Sun
Jun 6 2010 11:42am

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.

93 comments
Christian Decomain
1. Khryss
Peter F. Hamilton - The Night's Dawn trilogy (consisting of The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God). More than 3000 pages altogether, but totally worth it, and more easily accessible than his later Commonwealth Saga.
David Holden
2. davidholden
You're wrong (unfortunately) about no Dune sequels--Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson also wrote Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune, sequels to the original Dune series.

There are a lot of issues with the Herbert/Anderson stuff, both in supposed source material and Frank's original intentions, but whatever. Blah.
Christopher Byler
3. Christopher Byler
Small but funny error: you typed _A Civil Campaign_ for the link to the post on _A Civil Contract_.
Jo Walton
4. bluejo
Christopher Byler: I am always doing that. And the other way around as well!
John Naas
5. crucislancer
I really like the Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison, it's a fun series. For Heinlein, I would recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Yeah, it's more then an inch thick, but it's a fantastic novel. His short stories are cool, too.
Clark Myers
6. ClarkEMyers
I'd suggest something by Edmond Hamilton - I'm not sure it matters. The later works are more likely to lead reading more by Hamilton the earlier works verge on seminal as do the comics (pre graphic novels!).

I liked Fred Hoyle for both Ossian's Ride and The Black Cloud.

Although it has a nice McGuffin I'd teach Ossian's Ride like Bellamy's Looking Backward as social commentary - what a post singularity intelligence might do with human society - be it human or be it alien and of course spoiler alert Hoyle manages in a sense to have it both ways.

The Black Cloud is spoiler alert another post singularity intelligence which impacts society.

Each book can easily be read as Mary Sue space opera though.
Christopher Key
7. Artanian
A few others:

While Khryss suggests the Night's Dawn trilogy for Peter F. Hamilton, unless someone likes sprawling, complex space operas, I'm not sure I'd start with that 1.2 million word opus (although I personally did). The Greg Mandel trilogy, starting with Mindstar Rising, is a pretty decent cyberpunkish detective series, and is a lot more accessible I think.

For Joe Haldeman, yes, you do need to read Forever War, as it is part of the SF canon, but realize that it really hasn't aged well. I'd skip both sequels though.

Edmund Hamilton, I'd start with either a Captain Future collection, or read through the Eric Stark books by Leigh Brackett and pick up his contributions along the way. Did we miss Brackett in B? I forget. These are going to be good old-style pulp stories, but everyone should be exposed to some of those along the way.

For Laurell K Hamilton, start with the Anita Blake books, in Guilty Pleasures, and stop at the first one in which you think there's too much sex and/or too little plot, because the one increases and the other decreases in every book through the series. It probably won't take very many books to hit that point, but the first few are pretty enjoyable.

For Harry Harrison - I do like that kind of comedy that Jo seems not to, so because of that, I'd recommend reading at least the first few of the Stainless Steel Rat books. Those, and 'Make Room, Make Room', which is the book that the movie 'Soylent Green' is based on, are SF canon, so should be experienced.

For Heinlein, the 'anything less than an inch thick' recommendation is a good one. Specifically I'd recommend 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', if you're not going to start with one of the 50s-60s juveniles. If you are going to start with the juveniles, realize that they are timepieces, and they really haven't held up as well as those of us who grew up on them would like to think. But so much of Heinlein is canon (Starship Troopers, Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, etc.) there's a lot to get to here.

For Frank Herbert, I'd agree, read Dune and stop there. Although if you are going to read Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, I'd recommend going ahead and reading God Emperor of Dune, so you can understand why we made that recommendation in the first place.

Robin Hobb - the Farseer trilogy, starting with Assassin's Apprentice. But be aware that for me, I didn't finish the trilogy, because I realized about halfway through the third one that I didn't actually care for a single character, protagonist, supporting or villain, at that point. But a lot of people really like these books, so they're probably worth trying.

PC Hodgell, the Kencyrath sequence - interesting dark fantasy. Might not be for everyone. If the first one doesn't hook you, then the others definitely won't.

James P. Hogan - start with the Giants series book 1, 'Inherit the Stars', but I honestly don't know how well these books have aged, it's been almost 20 years since I read any of them, although looking at Wikipedia, I see there's a fifth book in the series in 2005 that I missed, so I might have to reread them and find out.

Robert E. Howard - some of the Conan stories, although they're definitely pulp, which will put off some.

For L. Ron Hubbard I'd read 'Battlefield Earth', just to see that there was a pretty decent book behind the horrible movie. I'd stay away from the Mission Earth Decology, they're pretty weak.
Joann Zimmerman
8. joann
Another Hoyle worth reading is October the First is Too Late, in which which the Earth gets divided into different temporal eras; parts of it get downright poetic.
Clark Myers
9. ClarkEMyers
I can't argue with starting Harry Harrison with later works - keeping the genre in the gutter where it belongs - but I suggest it would be a mistake to miss some of his other work both short stories and long form.

Thus I would hand people maybe his first short story collections and say read this. Some (mostly earlier) social commentary I think relevent to his self exile.

If asked specifically about the entertainment value for say inflight reading I would answer differently - and much as above.

Myself I view the Death World Trilogy as a parable of the Vietnam War as it was contemporary with the writing -
(1) the fight against an indigenous population
(2) dealing with do gooders and a society both technologically primitive and organized around family and tribe
(3) the ultimate and perhaps successful attempt to build a better society and what that entails and costs
Tricia Irish
10. Tektonica
FWIW:

I know Artanian didn't like Robin Hobb and I do think her stuff is spotty. That said, I loved the Farseer triliogy and the Fool's trilogy. Couldn't get through the others.

Her world building is excellent, and The Fitz is my all time favorite character.
Christopher Byler
11. beket
Joanne Harris - Chocolat

H. Rider Haggard - I read She and Return of She first, which I don't recommend doing. The more Victorian/Edwardian novels I read, the more I think we should still read them as they were originally published-- in once a week/month serial installments. Otherwise, they can get quite tedious.

Frank Herbert's Dune is still one of my favorites of all time, one of the best novels of the 20th Century. I did read on through God Emperor, and while I thought both Children of Dune and God Emperor were good, all the sequels to Dune diminish the original.

Georgette Heyer-- I don't remember which novel it was (and this may just be apocryphal), but at one time, one of her Regency Romance novels was required reading at the British military school (?) Sandhurst (?) because her depiction of the Pennisula Campaign and one specific battle were considered the best and most accurate.
Christopher Key
12. Artanian
Tektonica@10, I know folks really like them. For me, the third Farseer book was kind of a revelation to me, because it's the first time I've ever consciously put down a book halfway through and said, "no, I'm not enjoying this, I'm not going to finish it", that it was ok to do so. There are a ton of books that I've started and not finished even multiple times, Dhalgren, Titus Groan, for example, but that was the first one I ever did on purpose. Before then I'd always go ahead and push through to the end.
Christopher Byler
13. beket
I forgot a very important one -- Homer. I had the great fortune to read The Odyssey in college, and it can be read without reading The Iliad first (but I'd recommend starting there). Besides being a great adventure, The Odyssey is all about (among other things) Guest Law-- how do you behave as a good guest, how do you behave as a good host, and how not to behave as either (the Cyclops eats his guests). But besides that, Homer still influences all our writing today, whether we are aware of it or not. If you haven't read Homer, find a good verse translation and go for it.
Kate Shaw
14. KateShaw
Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda is a fun read, if slight and kind of dated.

