like quite so much, but perhaps it will grow on me enough to add to the list one of these days.

Dewdney, A.K.

The Planiverse (non)

Same theme as Flatland, but with a very fun engineering attitude. Dewdney works out some of the implications of 2D life: how flat people (as opposed to polygons) fit together biologically, what would their houses look like, and so on.

Diamond, Jared

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies (non)
The Third Chimpanzee (non)

Diamond is a historian/anthropologist who wrote Guns, Germs and Steel to answer at length the question asked him years before by a tribesman in Oceania: why did the white Europeans end up taking over? He firmly fights against the racist "because they're smarter/better" with his compelling explanation of how environmental factors were the ultimate reasons behind the proximate causes of the title. To paraphrase - agrarian civilization spread thousands of miles easily and quickly in Europe/Asia because of the East/West orientation of the continents, while in the North/South Americas the spread of staple crops was orders of magnitude slower since extensive adaption was required to spread to different latitudinal growing conditions. Agrarian civilization led to centralized empires and thus steel and guns. Finally, the large domestic animals in Eurasia were an ongoing source of diseases that led to immunities for Europeans, but the lack of any such animals in the Americas left people defenseless before the European germs.

To bolster his arguments, he has a lengthly discussion of Oceania, where the wildly differing environmental factors of the islands led directly to wildly differing cultures despite the homogeneity of the original pool of settlers.

But he's much more eloquent than I am - read the book.

Dick, Phillip K.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (sf)

The well-done movie Blade Runner includes many of the plot elements of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but doesn't even attempt the signature Dick surreality/twistedness of the electric sheep thread of the title.

I read most of his others back in high school, but they're depressing enough that they've been on the shelf unopened for a long time.

Didion, Joan

The White Album (non)

The White Album is a book of short essays with what I can only call a diffident power. Makes me want to read more of her stuff.

Djerassi, Carl

Cantor's Dilemma (fic)
Menachem's Seed (fic)
The Bourbaki Gambit (fic)
The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse (bio)

I enjoy his science-in-fiction series, and the bio's interesting (albeit attitudinal).

Dorsey, Candas Jane

A Paradigm of Earth (sf)
Black Wine (sf)

Doyle, Debra and Macdonald, James D.

The Price of the Stars, Starpilot's Grave (sf)
The Stars Asunder (sf)
the Mageworlds series (sf)
The Price of the Stars
Starpilot's Grave
By Honor Betray'd
The Gathering Flame
The Long Hunt

Swashbuckling space opera with a heroine who swaggers around with a blaster prominently displayed and often used. Less of the military space battle details than Weber's Honor Harrington series, for instance.

Drake, David

With the Lightnings, Lt. Leary Commanding (sf)

With the Lighnings and its direct sequel Lt Leary Commanding are miliary space opera.

Dupre, Lyn

Bugs in Writing (non)

Everyone who has to write anything should read Bugs In Writing. It's got over one hundred short sections, each devoted to a writing problem, ranging from the common but problematic "which" vs. "that", to more obscure things like whether in section headings you should capitalize the word after a hyphen (the answer is yes). It's specifically aimed at computer scientists, but highly useful to anyone (as long as they don't hate cats, which are featured in many of the examples). The advice is very prescriptive: each section describes the problem, gives examples of good and bad usage, and suggests alternative formulations when necessary. I worked through almost the entire book one night from midnight to 8am, a few nights before turning in my dissertation, and the grammar is much better because of it. My only regret is not seeing this book earlier - it would have convinced me to use "I" instead of "we" in the whole thing, but that was a drastic enough change that I chose not to do it so late in the game.

Echols, Alice

The Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin (bio)

Title says it all - a reasonably interesting biography of Janis Joplin.

Eddison, E.R.

The Worm Ouroboros (fan)

One of the few older books (written in the 20's) that I've managed to enjoy. Lords and kings on heroic quests. Definitely dated, but not in a bad way.

Edghill, Rosemary

The Sword of Maiden's Tears (fan)

Effinger, George Alec

When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun, The Exile Kiss (sf)

Cyberpunkish, but the Middle East dominates instead of the Japanese as in Gibson. A little more organic/biological than some of the others.

Egan, Greg

Axiomatic (sf)
Quarantine (sf)

Egan is an Australian SF writer who'd been recommended to me many times. Quarantine is a little bit too science-driven for my taste: there's only so much quantum physics exposition that should be crammed into a novel, and this one crosses the line. But Axiomatic is indeed a great book of short stories, where the science drives the stories without overwhelming the narrative line.

Ehrenreich, Barbara

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (non)

Elrod, P.N.

the Vampire Files series (fan)
Blood Circle
Art in the Blood
Fire in the Blood
A Chill in the Blood
The Dark Sleep
Lady Crymsyn

Farmer, Philip Jose

the Riverworld series (sf)
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
The Fabulous Riverboat
The Dark Design

A great premise: everybody who's ever lived up through the 20th century is reincarnated on the banks of a great river. The necessities of life (food, clothing) are provided. If you're killed, you are reincarnated the next morning, but elsewhere along the river. The obvious question, of course, is how and why this is all happening. An assortment of characters, historical and otherwise, hunt down some answers: Richard Burton, Carroll's Alice after growing up, Mark Twain, Hermann Goering, an 8-foot pre Homo Sapiens who goes by Joe Miller, and many more.

Farmer's written many other books, many of which I've read. I guess "self-indulgent" is one word for my annoyance at them. This series mostly avoids that problem.

Feintuch, David

Challenger's Hope, Prisoner's Hope, Fisherman's Hope (sf)
Midshipman's Hope (sf)
Patriarch's Hope (sf)
Voices of Hope (sf)
the Seafort saga (sf)
Midshipman's Hope
Challenger's Hope
Prisoner's Hope
Fisherman's Hope
Voices of Hope
Patriarch's Hope

The Hope series is military SF - in this space opera universe the miliary has swung back to a Victorian autocracy. The main character has to deal with saving their equivalent of the free world again and again, shouldering ever-heavier moral burdens despite his despair. I'll admit it gets a little florid sometimes, but I always keep reading to find out how it's all going to turn out.

He's also got a fantasy book, The Still, which has such a stunningly whiny and annoying main character that I can't recommend it. Young prince will lose right to rule if he loses his virginity, so he snivels about it for 900+ pages.

Feist, Raymond E.

Magician (fan)
the Riftwar saga (fan)
A Darkness at Sethanon
the Riftwar saga (fan)
the Serpentwar saga (fan)
Shadow of a Dark Queen
Rise of a Merchant Prince
Rage of a Demon King
Shards of a Broken Crown

The Magician/Riftwar series is engrossing high fantasy, despite the familiar plot elements of magicians, elves, swordsmen, dragons, and trolls. The adventures of the characters and their progeny continues in a whole bunch of books, which aren't as good, but the Serpentwar series is once again worthwhile. (Although to really know what's going on, reading the intervening books does help out.)

Feist, Raymond E. and Wurts, Janny

Daughter of Empire, Servant of Empire, Mistress of Empire (fan)
Daughter of Empire, Servant of Empire, Mistress of Empire (fan)
Daughter of Empire, Servant of Empire, Mistress of Empire (fan)

The Empire series is contemporaneous with the Riftwar books of Feist, but set in the (vaguely Japanese) world Kelewan instead of the (vaguely European) world Midkemia. The protagonist Mara must quickly master Shogunate-style politics to avoid the total extinction of her house, and these politics are influenced by the storyline of the Midkemian magician Pug in the Riftwar saga.

Field, Syd

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (non)

Read this for a class I audited on the application of filmmaking to user interface design (along with McCloud's excellent Understanding Comics and Rosenblum's autobiography of his life as an editor). Reading this gave me a much clearer appreciation of the difference between creating a book and creating a movie.

Fitch, Marina

The Border (fan)

Flewelling, Lynn

Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness (fan)
Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness, Traitor's Moon (fan)
The Bone Doll's Twin (fan)

I remember being very impressed by these and wishing the third one was out, but can't remember now exactly what they're about...

