May 30 2010 11:19am

OK, where do I start with that? G.

So this week in our alphabetical survey of where to start reading with different authors, we get to G. As usual, please add your starting places for any authors I don’t read or have forgotten, and please feel free to disagree with me, or with each other, if you think there’s a better place to start. If I have written a post on a book, I’ll link to it.

G starts with the immensely popular Neil Gaiman. Maybe people who can read comics can suggest places to start with his graphic work? For his textual work, I suppose the sensible place to start would be with multiple-award winning modern-day fantasy American Gods, but my suggestion is the charming book about Armageddon he wrote with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens.


Daniel F. Galouye seems kind of old-fashioned now, but he wrote a lot of books that were early explorations of ideas that were then new. They’re solid light science fiction—well worked out, and amusing. Counterfeit World is about people living in a computer simulation, written before there were computers. It’s also a satire on advertising. It’s not a bad place to start, and it seems to be in print in a Kindle edition for you e-book fans. My favourite book of his is Dark Universe.

James Alan Gardner is a Canadian science fiction writer. Expendable starts his enjoyable space opera series about space exploration by people nobody would miss. I very much enjoyed Commitment Hour which is hard to describe—it’s a feminist utopia with interesting gender issues and a lot of depth.

Richard Garfinkle—Celestial Matters. Where else are you going to find rigorously worked out SF with literal crystal spheres?

If you’re an adult and you’ve never read Alan Garner, I’d definitely start with The Owl Service, which is the book where he makes the things that he does work best. What he’s doing is contemporary fantasy deeply rooted in place and legend. His earlier books, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, and Elidor are slightly more childish—they’re children’s books—and work slightly less well for an adult reader. His later books, from the brilliant but weird Red Shift onwards, get odder and odder.

I started reading Elizabeth Gaskell when she was described to me as a writer talking about how technology changed society when the technology in question was trains. The book that most meets that description is North and South, but what I suggest you start with is the adorable Cranford. Cranford is one of the most deeply enjoyable books ever written. It’s all small scale and domestic, it isn’t a romance, the characters are extremely real, it’s sweet and funny and short and just lovely.

Stella Gibbons—Cold Comfort Farm. It’s science fiction, written in the thirties and set in the future.

William Gibson—Neuromancer.

Rumer Godden didn’t write any science fiction, or even fantasy, but a lot of mainstream books about people’s lives in England and India in the mid twentieth century. She wrote a lot, and most of it is very good. Some of the books she wrote towards the end of her life are very slight. Going largely on what seems to be in print, I’d suggest starting with In This House of Brede if you’re interested in nuns (and why on earth anybody would become one), or how people live together in community, and An Episode of Sparrows. Her most brilliant book is China Court, which has been very influential on my imagination of what is possible to write.

Gail Godwin, a Southern American mainstream feminist writer—probably start with A Mother and Two Daughters or The Good Husband. But her new one absolutely blew me away a couple of weeks ago—Unfinished Desires. It’s about nuns. And it would make a really interesting paired reading with In This House of Brede, because at the heart of iTHoB is the grace of God as a real thing, whereas at the heart of Unfinished Desires is the idea that the stories we need to tell don’t need to be literally true.

Parke Godwin—oh, definitely Waiting For the Galactic Bus. I can’t describe it, you wouldn’t believe me.

Johann Goethe—The Sorrows of Young Werther. This book, about an angsty young man, apparently caused waves of suicide across Europe when it came out. I think it’s hilarious because it’s so over the top it’s impossible to take seriously.

William Goldman—though I own many of his books, I would strongly urge anyone to start with The Princess Bride. But if you have read that and you want to know what else he has written, the next thing I’d suggest is The Color of Light, a brilliant but extremely creepy book about finding a muse and what you’d put up with to keep one.

Lisa Goldstein is one of my favourite writers, and you could do a lot worse than starting with The Dream Years and reading all the rest in chronological order. Or start with Tourists, which is just amazing.

Alison Goodman—Singing the Dogstar Blues. When people want to know where the YA SF is, point them at this.

Angelica Gorodischer—Kalpa Imperial. How nice it would be if more of her work were translated.

Theodora Goss is one of the best short story writers and poets working today in fantasy. Lots of her work can be found online. She has a terrific collection In The Forest of Forgetting.

Robert Graves wrote an odd utopian SF novel while on holiday, because writing something set in the future wouldn’t take any research. That’s Seven Days in New Crete, which I suppose I’m glad I’ve read, but isn’t where you want to start. You want to start with I, Claudius, of course, and if you love it, and love his other historical novels, and even The White Goddess and his poetry and there isn’t any more and you are desperate for more Graves, then read Seven Days in New Crete. He was a terrific historical novelist, but he didn’t know SF from a hole in a tree, and he had very odd ideas about women.

Graham Greene—I find him vastly over-rated, and very dated. But if you have to, then the first half of Travels With My Aunt holds up pretty well.