Jim C. Hines has two series out right now. I personally like his princess books better than his goblin books, so I recommend starting with The Stepsister Scheme. I like that they're fun, fast-moving books but touch on deeper issues without trivializing them.
Christopher Byler
15. FungiFromYuggoth
My recommendations are pretty well covered, though I have to stick up for the Stainless Steel Rat. If it's not your thing, it's a short book. I met Harry Harrison once at a convention koffleklatch and he talked about how he wrote the first page to get the editor's attention (and, if I recall correctly, wrote himself into a scifi story to get out of the corner he'd painted himself into).

Some other recommendations from my spouse:

Elisabeth Hand's "Generation Loss".

Tanya Huff's "Blood Price", which spawned one of the major syndicated Canadian vampire detective series.

For the visual arty-inclined, Los Bros Hernandez. For Jaime Hernandez, "Maggie the Mechanic" is the starting point. I'm warned that he knows his characters but it takes a while to settle on a story. Amazon says this is the most SF volume. Gilbert Hernandez's starting point is "Heartbreak Soup", which is magical realism.
David Levinson
16. DemetriosX
What a plethora of Hs. In contrast, next week will have almost nothing.

Along with Joe Haldeman, I would also recommend his brother Jack. He was quite good at blending sports and SF. Can't really suggest a starting point, though.

Lyndon Hardy is a physicist who wrote three related fantasy novels in the 80s which applied the scientific method to magic. Start with Master of Five Magics.

Harry Harrison - I also like the Stainless Steel Rat, but stop after the third one. I also liked Starsmashers of the Galaxy Rangers. And of course Make Room! Make Room! was the basis for Soylent Green.

Peter (J.) Heck - The Phule's Company books are probably comparable to Robert Aspirin. He also wrote a series of mysteries with Mark Twain as the detective.

Heinlein - Any of the juvies, but especially Citizen of the Galaxy, Starman Jones, and Tunnel in the Sky. All of the Future History shorts were collected once, that would also be a good start.

Carl Hiaasen - out of the genre, but enjoyable, semi-comic mystery thrillers set in Florida. The early books are better, before he started trying to cram certain recurring characters in where they don't fit. Tourist Season is probably best.

William Hope Hodgson - He wrote horror and Victorian/Edwardian SF. I like the Carnacki the Ghost Hunter stories.

James P. Hogan - Seconding. Either the Giants books or maybe Code of the Lifemaker.

Tom Holt - The third of Britain's major comic fantasists, after Adams and Pratchett. I actually like him a little better than Adams, though his later books have a tendency to eschew any real plot. The earlier books are better. My favorite is Flying Dutch, but Who's Afraid of Beowulf and Expecting Someone Taller are also good. Goat Song/The Walled Orchard is a humorous historical set in the 5th century BC.

Robert E. Howard - If Conan isn't your thing, try the Solomon Kane stories.

L. Ron Hubbard - I thought I was going to be the one to go out on a limb, here. Really anything he wrote before Dianetics (so, 1952 or so?) is worth a look. Final Blackout would probably be considered a classic if Hubbard hadn't decided to found a religion. I would really urge people to look in used bookstores and libraries, though; that way, your money doesn't go to line Scientology's coffers.
Tex Anne
17. TexAnne
No, not Battlefield Earth. I read it when it came out, and even as a sheltered 14-year-old I could tell it was a badly-written piece of racist, sexist tripe.
Clifton Royston
18. CliftonR
Yes, Homer! I like the T.E. Lawrence translation of the Iliad, and the Fitzgerald translation of the Odyssey which comes across as most poetic to me. The Odyssey is in some sense the precursor to all fantasy epics.

Harry Harrison wrote some wildly different books, but if you were to read only one and if you like comedy, I'd say Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers is one of the funniest SF books ever, and it's twice as funny as that if you've read a lot of "Doc" Smith space opera. "The accumulators are crackling with barely restrained power, Chuck!" For serious Harrison, I'd say Make Room, Make Room! which is a grim future based on the assumption of global warming (not a new theory, people sometimes forget) as well as overpopulation.

I can't argue with Jo's suggestions on where to start Heinlein, though The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is also a great place to start.

Yes on The Prisoner of Zenda and King Solomon's Mines.

James Hogan - read Thrice on a Time, which I reread recently, just to be boggled by how much "state of the art" computer technology has changed since it was written.

Barbara Hambly - Jo's suggestions are good, but Dragonbane is my favorite Hambly book, and has converted several people who previously claimed they "don't like fantasy" or "don't want anything with dragons!" A warning if you like it - after that novel, that particular series goes very dark and bleak for a while, so I would continue with another of her series before coming back to it.

William Hope Hodgson - The House on the Borderland and The Ghost Ship are weird classics; so reputedly is The Night Land though I don't think I've ever read it. All his books should now be long out of copyright and available via the Internet Archive as well as in reprint form. (How strange that "long out of copyright and out of print" now means "easily available"!)
Michal Jakuszewski
19. Lfex
Robert Holdstock - decidedly Mythago Wood, his most famous, classic novel. Other books in Mythago cycle have ties to it, but they are basically standalone, except for Avilion which is sadly his last.

M. John Harrison - I would go with Light, since I could never get into the Viriconium stuff. This is a short standalone novel.

With Peter Hamilton I think I would start with Commonwealth duology which is decidedly shorter than Night's Dawn cycle.

Barry Hughart - Bridge of Birds, obviously.

Elizabeth Hand - Waking the Moon is her best novel, IMHO. Also, standalone.

Tom Holt - my favorite is Expecting Someone Taller, but Flying Dutch also will do.
Jannica Buude
20. chaospueppchen
Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (still wondering why it's not THE Steppenwolf...), haven't read the rest of him yet, right now I'm in the middle of some his shorter stories.


thanks btw for these recommendations, my to-read-list gets longer and longer :)
Jannica Buude
21. chaospueppchen
almost forgot to mention another German author: E.T.A Hoffmann, especially The Sandmann
Alex Brown
22. AlexBrown
I can't believe Joe Hill was left out of this list! He's newish but excellent. He's only written 2 novels: Heart-Shaped Box and Horns (plus a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, and is in the middle of a comic book series with Gabriel Rodriguez, the Locke and Key series). He is the one guy this year that I am demanding everyone read. Hell, I even got my mom, who doesn't read much other than non-fiction and Oprah picks, to read both his novels and she loooooved them. (And, if it makes you feel any better, he's Stephen King's son and a far better horror/SFF writer, as in don't be expecting Lobster monsters in the sewers.)

Charlaine Harris is not a very good writer. In fact, the first 3 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series are even a bit painful to read (seriously, Charlaine, they're called a copy editors...look into hiring one), but the stories are so much fun that I can't not read them. I haven't read her other stuff (they aren't nearly as entertaining or sexy, which makes her poor writing skills harder to digest), but, if you like True Blood then def pick up her books. They aren't mysteries, no matter what she says, but they are quick, easy reads. You can pop in anywhere, as she has a really irritating habit of restating EVERY SINGLE PLOT AND SUBPLOT FROM EVERY PREVIOUS BOOK within the first 50 pages of each novel, so you won't be missing much. Also, the books are only tenuously connected to the TV show (she casually though forcibly mentions Jace Everett in book 10), so you may get spoilers, but only tangentially.