Aha. Just reread them all since the third one did indeed make it to paperback. Sword and sorcery fantasy, but very well done. Alec learns the arts of theiving, swordplay, and gentlemanly table manners (among other things) after meeting Seregil. Somewhere along the way his naive preconceptions about the Faie (elves) are dispelled.

Flint, Eric and Drake, David

the Belisarius series (fan)
An Oblique Approach
In the Heart of Darkness
Destiny's Shield
Fortune's Stroke
The Tide of Victory

Flynn, Michael

Firestar (sf)
Firestar, Rogue Star (sf)

Hard SF, near-future, industrialist strives to build a commercial space program.

Ford, John M.

The Last Hot Time (fan)

Forester, C.S.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (fic)

I discovered that the first book of Hornblower series really is a fast and engaging read. I'd been meaning to read it for years, in part because it was the inspiration for Weber's Honor Harrington series.

Frankowski, Leo

The Crosstime Engineer (sf)

A twist on A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's court. Conrad Stargard ends up in 13th century Poland and needs to create an industrial base to ward off the upcoming Mongol invasion. A lot of fun stuff about how to build up industry from scratch. Quite a bit of misogynist crap, too, though. The Crosstime Engineer is actually the first of a series, but one of these is enough.

Frazier, Charles

Cold Mountain (fic)

Furey, Maggie

Aurian, Harp of Winds, Sword of Flame, Dhiammara (fan)

I was desperate in a used book store a while back and decided to go with a book that had the most broken spine. Not a bad algorithm, since I ended up reading the entire series. Sword and sorcery - Aurian is a wizard who must complete her training and defeat the forces of evil.

Gaiman, Neil

American Gods (fan)
Stardust (fan)

Gamow, George

Mr. Tompkins in Paperback: Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland, Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom (non)

Some of the earliest edutainmental science, Mr. Tompkins falls asleep in science lectures and dreams about personified particles and such.

Garrett, Randall and Heydron, Vicki Ann

the Gandalara cycle (sf)
The Gandalara Cycle I:
The Steel of Raithskar
The Glass of Dyskornis
The Bronze of Eddarta
The Gandalara Cycle II:
The Well of Darkness
The Search for Ka
Return to Eddarta
The River Wall
the Gandalara cycle (sf)

The Gandalara cycle is on the short list of books that I've read many more times than I list here. It's in the genre of 'contemporary person suddenly and mysteriously thrust into a different world, where they gradually realize their taxing but magnificent destiny to save said world'. But it's a very good instance of the genre. This particular world is a desert one, where the protagonist Ricardon is one of the Riders who share a telepathic bond with a giant cat that is both friend and transport.

Gibson, William

Burning Chrome (sf)
Neuromancer,Count Zero,Mona Lisa Overdrive (sf)

The classic cyberpunk author. Neuromancer is the original flying through cyberspace book, and I'd argue that anyone who's in information visualization should read it. Not necessarily for prescriptive advice, but to know what dominates popular consciousness when people think of navigating through cyberspace. Although Johnny Mnemonic was a pretty bad movie it's a great short story in Burning Chrome, which has many other wonderful ones.

Sadly, Gibon's recent stuff reads like a bad imitation of Gibson, it just happened to be written by him instead of someone unknown. Avoid Idoru. Virtual Light wasn't so terrible, but the whole bike messenger plotline was a little hard to swallow since it appeared after Stephenson's Snow Crash. (Which is also on my cyberpunk must-read list, as is the much less well known "He, She, and It" by Marge Piercy.)

I really hated The Difference Engine, his collaboration with Sterling. The alternate history steam-driven Babbage Engine pseudo-19th century thing just didn't do it for me.

Glassner, Andrew S.

3D Computer Graphics, A User's Guide for Artists and Designers (non)

A very well-written overview of graphics with surprising depth given that it's aimed at non-technical people. The best intro I've found for a lay audience.

Gleick, James

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (bio)

The Feynman bio, enough said. Worth reading, as are Feynman's own autobiographical books.

Gloss, Molly

The Dazzle of Day (sf)

The plot of The Dazzle of Day is about an Esperanto-speaking Quaker community that embarks on a multi-generational spaceship voyage to start a colony on a distant planet. While the obvious similarity is to Slonczewski's Still Forms on Foxfield just because of the Quaker subject matter, a better match for the mood is the dreamy poignancy of Le Guin's The Disposessed.

Golden, Arther

Memoirs of a Geisha (fic)

Goldman, Francisco

The Long Night of White Chickens (fic)

Read this in the 1995 Europe summer, can't remember the details, but I think it's set in Latin America.

Gomez, Jewelle

The Gilda Stories (fan)

Technically it's a vampire story, but very different from the Hamilton's detective-novel mayhem style. More about characterization and building a stable life for oneself despite differences, like Pat Murphy's Nadya, the Wolf Chronicles.

Gorey, Edward

Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too (hum)
The Raging Tide: or, The Black Doll's Imbroglio (hum)

The Amphigorey books are the large collections of his dozens of illustrated shorts, featuring his very particular brand of dry humor: English gentlemen in long raccoon coats, ballerina waifs, tassels, drawing rooms, ghastly death, etc. The Gashleycrumb Tinies sums it up: A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by bears, C is for Clara who wasted away, D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh...

The Raging Tide is Gorey's version of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, with of course his signature lack of sequitur.

Gould, Stephen Jay

Bully for Brontosaurus (non)
Dinosaur in a Haystack (non)
Eight Little Piggies (non)
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms (non)
The Flamingo's Smile (non)

All of these books are compendia of short essays, mainly on science, especially biology and paleontology.

Gould, Steven

Blind Waves (sf)
Helm (sf)
Jumper (sf)
Jumper (sf)
Wildside (sf)
Wildside (sf)

Jumper appeals because it's the classic wish-fulfillment: what would you do if one day you discovered you could teleport? Similarly, Wildside is about discovering a doorway to an alternate universe. Helm is a longer coming-of-age novel, set in a future post-technological colony world.

Gowdy, Barbara

The White Bone (fic)

Grass, Guenter

Local Anaesthetic (fic)

Read this in Berlin when somewhat depressed, appropriately enough.

Graves, Robert

I, Claudius; Claudius the God (fic)

I haven't been so into historical fiction for the past fifteen years, but I did enjoy these two about the Roman emperor Claudius.

Gray, Mike

Angle of Attack: Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon (non)

Green, Simon R.

Shadows Fall (fan)

Griffith, Nicola

Ammonite (sf)
Ammonite (sf)
Slow River (sf)
The Blue Place (fic)

Ammonite is hard SF, about a female offworlder's explorations of a planet which has been all-female for generations after a mysterious plague wiped out the men and left the women able to reproduce parthenogenetically. The motivations of the women on the planet range from benign to dark, which is a much broader range of characterization than most feminist utopias. Also, the story deals with the society itself, as opposed to the more common theme of a the feminist society under attack from a militaristic male threat.

Slow River is set in a vaguely cyberpunkish near-future, where a woman who was one of the elite is suddenly forced into a life on the streets. A terse plot summary like this doesn't do justice to the psychological depth and believability of the main character's human response to trauma.

The Blue Place is a non-SF detective-ish novel with a strong lesbian protagonist.

Grimwood, Ken

Replay (sf)

Grisham, John

The Chamber (fic)
The Client (fic)
The Client (fic)
The Partner (fic)
The Street Lawyer (fic)
The Testament (fic)

Grisham is my canonical author to grab in airport bookstores on trips where I've failed to bring enough SF books to last the whole way. Not deep, but these legal thrillers suck me in and make plane rides go much faster than in-flight magazines.

Gurganus, Alan

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (fic)

Another one of these fun rambling Southern eccentric books, I can't really keep straight what happened in here vs in Cold Sassy Tree.

