Sun
Jun 20 2010 12:06pm

OK, where do I start with that? K.

Sometimes people want to try a new author and they don’t know where to start, and everything they pick up seems to be book VIII of a series. These posts are an attempt to answer that question, in alphabetical order, working my way along my bookshelves. Of course, my bookshelves do not contain all the books in the world. They don’t even contain all the books I’ve read, as over the years I’ve read a lot from libraries, I’ve lent books to people who haven’t return them, I lost books in a divorce, and when my son moved out. Also, there are a lot of books and authors I have never read. So please add any authors I don’t list, with good starting points. And don’t hesitate to argue with me, or with each other, if you think there’s a better place to start with anyone.

My K shelves begin with Janet Kagan, whom you should definitely begin with Hellspark, an anthropological science fiction novel with aliens and linguistics.

Next, and taking up a big chunk of shelf space, comes Guy Gavriel Kay, who I’ve been reading in chronological order for pretty much as long as he’s been writing. Good places to start would be the Sarantine books or The Lions of Al-Rassan.

He’s followed by Nikos Kazantzakis. Start with The Last Temptation of Christ. It’s biblical fantasy, and much better than the film.

Garrison Keillor is a better raconteur than he is a writer, and what I’d seriously suggest is that you start with an audiobook. Probably his most novel-like novel is WLT, and if you want to read his monologues rather than hear them, start with Lake Wobegon Days.

Marjorie Bradley Kellogg—read Lear’s Daughters. I keep meaning to re-read these to do a post about them, but I have the old British two volume edition and there’s a revised edition out, and so I keep thinking I should buy the new edition and don’t get around to it. Great characters, great worldbuilding, astonishing weather.

James Patrick Kelly is primarily a short story writer, and anthologist. If you want to start with a novel, I like Look Into the Sun.

Judith Kerr has written a lot of books for very small children and three volumes of fictionalised memoir for children, which start with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. They’re either really remarkably good or I imprinted on them at a very young age.

Katherine Kerr—start with Daggerspell. I am a very hard sell for anything Celtic, but the Deverry series do really plausible Gaulish Celts in another world, with great reincarnation and history, especially in this first volume, which stands alone as well as starting the whole series.

Peg Kerr’s The Wild Swans is a retelling of the fairy tale, and it’s also about AIDS in its modern day strand. This is on my list of things to re-read and post about soon. I wish she’d write more.

John Kessel has edited many great anthologies, and written lots of excellent stuff, but the place to start him is with Corrupting Doctor Nice, which is like Bringing Up Baby except with a time machine and a baby dinosaur. It’s hard to do screwball comedy SF, but just watch him get away with it.

I heard that someone asked Daniel Keyes how he had written Flowers For Algernon and he answered that he wished he knew. This is one of those books that is so good it makes you feel proud to be human and live on the same planet as someone who could write it. If by any chance you’ve been unfortunate enough to miss it, you could read it this afternoon.

Patrice Kindl writes YA books that are on an odd edge of fantasy. Start with Owl in Love about a teenage girl who is also an owl, and it doesn’t help.

Donald Kingsbury does not write fast and he clearly puts a lot of thought into all of his books. Psychohistorical Crisis is a kind of secret history of Asimov’s Foundation universe. Geta, aka Courtship Rite is about a distant generation of colonists on a planet with no usable animals. This is the book with everything, where everything includes cannibalism, polyamory, evolution and getting tattoos so your skin will make more interesting leather when you’re dead.

With Rudyard Kipling, if you are a child, begin with The Jungle Book or Puck of Pook’s Hill. If you’re a teenager or older, begin with Captains Courageous, which has been described as the first Heinlein juvenile, or Kim. I personally love his poetry and short stories best.

For Rosemary Kirstein, start with The Steerswoman’s Road.

With Naomi Kritzer start with Freedom’s Gate, the first in a very original fantasy trilogy set in Hellenistic Persia and Scythia, where bound djinni, or air elementals, are used to control vast forces of nature. The books have a female protagonist who slowly discovers what freedom is and means.

Michael Kurland wrote one of the first SF books I ever read, The Unicorn Girl, probably best described as hippy SF.

Ellen Kushner—start with Swordspoint or The Privilege of the Sword.

