There is something to be said about talking about books. After all, that’s what we read. But, just as much fun as discovering a great new book is discovering a great new author. Or, even discovering a great older author. It’s all new if you have never read an author before.
So, in honor of authors, those wonderful people who write the wonderful books, here is a list of some of the authors I encountered for the first time in 2008.
1. Emma Bull: It all starts with Shadow Unit. (in 2008, almost everything stars with Shadow Unit). Bull's story "Breathe" opened the first season of Shadow Unit and I was sold. It was much later in the year before I was to read War for the Oaks or Territory, but when I did there was no longer any question that Emma Bull wasn't a writer to watch, she was a writer I MUST read.
2. Joe Abercrombie: I've read the first two entries in his First Law trilogy and both The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged deliver brutal epic fantasy goodness. I have no doubt that the third volume will do (has done) the same. I'd confess to a man crush on Abercrombie's fiction, but that would just be weird.
3. Scott Westerfeld: John Scalzi's Why YA post inspired me to pick up one of Westerfield's novels and I ended up with a copy of Uglies in my hands. I quickly ran through Pretties, Specials, and Extras (apparently I never did write that review) and when I finished, I hoped Westerfeld might have one more book left in this series, though I can't imagine what it would be. You can pretend that Westerfeld's work is just YA (if you ignore his fully adult novels) and thus not worth reading, but you'd be wrong and you'd miss out.
4. Ellen Klages: It's all about Portable Childhoods. The short fiction of Ellen Klages is outstanding, so much so that in early 2009 I fully expect to read The Green Glass Sea (which was a short story in Portable Childhoods). Klages is a writer I'm keeping my eye on.
5. Nancy Kress: If you read short fiction and stumble across any of the major magazines and anthologies, or watch the award lists, you'll probably come across a story from Nancy Kress. This year I read my first collection of Kress's short fiction (Nano Comes to Clifford Falls) and my first novel (Dogs). I want to read more.
6. L. Timmel Duchamp: Alanya to Alanya was an eye opening experience. It is a very political novel, a feminist novel, and yet I think it has (or should have) a wider appeal than one might expect if you only look at the labels. The novel helped push me to think about gender and power in ways I had not previously. The second book in the Marq'ssan Cycle, Renegade, is a pyschological battle of will, and in the next two months I intend to read the third volume.
7. Nick Mamatas: Oh, this is primarily based on Under My Roof, but that's enough. I also read Move Under Ground this year and while good (and quite possibly more impressive as it reads like Kerouac), Under My Roof is a true standout. I've got a copy of the anthology he edited with Jay Lake (Spicy Slipstream Stories) on my shelf to read. The man can write, but he also has a solid editorial eye (he was editor of Clarkesworld Magazine)
8. Liz Williams: Between Snake Agent and The Demon and the City I know I want more Detective Inspector Chen (there are two more published and an additional two in the works), but I also want to read some of the other stuff Liz Williams wrote. Detective Inspector Chen is future urban fantasy detective fiction where Heaven and Hell are real, bureaucratic, and interact in human affairs. Good stuff. Real good.
9. Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu: I'll be honest, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is the one novelist on this list from whom I've only read one book (Ellen Klages would have been the other, but it was a collection of stories and I count those differently). In this case that one book is The Shadow Speaker. I don't believe I've encountered much fiction set in Africa (it's out there, I know), and this tale of technology and magic is a beautiful story told well.
I posted a similar list last year, so if you were curious who I discovered for the first time in 2007, well, here you go.