Hall, Barry

Phylogenetic Trees Made Easy (non)

Hambly, Barbara

The Silent Tower, The Silicon Mage, Dog Wizard (fan)
The Silent Tower, The Silicon Mage, Dog Wizard (fan)

It's pretty embarrassing to carry around a book entitled "Dog Wizard". Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this series. It's in the contemporary person is transported into another world where magic works genre. Deep in the wishful thinking section of my mind I figure this will happen to me some day. Anyway, this is one of the best examples of that genre that I've found. (As opposed to the Dragon series of that ilk by Gael Baudino, for example.) The protagonist is a female programmer with more practicality than social skills, and the wizard is a mix of spacey and brilliant that's reminiscent of a few of my exes.

Hamilton, Laurell K.

A Caress of Twilight (fan)
A Kiss of Shadows (fan)
Blue Moon (fan)
Narcissus In Chains (fan)
Nightseer (fan)
Obsidian Butterfly (fan)
Obsidian Butterfly (fan)
the Anita Blake series (fan)
the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series (fan)
Guilty Pleasures
The Laughing Corpse
Circus of the Damned
The Lunatic Cafe
Bloody Bones
The Killing Dance
Burnt Offerings
Blue Moon
the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series (fan)

Anita Blake kicks some serious vampire ass, which is why falling for the Master of the City really cramps her style. The protagonist only executes vampires as a side line, actually - her day (or rather night) job is raising the dead. She's as terminally sarcastic as Vlad Taltos. Hmm, I wonder who'd win in a face-off between those two?

Anyway, I know I use the word addictive a lot on this page, but I *really, really* mean it this time.

Hamilton, Peter F.

A Quantum Murder (sf)
Mindstar Rising (sf)
The Nano Flower (sf)
The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, The Naked Sun (sf)

Hand, Elizabeth

12 Monkeys (sf)
Black Light (fan)
Glimmering (sf)
Waking the Moon (fan)
Winterlong (sf)

Winterlong is powerful but so unremittingly bleak that I haven't yet brought myself to read Aestival Tide or Icarus Descending.

12 Monkeys is a movie tie-in, but like Card's The Abyss it's better than the usual dreck.

Glimmering is near-future, not exactly post-holocaust, more like mid-gradual-environmental-holocaust. But that's the backdrop, the focus is on the characters.

Waking the Moon is difficult to categorize, set in the present at a Jesuit university, a woman finds that in her new group of friends the line between myth and reality is blurred.

Harr, Jonathan

A Civil Action (non)

Hartman, Keith

The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse (fan)

Harvey, Miles

The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime (non)

Heglund, Jean

Into the Forest (sf)

Helfer, Ralph

The Beauty of the Beasts (bio)

Helprin, Mark

Winter's Tale (fan)

Henderson, Zenna

Pilgrimage, The People: No Different Flesh, Holding Wonder, The Anything Box (sf)
Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, The People: No Different Flesh (sf)
The Anything Box (fan)

Herbert, Frank

Whipping Star (sf)
the Dune series (sf)
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune

I've always thought Dune is one of the greatest SF books of all time. Far future, mysticism, philosophy, ecology, giant worms, lots of sand. The series is actually quite long, but I think only the original trilogy belongs on the great list.

Note for those who have only seen the incoherent movie - READ THE BOOK. The squeebly Kyle MacLachlan is really not the person to cast as the Messiah, dammit. The movie was a bitter disappointment.

Hobb, Robin

Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest (fan)
Ship of Magic (fan)

Hodgell, P.C.

God Stalk, Dark of the Moon (fan)
Seeker's Mask (fan)
Seeker's Mask (fan)

Hofstader, Douglas R.

Godel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid (non)

Holdstock, Robert

Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Bone Forest (fan)

Huff, Tanya

Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt (fan)
Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt (fan)
Sing the Four Quarters, Fifth Quarter, No Quarter (fan)
Summon the Keeper (fan)
The Fire's Stone (fan)
Valor's Choice (sf)

The Quarters series focuses on magic, specifically a world where magicians are one of four types. The Blood series, set in the present, is about a female detective who becomes entangled with supernatural, starting with a rather appealing vampire who started life as the bastard son of Henry VIII. Summon the Keeper is a quite funny book about present-day magicians who guard against dark magic. Valor's Choice is something completely different, a SF military novel with engaging and believable characters.

Inoue, Yasushi

Tun-Huang (non)

Ivins, Molly

You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You (non)

Usually hilarious, always political essays from a left-wing Texan columnist. Get some factual ammunition to back up your arguments with Republicans. Speaking of anti-right-wing ammo, see also Take the Rich Off Welfare.

Jablokov, Alexander

Carve the Sky (sf)
Nimbus (sf)
River of Dust (sf)

Kagan, Janet

Hellspark (sf)

Kaku, Michio

Hyperspace (non)

Popularized science from a physicist who built a cyclotron in his back yard while in high school. Fun stuff.

Kaye, Marvin and Godwin, Parke

The Masters of Solitude, Wintermind (sf)

Keene, Donald

On Familiar Terms: To Japan and Back, A Lifetime Across Cultures (bio)

Kelly, James Patrick

Wildfire (sf)

Kennealy, Patricia

The Copper Crown, The Throne of Scone (sf)
The Copper Crown, The Throne of Scone, The Silver Branch (sf)
The Hawk's Grey Feather, The Oak Above the Kings, The Hedge of Mist (sf)

Kerr, Katharine and Kreighbaum, Mark

Palace, The Eyes of God (sf)

Kerr, Peg

Emerald House Rising (fan)

Kidder, Tracy

The Soul of a New Machine (non)

The Soul of a New Machine is the quintessential geek bestseller - the story of the building of a new minicomputer in the 80's. I first read it my freshman year of college, and it was interesting to reread it recently now that I've got a much closer acquaintance with the world of computer companies.

Kingsolver, Barbara

The Poisonwood Bible (fic)

Kirstein, Rosemary

The Steerswoman, The Outskirter's Secret (sf)

Knapp, Caroline

Drinking: A Love Story (bio)

Kooistra, Jeffery D.

Dykstra's War (sf)

Kress, Nancy

The Aliens of Earth (sf)

Kube-McDowell, Michael P.

Emprise, Enigma, Empery (sf)

Kushner, Ellen

Swordspoint (fan)
Swordspoint (fan)
Thomas the Rhymer (fan)

Swordspoint is a gently gripping story of a swordsman and his male lover in a duel-prone society. Thomas the Rhymer is a retelling of the story with an emphasis on the characterization of Thomas.

L'Engel, Madeline

A Wrinkle In Time (fan)

A Wrinkle in Time is best read in junior high or so, but I still have fond memories of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit - it's good to remember that the next slightly batty old ladies you encounter could in fact be retired stars...

Lackey, Mercedes

The Fire Rose (fan)
the Valdemar series (fan)
Magic's Pawn
Magic's Promise
Magic's Price
Arrows of the Queen
Arrow's Flight
Arrow's Fall
The Oathbound
By the Sword
the Valdemar series (fan)

I think there's a strong overlap between people who read McCaffrey and those who read Lackey. This is another one I'm defensive about. A particularly scathing friend of mine refers to these as the "My Little Pony" books. You've got your telepathic supernatural horses that Choose the pure of heart and sweep them away to become Heralds. Yes, I know these books can be incredibly cheesy. I've read them a zillion times anyway, and the only reason I don't read them more is that I've practically memorized them. (So why are they only listed twice? Because listing them eight times is a stronger recommendatory statement than I'm willing to make.)

There are many books set in Valdemar that I'm not including - the Mage Winds and Mage Storms trilogies don't make the cut. And the Gryphon and Owl series are pretty awful. (Of course, I read them all anyway, I just don't recommend them.) Don't even get me started on the Bardic Voices series. Humph.

The Fire Rose is set in early 20th century San Francisco, and isn't a bad mix of the discovering-wizard-powers genre with Beauty and the Beast.