Martin H. Greenberg is one of the most prolific anthologists around, often in collaboration with other people. Perhaps his best anthology, certainly one containing lots of memorable stories, is After the King, stories in honour of Tolkien.

I cannot really recommend W.E.B. Griffin, despite the fact that I have two whole shelves of books by him. Start with Semper Fi, the best and most characteristic of his books, and the start of his Corps series. Definitely bad, but good.

Nicola Griffith comes next, and it’s a wonder that part of my shelf doesn’t ignite in pure cognitive dissonance. Griffith is a terrific feminist SF writer, and I’d start with her first novel, Ammonite.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales comes next. If they wrote anything else, I don’t know of it.

Ken Grimwood—Replay.

David Gurr is a thriller writer who wrote the very odd Ring Master, which Emmet read thinking it was fantasy because the packaging makes it look that way. It’s actually about Hitler and Wagner and it’s very hard to describe. If you are interested in a novel about the ways in which the Third Reich was Wagnerian, then this is the book for you. I don’t know if I’ll ever read it again (it’s very long) but it was certainly unusual.

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.

Linden Wolfe
1. Lilith
For Simon Green, I would suggest starting with either the first book in the Nightside series, Something from the Nightside series, or with the first book in the Secret History / Eddie Drood series, The Man with the Golden Torc.

I agree totally with your comments about Graham Greene. Much better to watch the films made from his works (e.g. The Third Man), than read him.

As an aside, I'm really enjoying this series of articles as a prompt to seek out books/authors I've never read before, as well as a reminder of books I enjoyed years ago and have since forgotten until reminded. My list of books to dig out of the boxes in the spare room for re-reading, and books to be borrowed from the local library, is getting longer by the week.
James Davis Nicoll
2. James Davis Nicoll
Alexis Gilliland. Unfortunately to date it's very easy to just read every novel by him published because there's only seven of them: the three Rosinante novels (The Revolution from Rosinante, Long Shot for Rosinante and The Pirates of Rosinante) about a space colony and the last days of the North American Union and stuff, the Wizenbeak trilogy (Wizenbeak, The Shadow Shaia, and The Lord of the Troll-bats), the troubles of a wizard in a politically divided fantasy kingdom and the stand-alone End of the Empire, in which the remnants of a royal house fleeing a revolution at home encounter a libertarian utopia.

I like the first series best but they are all fun.
zaphod beetlebrox
3. platypus rising
Jon Courtenay Grimwood - Pashazade, the first book in the Arabesk trilogy, or the standalone 9tail Fox, or perhaps, who knows, the forthcoming first volume in his new fantasy trilogy.

Friedrich Glauser - Thumbprint, the translation of the first of the Sergeant Studer mysteries.

Neil Gaiman - I generally recommend Fables and Reflections as an entry point for Sandman.

Mary Gentle - The White Crow collection.

Nikolai Gogol - the short stories: The Nose, The Overcoat, Diary of a Madman.
Clark Myers
4. ClarkEMyers
Randall Garrett - Too Many Magicians
Martin Gardner - definitely something but I suspect the better starting place is very much dependent on the audience.
Mary Gentle - not qualified to make specific suggestions
Mark Geston - Lords of the Starship for those who can relate.
Tom Godwin - The Cold Equations
James Gunn - non fiction genre histories and criticism though I liked This Fortress World in 1955 it's very dated and the psi is I suppose aimed at the Campbell market. Better some short stories.
René Walling
5. cybernetic_nomad
I would highly recommend Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy (and I'm surprised you missed that one since I know it's in the house)

Phyllis Gotlieb I would recommend either Sunburst of Blue Apes (a collection of short stories)

Tom Godwin is best known for "The Cold Equations" I don't know if it's the best place to start, but it's certainly the place most people do.

Terrence M. Green is a brilliant Toronto writer, Shadows of Ashland is a good place to start

Can anyone recommend a good starting point for David Gerrold, Ron Goulart and Jon Courtenay Grimwood?

Edit: I'm too slow to post, it looks like I don't read anyone else's comments...
Christian Decomain
6. Khryss
For Mary Gentle, I would recommend to start with Golden Witchbreed, an excellent first contact SF. Grunts is probably her most famous work, at least in the states, but is sort of polarising.
If you like epic alternate history, you could also start with Ash, although in this case I would recommend ordering the original one volume from UK (Gollancz). Bantam split the single novel into four books for the US market, which is kinda silly.
Clark Myers
7. ClarkEMyers
#5 - For Gerrold I'd say start with the collaboration The Flying Sorcerers - The Man Who Folded isn't bad though perhaps Heinlein said it all in many fewer words.

Forthcoming books in The War Against the Chtorr may well be very interesting:
"One reason given by Gerrold for the length of time taken between books 4 and 5 is the need to develop a writing style called "first person psychotic". Indications are that the central character attempts to survive by adaptation without being absorbed by the alien ecology, descends into his own personal version of living hell, or both."
David Levinson
8. DemetriosX
For Neil Gaiman, I concur with Good Omens, though you can also get a good feel for his work through any of his short story collections. If you liked the films for Coraline or Stardust, those might also be good starting points.

