Xander reading

Weekend reading

Yay! On the front porch when I got home was an Amazon package containing Iain M. Banks's latest novel, Matter. As you all know, the "M" is Scottish for "science fiction", so this is an SF novel. A Culture novel, specifically.

Banks is, to my tastes, the best living writer of SF, so I'm psyched for my weekend reading. Me, bathtub, Lush, Banks: it's a date.

Who's your pick for best living writer of SF? Or if you can't pick just one, who are your top five? Tell me about the writers you love, whose work you'll pick up sight unseen.
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Lois McMaster Bujold is number one for SF, definitely; her new fantasy series "Sharing Knife" isn't that great, but her Vorkosigan books are awesome. Her writing is gorgeous, her characters feel like real people, she deals with big themes and issues and, above all, her books are just darn fun to read. Many of my text icons are quotes from her books.

After her, my favorite is probably Eric Flint.
I think almost all of Bujold's work is present in this house. I read "Mountains of Mourning" in an anthology a while back, and was instantly won over. Read all of the Vorkosigan books in a big gulp, and have moved on to her fantasy. I like the Chalion books better than "The Sharing Knife", though I'm waiting to see what her world-building will do there.

I had never heard of Eric Flint, though Mr P's reaction was "alt-history Baen writer", which appears to be what he is, yes?
you know i can't resist this!! And since I hadn't heard of Iaian M. Banks I'm going to have to pick up some of his stuff next time I go to the half price books... it also sounds like he would be very much enjoyed by my boyfriend too!

So, it's not a top 5 list, because right now I am sadly too picky to grab any book by some of my older fav authors (people like Andre Norton, who I love in the main, but who I now kind of filter out because she's writing with others who I don't love quite so much). Top three it is! And I know you'll forgive that two of them are often identified as cyberpunk authors, right? legitimate subgenre and all ;)

1. Pat Cadigan. This is one of my two cyberpunk people - and she's working on a new novel now so I can consider her to be in this list mostly (besides, I snap up her novels no matter when I see them, even if I already have copies, just so I can give them out to people. She does the japanese-cyberpunk culture the way it *should* be done, the virtual reality the way it *can* be done and just... yum. Identity, loss, memory. Oh yeah.
2. Ian McDonald. who, thank the gods, still *writing*!! Everything I've ever read of his is complex and very very smart and savy and just ... compelling. If you haven't heard of him and are interested, I cannot recommend Terminal Cafe enough. Crazy storyline, beautiful and different take on what the cyberpunk genre can/might/could be.
3. David Weber. If you haven't read the Honor Harrington series yet, I cannot encourage you enough to go out and buy it! It's got the most wonderful, ever, military sci fi and I don't even like military sci fi. Oh, and space-cats.

and an extra two, who aren't writing scifi but should be: Joanna Russ. Although unfortunately health problems mean that she doesn't write anymore, she writes absolutely brilliant lyrical sf. And she's a feminist who pretty much transformed certain people's perceptions of the genre.

Samuel Delany. OMG. Please, if you read nothing else, pick up his Neveryona series. Or Trouble on Triton. But start off slow and then eventually read Dhalgren, over a couple of bottles of wine over successive evenings. He's... my hero. :D

Mr P has been trying to get me to read Trouble on Triton for years. Have read some of Delany's shorter SF. Have... complicated feelings about him because, hrm, well, he taught my year of [famous SF writing workshop] and he did some stuff I think is unforgiveable in a teacher. But he's obviously an interesting writer, and a big figure in the history of SF.

Cadigan is on the shelves in the living room, visible from where I recline on the sofa right now, and I should read her. Weber I've never read, though I'm aware of him. Two of you have recced him to me now, so on the list he goes!

Mr Pedia assures me that a) we have Ian McDonald on the shelf, and b) "it's very good shit, too!" He just handed me one of his books, hoping no doubt that I will not observe that he just ran off with Matter.
I'm going to second David Weber and the Honor Harrington series.