Lackey, Mercedes and Flint, Eric and Freer, Dave

The Shadow of the Lion (fan)

Lafayette, Madame de

The Princess de Cleves (fic)

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark

Metaphors We Live By (non)

Lasseter, John

Toy Story: Art and Making of the Animated Film (non)

Laumer, Keith, ed

Five Fates (sf)

I'm sure it's out of print, but this is a great hard SF book where five good writers start from the same one-page beginning of a man's last moments at a euthansia center. The stories are completely different in tone and content: the five writers are Laumer, Frank Herbert, Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, and Harlan Ellison.

LeGuin, Ursula K.

A Wizard Of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore (fan)
A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from (fan)
City of Illusions (sf)
Four Ways To Forgiveness (sf)
Malafrena (fic)
Rocannon's World (sf)
The Dispossessed (sf)
The Language of the Night (non)
The Left Hand of Darkness (sf)
The Telling (sf)

She's written many classics, but my favorite by far is the Wizard of Earthsea. I'm also fond of some of her lesser-known early novels of the Hainish cycle - Rocannon's World and City of Illusions. The justly famous Left Hand of Darkness is certainly an exploration of gender, being the story of a human diplomat in a world where being a single gender permanently is considered an unfortunate biological aberration, but is *very* far from stridency that some other writers labelled feminist can fall into (Tepper comes to mind...)

I finally read The Disposessed only recently, wherein a scientist from a determinedly spartan and egalitarian culture exiles himself to a much more inequitous civilization.

She's written many shorts, some of which have continued to rattle around my head for years - especially "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and "The Day After the Revolution".

LeGuin, Ursula K. and Attebery, Brian, ed

The Norton Book of Science Fiction (sf)

Lem, Stanislaw

The Cyberiad (sf)

Lethem, Jonathan

Amnesia Moon (sf)
As She Climbed Across the Table (sf)
Girl With Landscape (sf)
Gun, with Occasional Music (sf)
Motherless Brooklyn (fic)
The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye (sf)

Levi, Primo

The Periodic Table (bio)

Levy, Matthys and Salvadori, Mario

Why Buildings Fall Down (non)

A fun popular science book by some structural engineers. The title says it all.

Lewis, C.S.

the Chronicles of Narnia (fan)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and his Boy
The Magician's Nephew
The Last Battle

Another piece of the must-read canon, preferably when very young. I remember being annoyed when years later I was told that Aslan was a Christ figure. Reepicheep, while excitable, is a fine role model.

I never really got into Lewis's other SF for adults (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra).

Lindskold, Jane

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (sf)

Lisle, Holly

Memory of Fire (fan)

Memory of Fire is in the all-too-populated subgenre of "ordinary person pulled through portal into other world where they have vast magical powers and a Great Destiny", but it's really well done.

Lynn, Elizabeth A.

Dragon's Winter (fan)
The Sardonyx Net (sf)
Watchtower, The Dancers of Arun, The Northern Girl (fan)

MacAvoy, R.A.

Tea with the Black Dragon (fan)
Tea with the Black Dragon (fan)
The Book of Kells (fan)
The Book of Kells (fan)

MacLeod, Ken

Cosmonaut Keep, Dark Light (sf)
The Cassini Division (sf)

Marley, Louise

The Glass Harmonica (sf)
The Terrorists of Irustan (sf)

Martin, George R.R.

A Game of Thrones (fan)
Dying of the Light (sf)
Fevre Dream (fan)
Songs the Dead Men Sing (sf)
Tuf Voyaging (sf)
Tuf Voyaging (sf)
Tuf Voyaging (sf)
Windhaven (sf)

Fevre Dream is a rather unusual vampire story set on 19th century Mississippi riverboats. Tuf Voyaging is a fun wish-fulfillment story of how to handle unprecedented power, in this case a fully functional biowarfare (and biomedical) ship unique in the protagonist's culture. Windhaven is about a metal-poor low gravity ocean world where fast communication between islands is only possible using human-powered flight. The wings were cut from the body of the colonizing spaceship, and their irreplaceability has led to a very rigid social structure. He's also got some very strong short stories, but now I can't remember which of the collections I've read.

Martin, Judith

Miss Manners' Guide to the Turn-of-the-Millenium (hum)

Martinac, Paula

Out of Time (fic)

Mathur, Ashok

Once Upon an Elephant (fic)

Matthews, Susan R.

An Exchange of Hostages, Prisoner of Conscience, Hour of Judgement (sf)

May, Julian

Diamond Mask (sf)
Magnificat (sf)
The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King, The Adversary (sf)
The Many-Colored Land, The Golden Torc, The Nonborn King, The Adversary (sf)

Mayo, Diane

Murder at the Big Store (hum)

I can't figure out whether Mayo is a pseudonym for Edward Gorey or not - very similar drawing style and sense of humor, but it's set in a modern department store instead of a 19th century drawing room in England.

McAuley, Paul

The Secret of Life (sf)

McAuley, Paul J.

Fairyland (sf)
Pasquale's Angel (fan)
Secret Harmonies (sf)

McCaffrey, Anne

Nimisha's Ship (sf)
the Pern series (sf)
The White Dragon

Caveat: Anne McCaffrey is best read before or during your teenage years. The older Pern books are good juveniles. They don't age so well, but there's a place for that. The later ones like The Masterharper of Pern are just godawfully bad. There are even some gratuitously repetitive ones contiguous in time with some of the earlier books in the series. Maybe she had Rashomon in mind when writing Nerilka of Pern, but she really can't pull it off.

I really can't recommend any of her others. Even the older ones (The Ship Who Sang, Killashandra, Dinosaur Planet) are pretty wooden. Lately she's been writing truly abysmal sequels (Damia, The City Who Fought) that are orders of magnitude worse. Take cover.

Wait, now there's a bit of hope: Nimisha's Ship was reminiscent of her older stuff - a reasonably engaging juvenile. I conjecture this one is good since she's starting a whole new world instead of indulging in sequelitis...

McCarthy, Wil

Aggressor Six (sf)
Murder in the Solid State (sf)

McCloud, Scott

Understanding Comics (non)

McCorduck, Pamela and Ramsey, Nancy

The Futures of Women: Scenarios for the 21st Century (non)

McDonald, Ian

Evolution's Shore (sf)
King of Morning, Queen of Day (fan)
Out on Blue Six (sf)
Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone (sf)
Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone (sf)
Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone (sf)
Terminal Cafe (sf)
The Broken Land (sf)

McHugh, Maureen F.

China Mountain Zhang (sf)
Half the Day is Night (sf)
Mission Child (sf)
Nekropolis (sf)

McIntyre, Vonda N.

Dreamsnake (sf)
Fireflood and Other Stories (sf)
Starfarers, Transition, Metaphase, Nautilus (sf)
Starfarers, Transition, Metaphase, Nautilus (sf)
The Exile Waiting (sf)
The Moon and the Sun (fan)

McKenna, Juliet E.

The Thief's Gamble (fan)
The Thief's Gamble, The Swordsman's Oath (fan)

McKillip, Patricia A.

Fool's Run (sf)
Ombria in Shadow (fan)
Song for the Basilisk (fan)
The Book of Atrix Wolfe (fan)
The Changeling Sea (fan)
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (fan)
The Riddlemaster of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind (fan)
The Riddlemaster of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind (fan)
The Riddlemaster of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind (fan)
The Riddlemaster of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind (fan)
The Sorcerer and the Cygnet, The Cygnet and the Firebird (sf)
The Tower in Stony Wood (fan)
Winter Rose (fan)

McKillip is one of my favorite fantasy writers. The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy is her strongest work. There are some similarities between the college of riddlery and the college of wizards in LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea, although tone of the books is rather different. Many of the others have a dreamy yet crystalline feel. Although it's true that some of the characters wear swords, and there is magic of various kinds, it's very far from the swords-n-sorcery genre. Her single SF novel, Fool's Run, is also excellent.

McKinley, Robin

Deerskin (fan)
Spindle's End (fan)
The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown (fan)
The Door in the Hedge (fan)
The Outlaws of Sherwood (fan)

McQuay, Mike

The Nexus (sf)

McQuinn, Donald E.