I was also going to suggest Garrett's Lord Darcy stories. He also collaborated with a number of people.

Parke Godwin also wrote a number of semi-historical fantasies based on legends. Firelord is his Arthur book and is interesting, though I really liked Beloved Exile which is about Guinevere after the Saxons win.

Goethe: Werther? Really? This is a narrative that would make the biggest emo in the world shake their head at what a loser the protagonist is. German schoolkids are still made to read this and it is universally hated.

Ron Goulart wrote a lot of comic SF in the 60s and 70s. It tends to be of the zany, madcap variety, but I think if you like, say, the Retief stories, you'll like these.

I haven't read much of his work, but Charles L. Grant has written some interesting modern horror.

Robert Graves also wrote a good novel based on the Argonauts. It appeared as both Hercules, My Shipmate and The Golden Fleece. Take any of his non-fiction -- especially The White Goddess and his interpretations of the Greek myths -- with very large grains of salt.

Joseph Greene wrote some very 50s boy's books featuring Dig Allen. I got the first one, The Forgotten Star, through the Scholastic Book Club many years ago. Kind of fun.

James Gunn also wrote some decent SF novels and short stories. I would recommend The Immortals.

I would also add James Gurney to the list. Dinotopia obviously.
Allison Lockwood Hansen
9. Talisyn
"Kem Grimwood - Replay"

This is such a great book! After reading it, I tried to find everything else by him - even back then, mostly all OOP. I did find Breakthrough. Some years after Replay, he wrote Into the Deep a book that could have been inspired by Starsea (from Replay - but with randy dolphins). My ads are:

Kathleen Goonan - My favorite was Bones of Time, but the Crescent City books are really imaginative and visualized. The New Orleans locals seem timely and resonant.

Robert Girardi - Madeline's Ghost, another great portrait of New Orleans, and Vaporetto 13. (cats!)

Elizabeth Goudge - The Little White Horse. JK Rowlings favorite children's book (and mine too.)
Alex Brown
10. AlexBrown
Neil Gaiman - I'd start with 1602 if you're a superhero fan or Black Orchid if you're a Moore fan (or need an introduction to him as well), but, if you're feeling up to it, you can start with the Sandman series. That's how I came to him. I can't remember the title off the top of my head, but the one that has the tale about A Midsummer Night's Dream is a great entry point (and Maddy Gaiman's entry point to her dad's stuff). If you're an Amanda Fucking Palmer fan check out her book Who Killed Amanda Palmer? - he wrote most of the stories to go with the dead Amanda photos. I wouldn't start with American Gods as that tends to be the book people either love or hate. Good Omens is very Dirk Gently so if you like Douglas Adams go with that, but I'd recommend Stardust (my personal fave) or The Graveyard Book...or even Odd and the Frost Giants or Anansi Boys. Or maybe Neverwhere. Oh, for Stardust, read the copy with Charles Vess' illustrations, not the regular novel; it's the difference between watching 3D IMAX and watching TV with your eyes closed.

William Goldman - The Princess Bride is really the only Goldman starting point. A wonderful book, even better than the already amazing movie. For some of his nonfiction, I'd check out Adventures In The Screen Trade. As a screenwriter - and even now as an SFF writer - that book is my bible. But it can - and should! - be read by non-writers as well.

Christopher Golden - I haven't read anything by him, but he's edited two excellent zombie anthologies including shorts by Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman.

Lev Grossman - The Magicians
Linden Wolfe
11. Lilith
I think Neil Gaiman has numerous starting points, depending on the age and sensibilities of the person doing the starting.

I second the recommendation for Jon Courtenay Grimwood's 9Tail Fox, which I read a couple of months ago.

Given I have a memory like a sieve when it comes to authors' names, I peeked at an A-Z list as an aide memoire to come up with the following:

I recally enjoying some of Paul Gallico's books as a kid, esp. the Mrs Harris books, and Thomasina, but suspect they would be very dated now.

For David Gemmell, I would suggest starting with Legend.

David Gerrold - either The Man Who Folded Himself or When Harlie Was One.

Amitav Ghosh - The Calcutta Chromosome.

William Golding - everyone should read Lord of the Flies at least once.

Kenneth Grahame - The Wind in the Willows is the obvious choice, but I also recall loving The Reluctant Dragon as a kid.

Charles L Grant - The Black Oak series, beginning with Genesis.
jon meltzer
12. jmeltzer
For Gaiman's "Sandman": the two Shakespeare stories "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Tempest", the two Hob Gabling stories (can't remember the titles), and the first Death story "Sound of Her Wings".
Dru O'Higgins
14. bellman
Steven Gould - Jumper or Wildside

Kenneth Grahame - Wind in the willows, of course.

Andrew Greeley - I really enjoyed God Game.

