Sun
Aug 1 2010 11:13am

OK, where do I start with this? R.

So this week’s installment of our consideration of where to start reading a new author reaches the prolific and diverse letter R. These are my personal recommendations, based on what’s on my bookshelves, and not intended to be comprehensive or unbiased. Please add other authors and other opinions in comments to help make this better — but don’t just list names, give reasons.

My R shelves begin with the historian and travel writer Jonathan Raban. The best one to start with is Bad Land, about the settlements of the badlands of Montana and the Dakotas.

Arthur Ransome wrote a series of children’s books in the thirties about British children messing around in boats in the Lake District, on the Norfolk Broads, and elsewhere. They’re very well written, wholesome, endearing, and not at all fantastical. I remain remarkably fond of them. Start with Swallows and Amazons, there’s no reason to read them out of order and anyway it contains one of the best telegrams ever.

Robert Reed is a phenomenally brilliant writer of science fiction at short lengths. I’d recommend starting with the novel Down the Bright Way (post) or the collection The Dragons of Springplace.

Mary Renault wrote a handful of contemporary (1930s) novels, and historical fiction set in ancient Greece. Anything of hers is worth seeking out. I suggest starting with The King Must Die, the story of Theseus, which is the most like fantasy.

Ruth Rendell is a British crime novelist. I think I have read everything she has written, under her own name or as Barbara Vine. You can start anywhere really—she has a series of books about Inspector Wexford which are kind of becoming SF in the way he doesn’t age as the world advances, but you don’t really need to read them in order. Most of her books stand alone. If I have to suggest a starting place, try Some Lie and Some Die. But really, just get whatever’s on the shelf next time you’re in the library.

Mike Resnick—start with The Dark Lady: A romance of the far future.

Jean Rhys wrote an interesting fanfic of Jane Eyre called Wide Sargasso Sea, about the early life of the first Mrs. Rochester. It’s very depressing, and so are her original stories.

Keith Roberts—I suppose you really ought to start with Pavane, but I am very fond of Molly Zero (post).

Madeleine Robins—start with Point of Honor (post).

Joan G. Robinson wrote When Marnie Was There, which was one of my favourite books when I was six.

Kim Stanley Robinson—I suggest you start with Years of Rice and Salt (post) or The Wild Shore.

I wonder why Robinson is such a popular name for writers? There’s also Spider & Jeanne Robinson, who you should start with Stardance.

Michael Scott Rohan, British fantasy writer, very good, not much published in the US—start with The Anvil of Ice.

Phyllis Rose writes nonfiction—her Parallel Lives, examining Victorian marriages, is brilliant.

Kate Ross wrote four Regency mysteries they get better as they go on, but they ought to be read in order, so start with Cut to the Quick.

Patrick Rothfuss only has one book out, though I hear he’s working hard on the sequel, so start with The Name of the Wind (post).

Bernice Rubens is a Welsh Jewish author who is remarkably weird. I started with A Five Year Sentence, which is about somebody who has done what she’s told all her life and is prepared to kill herself upon retirement, but then is given a five year diary, which she sees as an instruction to live five years. Then she starts writing things down in it, things she hasn’t done and which she must do. It is much weirder than it sounds from this, and it’s also un-put-downable—which is also the case for most of her books. If you like oddness and don’t require the fantastical, try her.

Kristine Katherine Rusch may be best known as an editor, but she’s also a terrific writer. Start with Alien Influences.

Salman Rushdie—definitely start with Midnight’s Children (post).

Eric Frank Russell—start with Next of Kin (post).

Geoff Ryman—I think there are lots of potential starting points depending what you like, but the Tiptree winner Air (post) is very good and very accessible.


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.

53 comments
Michal Jakuszewski
1. Lfex
Alastair Reynolds - start with Revelation Space, first novel in his Inhibitors sequence.

Kim Stanley Robinson - I would go against majority and start with Icehenge which is my favorite novel by him.

Sean Russell - definitely start with World without End and Sea without the Shore duology. There is also prequel duology, set in the same world about one hundred years before, which is also excellent, but I believe in reading books in order they were written, as opposed to chronological order.