Wanderer, Warrior, Witch (sf)

Mieville, China

King Rat (fan)
Perdido Street Station (fan)

Mieville is the most evocative new writer I've come across in the past few years. Both of his books are set in darkly phantasmagorical cities: King Rat in the present, and Perdido Street Station in what is certainly neither here nor now. Perdido is set in a richly detailed world of many chimerical species, amidst almost unremittingly bleak circumstances.

Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon

Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem (sf)
Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem (sf)
Conflict of Honors, Agent of Change, Carpe Diem (sf)
Fellow Travellers (sf)
I Dare (sf)
Loose Cannon (sf)
Pilot's Choice (sf)
Pilot's Choice, Plan B (sf)
Plan B (sf)
Plan B, I Dare (sf)
Trading in Futures, Changeling (sf)
Two Tales of Korval (sf)
the Liaden Universe series (sf)
Conflict of Honor
Agent of Change
Carpe Diem
Plan B
I Dare
Two Tales of Korval
Fellow Travellers
Duty Bound
Certain Symmetries
Trading in Futures
Loose Cannon

Mitford, Nancy

Don't Tell Alfred (fic)
The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate (fic)

Mixon, Laura J.

Glass Houses (sf)

Modesitt,Jr., L.E.

Adiamante (sf)
Darksong Rising (fan)
Gravity Dreams (sf)
Magi'i of Cyador, Scion of Cyador (fan)
Of Tangible Ghosts, The Ghost of the Revelator (sf)
The Ecologic Envoy, The Ecolitan Operation (sf)
The Ecologic Envoy,The Ecolitan Operation The Ecologic Secession,The Ecolitan Enigma (sf)
The Fires of Paratime (aka The Timegod) (sf)
The Forever Hero: Dawn of a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, In Endless Twilight (sf)
The Parafaith War (sf)
The Soprano Sorceress, The Spellsong War (fan)
The White Order (fan)
Timegods' World (sf)
the saga of Recluce (fan)
The Magic of Recluce
The Towers of Sunset
The Magic Engineer
The Order War
The Death of Chaos
The Fall of Angels
The Chaos Balance
The White Order
The Colors of Chaos
Magi'i of Cyador
Scion of Cyador

Moffet, Judith

Pennterra (sf)

Mones, Nicole

Lost in Translation (fic)

Moon, Elizabeth

Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, Winning Colors (sf)
Remnant Population (sf)
the Deed of Paksenarrion (fan)
Sheepfarmer's Daughter
Divided Allegiance
Oath of Gold

Morehouse, Lydia

The Archangel Protocol (sf)

Morris, Mary

Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Travelling Alone (bio)

Morrison, Toni

Jazz (fic)

Mullet, Kevin and Sano, Darrell

Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques (non)

Munroe, Jim

Angry Young Spaceman (sf)
Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask (sf)

Murakami, Haruki

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (fic)

Murdoch, Iris

The Flight from the Enchanter (fic)

Murphy, Pat

Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles (fan)
The City, Not Long After (sf)
The City, Not Long After (sf)
The Falling Woman (sf)

Nagata, Linda

Limit of Vision (sf)
The Bohr Maker, Tech-Heaven, Deception Well, Vast (sf)

The Bohr Maker is set a few hundred years from now, with a hard SF mix of nanotech, genetic engineering and personality upload/download. Which is a summary that damns it with faint praise, since there so many bad books with those elements - but it's extremely well-done. Tech-Heaven is a near-future loosely connected prequel, laying the groundwork for the biotech/political underpinnings of the society of Bohr Maker. I found it much slower going than Bohr. Deception Well is far-future with a protagonist who has been genetically altered to have the power to control the emotions of those around him, and struggles to piece together the ties between his own life with 30-million-year-old leftover alien weapons. The (surprising) connecting thread with Bohr Maker doesn't become clear til near the end. Vast is a direct sequel following the same characters. These last two novels are very strong.

Nai'an, Shi and Guanzhong, Luo and Shapiro, Sidney, trans

Outlaws of the Marsh (fic)

Nakanishi, Akira

Writing Systems of the World (non)

Nielsen, Jakob

Designing Web Usability (non)

Niven, Larry

A Hole in Space (sf)
A World Out of Time (sf)
A World Out of Time (sf)
Bridging the Galaxies (sf)
Crashlander (sf)
Destiny's Road (sf)
Flatlander (sf)
Flatlander (sf)
Protector (sf)
Ringworld (sf)
World of Ptavvs (sf)
World of Ptavvs (sf)

Norman, Lisanne

Stronghold Rising (sf)
the Sholan Alliance series (sf)
Turning Point
Fortune's Wheel
Fire Margins
Razor's Edge
Dark Nadir
Stronghold Rising

Norris, Mikki and Conrad, Chris and Resner, Virginia

Shattered Lives: Portraits From America's Drug War (non)

Olson, Steve

Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes (non)

Ore, Rebecca

Becoming Alien, Being Alien, Human to Human (sf)

Orlean, Susan

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People (non)

Palmer, David R.

Emergence (sf)
Emergence (sf)
Threshold (sf)

Park, Paul

Celestis (sf)
Soldiers of Paradise, Sugar Rain, The Cult of Loving Kindness (sf)

Park is certainly not a warm and fuzzy author, but his characters and worlds do linger in my mind. Soldier of Paradise, the bleak first book in the Starbridge Chronicles, is set on a planet with years that last 80,000 days, so each season lasts for many human generations. The theocratic dictatorship in power at the beginning of the series enforces the doctrine of predestination: priests decide on a baby's sins in its previous life through a combination of listening to its first cries and its birthmarks, and tattoo its hands with marks that determine who it will marry, what work it will do, and almost every other aspect of its life. Sugar Rain takes up where the first one left off, and The Cult of Loving Kindness is set a hundred years later.

Celestis is set in a completely different universe, on a planet where the aboriginal inhabitants can be made to act more or less like the human colonists through a regimen of drugs. A female aboriginal married to a human man gradually loses her veil of "humanity" after ceasing to take the pills. Again, not a happy story, but worth reading.

Park, Severna

Hand of Prophecy (sf)
Speaking Dreams (sf)
The Annunciate (sf)

In Speaking Dreams, a female diplomat must buy female slave as a condition of latest assignment, despite all attempts at refusal - she's still haunted by past relationship with another woman, also a slave. They too begin to fall in love as a war between the diplomat's culture and the slaver empire looms. Nominated for the Lambda Literary Award.

Hand of Prophecy is the sequel - not as strong IMHO as the first, but still worth reading.

Pasachoff, Jay M.

Petersen's First Guide to Astronomy (non)

Patchett, Ann

Bel Canto (fic)

Peterson, Ivars

Islands of Truth: A Mathematical Mystery Tour (non)

Piercy, Marge

He, She, and It (sf)

Piper, H. Beam

The Complete Paratime (sf)

Pirsig, Robert

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (bio)

Pohl, Frederick

the Heechee saga (sf)
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
Heechehe Rendezvous
The Annals of the Heechee

Pollack, Rachel

Unquenchable Fire (fan)

Powers, Tim

Expiration Date (fan)

Proulx, E. Annie

Accordion Crimes (fic)

Pushkin, Alexander

The Captain's Daughter and Other Stories (fic)

Raskin, Jef

The Humane Interface (non)

Reed, Robert

Beyond the Veil of Stars (sf)

Resnick, Laura

In Legend Born (fan)

Resnick, Mike

Second Contact (sf)

Rheingold, Howard

They Have a Word for It (non)

Rhyal, Tshe Ring Dbang

The Tale of the Incomparable Prince (fic)

Ridley, Philip

In the Eyes of Mr. Fury (fic)

Ringo, John

A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances (sf)

Robinson, Kim Stanley

Green Mars (sf)
The Wild Shore (sf)

Robinson, Spider

Lifehouse (sf)
Melancholy Elephants (sf)
Mindkiller (sf)
Stardance (sf)
Telempath (sf)
The Free Lunch (sf)
Time Pressure (sf)

Melancholy Elephants of a book of shorts.