Michael Green - The Art of Coarse Acting is a classic, and anyone interested in sailing will love The Art of Coarse Sailing.
Michal Jakuszewski
15. Lfex
Most authors I can think of are already covered. For new authors Felix Gilman and Daryl Gregory, start with their first books, respectively Thunderer and Pandemonium.

Mark S. Geston is rather acquired taste. You may start with his first book, Lord of the Starship, to see what you think about is writing.

For Mary Gentle, I would also start with Golden Witchbreed, but its sequel, Ancient Light is strongly divisive book as well (I loved Grunts! and hated Ancient Light with a vengeance, but I can see somebody having opposite reaction.)
James Davis Nicoll
17. beket
Thank you for the Cranford suggestion as I've been trying to figure out which Gaskell book to read first and thus not reading any.

Graham Greene - so far with everything I've read of his, I've been disappointed, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the film versions, particularly the "recent" version of End of the Affair.

Cold Comfort Farm - I often think this book was supposed to be a spoof-ish take on Jane Eyre and the Gothic novel, with the young "innocent" entering a house of secrets-- only she teaches the servants about birth control and works to free the "madwoman in the attic." Film version is equally funny and surprisingly close to the novel.
Rob Munnelly
18. RobMRobM
Diana Galbadon - Surprised she hasn't turned up yet. I'm in the midst of her immensely popular Outlander series and it is pageturning historical/romance fiction around a time travelling conceit. Well drawn main and side characters, a bit heavy on the sex for some tastes. I actually like even more her Long John books and novellas, centered on a talented British noble army officer who plays minor but key roles in the main saga and who happens to be gay -- a potentially fatal offense if caught. Very sharply drawn, very funny, often poignant. If you want a taste, go to Silverberg's Legends II anthology and read "Lord John and the Succubus."

James Gleick - nonfiction science writer - Chaos: the Making of a New Science and Magician - a biography of the physicist Richard Feynmann - are excellent.

Goldman - Putting aside Princess Bride, which is even better than the excellent movie version and is a must read, go back to his early fiction, especially Marathon Man and Magic (both of which were made into pretty good movies, especially the former). Or pop into the CD player Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and enjoy his Oscar winning screenplay.
James Davis Nicoll
20. Rich Horton
A fascinating mainstream writer is Henry Green (real name Henry Yorke, he was a very rich British guy (owned and managed a factory, I believe)) who wrote some simply stunning, and strikingly written, novels in the middle of the past century. LOVING is probably the best regarded, and certainly a fine place to start.

In SF, a few different Gilmans:

Carolyn Ives Gilman is a St. Louisan who has written just one novel, HALFWAY HUMAN, a neat exploration of gender issues and slavery on a distant planet, but quite a number of excellent short stories. HALFWAY HUMAN is a good starting place, but look up her short fiction as well (I've reprinted one of her stories myself, "Okanoggan Falls".)

Robert Cham Gilman was the pseudonym used for a series of fun YA novels by Alfred Coppel, beginning with "The Rebel of Rhada". They were based on a novelette, "The Rebel of Valkyr", published under his own name in Planet Stories in the '50s. The Rhada books are featherlight -- space opera with horses -- but kind of fun. Coppel had a bestseller under his own name in 1974, a contemporary thriller, THIRTY-FOUR EAST.

And finally Greer Gilman is a remarkable writer, mostly of a series of linked fantasies set in a world called Cloud, that seems a version of the North of England perhaps, told in an allusive and rich but difficult prose, rigorously non-Latinate. Requires your attention and time, but richly rewards it. Her first novel is probably a good starting point, MOONWISE.
Estara Swanberg
21. Estara
We're missing Laura Anne Gilman here! She was nominated for the Nebula (and won the Chronic Rift Roundtable Award for it) just this year after all.

She's got an urban fantasy series for Harlequin (the Retrievers series starts with Staying Dead) and her Nebula nominated novel was Flesh and Fire: Vineart Wars #1.
James Davis Nicoll
22. GuruJ
I liked Greene's "The Quiet American" the best. Even so, the movie is still probably better than the book.

I think "Pattern Recognition" is a better introduction to William Gibson than Neuromancer, particularly if you aren't really into sci-fi. I love the way his more recent books are barely science fiction, because they are such "near future" stories.
James Davis Nicoll
23. Rich Horton
I did want to comment on Graham Greene as well -- I can see while people don't like him, there's a certain artificial intensity to the motivations of his characters. But I really like a couple of his more "Catholic" novels (perhaps because I was raised Catholic, though I'm not a practicing Catholic now) -- THE POWER AND THE GLORY and THE END OF THE AFFAIR.

I also like some of the "entertainments", particularly THE CONFIDENTIAL AGENT.

Estara -- Good catch on Laura Anne Gilman! I should have mentioned her, except I haven't read any of her novels. I have read and enjoyed some short fiction, and her novels look interesting.