Rudy Rucker - I think Software is the most reasonable choice, being first novel in his Ware sequence.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
Wow, you beat me to the punch on a lot of these and suggested exactly the same places to start.

Mike Resnick: I would start with either Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future (make sure you don't get the sequel) or Ivory, but Dark Lady is good to. Santiago really calls up his mythologized frontier concepts and Ivory is a good blend of those and his Africa themes.

John Maddox Roberts: He writes some alternate history, but I like his SPQR mysteries. Start with SPQR.

Herbert Rosendorfer: I don't know how good the translation is, since I read it in the original German, but Letters Back to Ancient China is a fun little social satire about a man from 10th century China who time travels to Germany in the mid-80s. It may work better if you have a familiarity with modern German culture, but give it a try.

Joel Rosenberg: I mostly know his short fiction that appeared in Asimov's in the 80s. I enjoyed that. I think his novels tend to be in the libertarian/milSF/Pournelle vein, but I'm not sure where you should start.

Rudy Rucker: Tends to the gonzo from what I've read. He's probably comparable to Effinger, but with a more mathematical bent. I really only know his short stuff.

Joanna Russ: One of our most important writers of the 70s. I don't know if The Female Man is a good place to start or not. I'll let somebody who is more knowledgeable make a suggestion.
jon meltzer
3. jmeltzer
With Russ I think I'd start with her short stories, but I don't know of a "best of" collection.
Ken Walton
4. carandol
You don't happen to know what's happened to Michael Scott Rohan, do you? He doesn't appear to have written anything since 2001, which is a shame.
jmd
5. jmd
Melanie Rawn has a double trilogy set in the same world, magic system is called Sunrunning - start with Dragon Prince. She has another series I never started and I am not sure she ever finished it.

Ha! Captcha : scarier education
Clark Myers
6. ClarkEMyers
I'd say Joanna Russ is very much an it depends on the reader sort to pick a starting place for.

For my money Picnic on Paradise is an essential but not necessarily the best introduction to her more targeted writings be that writing feminist or non-fiction.

For the people most likely to read these reviews and comments I'd likely suggest starting with To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction or perhaps The Country You Have Never Seen depending on what comes to hand first as much as anything.

For those few who might have led sheltered lives - reading wise that is - and so either enjoy, benefit from or need exposure to alternatives then the more deliberately feminist fiction. But that would be mostly as an existence proof and example and perhaps the same ends would be achieved with Picnic on Paradise.
René Walling
7. cybernetic_nomad
I just have one name to add: J.-H. Rosny Sr. who is a Belgian SF author who is probably best know for Quest for Fire, which is where most people start. He is considered one of the most important figures of early French SF, rivaling even Vernes. One of the most important French SF Awards (prix Rosny aîné) is named after him.

Brian Stableford has translated several of his works and these have been recently (as in a few months ago) released by Hollywood Comics (these are books, not comics, in spite of the publisher's name)
Sherri Nichols
8. snichols
Mary Doria Russell wrote The Sparrow, a first contact novel with a religious/anthropological bent. Children of God is the sequel; the rest of her novels are historical, rather than speculative.
Clark Myers
9. ClarkEMyers
For sentimental reasons I'd suggest Mack Reynolds - once very popular indeed earned his reader's poll bonuses from John Campbell and all the rest - and now mostly forgotten.

I'd suggest the United Planets series as fun easy reads for the genre fan at the risk of what Heinlein among others called a cotton candy response - superficially attractive and sweet but not really much there. What I call and folks who saw the commercials on American TV will recognize as the I could have had a V8 moment of recognizing the alternative cost for the time and energy spent. Perhaps deserving of oblivion but well liked by many people for many years.

Still I like the notion of technical progress as needful but then I would wouldn't I?

For John Ringo I'd suggest There Will be Dragons for the genre fan - someone who has recognized fairy tales retold with the magic as science by LeGuin and others can race through the free text and/or audio editions with some pleasure and recognition.