Henry Kuttner—start with the Best Of short story collection reprinted as The Last Mimsy.


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.

54 comments
beket
1. beket
Katherine Kurtz -- start with Deryni Rising which I think was her first book. It's part of a trilogy, but it can be read as a stand alone. I actually read Camber of Culdi first, the first book in her second Deryni trilogy, and it too can be read as a stand alone. While I adore these books, I've pretty much stopped reading her series because, as she wrote, she'd kill off more and more people, resulting in outright massacres as the books progressed.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
Phyllis Ann Karr: She's written a bunch of fantasies, but if you're a fan of Arthuriana, then find a copy of The Idylls of the Queen. It's a murder mystery set in a Malory-based Camelot. Lots of fun.

Guy Gavriel Kay: Seconding Lions of al-Rassan. I liked it a lot and it got me interested in the legends of the Cid. I was rather meh about the Fionavar books.

John Kessel: My favorite is Good News from Outer Space. Very gonzo.

Gregory Keyes: His Age of Unreason is interesting alternate history. Start with Newton's Cannon.

Stephen King: Yeah, I said it. His early work is better, largely because his editors weren't afraid to criticize. But in just about every book, there cones one turn of phrase that is pure poetry. He's best at novella length, though, so start there.

Tappan Wright King: He wrote a sort of utopia called Islandia, which was published posthumously and spun off some follow-up works by his editor. It has quite a following, though I found it a bit tedious in many places.

Damon Knight: Perhaps best known as an editor (and his name is on all the old Orbit collections), he was also an accomplished short story writer. Clarion isn't the only reason his name is on the Grand Master award.

Cyril Kornbluth: Most of his novels were collaborations, but many of his short stories are classics: "Little Black Bag", "The Marching Morons", etc.

Nancy Kress: Start with Beggars in Spain.

Michael P. Kube-McDowell: Lots of good short stories, but I don't think they've been collected. Alternities was interesting.

Katherine Kurtz: There are several ways you can read the Deryni books, by publication, by internal chronology. beket@1 makes a good point, but those massacres are consistent with the universe and back story.

Henry Kuttner: Definitely his short stories, though his novels are worth a look, too. Of course, it's hard sometimes to tell where he begins and C.L. Moore ends, but we'll get to her in a couple of weeks.
Pasi Kallinen
3. paxed
If you like Military SF, give Tom Kratman a try. A Desert Called Peace might be a good place to start.

Some short stories by C. M. Kornbluth.

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress.

The Age of Unreason series, starting with Newton's Cannon, by J. Gregory Keyes.
beket
4. debraji
Islandia is by Austin Tappan Wright.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
debraji@4:

You're right. I don't know how I got that mixed up. Tappan King is the grandson of Austin Tappan Wright and is primarily an editor (in the field, though!). He has written some short stories, but I know nothing about them. Now I have to remember Wright and Islandia for when we finally get to W.

*walks off muttering and shaking his head*
beket
6. Kvon
From the YA stacks, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg made a great impression on my when I was young.

For Naomi Kritzer I'd start with her duology, Fires of the Faithful, about a religious revolution.
beket
7. Edward Milewski
With Damon Knight you could start with " The Best of Damon Knight " Lots of his best stories.
Someone who started with SF and some of his work still flirts with it, is Dean Koontz.He is rather prolific.His later work is more interesting than the early SF.
Walter Underwood
8. wunder
Read the short story of Flowers for Algernon. Seeing the whole arc in a short sitting is unforgettable. Plus, that is the original. You can find it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964, a must-have short story collection.

That collection also has Mimsy were the Borogroves by Henry Kuttner (writing as Lewis Padgett, with C.L. Moore).

Kushner. Read and enjoy Swordspoint, but don't expect the others to be as good. The Privilege of the Sword has a forced-feeling ending (reminds me of the Hollywood edit of The Last Laugh), and The Fall of the Kings, well, I gave up on it two-thirds through. Turgid and veers between good and awful writing.
Clark Myers
9. ClarkEMyers
I'd give more weight to Kornbluth and Kuttner and Knight myself but I don't think there's any particular start here place and whatever comes to hand is a fine start.

Kuttner has a few more odd pieces that depend more on atmosphere and less on idea.