Off the SFF path, but still genre (well, Mystery Fiction): Patricia Highsmith - She wrote the Tom Ripley mystery series and I very highly recommend them. In every book there's at least 3 scenes that I visibly cringe at, not in a scary way but in an "Sweet zombie Jesus, Tom, WTF are you doing? Put that weapon down this instant!" Talented Mister Ripley is the first book, but you could theoretically drop in anywhere and be fine.
Madeline Ferwerda
23. MadelineF
For me, Barbara Hambly: _The Time of the Dark_. It's classic ur-stories of "people from this world going into a fantasy world" + "fantasy world apocalypse" but it's brilliantly done, better than any others of the type I've found. The people from this world are not the usual boring types! There's a motorcycle guy who paints vans who uses his car keys for the teething device of the baby heir of the kingdom!

Harry Harrison: The Stainless Steel Rat. Fun caper, not cynical like some other of Harrison's stuff.

Someone not mentioned yet: Simon Hawke, who wrote urban fantasy back in the early days of the 90s. I love _The Nine Lives of Catseye Gomez_, told from the perspective of a wisetalking uplifted cat who is a noir detective in magical Denver.
Christopher Byler
24. ArtfulMagpie
For the love of all that is good and SFnal, do not read any Dune-related book penned by Brian Herbert! Not one of them, prequel or sequel alike, is worthy of sitting on a shelf beside the original. And yes. There are sequels. And yes, I read one of them. And yes, I wanted to throw it across the room. *sigh*

For Barbara Hambly, I second the recommendation for "The Time of the Dark" and sequels. When well-done, that sort of "through the looking glass" fantasy which takes people from our world into fantasy worlds holds a special place in my heart, and Hambly did it well.

For Robin Hobb...I loved the Assassin trilogy, and the Fool trilogy puts the perfect cap on the story. By the end of the third Fool book, I was just dumbfounded by Hobb's skill in characterization. But you have to read all 6 of them to really appreciate it. (Some people would say you need to read the Live Ship trilogy in between, and they have their place...but aren't absolutely necessary to the Assassin/Fool storyline, imho.) But I was less impressed by Hobb's Soldier Son books, to say the least.

And Tanya Huff is great, as well. For fantasy, start with her Four Quarters series. First book is Sing the Four Quarters. It's been years since I read 'em, but I very much enjoyed them at the time! For Sci Fi, try the Confederation books. The first is Valor's Choice. Good military SF, with some humor and a bit of sex and a nice strong female protag.
Joe Romano
25. Drunes
I'd add Lian Hearn's, "Across the Nightingale Floor," the first in the Tales of the Otori series. As much as I liked that book, however, I never bothered reading any others in the series.

I'd also add Mark Halpern's, "Winter's Tale." It's been quite a while since I read it, but I remember it as an interesting urban fantasy.

For Robert E. Howard, I agree with DemetriosX, if Conan isn't to your taste, you might try "Solomon Kane." The Conan stories get repetitive after reading only a few, but Kane seems to stay fresh through all of the tales. I've enjoyed some of Howard's "boxing" stories, too.
René Walling
26. cybernetic_nomad
I recommend starting Nalo Hopkinson with Midnight Robber. Brilliant book.

Battlefield Earth was the book that made me realize that it was OK to think a published book was crap. It was also where I started with Hubbard and so never continued. This means it may or may not be the best place to start, all depending...
Christopher Byler
27. LAJG
Re Charlaine Harris: yeah, she's not a great writer, but her Sookie Stackhouse books are ten times better than Twilight. I've also started reading her "Harper Conolly" series, which are paranormal mysteries.

I enjoyed Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson.
Tex Anne
28. TexAnne
Drunes, 25: I loooooved Winter's Tale (by Mark Helprin, BTW) when I was young. But the last time I picked it up, it wasn't nearly as good. :-(
Michael Walsh
29. MichaelWalsh
Harness - yes pretty much anything. I believe NESFA has it all, including his last published novel, the delightful "Cybelle, With Bluebonnets".

As for Hubbard, he was - before Dianetics - one the names in the field. His "Final Blackout" is a grim book, especially considered in the light of the then past war and what most folks saw as gathering storm clouds over Europe. Even his generic pulp stuff has energy as it barrels along. Nothing great, but fun. His last pre-Dianetics novel "To The Stars" ain't too shabby either.
David Levinson
30. DemetriosX
Like I said, don't read anything Hubbard wrote after he started the whole Dianetics thing. Basically, that means stay away from Battlefield Earth (about which the only good thing that can be said is that it is better than the movie) and the whole Mission Earth screed/thing. Stuff he wrote in the 30s and 40s is pretty pulpy, but not bad.
Christopher Byler
31. vcmw
I guess I respectfully disagree about Charlaine Harris's competence as a writer, though tastes do differ. I admire the way she crafts narrative to very focused emotional ends.

For mystery, I'm very fond of Lauren Henderson's adult series starring Sam Jones - of which my favorite is Freeze My Margarita because I think she does a great job of showing the backstage non-actor side of theater - good enough that I forgive her the fact that they're staging A Midsummer Night's Dream (as far as I can tell, 50% of all Shakespeare staged during novels is composed of A Midsummer Night's Dream). Be warned that the novels contain a fair amount of sex, drug use, and cursing, and are thus definitely not suited to all. A few pages should suffice to see if you like the narrative voice or not.

I think that the people who do or don't like Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Kim Harrison have probably already made up their minds about it at this point, but I like Kim Harrison's work quite a lot. Start with Dead Witch Walking. The plotting and transitions get smoother as the series progresses but again it's a series where you like the narrative voice or don't.
Christopher Byler
32. joelfinkle
Lfex@19: Light by M John Harrison is standalone, but has a sequel, the even-more bizarre Nova Swing -- Vic Serotonin is the only character in common between the two.

No Thomas Harris? Black Sunday is sorta SF, and quite good. The Hannibal Lecter books get worse as they go on: Red Dragon is an amazingly tight thriller, Silence of the Lambs is a great character study, but Hannibal is an "I dare you to make this into a movie" book, and made me stop there.

And another I can't believe you skipped: Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds. Chinese fantasy with more humor than you can shake a rubber chicken at.

Another recent fave of mine is Charlie Huston. Read his noir NYC vamp stories starting with Already Dead. I've heard good things about his other books, but haven't picked them up yet.

