Over at Tor.com Jo Walton has a post asking readers to list out great writers who we felt should have far greater commercial success than they do. Walton includes both the writers who are great, but never seem to be in the conversation AND the ones who receive decent critical acclaim, but not the sales AND the ones who consistently sell, but have never quite had that breakout novel.
Walton nicked the idea from James Nicoll.
I've contributed to both posts, but I wanted to do it here, too.
The first two that came to mind were Daniel Keys Moran and Charles Saunders, and I think they are the best examples of this. They were able to publish several novels, but those novels didn't sell well enough for them to get the chance to keep publishing new ones.
Daniel Keys Moran has a series of related novels in his "Continuing Time" milieu. When I was in high school I absolutely fell for his novel The Long Run, a book about a legendary figure "Trent the Uncatchable", but couldn't find his other stuff for nearly a decade. I eventually did read the first book Emerald Eyes and then later The Last Dancer. Emerald Eyes was a bit of a disappointment, but I did like The Last Dancer. I've been holding out hope that some goodly publisher will put his books back in print and will ALSO be goodly enough to publish the long missing AI War. I believe Moran has been publishing it in chunks on his blog, but I would love to get the whole thing in one go. You can find free electronic copies of his novels here. I should like to mention that I recently found a copy of The Armageddon Blues in my local used book shop, which is one DKM novel I haven't had the pleasure to read.
If you've read my review of Imaro then you won't be surprised that Charles Saunders is my next pick. Saunders is a recent discovery, but Imaro was so fantastic and the publication history of Charles Saunders is so disappointing (retrospectively to me, but to Saunders himself and to the readers who discovered Charles Saunders back when he first published these novels all those years ago). Night Shade brought back the first two Imaro novels a few years back, but it looks like sales weren't enough to publish the third or contract for new Imaro stories. Truly disappointing, but Saunders appears to be working on new Imaro novels and self-publishing them. When I catch up with the series, I'm going to buy them. The lack of a Charles Saunders presence is SFF today is damn near criminal. Hopefully the looming resurgence of Sword & Sorcery fiction will bring Saunders back on that wave. Please.
I'd also bring Matthew Stover into the conversation. His Caine novels are fantastic. Unlike DKM and Saunders, Stover is still selling well enough to continue to publish, but I would love to see Matthew Stover get the big time household recognition his awesomeness deserves. I believe we've got two more Caine novels forthcoming and some other stuff on Stover's plate, and he's published some of the best novels in the Star Wars Universe, but a new Stover is cause for celebration.
And finally, Nicola Griffith. Y'all know how I feel about Ammonite, right? Like Stover, Griffith is still publishing and like Stover, Griffith is very well regarded for the fiction she does publish. But, being a greedy reader, I want more. I've only read the one novel and the one story (you will hear more about Griffith and "It Takes Two" with the various awards this year, or I will be sorely disappointed), but Griffith is fantastic and I really think she should have massive popular sales.
So, that's my list. I'm sure I could add others if I thought more about it (like, I'm hoping that Jennifer Pelland sells her first novel and it is a smash - I am enamored with her short fiction, and despite the fact that she consistently publishes new novels at a rate that boggles the mind, Elizabeth Bear deserves greater sales, especially for her Promethean Age novels), but I'm going to leave it with these four...er...six.
Who do you think should have greater recognition?