Roessner, Michaela

The Stars Compel (fan)
The Stars Dispose (fan)
Vanishing Point (sf)
Walkabout Woman (fan)

Rosenberg, Joel

D'Shai, Hour of the Octopus (fan)
Emile and the Dutchman (sf)
Ties of Blood and Silver (sf)
the Keepers of the Hidden Ways series (fan)
The Fire Duke
The Silver Stone
The Crimson Sky

Rosenblum, Ralph and Karen, Robert

When the Shooting Stops... the Cutting Begins: A Film Editor's Story (non)

Rowling, J.K.

the Harry Potter series (fan)
Harry Potter and the and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I finally read the Harry Potter series, long after the hype had reached epic proportions. To my great surprise, the hype was well merited! These books are way more addictive than potato chips, and a very fun and absorbing read. I blew through the first three in one night from 10pm to 4am, and only went to bed because I didn't have the fourth one in the house. Another friend lent me the last, which I read the very day she gave it to me. Although this is ostensibly a children's series, it's absolutely satisfying for adults too. The only bad part about reading the series now instead of later is that I now must wait impatiently for the next one with all the rest of the addicts...

Roy, Arundhati

The God of Small Things (fic)

Rushdie, Salman

Haroun and the Sea of Stories (fan)
Midnight's Children (fic)

Russell, Mary Doria

The Sparrow, Children of God (sf)

Russell, Sean

Beneath the Vaulted Hills, Compass of the Soul (fan)
The Initiate Brother, Gatherer of Clouds (fan)
World Without End, Sea Without a Shore (fan)

Russo, Richard Paul

Ship of Fools (sf)

Ryman, Geoff

The Child Garden (sf)
The Unconquered Country (fan)
The Unconquered Country (fan)
The Warrior Who Carried Life (fan)
Was (fan)

Sachs, Oliver

An Anthropologist on Mars (non)
An Anthropologist on Mars (non)
Awakenings (non)

Salinger, J.D.

The Catcher in the Rye (fic)

Sapolsky, Robert

A Primate's Memoir (bio)

Sarti, Ron

The Chronicles of Scar, Legacy of the Ancients, The Lanterns of God (sf)

Set in post-apocalypse North America (600 years after a geological, not nuclear one) Scar/Arn gets tossed from being a street kid to being second in line for the throne when recognized as the lost bastard prince. Yes, I know that sounds like the Assassin series, but they're both good. Lots of sword battles, since most technology is forbidden by the Codes. A pretty believable protagonist, especially in terms of emotional scars from childhood affecting his adult choices/actions. I hope there's a fourth book just because I'd like to hear more about what happens next...

Sawyer, Robert J.

Calculating God (sf)
Illegal Alien (sf)

Schmitz, James H.

Agent of Vega (sf)
The Demon Breed (sf)
The Witches of Karres (sf)
the Hub stories (sf)
Telzey Amberdon
TnT: Telzey and Trigger Together
Trigger and Friends
The Hub: Dangerous Territory
Agent of Vega and Other Stories

Schroeder, Karl

Ventus (sf)

Schroeder, Will and Martin, Ken and Lorensen, Bill

The Visualization Toolkit: An Object-Oriented Approach to 3D Graphics (non)

Although it's not obvious from the title, this is the best visualization textbook that I've found yet. The last half of the book is a manual, yes, but the front half is a very nice summary of the field. Only the last section of each chapter is specifically tied to vtk. Of course, vtk is a public service in and of itself - a very nice scientific visualization toolkit that's third generation, so it avoids both the naivete of first systems and the featuritis of second systems. Particularly strong on volumetric stuff, not surprisingly (since Bill's an author of the original marching cubes paper).

Scott, Melissa

A Choice of Destinies (sf)
Burning Bright (sf)
Five-Twelfths of Heaven, Silence in Solitude, The Empress of Earth (sf)
Five-Twelfths of Heaven,Silence in Solitude (sf)
The Empress of Earth (sf)
The Kindly Ones (sf)
Trouble and her Friends (sf)

Scott, Walter

Ivanhoe (fic)

Serafini, Luigi

Codex Seraphinianus (fic)

The Codex is an absolutely stunning book: a visual scientific encyclopedia drawn with exquisite care of a fantastic land that never was. There is no readable text: each pair of large-format pages has meticulous illustrations on one side, with the facing page devoted to commentary in an equally imaginary alphabet. It's deadpan humor of the highest order, reminiscent of the Borges story about the fictitious city of Tlon. The book is out of print, and if you ever run across a copy for less than $300 I'll happily buy it from you. The page http://fatmac.ee.cornell.edu/~kevin/Codex/codextoc.html has a few high-resolution scans that can give you a flavor of the work.

Seth, Vikram

A Suitable Boy (fic)
The Golden Gate (fic)

I read the novel-length poem The Golden Gate ten years ago so can't really remember much beyond liking it. Which says a fair amount since my poetry tolerence is usually pretty low.

A Suitable Boy was a godsend. I was in a bookstore in an European airport with a transatlantic flight ahead of me, no unread books, and only scattered coins in several different currencies. As you might guess from this page, I read *very* fast. Being caught bookless on a long flight is one of my definitions of hell. I knew I barely had enough money for a single book, and only that because they'd take the payment in multiple currencies. But how was I to find one that would last nearly ten hours? When my eyes fell upon this several thousand page trade paperback by an author that I knew, I was overjoyed. The book lasted beyond the flight and into the whole next week. It's the very engrossing story of (among many other things) an Indian girl's family's quest to find her a suitable husband.

Shahar, Eluki ben

Hellflower (sf)

Shea, Suzanne Strempek

Hoopi Shoopi Donna (fic)

Sheffield, Charles

Between the Strokes of Night (sf)
My Brother's Keeper (sf)
Proteus in the Underworld (sf)
Sight of Proteus, Proteus Unbound (sf)
The Ganymede Club (sf)
The McAndrew Chronicles (sf)

All his stuff is hard SF.

Shepard, Lucius

Beast of the Heartland and other stories (sf)

Shetterly, Will

Elsewhere, Nevernever (fan)

Shinn, Sharon

Archangel, Jovah's Angel (sf)
Archangel, Jovah's Angel, The Alleluia Files (sf)
Archangel, Jovah's Angel, The Allelulia Files (sf)
Heart of Gold (sf)
The Shape Changer's Wife (fan)

Sidwa, Bapsi

An American Brat (fic)

Silverberg, Robert

Lord Valentine's Castle (sf)
The Conglomeroid Cocktail Party (sf)

Simmons, Dan

Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion (sf)

Hyperion and its sequels are in the genre of far future settings with complex plot threads, where the central mystery is gradually revealed over the course of the book. This is a genre epitomized (IMHO) by Tepper, although hers have a quite different flavor than this one. The threads here include religion and time travel, with a strong dose of horror thrown in.

Slonczewski, Joan

A Door Into Ocean, Daughters of Elysium (sf)
Brain Plague (sf)
Still Forms on Foxfield (sf)
The Children Star (sf)

Smith, Cordwainer

Norstrilia (sf)
The Rediscovery of Man (sf)

Snow, C.P.

The Two Cultures: and a Second Look (non)

I'd meant to read this short monograph for years, and am glad I finally got around to it. The point that in the 20th century a cultural chasm developed between the sciences and the humanities is almost a cliche by now, but Snow's analysis is still quite worth reading.

Snyder, Midori

Soulstring (fan)
The Innamorati (fan)

Spencer, Wen

Alien Taste (sf)

In Alien Taste, the main character has at least partially readjusted to human society after being raised by wolves, and is working at a private investigator because of his ability to track missing people. He gradually learns the full story of his nonhuman parentage over the course of the book.