Here's hoping for Dean Ing in the I's. I'd suggest Ransom of Black Stealth One, but it's less SF than some of his others.
Lenny Bailes
33. lennyb
If you like the exotic blend of science fantasy and drawing room comedy that characterizes the best of Jack Vance, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Archonate novels of Matt Hughes. MAJESTRUM or FOOLS ERRANT are good starting points. THE GIST HUNTER AND OTHER STORIES is a collection of shorter works.
Christopher Byler
34. Jeff Dougan
The reason that the Heck-(co)-authored Phule's Company novels are comparable to Robert Asprin is because they were co-authored with Asprin. (And, in fact, Asprin wrote the first two Phule novels by himself.) The very short version is that Asprin had an IRS dispute that resulted in the IRS having claim to royalties on anything he wrote himself, but not with a co-author. It's the same reason, or at least most of the same reason, that Jody Lynn Nye co-authored the last Myth novels.
Samantha Brandt
35. Talia
Here's the thing with authors like Charlaine Harris and Kim Harrison. Are they going to win Pulitzers? No. But are they amazingly entertaining? HECK YES. I personally much prefer the Sookie Stackhouse books to 'True Blood" (though admittedly I've only seen 2 episodes of the latter). Both the Stackhouse and the Rachel Morgan books are just really, really fun. Not intellectually challenging, mind you, but fun.

RE: Anita Blake - yeah, give up when the books start getting too sexual. Its a real shame, but Hamilton pretty well ruined a great character. Although there remain moments of excellent badassery in the tomes that follow.
Bruce Bromberek
36. wombatpm
I loved the Paratwa Trilogy by Christopher Hinz back in the day. He only wrote the trilogy and a short story collection, but Liege Killer was an awesome book. Telepathic Assassins? Check. Space colonies? Check. Mysterious Dwarf? Check.
Alice Arneson
37. Wetlandernw
Georgette Heyer wrote some really fun mysteries as well as some well-researched historical fiction. I haven't actually read much of the latter, but the former are nearly as funny as the regency romances. She was a great wordsmith.
Liza .
38. aedifica
Tanya Huff: I haven't read many of her books, but I enjoyed Sing The Four Quarters and recommend it for light reading.

I read Robin Hobb's Assassins trilogy and the next two trilogies, and I don't plan to ever read them again. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that dreadful things kept happening to the characters, and I kept reading hoping everything would come out right and it never did. The books were gripping, though, and the main character's ability to see into the motives of people around him was addictive to read. Just way too dismal for my tastes.
Christopher Byler
39. James Davis Nicoll
Karl Hansen. Start with War Games and then Dream Games then stop because that's all there ever was. To quote what I said about him on Whatever:

I have no idea what happened to him but while I have to agree with Paul Knorr’s 1982 comment about Hansen’s War Games that

“It’s about soldiers. They fight, then they have sex, then they do drugs, then they fight some more.”

I wouldn’t have minded more installments. Everyone should have their favourite indefensibly flawed series that they nevertheless love and this is mine.


It's very much a product of the Vietnam War and Post-Vietnam War Era, as seen from SF.
Beth Mitcham
40. bethmitcham
While I agree that "A Civil Campaign" is the best Heyer, I'm not sure it's the best starting place for people who haven't read any regencies. It's harder to have sympathy for Adam if you don't understand his world. I'd start with "The Grand Sophy" or "Unknown Ajax" or "Faro's Daughter" (which I enjoyed more than you did).
Christopher Byler
41. CounterDax
What? God Emperor of Dune is the best book in the series of six! Chapterhouse and Heretics are not outstanding, but certainly add a certain perspective to the books. (And no-one shall from henceforth mention Frank Herbert's son who turned Dune into something George Lucas could've dreamt up).
Sam Kelly
42. Eithin
If you can get hold of a copy of The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders, by Isidore Haiblum, you should. It's a very Sheckleyesque look at Jewish history & culture.

I'd also recommend Joseph Heller. Start with Catch-22, of course.

Regarding Heinlein, don't read Farnham's Freehold at all; it's horrifyingly racist. If you're only going to read one Heinlein, it should be Stranger in a Strange Land. Otherwise, the rest are all interesting to some degree. Warning, though: he started off bonkers, and then took an abrupt left turn halfway through his career into a completely different kind of bonkers.

Regarding Hubbard: you mean he ever wrote anything readable and non-evil? Good heavens. I'll have to keep an eye out for a sample of his early stuff.
Katharina Schuschke
43. Katharina
Hamilton, Laurell: try Nightseer, very enjoyable fantasy, a pity she never wrote a sequel. Her Anita Blake Novels (Guilty Pleasures) start off as dark-hearted fun but get bogged down in sex later on.

Huff, Tanya: I'd start with "Stealing Magic", a collection of short stories about Magdalen, the most powerful wizard of the world.

I wholeheartedly agree with above recommendations of P.C. Hodgell (God Stalk) and Barry Hughart (Bridge of Birds) -- even if someone does not like fantasy, they might get hooked by these :-)
Christopher Byler
44. Questionable
William Horwood. Did he do anything other than the Duncton novels? Does it matter? Start with Duncton Wood and never look back.
Christopher Byler
45. Rich Horton
Your list of Heyer's best regencies (at your livejournal) matches mine almost perfectly ... except that I don't elevate A CIVIL CONTRACT so far above the rest. It's very good, and quite different, but I sometimes think it gets extra props simply because it is so much not a romance. (And because A. S. Byatt wrote an essay about it.) That's not to say it doesn't deserve props, though!

My favorites have long been SYLVESTER and FREDERICA, but almost all the others you list (SPRIG MUSLIN, COTILLION, THE FOUNDLING ...) resonate as favorites. On the principle that if it worked for me it must be a good idea, I'd suggest the novel I started with as a good starting point, and that is SYLVESTER.

For Tom Holt, far and away his best novel is the diptych GOAT SONG/THE WALLED ORCHARD (also available in one volume as THE WALLED ORCHARD). Calling it "humorous historical" gives the wrong flavor -- yes, it's a comedy, but a very dark comedy, and ultimately wrenching, even, dare I say, tragic. It's not a bad thing to read first -- or in the middle -- or last -- but it's a bit uncharacteristic of his more famous comic fantasies. To get the flavor of those I'd start where he did, pretty much, with EXPECTING SOMEONE TALLER.

I wouldn't say you can start anywhere with Charles Harness -- he wrote some very weak novels in the '80s. THE ROSE is a good suggestion, though, and also of course THE PARADOX MEN.
Christopher Byler
46. ZCamelopardalis
Shannon Hale - some really excellent YA. Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, The Goose Girl, especially, and the others are nice reads. Didn't much care for her adult stuff.
Jo Walton
47. bluejo
I didn't leave out Bridge of Birds, it's right up there!

And on my shelves, Hobb comes under L.
Joseph Blaidd
48. SteelBlaidd
Seconding Bridge of Birds. The sad thing is it appears there isn't an audio book as it BEGS to be read aloud.

Also Excerpts of P.C. Hodgell can be found here
http://www.baen.com/author_catalog.asp?author=PCHodgell
Heloise Larou
49. Heloise
For E.T.A Hoffmann, I'd say Prinzessin Brambilla, because it's his most over-the-top and outrageously fantastic work, an unmitigated, head-spinning delight that has me in giggling giddy glee every time I read it. I have no clue whether there is an English translation of it, but there definitely should be one.
Rob Munnelly
50. RobMRobM
Jo - bitterly disappointed you did not cover Hobb in your blub. I believe you've stated before that she is in the category of writers you've read but have not yet blogged and I've been hoping that at least the first Farseer trilogy would get blogged at some point. To have you not even mention her was a letdown. I'm a huge fan of two Farseer series, which are brilliantly written stories of a dwindling Royal family with special magical powers under siege from foreign invaders, and the bastard son of the Crown Prince who turns out playing an unusually central role in helping them survive, often at great personal cost. Liveship Traders and the new Rain Wilds boooks (Dragon Keepers and the just published Dragon Haven) are excellent. The Soldier's Son series is the only one to which I would not give an unqualified rave - while it is excellent and beautifully written, Hobb dumps too much pain on the main character, to the extent it is an uncomfortable read. But all of Hobbs is uncomfortable to some extent, which is one of the reasons she is so good.

