I attempted to lump Science Fiction and Fantasy together into one uber-genre, but quickly discovered that there was no way I could choose only five novelists across both subject areas. Also, to give someone else a chance on these short lists, let’s say that Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and J.R.R. Tolkein are givens.
Science Fiction Favorites
1. Catherine Asaro. Asaro was one of the first authors to deliberately hybridize Science Fiction and Romance. I suspect she was among the first to be active in both RWA and SFWA as well. She and others of her ilk have proven that SF readers don’t mind a little Romance and vice versa. She set the bar pretty high for the science in her novels, and rightfully so. While I’ve enjoyed her more recent Fantasy efforts, and it’s obvious her storytelling skills have improved over what was already great writing, the Skolian Empire series is still my favorite.
2. Philip K. Dick. I’ve just started moving through PKD’s backlist. If you don’t read a lot of Science Fiction, you might not realize that PKD is the mind behind the movies Blade Runner (based on his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Minority Report (based on the eponymous short story written in 1958), Total Recall (based on We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) and A Scanner Darkly. I don’t think there’s any other Science Fiction writer who has influenced contemporary ideas about the genre in the media as much as PKD, and yet few people are of aware of who he was.
3. Linnea Sinclair. Her early books are a good solid mix of Science Fiction and Romance, but Sinclair gets better with every release and I’m heading out shortly to pick up her new one, Games of Command. This former news reporter and retired private detective won the 2006 RWA Rita for Best Paranormal Romance for her book Gabriel’s Ghost. Her books are good examples of seamless melding of Science Fiction and Romance.
4. Joan Vinge. She won the 1981 Hugo Award for Best SF Novel for the first novel of her Snow Queen Cycle. This is the set of novels that bridged the gap for me between Romance and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Gundhalinu has got to be one of my most favorite protagonists, his character arc takes him from fantastic heights to all-time emotional lows and his motivations work during all of it. The science was beautifully melded with the plot with nary an infodump in sight.
5. Kay Kenyon. I discovered Kenyon’s books when I was researching her agent’s client list. Her first novel, The Seeds of Time, has the hallmark of a first novel — you can tell that Kenyon poured her all into it and learned how to be a great writer in the process. She writes about strong female characters, which is always a clincher for me.
Other Notables: William Gibson, Elizabeth Bear, Chris Moriarty, Lois McMaster Bujold, Richard Morgan, Susan Grant, CJ Barry and Marianne de Pierres
Next up, my Fantasy Favorites…