Pretty much everything still easily found and reprinted has stood the test of time

Kafka depends in some small bit on edition and language or translation I suppose and I say start anywhere but don't be put off too quickly. Likely the single most important if true - it's apocraphal which doesn't mean false but doubtful is: Management professor Peter Drucker credits Kafka with developing the first civilian hard hat while he was employed at the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute, but this is not supported by any document from his employer. Wikipedia

For Tom Kratman I'd definitely call it space opera rather than military SF - though I'm in a minority in choosing to define military SF rather more narrowly than most - still there's some good company in the minority. I'd start with the video interviews accessible from the Baen site in choosing what to read. Folks who have issues with the general run from Baen will be confirmed in their opinions on looking into Kratman.

I'd start Kratman with A State of Disobedience and consider Watch on the Rhine as special interest not really intended for those who might misunderstand and surely not themselves remember or know personally the very specific cold war analogy Kratman has said he intended.
Mary Aileen Buss
10. maryaileen
@wunder (8): Tastes, as always, differ. I found Swordspoint only okay, but greatly enjoyed the sequels. The Privilege of the Sword is definitely my favorite. Probably best to start with Swordspoint anyway, though, for the backstory.

@DemetriosX (2): Kay's Fionavar Tapestry didn't do much for me, either; in fact, I never finished the first one. Fortunately, I'd already read and enjoyed a couple of his others by then, so it didn't turn me off Kay altogether. Song for Arbonne worked well as an introduction for me (it was the latest one out, at that point), although I agree that Lions of al Rassan or the Sarantine Mosaic duology would be even better.
Kate Shaw
11. KateShaw
I would never recommend Kushner's Privilege of the Sword, which I found uneven and annoying. I love Swordspoint, though; definitely start with that one and then stop.

Jean Karl's Beloved Benjamin Is Waiting was one of my favorite books when I was a young teenager. It's about a girl with a terrible homelife who sneaks into an old cemetery and eventually makes her home in the abandoned caretaker's house. The SF element is the girl's contact (through a broken statue) with aliens who give her advice and teach her about their world. It's an interesting book; I think it's time for me to reread it.
Phoenix Falls
12. PhoenixFalls
Agree with DemetriosX about Stephen King -- I think a great starting (and ending) place for genre readers is The Gunslinger. It's a lean, evocative post-apocalyptic western that I really wish the rest of the series had lived up to.

Second Kvon on E.L. Konigsburg -- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler should be on every kid's shelf. Haven't read it as an adult, so I don't know how it stands up, but if you know anyone pre-teen or younger you should immediately make it a present. :)
Tex Anne
13. TexAnne
PhoenixFalls @12: I reread The Mixed-Up Files before giving it to my goddaughter a couple of years ago, and it's even better now.
beket
14. joelfinkle
I'll agree with DemetriosX that the novellas, especially Different Seasons, are among his best work, but also among his least Sfnal. If we really want to stick to SF&F, "The Talisman" and "Bleak House" are a great pair (both written with Peter Straub), and in fact, many of his side projects from The Dark Tower are quite fine, such as the way too big Insomnia.

Often blocking other "K" authors from shelf real estate along with the esteemed Mr. King is Dean Koontz. While many of his books read like repertory thriller theater (the same characters with different names, but not in an Eternal-Champion good way), one of his early works, "Lightning", is a great SF novel that I want to tell you nothing about. Anyone who spoils that novel's twist should be tortured with cheese graters.

No Alexander Key? "Forgotten Door" belongs on everybody's YA list.

With Kathe Koja I'd start with "Bad Brains"

Now, eagerly awaiting L'Engle, Laidlaw, Lansdale, Larbalestier, Laumer, Le Guin, Lee (Tanith), Lieber, Leonard (Elmore), Longyear, Lumley...
Justin Levitt
15. TyranAmiros
If you want to read Kellogg's Dragon Quartet, Book of Earth is the first book, and the most traditional fantasy of the four.
beket
16. Shannon Turlington
I guess I would like to know, Jo, have you ever given away a book? Or have you kept every book you've ever owned. Just wondering.

I always recommend The Dead Zone for first-time Stephen King readers. It's not too over the top and examines a classic what if scenario.
Joe Romano
17. Drunes
I wasn't going to chime in about King, but why not? Love him or hate him, like everyone else, I've read a lot of his books. I'd start with "Hearts in Atlantis," then go to "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon." After that, it really depends on what you like.

