Neglected Books: the list

So, I asked for recommendations for neglected books and authors and had an overwhelming response. I’m going to make the results into a useful reading list, in alphabetical order, with links, and usefully divided. The world is a very big place with a lot of stuff in it, and a lot of books are published and pretty much vanish. They say word-of-mouth is the best way to find books, and these are all books with someone to advocate for them. Sometimes I was astonished to find something was out of print, other times delighted to see that it was. (Murray Leinster is in print! Katherine Maclean is!) Other times I was surprised to find an author I’d never even vaguely heard of who published several books. I read a lot, and I’ve spent a lot of time online and in conventions hanging out talking about books. If I’ve never heard of Wilhelmina Baird or Wilmar Shiras, it’s not the same as your great-aunt never having heard of Neal Stephenson. Nobody can read everything, and nobody wants to, but I’m surprised there are so many I haven’t even considered. And then there are the authors I can’t believe anyone thinks are obscure.

Part 1: Books and authors that I’ve already reviewed here

(34 authors. Links are to the reviews.)

Daniel Abraham

Eleanor Arnason Ring of Swords

Lisa Barnett and Melissa Scott Point of Hopes, Point of Dreams

Gillian Bradshaw The Beacon at Alexandria 

C.J. Cherryh—a multiple Hugo winning author, one of my very favourite writers, and at first I couldn’t believe anyone could suggest she was obscure or neglected. But on reflection, her work, while still excellent, doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it used to. People don’t seem to be as excited by her. I haven’t seen either of her two 2010 releases on people’s “best of year” lists. So maybe she is being neglected. If so, big mistake.

Pamela Dean Tam Lin

Peter Dickinson King and Joker, Eva

Candas Jane Dorsey Black Wine

M.A. Foster The Game Players of Zan

Lisa Goldstein Tourists

Angelica Gorodischer Kalpa Imperial

Barbara Hambly Sorcerer’s Ward/Stranger at the Wedding

Zenna Henderson People stories

Nina Kirikki Hoffman The Silent Strength of Stones

John James Votan and Not for all the Gold in Ireland

Rosemary Kirstein

Tanith Lee Biting the Sun

Ian McDonald Desolation RoadKing of Morning, Queen of Day

Maureen McHugh Mission Child, China Mountain Zhang

Robin McKinley The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, Deerskin

Sarah Monette

Elizabeth Moon The Speed of Dark and The Serrano series

Alexis Panshin Rite of Passage

H. Beam Piper Lord Kalvan of Otherwhere, Fuzzy Stories

Madeleine Robins Sarah Tolerance books

Eric Frank Russell

Nevil Shute In the Wet

Clifford Simak Way Station

Joan Slonczewski A Door Into Ocean

Sherwood Smith

Sean Stewart

Elizabeth Vonarburg In the Mother’s Land

Robert Charles Wilson—He’s not obscure. But maybe he is underappreciated, considering how amazing he is.

Part II: Books and authors I’ve read but not (yet) reviewed here

(44 authors. That I’ve read it doesn’t necessarily mean I liked it or endorse the recommendation.)

Kage Baker

T.S. Bass The Godwhale, Half Past Human

Leigh Brackett

Emma Bull

John Crowley—I was going to say he’s one of the most respected authors in fantasy, reviewed in the mainstream press, with a 25th anniversary edition of Little Big coming out, he can’t be considered obscure, and then I noticed that everything we have in the Tor.com store is from small presses.

Avram Davidson

Gardner Dozois Strangers

Jane Emerson (Doris Egan) City of Diamond

M.J. Engh

M.A. Foster Morphodite trilogy  

James Alan Gardner Expendable

Randall Garrett

Mary Gentle

Elizabeth Goudge

Steven Gould

Nicola Griffith Slow River —This won a Nebula, so I wouldn’t call it obscure, exactly. Griffith got a lot of attention when Ammonite came out, but she hasn’t produced anything in genre for some time, so perhaps she counts as under-appreciated now.

Geraldine Harris

M. John Harrison

Robin Hobb

P.C. Hodgell

Barry Hughart Bridge of Birds

Diana Wynne Jones

Janet Kagan

Naomi Kritzer

Henry Kuttner

Ellen Klages

R.A. Lafferty

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Murray Leinster

R.A. MacAvoy

Katherine Maclean

David Marusek

Jack McDevitt

Patricia McKillip 

Daniel Keys Moran 

Pat Murphy The Falling Woman

Kim Newman

David Palmer Emergence

Tom Reamy

Mack Reynolds

Michael Scott Rohan

Lucius Shepard

Sharon Shinn 

John Sladek

Cordwainer Smith

Thorne Smith

Judith Tarr 

Walter Tevis Mockingbird

Howard Waldrop 

Jo Walton Lifelode (Totally without comment…)

Ian Watson

Michelle West (and as for the subthread about where to start with her, I’d suggest Hunter’s Oath.)