Remarkable (I think) that a not all that common name like Gilman has three pretty significant writers working in our small field at the same time.
S. L. Casteel
24. castiron
Rumer Godden: Seconding In This House of Brede, which besides being a great book is an excellent example of omniscient voice done well. For a child young enough to still be interested in dolls/action figures, start them with Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (followed immediately by Little Plum) or with Home Is the Sailor.

Elizabeth Goudge: Linnets and Valerians should tell you if you like her style or find it too treacly for words.
j p
25. sps49
I can recommend W. E. B. Griffin's Honor Bound and Presidential Agent series; they are fun and haven't been given up on yet.

His Brotherhood of War is fine for a while, mostly, but The Generals volume will make you fling the book at a wall.

Several of his series are being "co"-written by his son. No offense to anyone, but I avoid two-author books that aren't Niven and Pournelle.

I now know he wrote the M*A*S*H sequels under his actual kname (Wm. E. Butterworth) and wish I could find them now; I read one at age 15 or so and barely remember it.
James Davis Nicoll
26. Boden.Steiner
Not to cause a stir, but with regard to Gibson, I'd recommend starting with Burning Chrome. Incredible stories that serve as an introduction to Gibson's ideas and writing -- a ramp into the more difficult Neuromancer and the sprawl trilogy.
David Levinson
28. DemetriosX
Another name that occurred to me is Stephan Grundy. He wrote an excellent historical fantasy based on the Nibelung legends, Rhinegold, and a companion novel, Attila's Treasure, which focuses on Hagen and brings in the legends surrounding Walter of Aquitaine. There are gods and magic, but it's all set in a very real and historical 5th century. Pretty good.
Jo Walton
29. bluejo
Greer Gilman -- I think my brain shorted out there. Moonwise is beautiful and dense and not like anything else except the sequel and winner of this year's Tiptree Award, Cloud and Ashes.

And while we're listing Gilmans, there's also Felix Gilman, whose work I haven't yet read, but I have his The Half Made World on my (large!) inpile.

So five Gilmans in all. It must be a very science fictional name!
Joe Romano
30. Drunes
For Graham Greene, I'd start with Monsignor Quixote. It was the first of Greene's books I read. Reading it shortly after a friend was named a monsignor, it led me to the two Greene stories I only knew as movies and had never enjoyed as books (The Third Man and Our Man in Havana).

And I echo Lilith's comment on William Golding, everyone must read Lord of the Flies at least once. Is it still required reading in high school? That's the kiss of death for too many books, I know, but don't let that keep you from enjoying this classic gem on humanity, loyalty, and morality.
James Davis Nicoll
31. a-j
Sorry, can't agree on 'American Gods' as a Gaiman starter. It's atypical of his work and too much of a marmite book. (Note to non-UK readers, marmite is a yeast-based spread that you either love or loath) I would agree that his short stories are a good start, or 'Doll's House' story in Sandman. I successfully launched a friend onto him with 'Neverwhere'.
Graham Greene - glad to see many people have problems with him, however 'The Quiet American' is excellent and while about Vietnam is highly relevant to Iraq, if memory serves. 'The Human Factor' is a great spy story.
William Golding - 'The Lord of the Flies' though I personally find it too knowingly cynical for my taste. Patrick O'Brian fans might like 'Rites of Passage'.
Alan Garner - 'Thursbitch' is a good start point I would suggest, though agreed 'The Owl Service' is a must read.
Michal Gilbert - out of print now but his Mr Calder and Mr Behrens series of spy stories are well worth tracking down if you're a fan of the genre. 'On Slay Down' in the 'Game Without Rules' collection was my introduction to them. They're a joy.
David Levinson
32. DemetriosX
It occurs to me that I questioned Jo's recommendation of a starting point for Goethe, but didn't offer one of my own. I would start with his shorter poetry, especially if you like Byron. If the translation is any good, you should get a similar feel. Otherwise, Faust Part I, or for something a little different Manfred. Or maybe Goetz von Berlichingen, which still influences German culture today, because the title character tells an enemy to kiss his ass.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
@32. If you want something short, I always enjoyed the epigram from one of Goethe's journals: "Wanted: a dog that neither barks nor bites, eats glass and sh*ts diamonds." LOL. Rob
David Levinson
34. DemetriosX
It's an Internet law or something, but any discussion of Goethe that involves Werther must at some point include a link to this cartoon.
James Burbidge
35. jsburbidge
For the Grimm's, there is the Deutschen Grammatik of Jakob Grimm, as well as his other philological writings; rather specialized, but not a bad background to understanding Tolkien's background as a philologist.
Joann Zimmerman
36. joann
Galouye's Counterfeit World had a US printing as Simulacron-3.

The other thing that Rumer Godden does is to show that there are different ways to organize your narrative. Hers all seem to do something odd with time: China Court uses the structure of a book of hours, In this House of Brede uses the liturgical year.