Also, for Franz Kafka, I'd start with "Amerika," although I read "The Trial" and "The Castle" before that myself.
beket
18. Jeff Dougan
Tying into the H post from a couple weeks back as well as today, Katherine Kurtz and Deborah (Turner) Harris jointly wrote a series titled "The Adept." It ended up about 6 books long before something else sidetracked it (a return to Deryni, maybe?). Start with the first (The Adept).

From E.L. Koningsburg, look also at "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, and Me, Elizabeth."
Monica Annis-Hilliard
19. beltempest
No one has read any Richard Kadrey? I quite liked both Sandman Slim and Butcher Bird. The latter has kind of a Neverwhere sort of feel to it.

As for Koontz, one of the only ones I've read by him and liked was Strangers.
beket
20. Magpieblog
If you prefer SF to F, I'd start Katherine Kerr with Resurrection.
beket
21. ArtfulMagpie
I'd recommend the short story collection Portable Childhoods by Ellen Klages! The story "In the House of the Seven Librarians" is just fantastic.
beket
22. arwenbella
A really good overlooked book by Guy Gavriel Kay is Tigana, which uses magic to explore culture and imperialism.
beket
23. Tom Kratman
Clark:

Other than the Tuloriad, which is fairly close to Space Opera, I really have a hard time understanding how any of my work could be SO. ASOD isn't remotely science fiction. Caliphate is kindasortapossiblymaybeperhaps sci fi, but quite without any reference to spaceships or even much in the way of future tech. Everything else is so thoroughly military...well, how are you defining mil sci fi and how space opera?

By the way, ASOD is...let's just say a first novel, based on someone else's (Jim Baen's) idea, and that I don't play well with others. It's...okay, given those. And, yes, if you're on the left edge of the spectrum, it will quite likely annoy, as will, indeed, nearly everything I've ever written.

best,

Tom
Sean Pratz
24. Galoot
The first Dean Koontz book I read was "From the Corner of His Eye," which turned me into an instant fan. Sadly, everything else I've read by him only comes close to measuring up to that one. That makes me wonder if everyone feels the same way -- my first time was the best -- or if it's really one of his best books.
Jeff LeBlanc
25. Jeff_LeBlanc
In The Hugo Winners, Vol. I, Isaac Asimov writes about presenting the Hugo to Daniel Keyes for "Flowers for Algeron". After announcing the winner, Asimov sang praises for the story, and wondered aloud to those in attendance, "How did he do it?"

When Keyes stepped up to accept the award, he said to Asimov, "Listen, when you find out how I did it, let me know, will you? I want to do it again."
beket
26. ZReader
I loved the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone by Greg Keyes, starting with The Briar King.
And second the Tigana rec for Guy Gavriel Kay--it's my favorite of his and I love all his books.
Jo Walton
27. bluejo
Shannon: I give books away all the time -- books I'm not going to want to read again. Anything I keep, I want to re-read.
beket
29. AlayneMc
I've read all the Adept novels (by Kurtz and Harris), and while I enjoyed them, they always seemed like servant porn -- a world where you never, ever had to do the dishes or cook meals because lesser beings were there for your convenience while you did the Important Stuff.

If I want to read that genre, I prefer PG Wodehouse.
Rob Munnelly
30. RobMRobM
Out of genre, but Milan Kundera. Unbearable Lightness of Being blew me away. I also read The Joke but don't recall it well.

Second (fifth) the recommendation of Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. Incredibly powerful story. Also a great movie starring Cliff Robertson (I believe under the name Charly).

Rob
Vicki Rosenzweig
31. vicki
If we can wander out of genre, I'd recommend Klages's The Green Glass Sea--not science fiction, but fiction about science, it's a YA set in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.
beket
32. Lynnet1
While I think any of E.L. Konigsburg's books is an equally good place to start, I'd like to put a word in for The View from Saturday, which is my personal favorite.
Paul Andinach
33. anobium
Five names off my shelf that haven't been mentioned yet:

Crawford Kilian
Garry Kilworth
Laurie R. King
Dick King-Smith
William Kotzwinkle

No time to give recommendations for them now; I'll be back later, but in the meantime if you have a suggestion, feel free.
Ben O'Connell
34. benjamin_oc
Philip Kerr - His first three Bernie Gunther novels, March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem (collected in one PB edition as Berlin Noir), are modern crime classics. He takes on a well-worn setting, Germany under the Third Reich, and genre, hardboiled noir, and still manages to break new ground. Really potent stuff. I've not yet read the three newer Gunther novels, but I've read good things about them.