Other than that maybe a tension between more mainstream genre like Princess of Wands and the author's signature works like Ghost depending very much indeed on the target. There's also a strong element of start nowhere unless trapped in the middle on a wide body plane with nothing else to read then settle for whatever for some readers.
jmd
10. Flibbertygibbet
Phil Rickman! His Merrily Watkins books are a wonderful mix of detective novel and the supernatural. They're about a female, divorced, chain-smoking CoE vicar who also happens to be a Deliverance minister... i.e. an exorcist. The series is set on the Herefordshire border, and evoke a very strong sense of place, and of the prehistoric features hiding in the landscape. The characters are excellent and the stories are hugely engaging. I really wish Rickman's works were better known, as he deserves the recognition.
jmd
11. Susan Loyal
Justina Robson. Start with Natural History. I'd also recommend her current series, Quantum Gravity, which begins with Keeping It Real. It's more whimsical and works the boundary between SF and F.

@6. I agree about starting Joanna Russ with Picnic on Paradise, unless you can get your hands on the short fiction collection The Adventures of Alyx, which pulls together all the short fiction about the lead character from that novel. It was published in 1986, I think.
Paul Andinach
12. anobium
Emily Rodda. I gather she's gone into quest fantasy in a big way lately, but I'm only familiar with her early fantasies, which are in the way of magic inserting itself into everyday life. My favourite is Finders Keepers, which is about what really happened to that thing you spent ten minutes searching for and then you found it in a place you could swear you already looked three times. (I'd suggest giving the sequel a miss, though.)
Liza .
13. aedifica
Matt Ruff: Start with Fool On The Hill, with Greek gods and fairies and a Storyteller and Cornell University. And a dragon and George. And Tolkien House. And...

For Joanna Russ, The Zanzibar Cat isn't a bad place to start, since it's a collection of very different stories (including "Useful Phrases for the Tourist"). The stories are so very different from one another that there are some I enjoy greatly, some I feel "meh" about, and some I just can't understand.

For Kate Ross, I partially agree--I think it's not *too* dreadful to read her first three books out of order, but you must wait and read The Devil in Music last.
Paul Andinach
14. anobium
Robert Rankin. I recall hearing that The Antipope is a good one to start with. I can't vouch for this from my own experience, as I myself started with Armageddon: The Musical and was not inclined to continue. (I have since heard from several people that if there's one Robert Rankin novel you definitely shouldn't start with, it's Armageddon: The Musical.)
Phoenix Falls
15. PhoenixFalls
Lfex @ 1:
I actually think the best place to start with Reynolds is Chasm City -- it's a stand-alone and much tighter as a result; there isn't all that hopping around that kept me kind of bored through long stretches of Revelation Space, and it's in the same world so you still get a sense for the scope and imaginative power of the universe.

Huh. Other than Reynolds, I have very few "R"s on my shelves. . . I suppose I must rectify that at some point with some of these recommendations! :)
Melita Kennedy
16. melita
Jennifer Roberson writes a fun series called Tiger and Del. If you can, start with the short story, "The Lady and the Tiger", which is in Sword and Sorcery II or her collection, Guinevere's Truth and Other Tales. Otherwise, start with Sword-Dancer.

For Marta Randall, try Islands about an aging woman in a world of immortals.

Alis Rasmussen's debut novel, The Labyrinth Gate, is a magic portal story with engaging (and just married) main characters. Rasmussen now publishes under the name Kate Elliott. Elliott's Jaran series takes place in the same universe as the Highroad Trilogy.

In genre, Rick Riordan has the Percy Jackson and just started Kane series, but I prefer his Tres Navarre mystery series, set mainly in San Antonio. Start with Big Red Tequila.
Joe Romano
17. Drunes
Mary Rosenblum is an underappreciated writer and writing instructor from the Pacific Northwest. Start with “The Drylands,” her first novel and an interesting vision of a future world with limited water resources, or “Chimera,” a thoughtful cyberpunk adventure. Over the years, Rosenblum has helped a lot of novice writers perfect their craft and understand the business of writing. She deserves to be more widely read.
Andrew Mason
18. AnotherAndrew
she has a series of books about Inspector Wexford which are kind of becoming SF in the way he doesn’t age as the world advances

