OK, where do I start with that?

OK, where do I start with that? H.

This week my slow crawl along the bookshelves suggesting good places to start with different authors has reached H. I’d like to thank everyone who has made suggestions on the earlier posts, and encourage you to continue to add any authors I don’t read or have forgotten. Do also feel free to argue with me, or with each other, if you think there are better places to start—some of this has been very educational.

I would start H. Rider Haggard with King Solomon’s Mines. They’re Victorian boy’s adventure books with all the sexism, colonialism, and racism that implies, but if you can bear that they’re rattling good adventures.

Joe Haldeman—start with his classic award winning The Forever War. Or you might want to start with a short story collection like A Separate War and Other Stories, because while I like most of his novels I love his short stories and poetry.

For Barbara Hambly, it depends on what you like. I really like her well-built fantasy worlds, so I’d suggest starting with The Silent Tower. If you like fantasy-of-manners try Stranger at the Wedding. If you enjoy historical mysteries with no fantastic element, the Benjamin January books are brilliant. Begin with A Free Man of Color.

I think you could start reading Charles L. Harness anywhere, but I started with The Rose, so that’s what I recommend.

Rosemary Harris was an English writer of children’s books that were on the edge of SF and fantasy, a little like Madeleine L’Engle. I loved A Quest for Orion but while I still own it, I haven’t read it in a long time. There seems to be an American author of the same name writing zippy mysteries. I haven’t read anything of hers.

Harry Harrison—definitely West of Eden. He’s written a lot and most of it is the kind of comedy I don’t much enjoy, but West of Eden has awesome dinosaur people who have an amazing language. If you find biology and linguistics interesting, you’ll like it. If you want a more characteristic book, try A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!

My general recommendation with Heinlein is to start with anything less than an inch thick. If you want specific titles, you could do a lot worse than The Door Into Summer or Citizen of the Galaxy.

For Zenna Henderson, start with the People stories, collected in Ingathering.

Frank Herbert wrote a lot of books that aren’t Dune, but Dune is what it is, a classic significant science fiction novel that combines emotional intensity with a widescreen baroque universe. I’d suggest reading Dune, and if you like it possibly reading the two immediate sequels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, but certainly no further in that series. But do check out his other novels like Whipping Star and Hellstrom’s Hive.

(Brian Herbert is Frank Herbert’s son, who took his father’s prohibition on writing Dune sequels seriously, and has consequently been writing large numbers of prequels. I haven’t read them.)

James Hetley—start with his first novel, The Summer Country.

For Dorothy Heydt (aka Katharine Blake) definitely The Interior Life.

Georgette Heyer wrote regency romances—she pretty much invented the genre of regency romances as it now exists. Some of her books are much better than others. You could try A Civil Campaign (post) or check my old livejournal post on my ranking of Heyer.

You should start P.C. Hodgell with Godstalk because it’s the first one and the others wouldn’t make sense without it. They’re unusual fantasy.

With Nina Kiriki Hoffman you can’t really go wrong wherever you start, but I suggest The Silent Strength of Stones.

L. Ron Hubbard was a golden age SF writer. Much of his work is back in print with appropriately pulpy covers. Try A Matter of Matter.

Barry Hughart wrote Bridge of Birds, a nearly perfect fantasy set in China, and two sequels.

For Keri Hulme you definitely want to start with The Bone People. I’ve read her short stories, and I’m glad I have, but they’re not the place to start.

Aldous Huxley wrote several genre works besides Brave New World, which you’ve probably read already. Island is an odd utopia, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan is traditional SF about an anti-aging technique that removes neoteny, and Ape and Essence is a totally weird hippie SF that makes no sense, but I loved it when I was fifteen. There’s also Time Must Have a Stop which is fantasy about existence after death.


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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