William Goldman: After The Princess Bride, a fun thing to read is his The Silent Gondolier, as by S. Morgenstern.
James Davis Nicoll
37. ofostlic
Gaiman: Definitely agree with Jo's recommendation of 'Good Omens', even though I like both 'American Gods' and 'Stardust'. Another place to start, to get a flavor of language, is the Youtube trailer for his new picture-book 'Instructions' with Charles Vess.

Steve Gould: I would really recommend 'Helm' over 'Jumper' and 'Wildside'.

@Drunes: I also like 'Monsignor Quixote', but it really has dated.
Gabriele Campbell
38. G-Campbell
Ouch, Werther makes Sparkly Edward look normal.

I second starting Goethe with Faust or Goetz von Berlichingen. Or Torquato Tasso - he's emo, too, but in a more adult way. :) Some of his poems are pretty good, too, and the first book of Wilhelm Meister - Wilhelm Meister's Apprentice Years (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre), but stay away from the Journeyman Years (Wanderjahre).

For German readers of historical fiction, I'd recommend Rebecca Gablé. Dunno why her doorstoppers don't get translated since they take place in England (Norman invasion, War of the Roses) and are just the right mix of adventure, intrigue/politics, romance and battles to make for a fun read. Plus, her research is good.
James Davis Nicoll
39. David DeLaney
I'm always a little surprised that I can chime in after 30 or 40 replies here and still find several authors to talk about. (And I wouldn't even TRY commenting on these without my booklist Notepad file open.)

Yasmin Galenorn is fairly new, and has a paranormal romance series that I've read the first two of; start it with _Witchling_.

I only have one Gallico book, which I remember as a rather light frothy children's book, and it's probably as good a starting point as anywhere: _The Boy Who Invented The Bubble Gun_.

One name you might not expect: George Gamow, astrophysicist (helped work out the fusion processes the stars shine by). He had a series of short articles Explaining Science that had a protagonist named Mr. Tompkins; the first collection of them, I believe, is _Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland_. (He plays quantum pool, gets trapped on an asteroid in a VERY small universe, etc.)

Martin Gardner COULD be started at any one of his collected Mathematical Games books (his longrunning column for Scientific American). But I think the canonical place to start, from an F/SF-oriented perspective, HAS to be _The Annotated Alice_. Find the latest version if you can, but even the oldest version is something EVERYONE should read at least once.

One series of Randall Garrett's nobody has mentioned is his collaboration with Heydron, the Gandalara cycle; start it with _The Steel of Raithskar_, or find the omnibus(es).

Jane Gaskell had an older fantasy series that was a classic, though somewhat mature for many readers' tastes back then; it starts with _The Serpent_.

I'd also echo starting Mary Gentle with the Ash series; its first book is _A Secret History_ (and she's written a couple more past the first four by now, in a different part of the setting). Alternate history, that starts off looking like a generic "war in the Dark Ages in what will become France is hell" series but becomes rather strange, and delicious, pretty soon. I am particularly enamored of the complex explanation for WHY this history ended up as an alternate.

Geston. ...I wrote short reviews of a couple of his books for rec.arts.sf.written at one point, because I'd bought a three-books-in-one collection a while back. At least one of them was Extremely Depressing; I think I'd say to start him with _The Siege of Wonder_ rather than _Lords of the Starship_.

Tom Godwin - Eric Flint has recently put out a collection of his fiction that includes _The Cold Equations_; not surprisingly, it's titled _The Cold Equations & other stories_. At present it's probably what you want to look for.

Not SF or fantasy, in fact the exact opposite mostly ... but Stephen Jay Gould (NOT the Stephen Gould of _Jumper_) has out a plethora of collections of Explaining-Biology essays, all of which are good, readable, and informative. (Yes, he has a bit of bias to a paradigm or two that he invented, but in his defense, there's data supporting them out there.) Explores, in all directions, just how overwhelmingly much evidence for evolution there IS out there. Start with any of them, really... but if you have to have a title, try _Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes_ or _The Mismeasure of Man_.

Nicholas Stuart Gray didn't get mentioned at all? (Oh, okay, I saw him in another post, the one about cat stories, further up.) _Grimbold's Other World_ is a children's book, in a fantasy-medieval setting, about a foundling boy, a large black cat, the Night World, and an Evil Sorceror and his son. Enchanting.

Sharon Green has been writing paranormal romance, essentially, for over 20 years now. She's big on the "they hate or dislike each other to start with, but have to work together and fall in WUV, but then come up with ways to tell themselves it's never gonna work, but eventually it all works out" plot; they are harder to stop reading than potato chips though. Start with _Dawn Song_ (though any of the first four books in that 6-book series will also serve as a starting point, really) or _Convergence: Book One of The Blending_ (starts a five-book series with a followup three-book one).

Simon R. Green has a couple main series. Most any of them are fairly readable, though nearly all of them suffer from "and then ANOTHER kitchen sink full of new characters and references fell into the plot", but a good one to start with is _Hawk & Fisher_. (After which you'll want to also read the _Blue Moon Rising_ series. No, not saying why.) And I'm ashamed to say I just figured out I had him confused with Simon HAWKE, bleah. You could also start with _Mistworld_ or _Deathstalker_.