Kerr has also written a few SF novels, but I haven't read any of them, unless you count Hitler's Peace, a mediocre WWII espionage thriller with an alternate history twist. I also read Dark Matter, a historical mystery in which Sir Isaac Newton, Warden of the King's Mint, solves murders in the Tower of London. It didn't do much for me.
john mullen
35. johntheirishmongol
Fairly sparse category. I don't do horror, find it unalterably boring, so that leaves me out of King and Koontz (I lived a cpl of blocks away from Stephen King at one point and there is at least one bookstore that had this huge collection of his stuff).

I have read some CM Kornbluth, enjoyed in the tradition 50s writing style, but almost any is fine. Damon Knight is another from that same era.

Flowers for Algernon is a nice story, but I personally thought it has been overrated. It's too sweet and sad for my taste.

Tom, I have read and enjoyed a couple of your books, latest being A State of Disobedience.

I haven't seen anyone mention EE Knights Vampire Earth books which I have read a couple. They are a different turn on the vamp novel than you usually see. Also, Julie Kenner has a series about a demon slayer mom that is lighthearted fun, and you can pick the first few up on the discount aisle.
David Levinson
36. DemetriosX
benjamin_oc @34:

There are new Berlin Noir books? I did not know that. I really enjoyed the first 2 and the third was decent enough. I'll have to look into that. I also sort of liked the Newton book. Kerr has also written a few things that are slightly more connected to the genre, mostly SF thrillers reminiscent of Clancy or Crichton. He has also written a YA fantasy series as P.B. Kerr, but other than the fact it exists, I know nothing about it.
Ben O'Connell
37. benjamin_oc
Demetrios @36:

Yes, Kerr returned to Gunther about four years ago, and all of the newer books have received glowing reviews. There are three more, so far: The One from the Other, A Quiet Flame and If the Dead Not Rise. A new Gunther novel, Field Grey, is due at the end of 2010 in the UK, which means we'll likely see it in the States next year.
beket
38. a-j
I have to say that I did enjoy the 'Fionovar' trilogy though did not expect to.
Kafka - 'Metamorphosis' is a good introduction to his world
Kuttner - 'Fury' is the one I remember liking very and there was one about the rise of telepathy told through a series of connected short stories that I cannot remember the title of.
beket
39. drxray
Unless I missed it no one has mentioned
Kay Kenyon yet. Her Entire and the Rose series is excellent. Bright of the Sky is the first book in the series
David Betz
40. RDBetz
For me, Kipling will always be the Just So Stories. That and A. A. Milne were what my father read to me at bedtime as a child.
Leigh Butler
42. leighdb
I've been waiting for the "K" post in this series just so I could bemoan the fact that The Owlstone Crown by X.J. Kennedy is out of print, which is in my opinion a crime against young fantasy readers.

I picked this book up out of a pile of books my fourth grade teacher had in her classroom for anyone to read, and I seriously wanted to steal it so I could keep it forever (though I didn't!). I was utterly enthralled by it. A ladybug detective! An army of stone owls!

If you can find it, get it.

(This is the same teacher who introduced me to Roald Dahl and, I think, the Bunnicula books, and cemented my love for fantasy stories, which means she is one of the most awesome teachers ever.)

Also, I second the rec for Lightning by Dean Koontz. About 98% of his books (well, to my knowledge; I confess I haven't read his stuff for years) are repetitive and cliched horror dreck, but the other two percent was really good stuff, and Lightning is probably his best novel, of the ones I read. Well worth your time.
Clark Myers
43. ClarkEMyers
#23 - Sent a collection of quotes from previous discussions of the intersection of space opera and military SF as I see it to the address off your web site.