If that makes a work SF, the SF canon expands considerably. A lot of detective writers, starting with Agatha Christie, and famously including Rex Stout. Many children's writers. (Actually there are two variants of this; in one the characters don't get older at all; in another they do get older, but not in real time. Antonia Forest is a famous example of the latter; Ransome may be another.) Lest you think this is a problem which only afflicts children, there is Last of The Summer Wine, (British TV series) which is about old people who have now been the same age for thirty years.
Kate Shaw
19. KateShaw
I like Margaret Ronald's urban fantasies, starting with Spiral Hunt. I don't think anyone's mentioned her. They're strong on Celtic mythology without treading too much of the same ground other Celtic-themed urban fantasies have trod before.

There's an obscure young people's fantasy writer called J.K. Rowling who I hear has a pretty good series out. Start with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone (title varies by region). If you can ignore the hype and hysteria, these really are fun and interesting books.
Michael Ikeda
20. mikeda
Tom Reamy has two books that I know about. The anthology "San Diego Lightfoot Sue and Other Stories" and the novel "Blind Voices".
Liza .
21. aedifica
anobium @ 14: I thought about mentioning Rankin, but since I've only read one-and-a-bit of his books I wasn't sure what to recommend. I started with Raiders of the Lost Car Park, found it decently funny, then began to read The Book of Ultimate Truth and found it too much the same, so I stopped.
john mullen
22. johntheirishmongol
Melanie Rawn - I did enjoy the dragon prince series, start with the first trilogy.

Mack Reynold - You can read almost anything, all just fun novels..I believe Mercenary from Tomorrow is available on the web. Most of it is sheer nonsense but fun anyway.

John Ringo - I know some don't like him, but I do, however his best stuff is his later stuff. Try Into the Looking Glass.

Spider Robinson - Start with the first series of short stories about Callahan and go from there. If the puns don't kill you :)

Jennifer Roberson I agree with the Tiger and Del series. Great characters and development as they go along

Joel Rosenberg - I say read Guardians of the Flame. It starts slowly but gets better and deeper farther along

Christopher Rowley is a superb writer who doesn't get enough praise. I would start with The War for Eternity.

I would not recommend JK Rowling for anyone except younger kids, and even those the length is very daunting for most.
Joe Sherry
23. jsherry
@5: Rawn has not finished the Exiles trilogy. Two of the three have been published, the third is perpetually unwritten.

Start with Dragon Prince and the first trilogy before moving on to the Dragon Star trilogy (which begins with Stronghold). Much of the emotional resonance requires the connection forged from the first three books.

Rawn is, however, working on an urban fantasy trilogy which starts with Spellbinder. It's not my cuppa.

Also highly recommended is The Golden Key, written by Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliot. Rawn is reportedly working on the first of the spin-off novels (The Diviner).

I do also like Jennifer Roberson's Cheysuli books. Sort of a harsh companion animal fantasy.
jmd
24. enderby
Adam Roberts is one of the most interesting writers to appear in the last decade. Start with Stone.
Kenneth Sutton
25. kenneth
@8 I agree that Mary Doria Russell's novels The Sparrow and Children of God belong on anyone's to-read list.

Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt is good, but if you like big honking long operas, I'd go for the Mars books.

I would also include J.K. Rowling.
Daniel Brown
26. I_Slap_Raptors
Michael Scott Rohan I'd recommend starting with Chase the Morning, if you can find it. A strange, yet compelling, mix of modern day urban fantasy (in the older sense of the term), rip-roaring, swashbuckling yarn and O'Brien-esque naval adventure. Then check out the three sequels.

Damon Runyon A fine writer with a great line in the poetry of the gutter. Anything by him is worthwhile, but Guys & Dolls is as good a place to start as any.

Mike Ripley Give his historical comedy-thriller Boudicca and the Lost Roman a try. If you like it, move on to his series of London based crime capers about the wonderfully named Fitzroy Maclean Angel.