Agree with the recommendation for Greenberg anthologies. This extends to any "Greenberg &" or "& Greenberg" ones; I can't recall any that weren't at least medium-good, which with his quantity of editing is saying something. You can literally start with any one you happen to find.

Zora Greenhalgh wrote a couple of little fantasy gems a while back; start with _Contrarywise_.

Ed Greenwood is another "not tiptop quality but man you can't stop reading them" fantasy writer; just about everything he's written is set in the Forgotten Realms D&D setting, which isn't surprising because he's its creator. Start with any of _Spellfire_, _Elminster the Making of a Mage_, or _Shadows of Doom_. Warning: the action zooms along hot and heavy, and people get killed by magic in various unusual ways without stopping to blink. (Mystra, the goddess of magic, cares about getting it used more and more, and having more new spells researched & used. Safety precautions or lack of oh-the-humanity, not so much.)

Joyce Ballou Gregorian is another older-series few-books author; _The Broken Citadel_ starts her trilogy about a lady who gets taken into another world.

Kate Griffin is a new author who has, effectively, written the sequels that Zielinski hasn't gotten around to to his _Bad Magic_, but set in London. Start with _A Madness of Angels_. (The title is an accurate description of at least one plot point.)

Austin Grossman has just one out so far, so 'where to start?' is trivial, but it's a doozy - _Soon I Will Be Invincible_, a wonderful homage to/deconstruction of superhero comics. Did you like _Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog_? If so, you'll squeee over this.

Johnny Gruelle wrote children's books that also count as fantasy. ("Who?") Specifically: the Raggedy Ann & Andy series. I understand it's hard these days to find the unedited versions (because MAN they were set in an earlier, slave-owning, time), but I think they deserve mention here. This apparently starts with _Raggedy Ann Stories_, though I don't own it; Wikipedia's list of his publications is decidedly partial, and doesn't have ANY of the three I own (_Raggedy Andy_, _Beloved Belindy_, and _Raggedy Ann and the Golden Ring_)...

Last, let me mention Gary Gygax. He's another whose works all sit squarely in a role-playing game setting; most know him instead as co-creator of D&D, though later in life he tried to cross to a new system, Mythus Magick. His Gord the Rogue series -starts- with _Saga of Old City_, but I'd say to read the second book, _Artifact of Evil_, first, as the first one's essentially pure backstory; his Mythus Magick series starts with _Dangerous Journeys: The Anubis Murders_.

And that's all I got for G. Let's see if this cut-and-paste breaks the comment box...

James Davis Nicoll
40. a-j
Oh, and David Gemmell: 'Legend', his first novel was written after being given an incorrect fatal diagnosis so he throws just about everything in. 'Waylander' is a slightly less frenetic introduction. NB, don't sell/donate your Gemmell books if you think you're not going to read them again. I used to work in a second hand bookshop and everytime someone got rid of their Gemmell collection they almost invariably returned a week later to buy them back again. He was the only author this happened with. Don't know why.
James Cappio
41. cappio
Am I the only fan of the White Crow and Casaubon here who would start on Mary Gentle with Rats and Gargoyles? I even like its very unusual pacing (the last-two thirds is denouement, or what the screenwriters among us call Act III).

Since we've all already read Lord of the Flies,, I'd start on William Golding with Pincher Martin, a war novel, a desert island novel, and emphatically an SF/fantasy novel though I doubt Golding intended it as such.

And as for Neil Gaiman, I'd start his non-graphic novel work where I actually did, with Neverwhere, but then I love underground civilizations and I love London, so what else would you expect?
James Davis Nicoll
42. kharris
Since we are on the topic of writing, explain please, how any one book by a writer can be "most characteristic". If none of the other books are quite like the one in question, because they are not as characteristic, then the one in question is not like the others, and so is not characteristic.

If we went to a museum, and were told that one item of textile or pottery is most characteristic, among those presented, of a whole bunch of others not presented, that could be true. Among a bunch of things all of which are presented, "most characteristic" seems an oxymoron, no matter how often the oxymoron is used.

Just thought I'd point that out.
Kate Shaw
43. KateShaw
I don't think anyone's mentioned Leon Garfield. He mostly writes YA historical fiction, but some of his books have speculative elements. Footsteps is probably his best book.

Did anyone bring up John Gardner? He wrote Grendel, which I've only read once, but it's one of those books I remember very clearly and still have on my shelves in case I ever want to reread it.

And Edward Gorey! Start anywhere with him, but his collections (Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too, and Amphigorey Also) are a lot of fun.
Jo Walton
44. bluejo
K. Harris: I see no problem with it. Most characteristic doesn't mean anything has to be identical, just falling into the middle of a range of similarities.