For the group I've addressed the general question of military SF or space opera in earlier threads such as my response to Jo on this:
posted Thursday September 18, 2008 09:00am EDT
Black and white and read a million times: Jerry Pournelle, Janissaries
Jo Walton
I want black-and-white military fiction with good and bad clearly delineated, guns, obstacles, military training, things blowing up, glory, death, and the good guys definitely winning. Also, it has to be written to a certain standard. I don’t want rubbish just because I’m in that particular mood.

emphasis added

And similarly my response post #30 to:
Over the hump: Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers
Jo Walton

on the general distinction I make between military SF and space opera quoting and referencing David Drake on his own works - many of which he calls space opera though harsh.

Mostly referencing for a group - that might already have some idea how I use the terms respectively - how I myself would describe Mr. Kratman's writing.

No need to beat that horse around this corner too.

For an obs SF: As Wilmar Shiras had a smart character say in In Hiding (referencing in that story personifying a chess game {now that's military too} as Through the Looking Glass and as Poul Anderson? did the Immortal Game in fiction) IIRC- if you like that sort of thing [in this case writing on the intersection of military sf and space opera IMHO] you'll like this immensely.
beket
44. Jeff Dougan
For Laurie R. King, definitely start with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice." It's a wonderful "what-if" imagining of Sherlock Holmes after retirement.
Clark Myers
46. ClarkEMyers
everything they pick up seems to be book VIII of a series

Conjecture that might be a key difference between more recent authors where a starting point matters more and past writers where even a connected series [e.g. Mr. Heinlein's future history and followers or perhaps imitators] could be picked up anyplace - and likely was on first serial publication.

Are we talking best starting point for a new release in a connected series (be it the total mass of Foundation or Dance to the Music of Time or what have you) or most attractive work by the author

Is starting point now more important than ever?

Does the presumptive running start of a continuing series attract more readers overall or just sooner after publication or not at all?

Does the ongoing series keep earlier books in print that would otherwise languish post Thor Tool in a way that earlier works by earlier writers escaped?
beket
47. ofostlic
Nancy Kress: I wouldn't have recommended the 'Beggars' series to start. Perhaps 'Dogs' or 'Steal Across the Sky'.


Laurie R. King:
There are several quite different sets of her writing. Definitely start with 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice' for the Russell/Holmes series, and read in publication order (which is mostly but not always the internal chronology). They aren't all equally good, but I don't think there's a consistent trend in either direction.

The stand-alone novel 'Touchstone' is her closest to SF/F and goes nicely with Jo's 'Small Change' series (very different in some ways, similar in others)

There's a nice set of modern-day San Francisco detective stories, for which you have to start at the beginning with 'A Grave Talent' and should probably read in order.

The pair of novels 'Folly' and 'Keeping Watch' include first-person portrayals of mental illness [schizophrenia and PTSD] that are sometimes hard to take. I think they are worth it.
Samantha Brandt
48. Talia
Pleased to see Katherine Kerr mentioned here. The 'Deverry' series is genuinely wonderful and deserves to be more widely read. Can't recommend it enough (I think I'm due to re-read now that I think about it!).

Also seconding Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I found it very engrossing, a lush fantasy with likeable characters and a touch of mythology woven in.

I need to get to these threads earlier, everyone's already mentioned my favorites. :p
beket
49. reddwarf
Katherine Eliska Kimbriel wrote a couple of fantasy books about a young girl learning how to use her magical gifts in the old West. Night Calls and Kindred Rites are the books and they are definitely worth reading if you can find them.
Linden Wolfe
50. Lilith
Janet Kagan – I’ve never managed to get my hands on a copy of Hellspark, but definitely recommend Mirabile (1991).

Faye Kellerman – not SFF, but I love her stuff – start with the first book in the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series, The Ritual Bath (1986), or, for a stand alone novel, The Quality of Mercy (1989) - set in Elizabethan London, or Straight into Darkness (2005) – set in the political turmoil of Munich in the 1920s.

Thomas Keneally – again, not genre, but worthy reads: Schindler's Ark (1982) or The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) (both won Booker prize and were made into films).

W P KinsellaShoeless Joe (1982) which became the film Field of Dreams.

Stephen King – I agree with the comments about the early books being the best as they are less bloated. IT is still my favourite King book and a good place to start.

Dean KoontzOdd Thomas, which is the first in a series about the titular character (so far consisting of 4 novels and 2 graphic novels), and IMHO, the best stuff Koontz has written.
beket
51. Jim Henry III
Michael Kandel: Strange Invasion. Very odd, very good.