@10: Flibbertygibbet I'll second Phil Rickman, but I was going to recommend Crybbe as a starting point. A dark fantasy/horror that combines the best elements of Robert Holdstock & Stephen King. Two strange bedfellows, I'll admit, but he makes it work. It's fun to spot Gomer Parry in a minor role as well.

@19: KateShaw & 25: Kenneth J.K. Rowling you say? A little obscure. Has this person written anything I might have heard of? ;-)
Nancy Lebovitz
27. NancyLebovitz
Michaela Roessner: The Stars Compell and The Stars Dispose-- very pleasant Renaissance fantasies with magical cooking.

I don't know whether it's reasonable to disrecommend Spider Robinson because his works have been replaced by the suck fairy for me, but I will say that you should read his books in publication order, and if you find they're starting to become distasteful, stop before you start noticing that his bad habits were there from the beginning.
Jo Walton
28. bluejo
Carandol: I haven't seen anything from him either. I was planning on asking you the same question.

Re: Rasmussen -- I shelve them as Elliott, but definitely worth reading.
Tex Anne
29. TexAnne
Many people like The Sparrow very much. I find it a worthy piece of writing, with two reservations: one, that it is obviously SF by a writer who doesn't read SF herself; and two, that there is a particular kind of violence that made me put down the book and shake for a while. (rot-13.com is your friend: gur frkhny nohfr jnf njshy, ohg gur qrfgehpgvba bs uvf unaqf jnf jbefr.)

I've never read the sequel, and I don't intend to.
Linden Wolfe
30. Lilith
Elfreida ReadThe Dragon and the Jadestone, a lovely kids book and the last book my father bought me before he died, just before my 8th birthday, so it has a special meaning for me.

Alastair ReynoldsRevelation Space has already been mentioned, although I actually began with The Prefectwhich takes place in the Revelation Space setting, but prior to the main cycle. For a stand-alone, try The House of Suns.

Phil Rickman – The Merrily Watkins series, beginning with The Wine of Angels has already been discussed, but I recommend it, too. I also recommend his recent stand-alone novel The Bones of Avalon, set in Elizabethan England with Dr John Dee as the protagonist.

Mike Resnick – I really enjoy the Fable of Tonight fantasy noir series, starting with Stalking the Unicorn.

Ayn Rand – I’m about to lose all credibility here, but I actually have a soft spot for both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, even if I do think Rand’s philosophy is a complete load of bollocks.

Ian Rankin – I came to the Rebus books from the TV series, starring John Hannah. Start with Knots and Crosses.

Michael Reaves – I’ve enjoyed his urban fantasy/horror novels such as Voodoo Child and Night Hunter.

Garfield & Judith Reeves-StevensThe Chronicles of Galen Sword, starting with Shifter. Or Garfield on his own with Dreamland, my favourite ‘evil amusement park’ novel.

Robert Rankin – Personally, I find him best enjoyed in small doses, rather than reading several books in a row. YMMV. Begin with either the first of the Brentford books or the Cornelius Murphy series.

Anne Rice – Start with Interview…, quit after Queen of the Damned.

Kat Richardson – The urban fanstasy Greywalker series, beginning with the book of the same name.

Joel RosenbergGuardians of the Flame, for all the D&D players out there who ever dreamed of their campaign becoming real, beginning with The Sleeping Dragon.
Rich Horton
31. ecbatan
Comments on a couple of those mentioned already -- perhaps we ought to note that both Kate Ross and Tom Reamy died way way too young. I loved Ross's books (and Reamy's short stories). Ross's series was cut off short of where it should have been, and to me, THE DEVIL IN MUSIC reads like she knew she was dying (which she did) and tried to put as much in it as she reasonably could -- not entirely to the book's benefit. But they are very enjoyable mysteries -- though not actually "Regency" -- they are set in the 1820s, just after the Regency. (Yes, yes, I know, what a nitpicker I am!)

Matt Ruff has written several intriguing novels, on the boundary of SF (and sometimes across the boundary). I'd say start where I started: SEWER, GAS, AND ELECTRIC, which is satirical SF, and very funny.



