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Which Authors Are You Neglecting?

The Boston Globe‘s James Sallis has an essay on Great Unknowns where he talks about personally neglected authors – those writers whose sork work you have yet to read. (Sallis’ list mentions sf authors Robert Sheckley and Edgar Pangborn.) This reminds me that there are a handful of sf authors I’ve been really, really wanting to read but never seem to get around to.

Since I sample many authors through short fiction reading, I tend to my split my own list of personally neglected authors into two categories. There is the shorter list of writers whose work I have not read at all and the longer list of writers whose work I have read only through their short fiction.

I have yet to read any fiction (long or short) by:

  • J.G. Ballard
  • William Gibson
  • Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  • Charles Sheffield
  • E. E. “Doc” Smith
  • Olaf Stapledon

The longer list? I have yet to read novels by any the following, though I have read some of their short fiction:

  • Alfred Bester
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Gordon R. Dickson
  • David Drake
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Andre Norton
  • Mike Resnick
  • Dan Simmons
  • Brian Stableford
  • Jack Vance
  • Gene Wolfe

Fess up! Which authors do you really want to read that you have been neglecting?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

16 Comments on Which Authors Are You Neglecting?

  1. So of your first set, I too have never managed (more than 5 pages) of Ballard, but you should Gibson a go just because Neuromancer (not much else is worth is, Count Zero maybe) is so seminal and is also a damn good read. You can skip EE Doc Smith though as seminal as it might be it loses its appeal after age 12 (or did for me)

    Anyway, getting to the point of this reply WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING NEVER HAVING READ ALFRED BESTER. Sorry…..must…..breathe…..slowly…… dispel….anger. Seriously, at least The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination are absolute required reads for an SF buff. I think ‘Stars’ is the best SF i ever read, and it still seems fresh half a centruy after it was written, far more so than Asimov et al, or even a lot of the 60s/70s stuff. The short stories are good but thsoe two novels just have to eb read.

    Me, on my list I never managed to get more than a little way into any of the Gorhmenghast (sp?) novels, neither Olaf Stapledon, Brian Aldiss, and a lot of semi fantasy stuff. The thing is i have no pull to really read any of those. I’m sure there are authors I’ve neglected as I have the wrong impression of them (i thought Dan Simmons sounded naff until i read some, buts its actually umberto eco with monsters), but few i want to read. If you asked me about classics though………

  2. Owen, Yeah, I know…[hangs head in shame |-)] I’ve had both Bester books close at hand (as opposed to stacked away in boxes) for years now. It just seems that something else always gets in the way.

  3. L. Sprague de Camp!

    I’ve only read two of his short stories, The Gnarly Man and A Gun for Dinosaur and just recently ordered one of his anthologies on Amazon which should be arriving any day now.

  4. “…writers whose sork you have yet to read…”



    As to the lists…

    J.G. Ballard

    William Gibson

    Walter M. Miller, Jr.

    Charles Sheffield

    E. E. “Doc” Smith

    Olaf Stapledon

    I can confidently say that I’ve read (at least once) the majority by all of these authors (the only reason I can’t say it totally, is that I don’t really like Ballard, so I’ve skipped several of his).

    Second list?

    Alfred Bester

    Lois McMaster Bujold

    Gordon R. Dickson

    David Drake

    George R.R. Martin

    Andre Norton

    Mike Resnick

    Dan Simmons

    Brian Stableford

    Jack Vance

    Gene Wolfe

    I’ve read a chunk by most of these. I’ve decided that Drake is OK, but I don’t go out of my way to buy everything by him. Norton rocks, as does Dickson, Martin, Vance and Wolfe. Wolfe I have to take in bits and pieces and absorb slowly. I’ve probably read all of Bujold right now except for her ongong fantasy trilogy/series.

    Mike Resnick, only short stories, pretty much. I’ve probably bought more books from Mike Resnick (as a dealer) than I’ve read stories by him!


    Dan Simmons: Sorry, don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    Brian Stableford: I’m still annoyed that US publishers have not seen fit to have brought over the entire “Emortality” series! Grrrr!!!!


    Do we need another emoticon? Of course we do!


  5. Spelling error fixed. And nice commentary. Now, what about YOUR list?

  6. Top of my catch-up list at the moment is Theodore Sturgeon. There are other writers that I have read, but without reading the obvious books. For example I’ve read Mieville, but not Perdido Street Station; and I’ve read Maureen McHugh, but not China Mountain Zhang; and I’ve read Le Guin, but only Earthsea, not any of the science fiction novels. And I haven’t read Dune. (And let’s not get started on the stuff outside the genre …)

  7. “Now, what about YOUR list?:

    I’ll try to come up with one, but no promises until I return from the Land of No Internet Access.


  8. You know, I was kind of thinking along similar lines this morning, but I was taking a different perspective.

    I remembered that the Robinson/Heinlein “collaboration” was coming out soon. So that means I still have another Heinlein novel to read.

    Patric O’Brian is one of my favorite authors (not science fiction). To be honest, I haven’t read all his stuff. I’m not in any hurry, either, because that way there’s always “one more to read” (for several years, at least).

    I’ve read a lot of Ted Sturgeon, but not all. No hurry, there’s always something else to explore.

    Sure, I try to average sixty or so books a year. Sure, this year I’m egging myself on to read 600-odd short works. But sometimes I feel silly about either goal. Isn’t the more important thing just to enjoy the reading process?

    This race doesn’t belong to the strong or the swift, but to those who have fun along the way.

  9. Now, my problem is that I’m sorely lacking in my experience of the classics, and it’s my major weak point as a reviewer.