Say you have an author who writes stories about magic butterflies and rockets that run on salad cream, in which there tend to be romantic tragedies. All their books would have elements of these, with occasional brave experiments where the salad cream was left out or the romance ended happily. These experiments would be regarded as less characteristic of the author's ouvre. Perhaps Escape to the Butterfly Planet with all three elements present in perfect proportion could be considered the most characteristic, because if you were to read all of the author's work, that one would be the one that stands out to you as epitomising what they were doing.
Tex Anne
45. TexAnne
bluejo: I can think of no better use for salad cream, for surely it is not meant to be eaten.
James Davis Nicoll
46. Nirgal
I second Talisyn's mention of Kathleen Ann Goonan. I really liked THE BONES OF TIME. QUEEN CITY JAZZ was also fascinating (I'm a junkie for nano-tech sci-fi), but by the fourth book the series had gotten very strange.
James Davis Nicoll
47. beket
TexAnn @ 45 -- ROTFL!!!! Thank you for the best laugh of the week (so far)!
Paul Andinach
48. anobium
Another Gilman: Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Her famous works include "The Yellow Wall-paper", which is certainly horror and possibly a ghost story, and Herland, a utopia. I've only actually read "The Yellow Wall-paper" - does anybody with a wider experience want to recommend a good starting point?

(There's also Dorothy Gilman, but I don't know if she wrote SF. The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax is awesome, but it's not genre, or at least not Our genre.)
Paul Andinach
49. anobium
What about Geary Gravel, anybody? His novels have fascinating titles, but which is the best to start with?
James Davis Nicoll
50. prometheus
Richard Garfinkle—Celestial Matters. This book was amazing. Such in depth, well thought out alternate physics. Interesting characters, exotic yet familiar setting, sucker punch ending.

Also, thank you for this series - I think I will now never ever ever run out of books to read. :D
James Davis Nicoll
51. Jeff Dougan
In genre -- Craig Shaw Gardner, begin with A Malady of Magicks.

Not in genre, though most SF/fantasy fans also seem to like mysteries -- for Father Andrew Greeley, my entry point was "An Occasion of Sin", which stood pretty well on its own. I've had harder times finding the entry points of his other fiction works, and haven't read any of his non-fiction.
zaphod beetlebrox
52. platypus rising
I forgot Colin Greenland! Obviously, start with Take back plenty .
Linden Wolfe
53. Lilith
Yes, yes, yes, to the person who mentioned Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels. That is a great book for those who enjoy urban fantasy that hasn't devolved into paranormal romance.

The next in the series, The Midnight Mayor is sitting at my favourite indy bookshop waiting for me to pick it up on payday.

She is better known for writing for a younger audience under the name Catherine Webb.
Madeline Ferwerda
54. MadelineF
Paul Gallico: _The Man Who Was Magic_, a modern book that grabs and holds a fairy-tale feel; about a young real sorceror who shows up at a city built around stage magicians. Everything else Gallico wrote was far too painfully 70s with sexism etc.
Erick Chase
55. TheMarchChase
Nikolai Gogol: _The Nose_. A wonderful short story by a great Russian author.
James Davis Nicoll
56. OtterB
Late to this one ...

Stephen Gould, I also would recommend Helm, then Wildside, but my favorite is probably Blind Waves

Dorothy Gilman. Besides Mrs. Pollifax (start, as already suggested, at the beginning with The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax), The Clairvoyant Countess has a paranormal twist. I often don't like "ESP-in-real-life" books - but somehow I suspend my disbelief every time for this one, and I love the byplay between the Countess and the policeman who gets leads from her that he would really rather not have to explain to his boss. I'm also very fond of The Tightrope Walker, where the heroine is investigating the possible murder of the author of a fantasy book that she loved, and growing out of her overly-constricted life as she does so. (Also, Gilman later wrote the referenced book, The Maze in the Heart of the Castle.)
James Davis Nicoll
57. DianaH
So many excellent G writers! Gaskell and Gibbons are two of my favorites; I'm a huge Gaiman fan (and agree with pretty much everyone else that American Gods is NOT the place to start--I love it, but two of my fellow Gaiman fan friends can't stand it); and I'm glad to see William Golding mentioned in the comments. Lord of the Flies is the obvious choice and a great book, but I think one of his more "genre" books is well worth reading: The Inheritors, which is (extremely) speculative fiction about Neanderthals.
James Davis Nicoll
58. Nicholas D. Rosen
Let's not neglect Roland Green. He's written some fantasy novels of which I've read just a couple; they were tolerable, but not great. He's also the co-author of Great Kings' War, the sequel to H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, and he collaborated with Pournelle on Janissaries: Clan and Crown.

He's written some sf novels which I haven't read (the Starship Shenandoah series, I believe), a few OK stories and essays, and an sf novel, Voyage to Eneh, which you may like if you're big on sailing ships and nautical adventure. (It involves the descendants of marooned humans on a planet with its own natives, and how humans attempt to get along with at least one society on the planet, an archipelagic power, and how this involves them in conflict with other societies on the planet.)

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