Spinrad, Norman

A World Between (sf)
Songs from the Stars (sf)
The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (sf)

Somehow I'd always thought I'd hate Spinrad, but when someone finally shoved his book at me and told me to try it, I was pleasantly surprised. Songs from the Stars is fun despite/because of a very sixties flavor. It's strange how I get these strong ideas about particular authors despite almost total ignorance about their work. Reminds me of when my mother gave me Watership Down when I was pretty young, and I was really upset that she'd given me a boring book about sailing ships, because of the compass on the cover. Of course, when I finally opened it and read about the rabbits, I loved it.

Stanwick, Michael

The Iron Dragon's Daughter (fan)


The Fifth Sacred Thing (fan)

The Fifth Sacred Thing is about a peaceful utopia threatened by miliarist outsiders, attempting to preserve itself without becoming the enemy in the process. It's most similar to Pat Murphy's The City, Not Long After, but with a focus on pagan ecofeminists instead of artists.

Staton, Mary

From the Legend of Biel (sf)

Steele, Allen

A King of Infinite Space (sf)
Labyrinth of Night (sf)
The Jericho Iteration (sf)

Stephenson, Neal

Cryptonomicon (fic)
In the Beginning There Was the Command Line (non)
Snow Crash (sf)
The Big U (fic)
The Diamond Age (sf)
Zodiac (fic)
Zodiac (fic)

Sterling, Bruce

Holy Fire (sf)
Schismatrix Plus (sf)
The Artificial Kid (sf)

Stevermer, Caroline

A College of Magics (fan)
When the King Comes Home (fan)

Stewart, George R.

Earth Abides (sf)

Stewart, Mary

The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment (fan)

Stewart, Sean

Clouds End (fan)
Mockingbird (sf)
Nobody's Son (fan)
Nobody's Son (fan)
Passion Play (sf)
Resurrection Man (fan)
The Night Watch (fan)

Stith, John E.

Against Infinity (sf)
Manhattan Transfer (sf)
Redshift Rendezvous (sf)

Stoll, Cliff

The Cuckoo's Egg (bio)

Stover, Matthew Woodring

Heroes Die (sf)

Stuart, Sean

Galveston (fan)

Sturgeon, Theodore

Caviar (sf)
The Synthetic Man (aka The Dreaming Jewels) (sf)

Sucharitkul, Somtow

Light on the Sound (sf)

Summerscale, Kate

The Queen of Whale Cay (bio)

Swann, S. Andrew

Forests of the Night, Emperors of Twilight, Specters of the Dawn (sf)
The Dragons of the Cuyahoga (fan)

Tan, Amy

The Hundred Secret Senses (fic)

Teixeira, Kevin

A Virtual Soul (sf)

Tepper, Sheri S.

A Plague of Angels (sf)
After Long Silence (sf)
Grass (sf)
Singer from the Sea (sf)
Six Moon Dance (sf)
The Family Tree (sf)
The Gate to Women's Country (sf)
The Song of Mavin Manyshaped, The Flight of Mavin Manyshaped, The Search of Mavin (fan)
The True Game (King's Blood Four, Necromancer Nine, Wizard's Eleven) (sf)

Most of Tepper's books are variations on a single theme: several generations of one group have built a society on a planet shared with another group, but critical details which the people do not understand are gradually unveiled over the course of the book, and if they do not unravel the mystery in time they'll be unknowingly doomed. In most cases the first group is human and the second group is aliens, but sometimes it's women vs men (as in The Gate to Women's Country) or the rather surprising situation in The Family Tree (which has one of the best "aha!" scenes of all time - you'll know what I mean when you get there). I think Grass is the best example of them all, but I enjoy most of them. I wasn't so fond of Beauty or Sideshow, although at least Sideshow arguably fits this pattern. I was worried that she'd gone totally downhill after Gibbon's Decline and Fall, but The Family Tree and Six Moon Dance have restored my willingness to buy her books.

I'll admit that in some of the later books the heavy feminist message gets a tad strident, but there are worse sins...

Tevis, Walter

Mockingbird (sf)
The Man who Fell to Earth (sf)
The Steps of the Sun (sf)

Most people know The Man who Fell to Earth from the David Bowie movie by that name, which bears the distinction of being one of the very few worthwhile SF movies (along with Blade Runner and 2001). The book is worth reading too, even though the movie actually does a good job at capturing its flavor. I have only hazy recollections of The Steps to the Sun - about spaceflight?, and Mockingbird (a somewhat subtle postholocaust story?).

Thompson, Amy

The Color of Distance, Through Alien Eyes (sf)

The Color of Distance is about a human woman who's stranded on an alien world for several years, living among lizardish aliens who have a seemingly primitive lifestyle but extremely advanced biological knowledge. In the first few pages I was put off by the amount of new vocabulary she introduced, since that's often a sign of turgid writing, but it definitely grew on me. I snapped up Through Alien Eyes, the sequel, as soon as I saw it since I wanted to find out how the ambassador aliens fared in human society.

Tiptree,Jr., James

Brightness Falls From the Sky (sf)
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (sf)
Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home (sf)
The Starry Rift (sf)

Tolkien, J.R.R.

The Hobbit (fan)
The Silmarillion (fan)
the Lord of the Rings series (fan)
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King

If you're not into SF/Fantasy you're probably not reading this page. But just in case - start with the Lord of the Rings. The original, and still one of the best. The Hobbit is backstory for LOTR, and I don't like it as much. Read The Silmarillion if you enjoyed the LOTR appendices.

Tolstoy, Leo

Anna Karenina (fic)
War and Peace (fic)

I read War and Peace in three weeks in sixth grade, so I actually don't remember a whole heck of a lot about it. Except wishing he'd cut the philosophical musings and get on with the story. Perhaps I'd have a slightly more sophisticated analysis these days...

Anna Karenina was a gift from my mother, who hit upon the clever ploy of giving me a "real book" once a year to counterbalance my science fiction heavy book choices. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, given that I'd been unable to get more than fifty pages into the previous birthday classic (The Brothers Karamatzov).

Toth, Emily

Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia (non)

Trollope, Anthony

Barchester Towers (fic)

I have difficulty listing this with a straight face, but again I was surprised to discover that I deemed it worth reading. This one was in the middle of my "real book" binge in Berlin - since English books were hard to find and expensive even when used, I deliberately picked out dense ones that would last a while. It's your basic 19th century English novel, something about the vicar trying to hold on to his estate despite the nefarious plottings of the bad guy, and of course most of the plot elements involving women were about finding husbands. It's all a bit hazy, maybe I'm confusing this with one of the several other novels of this type that I read then...

Tufte, Edward R.

Envisioning Information (non)
The Visual Display of Quantitative Data (non)
Visual Explanations (non)

These three books on presentation graphics are mandatory reading for anyone with even a passing interest in visualization. The physical books themselves are a delight to page through - he had to publish them himself since everybody though his production requirements were impossibly stringent. He has some very compelling arguments (although I don't agree with them all) on how to design visual displays that communicate information. However, it's all oriented towards explanatory, rather than exploratory, visualization. (The one time I heard someone ask him about the latter after a talk he sidestepped the question.)

Turner, Delia Marshall

Nameless Magery (fan)
Of Swords and Spells (fan)

Tyler, Anne

The Accidental Tourist (fic)

Ullman, Ellen

Close to the Machine (bio)
Close to the Machine (bio)

Ullman's very Silicon Valley tale of a few months in her life as a programmer. The polyamorous crypto boy with which she becomes entangled is a type more common in the Valley than in, say, Nebraska. I gobbled up this short autobiography one night when I should have been hacking.

Vance, Jack

Araminta Station, Ecce and Old Earth, Throy (sf)

Varley, John

Blue Champagne (sf)
Picnic on Nearside (sf)
Picnic on Nearside (sf)
Steel Dreams (sf)
The Golden Globe (sf)
The Ophiuchi Hotline (sf)
The Persistence of Vision (sf)
Titan, Wizard, Demon (sf)

Viehl, S.L.

Stardoc, Beyond Varallan (sf)

Vinge, Joan D.

