Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Nine Author Discoveries of 2009

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 2009.

1. Nicola Griffith: I can’t say for sure what put Griffith on my radar, but I read Ammonite earlier this year and I fell in love. Ammonite is a beautiful novel and, spoiler alert, one of the best I read this year. I picked up a copy of Slow River and I hope to read more of Griffith’s work in 2010.

2. Steven Brust: For two years I had seen Brust at the Fourth Street Fantasy convention and for two years I heard people praising his Vlad Taltos novels. For some reason I didn’t pick one of them up until late this year. Folks, Brust is *good*. I’ve read Jhereg and Yendi and I expect to devour a good portion of his back catalog in 2010.

3. C. J. Cherryh: Blame Jo Walton. Walton had a series of posts on about Cherryh and her work and she sold me on giving Cherryh a shot. I had been carrying this lingering negative assumption about what sort of novel Cherryh wrote based entirely on her name (the H on the end was a weird turn off when I was fifteen) and some of the covers I saw on her books in the mid 1990’s. At this point I can only assume they were of the Chanur novels because those covers still make me cringe. What I discovered, though, was some smart science fiction that completely erased an irrational impression caused fifteen years ago. Cyteen was a fantastic starting point and I’ll be delving into more of Cherryh’s work in 2010.

4. Peter S. Beagle: By my age most fantasy readers had discovered Peter Beagle’s work some fifteen to twenty years ago with The Last Unicorn. I managed to make it past my thirtieth year without having read The Last Unicorn. I still haven’t. What I have read is two collections of Beagle’s short fiction and they were each fantastic. Next year I plan to read his career retrospective The Mirror Kingdoms as well as rectifying that failure of my childhood and read The Last Unicorn.

5. Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow. Need I say more? It is a beautiful and painful novel.

6. Charles Saunders: His debut (thirty years ago) sword and sourcery epic Imaro is a fantastic novel and though he has published few novels over his career, Saunders may well be one of the unsung giants of the field. Imaro deserved to have a larger readership than it received and I expect to read the second Imaro novel in 2010.

7: Stephen Baxter: I’ve discovered Baxter through some of his shorter work and 2010 should see me delving into his novels, but what I’ve read of Baxter has been fantastic.

8. Ken Scholes: Lamentation was an impressive debut novel and I have high hopes for the rest of the Psalms of Isaak.

9. Suzanne Collins: I don’t know if I will be inspired to check out the rest of her work, but the first two volumes of The Hunger Games trilogy is absolutely fantastic.

For the curious, here are my lists from 2007 and 2008.


Unknown said...

I only started reading books again this year (that is if we don't count graphic novels and comic collections which I started reading last summer) and I made a point of trying out new authors. I used to mainly read Tolkien, Weiss and Hickman, Martin, Pratchett and Erikson. Well, read and re-read until the books were in tatters. I suppose now that I'm older and have some disposable income it's easier for me to go out and expand my library of titles. 5-10 pounds for a book doesn't seem like quite such a big deal as it did back when it was basically my whole week's pocket money and, you know, I had to have those sweets :)

Anyway, I digress, I've basically discovered new authors with every book I've read. Abercrombie, Donaldson, Sanderson, Zelazny, Bester, Bujold, Brust, Cook and Wilson are just some of the names I remember.

Perhaps next year I'll try to expand to reading books outside of the speculative fiction/sff/whatever-you-want-to-call-it sphere. Maybe even increase the quota of books from female authors.

Marcin said...

Maybe next year You will discover (at last) David Gemmell and his books. You could start with “Legend”, then “The King Beyond the Gate” and then “Waylander”. All these books are very good and were written in that exact order. The inner chronology of the Drenai series starts with “Waylander”. “Legend” is 8th and “The King Beyond the Gate” is 9th, but I think it is best to read them first. In fact all the books in this series are pretty much self-contained (apart from some references to the earlier books) and can be read as standalone novels. Try them, please!

Joe said...

Maybe so.