The late Stephen Robinett was mostly an Analog writer, originally under the name Tak Hallus (which he claimed was Farsi for "pseudonym"). His first novel, STARGATE, was being serialized in the first issue of Analog I bought. He wasn't a great writer, but his stuff was usually entertaining. STARGATE is a reasonably place to start, I suppose.
jmd
32. LAJG
Mordecai Richler: I loved Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang as a kid (I still do). I haven't read many of his other works, although I keep meaning to. I liked Joshua, Then and Now.
jmd
33. FooU
How did Alastair Reynolds and Rudy Rucker not make the list?
p l
34. p-l
I was also surprised not to see Adam Roberts here. I really enjoyed Stone and The Land of the Headless.
jmd
35. a-j
Philip Reeve - 'Mortal Engines' is the first of a quartet for young adults about ambulatory cities in far future England.
J K Roland (?) - first three of her 'Hairy Porter' books are fun, become a bit dense and under-edited later.
Nick Rogers
36. BookGoblin
I LOVED the first book of Melanie Rawn's Exiles Trilogy, "The Ruins of Ambrai" but the second book created this world altering change process that created a truly difficult mess. I'm afraid it's an example of a writer painting herself into a bad corner without a good way to wrap everything up neatly in the third book. I imagine the resolution is so daunting she has a hard time girding herself for the battle.

Which is too bad because they are wonderful books overall.

The was a romance novelist named Marylyle Rogers who published some of the first fantasy romances, for those who like that sort of thing. Start with "Chanting the Dawn" and also look for her Fairy series.
Marcus W
37. toryx
I'm really glad to see other people recommending Rickman. I prefer the Merrily Watkins stories (start with Wine of Angels but Crybbe (published as Curfew in the States) is also a good place to start if you're more interested in supernatural horror.

He's also written as Will Kingdom, though I've not yet read any of those books.

Anyway, I highly recommend Rickman and would love to see more people reading him.
jmd
38. dwndrgn
I'm so glad you (and others) mentioned Kate Ross because I knew she had died but I've only read two of her books (I thought that was all there was!) and now I have two new books to discover! Well, along with a bunch of others just from this thread alone. I'd like to add Judith Merkle Riley as I discovered her the same way I discovered Ross, just wandering through the library looking for cool bookcovers and finding new books. Start with [i]The Oracle Glass is an historical fantasy set in the 17th century. Fun and interesting fantasy/mystery with a hint of romance.
Nick Eden
39. NickPheas
Ransome also wrote/collected a fine volume Old Peter's Russian Tales which I dearly loved when young and am looking forwards to the point my nieces are old enough to have them read to them.
jmd
40. lampwick
@27 -- I liked Roessner's _Walkabout Woman_ -- a fantasy using Australian aboriginal myth, very respectfully done.
jmd
41. Mndrew
Joel Rosenberg: If you prefer SF to F, then start with Emile and the Dutchman.
Mark E. Rogers: If you can find it, any of the "Samurai Cat" books are unbelievably funny.
Geoffrey Dow
42. ed-rex
I'm just a little surprised that no one has mentioned Richard Paul Russo.

His novel Ship of Fools was at once a marvellously-realized far-future space-opera, a mystery and a political drama with heavy religious undertones and had what was probably the creepiest first-contact since ... well, ever, in my experience.

It's one of those quiet, talky novels that holds several roiling stories beneath its calm surface and holds up very well under re-readings.

In fact, I think I just might pull out off of the shelf again.
jmd
43. beket
I have Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars trilogy, but I really don't want to start with that series. Can The Martians be read before reading the trilogy?

I am partial to Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine's Anna's Book. I wonder why.

Dittos on starting with Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire and stopping with Queen of the Damned , and even that one has its share of problems.

JK Rowling - I like the early ones, while the later ones get too long, too dark, too heavy (literally).
Samantha Brandt
44. Talia
J.K. Rowling: I would absolutely recommend the Harry Potter series even for adults. I'm 33 now; I adored the books when they came out and I adore them now. Naturally, much depends on the preferences of the reader in question. :)

I do agree they get darker later in the series and are perhaps not ideal for younger readers. They work for me as an adult, though.