Other notes
- Herbert. Dune is an all time favorite. Among his other works, I'm particularly partial to the Dosadi Experiment, the sequel to Whipping Star.
- Hiasen. Lots of fun out of genre detective stories set in southern Florida. Striptease was made into a bad movie with Demi Moore but the book is great. I'm particularly partial to Skinny Dip - a man dumps his wife overboard on a cruise ship and she manages to survive and cause trouble in his life. His YA fiction (Hoot - made into a movie - Scat and Flush) are also very good.
- Heinlein. I always enjoyed Time Enough for Love, which is self indulgent but enjoyable.
- Homer. Odessey over Iliad for sure. Lattimore translation preferred.

EDIT - Just saw your post that you'll cover her under L, presumably with her other literary alter ego. Excellent - looking forward to it.

Rob
Estara Swanberg
51. Estara
Yay for all the P.C. Hodgell love, all of her books are in print now in the BAEN editions, or just buy the ebook collection, etc.

Nina Kiriki Hoffmann's world of families with power is best started with the first novel Thread That Binds The Bones, because it's an outsider coming into the world and getting it all explained to him, the others are set inside the families.

Tanya Huff is supposedly starting a new urban fantasy series with romantic elements, in any case her newest hardcover from DAW The Enchantment Emporium can be read standalone.
Tricia Irish
52. Tektonica
RobM: Thanks for defending Hobb.....excellent writer...and my favorite all time Fantasy character. Really great world building.

Hiasen is also a great recommendation. He is darkly hilarious and surprising at times.
Jo Walton
53. bluejo
RobM: As I just said, on my shelves Hobb comes under L -- I was reading her as Lindholm long before she was publishing as Hobb.
David Levinson
54. DemetriosX
Another Classical H comes to mind: Herodotus. He often gets a bad rap as either making things up or naively believing traveler's tales (neither of which is really true), but no matter what, he tells a great yarn.
Christopher Byler
55. Rush-That-Speaks
Geraldine Harris: if you can find her Seven Citadels Quartet, they're well worth reading. The first one is Prince of the Godborn. Political high fantasy in a Judith Tarr sort of way, with elements of Patricia McKillip, but also very much their own thing.

William Hope Hodgson: The Night Land is wonderful, but not the world's most accessible book. I'd start with The House on the Borderland, which gives one a very good idea of whether one likes Hodgson.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman: Respectfully disagree with 'start anywhere'. Start anywhere except Fall of Light, which is a) terrible and b) a sequel.
Christopher Byler
56. Electric Landlady
Another Barbara Hambly worth starting with is Those Who Hunt the Night -- it's effectively a stand-alone (although there is a sequel) about Victorian vampires, the philologist/secret agent who's been threatened into helping them, and his pathologist wife who's trying to figure out how they work. Good times.
zaphod beetlebrox
57. platypus rising
I see most of my names have already been mentioned.

@Heloise: Nice one. Just the other day I recommended Hoffmann to someone but I forgot Prinzessin Brambilla. That's a good example of his more fabulistic vein, while Der Sandmann is psychological horror.

M John Harrison
There's an omnibus of his two more mainstream novels The Course of the Heart and Signs of Life called Anima .
TCOH is probably his best novel.
Alternatively, the short story collection Things That Never Happen .


Russell Hoban
Riddley Walker is the one everybody knows, but its invented language (though not really that difficult) may be an obstacle. Fremder is also SF, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz is perhaps the most accessible. But really, you either love him or you don't, so you can start everywhere.

Elizabeth Hand Why not start with Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol ? Las year she serialized it on the inferior4+1 site.

Herman Hesse has also written a philosophical science fiction novel, The Glass Bead Game


Outside Sf/f:

Dashiell Hammett Red Harvest is the first and best.

Nathaniel Hawthorne The House of the Seven Gables Wonderful "gothic" novel.
Nick Eden
58. NickPheas
"With Peter Hamilton I think I would start with Commonwealth duology..." And I would focus firmly on the idea that it's a duology and not rush to read it's Void sequels.
Christopher Byler
59. a-j
Heinlein - personally I would suggest 'Time for the Stars' as a good entry point.

Strongly agree with Haggard's 'King Solomon's Mines'. My mother gave me a copy when I was about 10 with the comment that I was not to be put off by some of the attitudes or actions (elephant hunting mainly) and to understand that attitudes change.

Ian Hay - 'The First 100, 000' is a curious, touching and propagandist book about the First World War. I discovered it via George MacDonald Fraser.

Ted Hughes - 'The Iron Man', a glorious fable. Then 'Crow' possibly.

Robert Harris - 'Imperium' is a brilliant historical novel about Cicero, the first of a trilogy. 'Lustrum' comes next and the final volume is due next year I believe. 'The Ghost' is an excellent Ambleresque thriller about a thinly disguised Tony Blair.
Christopher Byler
60. a-j
Oh, and a one-off - J B S Haldane's 'My Friend Mr Leakey', ideally in the Puffin edition with Quentin Blake illustrations. The great scientist writes charming children's books which, inter alia, has Satan as a character. Read it and weep Philip Pullman.
Gray Woodland
61. Greyhame
Heinlein - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, without a doubt. As genuinely inventive as his wildest, and much more disciplined and moving.

Tanya Huff - Sing the Four Quarters for me, original and distinctive fantasy on the human scale. Her urban stuff is good too: I haven't yet read the Valor SF or the new one.

Rush-That-Speaks @ 55 - Geraldine Harris I had almost forgotten by name, though not at all by nature. Very much their own thing indeed, those books. Something about their tone, and I don't mean anything particularly overt, also reminded me a bit of Joy Chant. I thought they were flawed in several ways and over-stylized, but by the end I concluded that the latter was as empty a complaint as it would be about Jack Vance: it was integral to their magic. Their memory remains surprisingly vivid after twenty years.

William Hope Hodgson - In the name of all sanity, not the bleedin' Night Land first! It is a work of demented super-Lovecraftian genius, and it is written in the most intolerable cod-archaic style ever misconceived by anybody anywhere. I first got into it while three parts drunk, which helped... The House on the Borderland has a pretty much disjoint set of faults and is pretty piggin' good, but I started WHH at a tender age with the seriously spooky sea-tale The Boats of the Glen Carrig, and I think I might recommend that for a first taste.
Christopher Byler
62. reddwarf
I second Lyndon Hardy and Matt Hughes as well worth a look.

Tom Holt - Expecting Someone Taller has always been my favourite.