C.M. Kornbluth: I'll recommend the NESFA Press omnibus of all or most of his short fiction, His Share of Glory, if you enjoy the stories of his you find in various anthologies.

I've read a handful of Dean Koontz's novels, and enjoyed the more recent ones better than the older ones -- By the Light of the Moon probably better than the others I've read, but none that make me want to read them again.

I haven't read much by Kafka, but The Trial was better than the short stories I've read by him.
Aquila G
52. Aquila1nz
Laurie King has also written one science fiction book as Leigh Richards. Called Califia's Daughters it's set in a post-apocalyptic future where only about 1 in 20 males make it to adulthood.
beket
53. filkferengi
_The Alien Secret_ is fun middle-grade sf by Annette Curtis Klause.
Lee VanDyke
54. Cloric
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress is one of my favorite books, but if you're not a series kind of person (and I have a few nut-job friends like this) then Don't Miss An Alien Light. An excellent SF society study.
beket
55. kllong
I'm glad to see someone mention Jean Karl. The Tuning Place: Stories of a Future Past is a very good collection of linked short stories starting with a calamity that wipes out most of the population of Earth and moving forward from there. Her young adult novel But We Are Not of Earth is also worth mentioning.
beket
56. David DeLaney
A lot of agreement with various books already mentioned. Tastes differ, indeed; I loved the heck out of the Fionavar Tapestry by Kay, all three books, thought it was full of sensawunda, and reread it once in a while. Liked all three of the Swordspoint series by Kushner... and think Kratman is an author to stay far far away from. (Influenced in part by a series of posts he made in Usenet, but the blurbs on his books don't seem to contradict this; there's better MilSF out there, even for someone like me who doesn't actually like MilSF. Try Meluch.) (...Oh, and I see he was here too, above.)

As usual, I've got a few that haven't been mentioned at all. (A couple of which are way off-subject but hey.)

Marvin Kaye wrote a series of short stories about an interuniversal umbrella that followed storytelling principles hither and yon. They were collected as fixup novels in _The Incredible Umbrella_ and _The Amorous Umbrella_. They're much better than I'm making them sound, and humorous fantasy too. Start with _TIU_.

Patricia Kennealy (also later "Kennealy-Morrison") wrote an entire series about Celtic Culture In Space, the Keltiad; start it with _The Silver Branch_. (Yes, THAT Morrison.)

Crawford Kilian got mentioned above, and I think you can start him either at _Brother Jonathan_ or _The Empire of Time_

Scott Kim is way off-topic ... but if you can find his book _Inversions_, about ambigrams (words written so that they can be read from any of several directions, most fairly beautifully), grab it.

Stephen King - I admit to being unfamiliar with nearly all of his work. _Firestarter_ was a pretty readable SF/horror work, and if you have nowhere else to start, start there. (Pyrokinetic daughter, and father who's also psychic, on the run from the authorities.)

Caitlin Kittredge has an urban-fantasy series out, that starts with _Night Life_; apparently the overall series designation is _Nocturne City_.

Damon Knight - Agree with the above mentions. Yes, he edited a lot of stuff, but he's also got some collections; _In Deep_ is one I've had for years and years and years, and should be as good a starting place as any. Old-school science fiction; some of them may appear cliched to today's reader, sort of like Shakespeare has a lot of recognizable quotes scattered through it...

Donald Knuth has my other off-topic suggestion: the book _Surreal Numbers_. In a way it's fantasy - there's a Man, and a Woman, on an Island, and a mysterious Tablet - but it's also extremely pure mathematics ... and gets the reader to follow along as the entire number system you're familiar with gets derived from simple rules, to infinity. And then far beyond.

Michael Kurland wrote some work of his own ... but also wrote two novels set in Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy world, _Ten Little Wizards_ and _A Study In Sorcery_. Start with any of Garrett's Darcy novels/stories, but after that read _10LW_ first. For those who have been wanting more Lord Darcy for forever, they're a godsend...

--Dave
beket
57. R. Emrys
This is a good letter, if a sparse one: Kagan and Kirstein are two of my favorites. All three of Kagan's novels are excellent standalones.

like Bringing Up Baby except with a time machine and a baby dinosaur.

Sold.

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