Fireship/Mother and Child (sf)
Psion, Catspaw, Dreamfall (sf)
The Snow Queen, World's End, The Summer Queen, Tangled Up In Blue (sf)
The Snow Queen,World's End,The Summer Queen (sf)
The Summer Queen (sf)

Vinge, Vernor

A Deepness in the Sky (sf)
A Fire upon the Deep (sf)
The Peace War (sf)
The Witling (sf)
Threats...And Other Promises (sf)

Vonarburg, Elizabeth

The Silent City (sf)
The Silent City, In the Mother's Land (sf)

Waitman, Katie

The Merro Tree (sf)

Ware, Colin

Information Visualization: Perception for Design (non)

Watson, Ian

The Flies of Memory (sf)

Weber, David

Ashes of Victory (sf)
Echoes of Honor (sf)
War of Honor (sf)
the Honor Harrington series (sf)
On Basilisk Station
Honor of the Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
the Honor Harrington series (sf)
the Honor Harrington series (sf)
the Honor Harrington series (sf)

The Honor Harrington series is unrepentant military space opera, but is great fun. Weber is as right-wing politically as Heinlein: the Royal Manticoran Navy is the good guy, and the People's Republic of Haven is the evil commie bad guy. But there's no taint of the signature Heinlein misogyny here - Honor doesn't grovel before Y chromosomes, she's a strong female hero.

Weber has another somewhat fun but totally mind-candy trilogy: Mutineer's Moon, The Armageddon Inheritance, Heirs of Empire. The Path of the Fury is similar in spirit - cyborg meets Greek fury meets AI spaceship. The books with Steven White (Crusade, Insurrection, In Death Ground) aren't nearly as enjoyable.

Weber, David and Flint, Eric and Drake, David

The Warmasters (sf)

Weiner, Norbert

God and Golem, Inc. (non)

Wells, Martha

City of Bones (fan)
The Death of the Necromancer (fan)
The Element of Fire (fan)
Wheel of the Infinite (fan)

White, T.H.

Mistress Masham's Repose (fan)
The Once and Future King (fan)

The Once and Future King is one of the best known of the Arthurian books, at least to the general public. Not my favorite characterization at all, I find Mary Stewart's Merlinus Ambrosius a far more complex and interesting figure than the somewhat cartoonish Merlin of White. But it's arguably worth reading.

Mistress Masham's Repose is definitely aimed at pretty young children, but fun if you're in the right mood. A little girl trying to avoid her horrid governess finds an island of Lilliputans.

Wilkinson, Tanya

Persephone Returns: Victims, Heroes and the Journey from the Underworld (non)

Willey, Elizabeth

A Sorcerer and a Gentleman (fan)
The Well-Favored Man (fan)

Somewhat reminiscent of Zelazny's Amber series, but more concise and less self-indulgent.

Williams, Sean and Dix, Shane

Echoes of Earth (sf)
The Prodigal Sun (sf)

Williams, Tad

the Otherland series (sf)
City of Golden Shadow
River of Blue Fire
Mountain of Black Glass
Sea of Silver Light

Williams, Walter Jon

Ambassador of Progress (sf)
Aristoi (sf)
Days of Atonement (sf)
Metropolitan, City on Fire (fan)
Voice of the Whirlwind (sf)

The more I read by him, the more I'm surprised by how little his books resemble each other. Voice of the Whirlwind is pretty good mid-near future military, and Day of Atonement is SF/mystery set in the present, written from the point of view of a slowly unravelling small town policeman. Williams pulled off making me sympathize with a civilian-beating cop, which is no mean feat.

Metropolitan is a very SF-feeling story about the political and military skirmishes over Plasm, the energy source that powers magic. For example, plasm runs through a metered distribution network, much like electricity. City on Fire is the direct sequel. Aristoi is set in a future where carefully controlled multiple personalities are not a defect but a critical asset for the ruling elite. The ideas of multitasking subselves is something I've seen often in the "upload your brain into the computer" books, but this is done unaugmented.

Willis, Connie

Bellwether (sf)
Remake (sf)
To Say Nothing of the Dog (sf)

Wilson, F. Paul

Healer (sf)

I've read Healer several times. A man inadvertently gains a symbiote who keeps him alive indefinitely. The libertarian preaching gets pretty heavy-handed, but I enjoyed the book anyway. His other books like Dydeetown World and Wheels within Wheels weren't nearly as compelling.

Wilson, Robert Charles

Bios (sf)
Darwinia (sf)
Memory Wire (sf)
The Chronoliths (sf)
The Harvest (sf)

Winterson, Jeanette

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (bio)
The Passion (fic)

Wolf, Naomi

Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood (non)
The Beauty Myth (non)

A sobering and powerful feminist analysis of how and why "beauty" is heavily and destructively marketed for both financial and political gain. Read it.

Wolfe, Gene

Soldier In the Mist (fan)
The Devil in the Forest (fan)
The Fifth Head of Cerberus (sf)
The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (sf)
The Urth of the New Sun (sf)
the Book of the Long Sun series (sf)
the Book of the New Sun series (sf)
Shadow of the Torturer
Claw of the Conciliator
Sword of the Lictor
Citadel of the Autarch
aka Shadow and Claw, Sword and Citadel

Wood, N. Lee

Bloodrights (fan)
Faraday's Orphans (sf)
Looking for the Mahdi (sf)

Wright, Richard

Native Son (bio)

Zeddies, Ann Tonsor

Deathgift (sf)

Zelazny, Roger

A Night in the Lonesome October (fan)
Doorways in the Sand (sf)
Isle of the Dead, To Die in Italbar (sf)
Lord of Light (sf)
My Name is Legion (sf)
Roadmarks (sf)
The Doors of his Face, the Lamps of his Mouth, and Other Stories (sf)
The Last Defender of Camelot (sf)
This Immortal (sf)
Today We Choose Faces/Bridge of Ashes (sf)
the Amber series (fan)
Nine Princes in Amber
The Guns of Avalon
The Sign of the Unicorn
The Hand of Oberon
The Courts of Chaos
Trumps of Doom
Blood of Amber
Sign of Chaos
Knight of Shadows
Prince of Chaos
the Amber series (fan)

Zelazny, Roger and Lindskold, Jane

Donnerjack (sf)

Zepenauer, Mark and Naiman, Arthur

Take the Rich Off Welfare (non)

Zettel, Sarah

Fool's War (sf)
Reclamation (sf)

Zindell, David

Neverness, The Broken God, The Wild (sf)
The Broken God (sf)

Neverness is an amazing book, full of rich imagery. To sum it up in one wonderful phrase: "Lord Pilot Mathematician". In this far future, you get a spaceship from place to place by proving theorems. Mallory Ringess, one of the best of the elite pilots, is pursued by warrior poets and entities that may or may not be gods. Anyone who likes both SF and math has got to read this. So should everyone else, for that matter. The story continues: The Broken God is still quite good, and continues with the story of Mallory's son Danlo. The quality slips a bit with The Wild (and shouldn't it be called The Vild?!). Although I read War In Heaven because I wanted to know what happened, it wasn't good enough to make it onto the list.

Zinn, Howard

A People's History of the United States (non)

de_Lint, Charles

Forests of the Heart (fan)
Jack of Kinrowan (fan)
Memory & Dream (fan)
Moonheart (fan)
Someplace to be Flying (fan)

Someplace to be Flying is urban fantasy - that is, set in the present with ordinary people who discover that some of the people with whom they're sharing the city are extraordinary. Although in many cases this subgenre is about elves, StbF is instead inspired by a combination of Old World and New World mythology. It's quite well done. De Lint's depiction of the Coyote figure is somewhat more negative than Le Guin's Coyote in Buffalo Gals.

After reading that one, I've started hunting down the others. While I don't have an unlimited tolerance for urban fantasy, I have liked many of the others. And I spoke too soon above - he does arguably write about elves, although he usually calls them manitous and goes for the scary powerful Forest Lord thing rather than the haughty elvish warrior thing. Some similarities between the vibe of these books and Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon and Black Light.


The SF Hall of Fame, Vols 1,2A,2B,3,4 (sf)

Stanford Graphics Group Tamara Munzner