Mike Resnick: I am a huge fan of his short fiction over his novels, personally. 'Barnaby in Exile' moved me profoundly. Oh and the absolutely wonderful 'Down Memory Lane,'which actually made me cry. Oh please do check out that one at least.

Unsure if this would fall under R or Z on the bookshelf but.. Mickey Zucker Reichert: Start with 'The Last of the Renshai.' I really enjoy her Renshai trilogy - pretty good high fantasy based on Norse mythology. Very well done character development.
Rich Horton
45. ecbatan
I can't believe I forgot to mention Marilynne Robinson. Not an SF or Fantasy author by any stretch (it may be unfair of me to say so without knowing, but alas I suspect she might be the sort of literary writer who is prejudiced against SF), but a great great writer.

Three novels: HOUSEKEEPING (1980), GILEAD (2004), and HOME (2008). The first is about two sisters growing up with a curious set of guardians in mid-century Idaho, the second two are parallel looks at the same events, in the families of a couple of clergymen in mid-century Iowa. (Robinson grew up in Idaho and has been a Professor at the University of Iowa for a long time.) The prose is astonishing, and the books have tremendous emotional power (particularly the agonizing last third or so of HOME).
jmd
46. David DeLaney
Note that Jo's lists include the books _she_ owns, as she keeps noting - "based on what's on my bookshelves" - not necessarily all the authors she's read or heard of for that letter. I'm doing pretty much the same in my comments, I just own a scary amount of books.

Ellen Raskin wrote children's books, non-series. Her last one is probably her very best, _The Westing Game_ ... but you can also start her with any of _Spectacles_, _The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)_, _Figgs & Phantoms_, or _The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues_. Coincidentally, the books I've read and own of hers are exactly the ones Wikipedia has separate pages for (though _Spectacles_ just goes to a page on glasses).

Michael Reaves - I'm recommending a starting point of his, _The Shattered World_, first of two fantasy novels in which, yes, the Earth has been shattered into pieces, and the various issues that follow from this, both magical and mundane.

Mickey Zucker Reichert - Seconded, and yes, start with _The Last of the Renshai. She has also written a different Norse-themed series that starts with _Godslayer_, and one about a setting where magic-users have a single magic talent ... which can be stolen (which involves the death of the magic-user) for another's use, that starts with _The Legend of Nightfall_.

Laura Resnick has been writing fantasy and romance for a couple decades now; you can start her urban-fantasy series with _Disappearing Nightly_.

H.A. Rey I'm only mentioning here because EVERYONE should find and own a copy of his _The Stars: A New Way to See Them_. Hey, it's SF-_connected_ at least - and revolutionized the standard constellation diagrams. The fact that he also wrote the Curious George books is a mere coincidence, I insist!

Jennifer Roberson also wrote a long series, The Chronicles of the Cheysuli, which I liked a lot, about a lineage of shapechangers and their longtime purple-magic Ihlini nemeses. It starts with _Shapechangers_, but it's also been collected in two-book chunks, where it starts with _Shapechanger's Song_. She's more recently started a series set in a world with dangerous magical forests, starting with _Karavans_; this one's not finished yet.

Spider Robinson - Agreed on _Stardance_. But one can also note that his Callahan's Bar series started with _Callahan's Crosstime Saloon_, which can be a good starting point for certain types of people (Must. Love. Puns. And shaggy dog stories.).

Mary Rodgers is another children's-book writer, but you may have heard of this series: it starts with _Freaky Friday_, in which a young girl and her mother switch bodies for a day.

Mark E. Rogers - Yes, start with _The Adventures of Samurai Cat_. This is most definitely NOT your father's Garfield. Or, if you can _find_ them, he has a 2+3 book series about sorcerors, horrific demons, and their interactions that starts with _Zorachus_. (The second 3 books involve the person who would have been Jesus if it had been our world; things go a bit differently here though.)

