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.)
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
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
Tanith Lee Biting the Sun
Alexis Panshin Rite of Passage
Madeleine Robins Sarah Tolerance books
Nevil Shute In the Wet
Clifford Simak Way Station
Joan Slonczewski A Door Into Ocean
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.)
T.S. Bass The Godwhale, Half Past Human
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.
Gardner Dozois Strangers
Jane Emerson (Doris Egan) City of Diamond
M.A. Foster Morphodite trilogy
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.
Barry Hughart Bridge of Birds
Pat Murphy The Falling Woman
David Palmer Emergence
Walter Tevis Mockingbird
Jo Walton Lifelode (Totally without comment…)
David Zindell Neverness, The Broken God
(98 authors. Remember that next time you think I’ve read a lot!)
Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series
Leslie Barringer Gerfalcon
Carol Berg Transformation
Anne Billson Suckers
Rachel Caine Weatherwarden series
Brian Daley Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds trilogy
Tom DeHaven Chronicles of King’s Tramp
Doris Egan Gate of Ivory
Phyllis Eisenstein The Book of Elementals
Andreas Eschbach The Carpet Makers
Kelley Eskridge Solitaire
Mark Frost The List of Seven
Carolyn Ives Gilman Halfway Human
Gwyneth Jones White Queen
Katherine Eliska Kimbriel Fires of Nuala series
Sanders Anne Laubenthal Excalibur
Jacqueline Lichtenberg Sime/Gen
James Lovegrove Provinder Gleed
Ricardo Pinto Stone Dance of the Chameleon
Philip Reeve Mortal Engines
Justina Robson Natural History
Charles Saunders Imaro
Hilary Schenck At the Eye of the Ocean
Arthur Sellings The Quy Effect
Eluki bes Shahar Hellflower
A.E. Silas The Panorama Egg
William Browning Spencer Resume with Monsters
Mary-John Staton From the Legend of Biel
Lucy Taylor The Safety of Unknown Cities
Wilson Tucker Year of the Quiet Sun
Alida Van Gores Mermaid’s Song
Kit Whitfield In Great Waters
Liz Williams Inspector Chen series
Bernard Wolfe Limbo
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.