I'll add SM Stirling (more fantasy than sci-fi), Anne McCaffery (kind of a mix of both), John Scalzi (start with Old Man's War) and Piers Anthony (who was one of the first sci-fi writers I ever read).
Anne McCaffrey: a classic Analog writer! That is, a hard SF writer. Okay, at one point in her career she was :)

I've never read Scalzi, and it's clear that I should sometime soon.
I am a fan of Sherri S. Tepper. Some of her books over moralize, but when she hits a groove, her stories make you think. Gate To Women's Country is probably her most famous book, but I loved Grass (even though the mystery is sort of slow) and The Family Tree.

I'll ready anything by Neil Gaiman and I love Terry Pratchett. For updated Space Opera I like Peter F. Hamilton. He does tend to concentrate on the physical wow factor of his female protagonists, but he spins a good yarn.

Have you read Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey? I liked it, she does a great job of world building. The follow ups are good too, but I like the first one the best. I'm now waiting for Kushiel's Justice to come out in paperback.
I've read both Grass and The Family Tree by Tepper. In the case of the later, I was sort of furious once I realized what the looming big reveal was going to be. Big letdown. However, I think she's an interesting writer in general.

Pratchett and Gaiman I take as a matter of course: anybody out there who hasn't read Pratchett yet needs to drop everything and do so now. Start with Small Gods, please!

A couple of years ago I read Hamilton's huge huge huge series on, hrm, souls, pretty much. I enjoyed the read at the time, but not much stuck with me.

I just the other day bought a copy of Kushiel's Dart. Will be reading soon!
Iain M Banks
C.J. Cherryh
Rebecca Ore
Michael Swanwick
Rudy Rucker
Octavia Butler is one person who isn't a living SF writer, but who should be, because my gosh she died way too suddenly and far too young. I adored her characters, her gritty worlds, the way she managed to find that nugget of optimism and hope in the darkest tales.
Hmmm. My favourites aren't really SF as such! LOL.

Tanith Lee - I just adore the way she writes. Everything is just so rich.

Kim Stanley Robinson - Purely for the Mars saga. I've read "Red Mars" and I'm now starting "Green Mars".

Ursula Le Guin - again, it's the WAY she writes.

David Eddings - for the Belgariad series. I think that's the series of books I've re-read most often.

And no list would be complete without the great God himself: Terry Pratchett!
Red Mars made me excited about SF-as-engineer's-fiction again. KSR commits comma splices and the writing is rocky, but the ideas are cool. Hard SF from an environmentalist perspective is a nice change of pace! (I'll probably never write it, but hard SF is my main reading love.)
I'm a Clarke girl to the core - seeing 2001 when I was eight was what originally got me into SF. I even like his later not so good collaborative books. Another one of my all time favourites in Ursula Le Guin, though I have to say that I prefer her fantasy over her scifi.

I used to read a lot of hard SF when I was younger, but I've somehow migrated more to urban fantasy the last few years. My most recent find is Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books which I've been enjoying immensely (I put off reading them for a long time because I suspected that people were only reccing them because the audiobooks were read by James Marsters - turns out that the books really were good).

On fantasy side, Gaiman, Pratchett and Tolkien are of course given - there's a reason why I wrote my thesis on Pratchett and am a member of the board of Finnish Tolkien Society ;)
"A Meeting with Medusa" is the Clarke story that most stands out for me. Though I was fond of the Tales of the White Hart stories he wrote with Asimov.

2001 the novel gave me the freakin' willies when I first read it. Scared me in a deep way, not in the horror/thrill way. More in the "oh my the universe is truly huge and it contains unknowable things" way.
I'm a Julian May fan, particularly the Galactic Milieu series, and the Rampart Worlds trilogy.

Plus Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and its sequels.

And anything by Anne McCaffrey that isn't about dragons.