Joel Rosenberg has several series out there; the longest, most-known one is about a group of people who get catapulted into, and trapped inside, the role-playing game they are all players of, and starts with _The Sleeping Dragon_. But the series I think I liked best of his starts with _D'Shai_, set in a vaguely Oriental land where some people have a magical talent that lets them do one particular skill or another nigh-perfectly. Ooo, and Wikipedia thinks there's a third one waiting in that series!

Christopher Rowley also wrote a LONG series involving battledragons and their boy caretakers; it starts with _Bazil Broketail_.

Rudy Rucker - I know he does have some series books out, but I don't think I own any. But you can also start him with _White Light_, a novel about infinities (though I admit the first part of it is hard to get through) and a setting where they can be experienced directly... or with one of his non-SF/fantasy books, _Infinity and the Mind_, which I have recommended repeatedly in the past for people who want to get some grasp on the different kinds of infinity and how they work. (Yes, there's more than one kind; the one most people think of instinctively is the SMALLEST one.) The description @2 of "gonzo" does rather fit his writing style...

Thomas J. Ryan is the author of _The Adolescence of P-1_, an early Artificial Intelligence novel; since a quick check doesn't seem to bring up anything else he wrote, one HAS to start there.

--Dave, already dreading the massive horror that will be S
Jo Walton
47. bluejo
Dave: I'd forgotten all about The Shattered World but I remember enjoying it out of the library back when dinosaurs roamed outside.

(I've just doen S, and you're right, it is enormous.)
jmd
48. Jinian
I try to keep my comments on these posts purely positive, but I hate Richard Paul Russo and particularly Ship of Fools so very much that I cannot keep silent. Do Not Start.

For Matt Ruff, I would start with the Tiptree winner: Set This House in Order.
jmd
49. AlayneMc
I think the most approachable Kim Stanley Robinson book is _Escape from Kathmandu_: which also happens to be very good. The recent two-stories+essays+interview collection _The Lucky Strike_ (PM Press) is also an excellent introduction.

My favourite Eric Frank Russell is _Men, Martians, and Machines_, which is also a great introduction and very funny in places (we are allowed to satirize chess-obsessed Martians, right?)

The American mystery writer Craig Rice (if you can find her books) wrote wonderful screwball mysteries. Try _Home Sweet Homicide_ or _The Lucky Stiff_ or _The Corpse Steps Out_.
jmd
50. filkferengi
Laura E. Reeve's series about Major Ariane Kedros starts with _Peacekeeper_.

Armsmaster Hank Reinhardt's _The Book Of Swords_ is an excellent nonfiction resource.

Emilie Richards' first 'Ministry Is Murder' mysteries is _Blessed Is The Busybody_.

Fan and filker Roberta Rogow writes Charles Dodgson & Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, the first of which is _The Problem Of The Missing Miss_.

Willo Davis Roberts wrote lots of young adult sf; start with _The Girl With Silver Eyes_.
John Adams
51. JohnArkansawyer
For John Ringo, I recommend starting with Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart.
jmd
52. Mike Scott Rohan
In answer to those enquiries from people who still remember my stuff, I'm very touched. The reason I stopped writing fiction was that I became very seriously ill in 1999 -- two vicious illnesses, treatable but incurable. This left me curiously depressed, and my fiction began to become both harder work to write, and darker to read -- it didn't satisfy me. Furthermore, both my agent and favourite editor died suddenly, both little older than me. And I got a bit disillusioned competing with the sheer volume of fantasy being churned out, some of which was brilliant -- Barry Hughart, to name another lost name -- but much, by the law of averages, pure crud. So I semi-retired, and have been writing about one of my other fields, classical music, for all Britain's major music magazines, notably the BBC's -- work I can put down when I don't feel too good. However, I have written one or two other bits and pieces, including Winter of the World short stories, and I am also looking at re-releasing my books as e-books, perhaps with extra material. So I'm all the more glad to be remembered, especially alongside some very fine names indeed. Cheers!
jmd
53. AdamB
Woah, Michael Scott Rohan replied (I am late to this post!). Best of luck and I hope you can find yourself able to write more (and if you could release e-books, I'll buy them all).

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