I hav'nt seen any mention of JG Hemry, his SF novels can probably best be described as JAG in space - a bit different to the usual space opera. (though on Jo's shelves he might be filed under his more famous pseudonym of Jack Campbell for his Lost Fleet books)!
Christopher Byler
63. OtterB
I'll me-too Matthew Hughes. I started with Fools Errant.

My favorite Heyer is Frederica, I think, although I'm also fond of Civil Contract.

My favorite Heinleins are Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel

William Horwood also wrote a couple of sequels to The Wind in the Willows.

Re Charlaine Harris, I recently read and enjoyed her two non-Sookie-Stackhouse series. The Harper Connelly series, beginning with Grave Sight, has a paranormal element - the heroine can find dead bodies and tell what they died from. The Shakespeare series (involving a small town in Arkansas, not a British playwright) was straight mystery. They're not so fabulous that I buttonhole people about them, but I did read all of both series. I tried Sookie, but my past experience with vampire books held true. I don't like them, even when they're by people whose other books I like. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. (The only series that's managed to get a pass on this is the Dresden Files.)
john mullen
64. johntheirishmongol
I read Haggard when I was young, have a collection of 1st eds that I am afraid to open since they are over 120 years old. But I read them all at one point. Start with King Solomon's Mines

Heinlein I don't think you can go wrong with any juvenile to start with but I have a fondness for Door into Summer. If you start with adult books, I would go with Starship Troopers

Harrison, Make Room Make Room should be mentioned
but I liked Deathworld a lot. It was not a comparison to Vietnam, however.

Herbert - Dune obviously. I also liked Hellstroms Hive and Godmakers

Im surprised I havent see Joe Haldeman mentioned. Forever War would be where to go

On the vamp stories-Laurell Hamilton is a good writer who has gone awry with the amount of sex. I hope she has an endgame in sight.

Charlaine Harris was decent.

Kim Harrison is excellent, start with the first book of her series

I think if you ask what the iconic books in scifi are, Stranger and Dune are the one's that you have to go with and I don't think you go wrong because they do have depth, character and relevance.
Christopher Byler
65. Shireling
@64: Does your Haggard collection include The World's Desire? Is it worth searching for?

Hubbard: The double reprint of Fear and Typewriter in the Sky, now itself out of print, was quite good. (Two unrelated short novels.)

Huff: Absolutely love her Blood series. You can read all the Blood-related short stories in the collection Blood Bank. Second the recommendation of The Enchantment Emporium. Also very good is the double Of Darkness, Light, and Fire -- which is two unrelated books: Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light and The Fire's Stone. Fun is Summon the Keeper, with a snarky talking cat.
Stephanie Leary
66. sleary
I'm delighted that someone else mentioned Lauren Henderson's Sam Jones mysteries. I agree that Freeze My Margarita is a good starting point. I believe the whole series is out of print, but they're easy to find secondhand.

With Heyer, I've had good results getting people started with Venetia. Since most of my friends are fond of using movie quotes to snark at one another, the literary quotes go over well even though we're not familiar with most of the sources. Frederica is my second choice.
Joe Romano
67. Drunes
I always wanted to read "King Solomon's Mines" but never got around to it. A few years ago I picked up a copy of "She" in a discout bookstore and figured I'd start on Haggard with that. For some reason, I had difficulty warming to it and ended up skimming most of the book. Needless to say, I struck "King Solomon's Mines" off my "to read" list after that. My question is: Should I put it back on?
Jo Walton
68. bluejo
Drunes: No. If you had difficulty warming to She, you probably don't like Haggard.
Christopher Byler
69. cdalek
For Russell Hoban, I'd recommend A Mouse and His Child.
Christopher Byler
70. David DeLaney
So, so many Hs. Some of these, others have already mentioned but I also had a comment.

Laurell K. Hamilton - Agreed with the "start at the beginning of Anita Blake and go until it takes one step over your personal sex-writing boundaries, then stop" recommendation. (Short shameful confession: ... I haven't actually stopped yet.) Her other series, the Merry/Faerie one, starts off immersed in sex and fetishes where Anita didn't, but is exploring a different subculture of fantasy beings, the Fey. ... For people who can't really deal well at all with sex and descriptions of it, that pretty much leaves the first few Anita Blake, and an older book of hers, _Nightseer_, fairly good but totally unrelated to either of her long series.

Peter Hamilton, I agree to start new people instead with his mystery trilogy, which starts with _Mindstar Rising_.

Virginia Hamilton wrote a trilogy some decades back about a post-apocalyptic group of three psychic siblings; it starts with _Justice and her Brothers_.

Thomas Harlan has written a couple of series; I'd start with _The Shadow of Ararat_, first in a series of four, which as Wikipedia notes is "alt-history historic-fantasy of epic scope". Set back in what would have been Biblical times, if I recall correctly...

Harry Harrison: you can start with the Stainless Steel Rat series (it starts with _The Stainless Steel Rat_, or you can find the first three in _Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat_), or with a collection of stories about matter transmitters called _One Step from Earth_, or with possibly the greatest space-opera parody ever written, _Star Smashers of the Galaxy Raiders_, or several other places. I personally would not recommend starting with the _Bill, the Galactic Hero_ series.

Note that Kim Harrison is also Dawn Cook, though her styles in the series of the two are different enough that you won't _automatically_ like one if you like the other. I like her Witch books/Harrison more than her Truth books/Cook, I believe. Start with _Dead Witch Walking_, yes. (It's another urban fantasy series, where the various supernaturals have fairly recently come out of the broom closet... but it also has a tomato-borne genetic plague in the backstory, and a separate dimension where the demons live, and black magic that actually can stain your aura, and militant pixies.)

David G. Hartwell (with Cramer) anthologies and Rich Horton anthologies: both have been doing a Best SF of the Year series AND a Best Fantasy of the Year series in paperback for a while now, entirely separately. Horton has combined his two as of last year. Start with any volume.

I have to mention The Harvard Lampoon JUST because it published _Bored of the Rings_. (I see the actual authors were Beard & Kenney, but on my copy that's rather hard to find, so I have it filed under H.) An excellent parody of LotR; chock-full of groaner puns, and one-or-two-liners and descriptions which will stick in your head.

Simon Hawke (Nicholas Yermankov) - yes yes please. Much of his work is series, and they suffer from "can only find books one, two, six, and eight in the used-book store, bleah"... but if you can FIND all twelve of the Time Wars books, _read them_. It starts with _The Ivanhoe Gambit_.

Elizabeth Haydon has committed a high-fantasy series that starts with _Rhapsody_. It's gotten somewhat gritter than I like recently, but I'll still read more of it when she writes more. (Right now it's a trilogy, two in-the-middle books, and the first book of a second trilogy.)

(Hearn - I've read the others in his series, and they're worth reading. A ninja clan, with a bit of magic, in a fairly Japanese-style setting; little works of art.)

Heinlein... His juveniles are pretty much ALL worth reading. The 'grownup' books, most of which are in his Future History, start getting weird after a while, and while it's fairly well agreed among many that the Brain Eater got him at SOME point, no two fans seem to agree exactly where that happened. But most say there's a dividing point after which they don't really like his work any more. For the juveniles I particularly like _Have Space Suit, Will Travel_ and _The Rolling Stones_; for the future-history books, see if you can find the collection _Methusaleh's Children_. But so many others of his are classics and readable, it's hard to pick a -starting- point. (There seems to be some agreement that _Farnham's Freehold_ is NOT where to start.)