Elizabeth Willey

Edward Whittimore

David Zindell Neverness, The Broken God

Part III: Books and authors I haven’t read

(98 authors. Remember that next time you think I’ve read a lot!)

Joe Abercrombie

Ray Aldridge

Lloyd Alexander—lesser known series, Westmark and Holly Vesper

Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series

Sarah Ash

Wilhelmina Baird

R. Scott Bakker

Leslie Barringer Gerfalcon

Carol Berg Transformation

Anne Billson Suckers

Stephen L. Burns

Rachel Caine Weatherwarden series

Mary Caponegro

Jayge Carr

Brian Daley Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds trilogy

Tony Daniel Metaplanetary and Superluminal

Tom DeHaven Chronicles of King’s Tramp

Dave Duncan

Doris Egan Gate of Ivory

Phyllis Eisenstein The Book of Elementals

P.N. Elrod

Andreas Eschbach The Carpet Makers

Kelley Eskridge Solitaire

Jeffrey Ford

Lorna Freeman

Mark Frost The List of Seven

Monica Furlong

Alexis Gilliland

Carolyn Ives Gilman Halfway Human

Victor Gishler

Kathleen Ann Goonan

Richard Grant

Jon Courtney Grimwood

Linda Haldeman

Christopher Hinz

Cecelia Holland Floating Worlds, Varanger

Matthew Hughes

Rhys Hughes

Simon Ings

Marie Jakober

K.W. Jeter

Gwyneth Jones White Queen

Sherryl Jordan

Katherine Eliska Kimbriel Fires of Nuala series

Sanders Anne Laubenthal Excalibur

Jacqueline Lichtenberg Sime/Gen

James Lovegrove Provinder Gleed

Wil McCarthy

Judith Merkle Riley

Henry Melton

Sarah Micklem 

Donald Moffitt

Lyda Morehouse (rebranded as Tate Halloway)

Linda Nagata

Eric S. Nylund

Jack O’Connell

Patrick O’Leary

Rebecca Ore

Paul Park

Ricardo Pinto Stone Dance of the Chameleon 

Sally Prue

Philip Reeve Mortal Engines

Adam Roberts

Justina Robson Natural History

Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Charles Saunders Imaro

Hilary Schenck At the Eye of the Ocean 

Arthur Sellings The Quy Effect

Eluki bes Shahar Hellflower

Lisa Shearin

Wilmar Shiras

A.E. Silas The Panorama Egg

Jack Skillingstead

Clark Ashton Smith

Kristine Smith

William Browning Spencer Resume with Monsters

Nancy Springer

Michael A Stackpole

Mary-John Staton From the Legend of Biel

Matthew Stover

Victoria Strauss

Lucy Taylor The Safety of Unknown Cities

Dr Travis S. Taylor

Wilson Tucker Year of the Quiet Sun

George Turner

Catherynne Valente

Alida Van Gores Mermaid’s Song

Peter Watts

Elizabeth Wein

Martha Wells 

Megan Whalen Turner

Kit Whitfield In Great Waters

Liz Williams Inspector Chen series

Bernard Wolfe Limbo

Chris Wooding

Janny Wurtz

Jerry Yulsman Elleander Morning

Part IV: Books and authors that are well known and shouldn’t be on this list

Lois McMaster Bujold—countless Hugos, bestselling, incredibly popular. She’s one of my favourite writers, and I’ve done a lot of posts about her books but she’s not obscure or neglected by any measure.

Stephen R. Donaldson—bestselling, immensely popular, the absolute opposite of obscure. His books have release dates like Harry Potter. There are people who could feel insulted to be mentioned on this list, you know.

Stieg Larson The Girl who Played with Fire & Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Link is to a review.) These are a stupendously successful non-genre best sellers. The opposite of obscure.

Gene Wolfe has won or been nominated for almost every award in the field, widely read and mentioned with reverence by everyone.

Roger Zelazny A Night in the Lonesome October — Even though this is out of print right now, it’s a very well known book by one of SF’s most lauded authors. There are groups of people who read this aloud one day at a time every October. If this is obscurity, I’ll take it.


Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

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