Barb Hendee has been writing a somewhat dark series with half-vampires, half-elves, ghouls, research sages, ancient artifacts, fey dogs... and a War that nobody remembers. It starts with _Dhampir_.

Zenna Henderson - you can also start with either of her collections, _Holding Wonder_ and _The Anything Box_. Both of which should send you slavering out into the streets to find the rest of what she's written, I think.

Frank Herbert - Dune is The Starter, agreed. I personally had great difficulty with Dune Messiah, but then thought they got better after that (there's a total of six he wrote). Brian Herbert ... I would say to stay far away from books he's written by himself; the Dune "more books! more!" he wrote with Anderson are not at all the same style as Frank's, much more of a breezy pulp look at the setting without getting deeply into characterization, motivation, background, previously established facts, etc. I can read them, but there doesn't seem to be much there once I'm done. Basically, if you liked ANY of Frank's Dune books, you won't like Brian's. (And probably vice versa.)

Clifford B. Hicks wrote the Alvin Fernald children's books, which run sort of along the same lines as the Great Brain series or the Danny Dunn series - over-intelligent kid, with inventions, knows just enough to get himself and friends into various wacky adventures. The first is _The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald_. (Hmmm, and I see there's about SEVEN MORE than I ever saw as a child.)

Robin Hobb (M.A. Lindholm Ogden): yes, start with Assassin's Apprentice. Be aware that it's the first of a trilogy, and that there's two trilogies after it in the same world (the Shaman's Crossing trilogy is somewhere unrelated)... and that I think they're all 9 worth reading. They do build slowly at first.

P.C. Hodgell - last year was basically the first year in QUITE a while when all of her Kencyrath books were actually AVAILABLE to anyone who wants to investigate the series, I think. I recommend it - there's dark magic, humor, an extremely interesting multiple-world setting, ghosts, a lot of dysfunctional relatives of one sort or another (some rather DANGEROUSLY dysfunctional), various gods, and a protagonist who really sort of didn't want to be in the position she's IN (and neither did her brother) but they're making the best of it now that they're there. Hard to put down once you pick them up. Start with _God Stalk_, or with the two-book collection that has _God Stalk_ and _Dark of the Moon_ in it.

James P. Hogan ... is another, alas, where I have to say 'read him until you can't stand how far away his theories are getting from actual science, then stop'. His early work was fairly good - the Giants series, yes, but also standalones _The Genesis Machine_ or _Thrice Upon a Time_. They started getting somewhat preachy even before they started veering away into actual Velikovskianism, "AIDS isn't caused by HIV", climate change denial, and worse. So ... find your stopping point and only go that far.

Daniel Hood has a series of fantasy mysteries that starts with _Fanuilh_, which I liked. (Fanuilh is the ex-familiar of the murder victim in the first book, a small dragon, and re-bonds to the detective/scholar who will end up solving it.)

For Fred Hoyle, I'd say to start with the collection _Element 79_ and see if you like any of it.

Barry Hughart - Echoing "Start them with Bridge of Birds", and Jo's "nearly perfect", though it does have a slight flaw in its character. The sequels are _The Story of the Stone_, which is also EXTREMELY good, and _Eight Skilled Gentlemen_, which is very good but not -quite- up to the first two.

(Leaving out recommendations for Hitchcock's Three Investigators children's mystery series and Hofstadter's _Godel, Escher, Bach_, because this is QUITE long enough already.)

--Dave
David Levinson
71. DemetriosX
Jo@68, re: Drunes@67:

I disagree slightly. It depends on why Drunes didn't like it. She has a lot of philosophical mumbo-jumbo and reincarnation clap-trap. It that's what put Drunes off, then something like King Solomon's Mines might still be interesting. The Quatermain books vary wildly from relatively fantastic lost civilizations to pretty straightforward hsitoricals that probably had a huge influence on Wilbur Smith, but they lack the fey quality that rather overwhelms She.
Jo Walton
72. bluejo
DemetriosX: Good point. Drunes, listen to Demetrios.
Linden Wolfe
73. Lilith
I second (third?) the vote for Carl Hiaasen - Stormy Weather is probably my favourite (and the first one I read, as it happens).

Heinlein - my favourite is still The Door into summer (which I wish someone would make a movie from, and I have a soft spot for The Puppet Masters (which I wish they hadn't made into a movie, because it is crap).

Frank Herbert - read Dune and then stop. Or read some of his other non-Dune works.

I definitely agree with the recommendation for Joe Hill - start with 20th century Ghosts, if you want to try him out, or Heart Shaped Box, if you fancy a novel. The Locke & Key comic series is good, too.

I also ejoyed Lian Hearn's, Across the Nightingale Floor.

I like Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt vampire stories, but get really annoyed with his habit of using a dash instead of quote marks for speech. Start with the first in the series.

Zenna Henderson - either Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, or The Anything Box - her work is just wonderful.
Joe Romano
74. Drunes
A friend of mine who reads a lot of fiction but little SF once asked what would be a good science fiction book to start with. Without hesitation I recommended "Dune." Of course he loved it and a week later told me he was going to pick up a copy of "Dune Messiah" on his next trip to the bookstore.

"Don't," I said immediately. "Try another writer first."

Jo @72, DemetriosX @71 - I don't really remember why I didn't like "She," I just remember that it was a big disappointment, especially because I typically like a good adventure story. But you two talked me into it. "King Solomon's Mines" is back on my to-read list, although it will be a while before I get to it.

Dave @70, Lilith @72, I'm glad others have enjoyed "Across the Nightingale Floor" as much as I have. It has a lyrical beauty to it that is often lacking in some better known works of fantasy. I think that comes from Hearn's (really Gillian Rubenstein) work as a writer of children's books. I think I will read more in the series, too.
Christopher Byler
75. filkferengi
H. M. Hoover wrote some wonderful hard ya sf.
Christopher Byler
76. Kvon
I want to agree with @55 about Hoffman...don't start with her latest. A Fistful of Sky however is marvelous. I'll note also that she hasn't yet done anything dark or cynical, her characters always seem to end up happy with who they are (which I need sometimes).

Looking at my list of Tanya Huff books, I had forgotten how varied she's been as a writer. She started with epic fantasy, and has done humorous and urban fantasy and military sf. I would recommend Sing the Four Quarters, which is a bardic fantasy.

The only other author I'd recommend not on the list here is Walter Hunt, who did a recent space opera series, starting with The Dark Wing.
Paul Andinach
77. anobium
Early Hubbard: My favourite is Typewriter in the Sky, in which a man gets trapped inside the hack historical novel his friend is writing.

Simon Hawke: I second the Time Wars, which is cheerfully unashamed space opera (but with time machines instead of space ships). The first in the series is The Ivanhoe Gambit, which has the heroes pursuing a time-travelling assassin who is gunning for Richard the Lionheart, in around and through the historical events that allegedly inspired Walter Scott.
Christopher Byler
78. OtterB
Left off the list: Beth Hilgartner. I'm very fond of A Business of Ferrets and its sequel, A Parliament of Owls. Kids in the slums of a fantasy city get involved in politics way over their heads. Some very nice good-guy adult characters, along with some evil villains.

She also wrote Cats in Cyberspace and several children's/YA, the most popular of which the Elizabethan mystery, A Murder for Her Majesty
Phoenix Falls
79. PhoenixFalls
So am I the only one whose favorite Barbara Hambly novel is The Ladies of Mandrigyn? That's the one that made me start seeking out and grabbing all of her books on the strength of her name, rather than picking and choosing the ones that seemed interesting -- which to me makes it the logical place to start when I recommend her.

And I'm of two minds on whether or not A Civil Contract is the place to start with Heyer. . . on the one hand, it's where I started, and I loved it to death; but on the other hand, ever since I read it I've been too scared to try another Heyer novel because EVERYONE says that none of the others are like that. ;)
Jo Walton
80. bluejo
PhoenixFalls: I also love the Sun Wolf and Star Hawk books, and they are where I started reading Hambly, despite the awful British cover on The Ladies of Mandrigyn.

As for Heyer, well, none of the others are like that, but many of them are very good in their own way. Cotillion is lovely, and so is Venetia.
Erick Chase
81. TheMarchChase
Nick Harkaway, son of famed spy novelist, John le Carre, has a great debut novel called _The Gone-Away Word_. It's quite a trip, full of time shifts, chapter length narrative asides, and strong Pythonesque (Adamsesque?) humor.
Christopher Byler
82. sfguy
To supplement what others have mentioned:

Peter Hamilton - I think Mindstar Rising (the first Greg Mandel book) or Fallen Dragon are better places to start than the Night's Dawn trilogy (Reality Disfunction, etc.). The latter, while incredible, is not for the faint of heart.

Edmond Hamilton - Here I would start with The Star Kings or the Starwolf series, as prime golden age SF.

Robert Holdstock - Holdstock is a must-read. At his best, Mythago Wood and Lavondyss, he rivals Le Guin and Tolkien for the creative brilliance of his vision. His other work is, unfortunately, less consistent.
Christopher Byler
83. ofostlic
A. J. Hall has written some excellent books that suffer only from being Harry Potter fanfic and thus unpublishable: Lust over Pendle and Dissipation and Despair. Google can find them for you.
Christopher Byler
84. AlayneMc
@beket: the Georgette Heyer book you're thinking of is _An Infamous Army_, which has one of the best fictional renderings of the Battle of Waterloo. And it links back to _Devil's Cub_ and _These Old Shades_.

_A Civil Contract_ is by far my favourite Heyer novel, but judging by conversations I've had with others, I'd say that Venetia (or maybe Cotillion) is the best introductory book. Those two seem to be universally loved.

Re Heinlein: I agree with your recommendations (Door and Citizen), but I'd add _Double Star_, which is a great character study and a paean to the political process.

Re Farnham's Freehold: well, it was supposed to be a satire on racism, a turn-around of who's on top. That didn't work at all well. What's worse about it is the depiction of one of the female characters: possibly Heinlein working out issues in his own life. Not recommended.

No one seems to have mentioned HF Heard, who wrote a series of wonderful Sherlock Holmes pastiches, plus several collections of fantasy/horror/ghost stories. Start with _A Taste for Honey_.
Jim Millen
85. jim.millen
Absolutely without reservation second the recommendation for Harkaway's "The Gone-away World". It manages that rare trick of combining humour, excitement, and genuine back-of-the-neck-tingling horror. Probably wouldn't be to everyone's tastes, but I absolutely loved it.
Jim Millen
86. jim.millen
Whoa, hang on - just looked at my shelves & realised nobody's mentioned Stephen Hunt? Only read his books set in the world introduced through "The Court of the Air" - a great place to start. Hard to define but sort of steampunk overlaid with fantasy, all sorts of other influences though, well worth a try.

I see from Wikipedia that Hunt's written some short fiction too - looks hard to find though.
Christopher Byler
88. kllong
For children's science fiction, how about H.M. Hoover? I loved Children of Morrow when I read it as a kid. I would also recommend This Time of Darkness, about two children escaping from a future underground city.
Michael Burke
89. Ludon
If you're looking to feed your brain some low-fat, low-nutrition fast food, let me suggest Zach Hughes.

His writing reminded me of James White's non-Sector General stories but White was more entertaining. The titles I've read are For Texas And Zed, Thunderworld, Pressure Man, Seed Of The Gods, The Legend Of Miaree and Gold Star. I'd recommend starting with Gold Star then maybe moving on to Pressure Man or Thunderworld. Beyond those, it's a toss-up. I count Gold Star among my favorite Science Fiction stories (I liked the self doubting lead) and I enjoyed Pressure Man along with the take on immortality in Thunderworld, but I find that I don't remember anything of the other stories.
John Adams
90. JohnArkansawyer
Since it's Heinlein Week here on Tor.com, let me throw in my opinion on his best starter works:

Any collection. Anything at all that isn't a book-long work and you can't possibly go wrong.

In particular, I say, Waldo and Magic, Inc. or The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, if the person is open to fantasy, and Revolt in 2100 or The Green Hills of Earth if not.
Christopher Byler
91. MKnecht
Dave@70: The Harlan series beginning with 'Shadow of Ararat' actually takes place in an alternate 7th century in which the Western Roman empire never fell. IIRC, the 'veer' away from our own timeline occurred sometime in Biblical times, according to some hints in the books. Worth reading, but long, and ultimately dark, and the quartet doesn't end the way you think it will based on the tone of the first couple of books.
Christopher Byler
92. toddbrun
A late comment, sorry. I'm always surprised by how many people love "A Civil Contract." I could barely stand to finish it. Not because it is badly written, but because she so undermines the central romance that it felt more like a tragedy. Maybe that's what some people like about it, but it's not for me.

Also:

> Georgette Heyer-- I don't remember which novel it was
> (and this may just be apocryphal), but at one time, one
> of her Regency Romance novels was required reading
> at the British military school (?) Sandhurst (?) because
> her depiction of the Pennisula Campaign and one
> specific battle were considered the best and most
> accurate.

I believe that you mean "An Infamous Army," which has a famous depiction of the Battle of Waterloo.
John Adams
93. JohnArkansawyer
Donald Harington is a recently deceased novelist, most of whose works contain fantastic elements. They're more magical realist than fantasy, but don't let that stop you. He's a wonderful stylist and storyteller and loves words simply because they are beautiful.
Most folks will point you to The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks: A Novel. I've given away a few copies of that one myself, as they were near at hand, as it's set in my mom's home county, and as it's great. Better places to start might be The Choiring of the Trees (I bet Stephen Hunter likes this one) or Ekaterina (with elements to appeal to lovers of late Heinlein: Ekaterina:Lolita::Friday:Candide, only more so and with a genderflip.) Readers of poetry and admirers of formal experimentation should try Some Other Place. The Right Place.
His one published non-fiction book, Let Us Build Us A City: Eleven Lost Towns, is a charming travelogue and a sweet love story.
Ben Wilder
95. BenW
Speaking of Dune and chance of a Dune/Expanded Dune read/reread?

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