    Just checking the SF Masterworks list reveals a vast list of genre giants who I’ve never sampled:

    James Blish

    Alfred Bester

    Samuel Delaney

    Frederick Pohl

    Cordwainer Smith

    Jack Vance

    Theodore Sturgeon

    M. John Harrison

    Richard Matheson

    And there’s (no doubt) more than that; I’ve missed out on Doc Smith, too, and everyone tells me that he was the original space opera writer, cheesy or not. The problem being that I have such a queue of fresh stuff to read (and so little time to read it in) that it’s hard to open up a slot for the old-school material – though it’s almost always rewarding when I do. I’ve been taking advantage of the slew of PKD reissues, for example – they’re usually quite small and fast to read, but still a great source of ideas and entertainment.

    I’ve been thinking about sf as an entire body of work a lot recently (thanks to some of the great discussion that’s been taking place online in various blogs), and it strikes me that not having read the foundational works of the genre is like a painter having skipped over the Renaissance – sure, it may not be their particular style, but it’s vital to know where your style sprung from.

    If only I could get paid to read books all day, or if someone could somehow add an extra three hours to each day (or a day to each week). Sigh…:-$

  10. M John Harrison–but I do have a copy of Virconium floating around my to-read pile.

  11. Since we’re being honest here, I have a few big names that I’ve neglected as well.

    H.G. Wells (shoot me now)

    H. Rider Haggard (Now hang my remains)

    Edgar Rice Burroughs (Foul my corpse in an inventive manner)

    John Myers Myers

    C.L. Moore

    Henry Kutner

    Robert Sheckley

    Hal Clement

    Eugene Zamiatin

    It would not be the worst list if not for the pioneering brilliance (so I’ve heard) of the first three. I need to remedy this in what remains of the year.

  12. My neglected author list is pretty long, considering I didn’t read a whole lot of sci-fi from about the time I entered college. Not that I didn’t read any — I added Greg Bear, William Gibson, Orson Scott Card, Neal Stephenson, etc. — but I didn’t read at the rate I had previously.

    I’ve embarked on a personal quest to pare down my neglected authors list by reading all of the Hugo, Nebula, Dick, and Clarke award winners over a ten-year span. I’ll still have a pretty good neglect list, but I will at least have pared it down some.

    This plan was cunningly stolen from Scott Lynch. Read about it here (includes book lists):

    The authors without colored squares in those tables pretty well approximates my neglected author list.


  13. “Foul my corpse in an inventive manner”

    I believe that is the first time those words have been uttered, in that order, on this blog and frankly, we could use more of this. I nominate Tim to use ‘corpse fouling’ in as many comments as possible from here on out. 😀

    As for me, my list is a combination of those above. I find it hard enough to read the good new stuff, let alone go back and read the good old stuff.

  14. Well if we had some time travelling undead Boomers, I am sure there would be plenty of corpse fouling… Well at least on the ones that are still in one piece and are not so stinky…


  15. Honest suggestion: skip Eugene Zamiatin. Both NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR and BRAVE NEW WORLD cover the same ground and do it better. But read SILVERLOCK by John Myers Myers post haste. It’s not great, but it is great fun.

    My list is a chronological opposite the other people here. The old masters I have read; its the new one I have not.

    Of the old, I have not read much Ray Bradbury or Harlan Ellison, but I have read enough to know they are not really to my taste. J.B. Ballard and John Brunner I have read maybe one book between them, enough to know I don’t like dark and negative stuff.

    No, my problem is, now that the field is enormous, and I am a professional (hurrah, I get paid!) writer (admires self in mirror, notes he looks like George Kennedy) I don’t have time to read any of the new stuff everyone is talking about.

    My list:

    Charles Stross–writes in the same little corner of the field I do, super-futuristic post-singularity, and everyone lauds his work, and I haven’t read a word. My wife read his FAMILY TRADE books when they were still in manuscript, so I have inside knowledge that Stross’ original intended ending was better (in my humble opinion) than what was eventually published, but his publisher was only contractually allowed to publish a ‘fantasy’, and his rather clever plot twist was too logical, too science fictiony.

    China Mieville –a reviewer said my first book was like his, and so, thinking we might have similar tastes, I read maybe the first forty pages of PERDIDO STREET STATION. Too many scatological references for me. I am a father of three, and have changed enough diapers in my life not to be enamored of an author who describes every scene in various shades of poo-poo.

    Stephen Baxter–I’ve read TIME SHIPS and precious little else by this wonderful writer. What an imagination this guy has! I read MANIFOLD SPACE and one or two of his short story collections, and want to read more. No time.

    Ken McLeod–I read CASSINI’S DIVISION, and could not suspend my disbelief when it came to the Communist Utopia in it portrayed. Sorry, I’ve read Marx and I know humbug when I smell it. Also, books where every character is a villain don’t do much for me. Maybe his other books don’t have these flaws. I’d like to read more of his stuff, and find out, because it is very imaginative. No time.

    Dave Wolverton–loved his work ever since ON MY WAY TO PARADISE won the Writers of the Future award, and he’s written two series or so I haven’t gotten around to reading. No time.

    Scott Westerfield–Loved the first half of his RISEN EMPIRE story, and haven’t had time to go back and read it and see what happens. No time.

    Charles de Lint–the kind of lyrical modern fantasy I theoretically should love, very similar to my own work in setting and tone …. and … I read ONION GIRL and was disappointed. I want to go back and read some of his better stuff. No time.

    FEAST OF CROWS by George RR Martin is sitting on my bookshelf mocking me! It mocks me! It says, you know I am the best fantasy book written since Tolkien and Lord Dunsany, don’t you? You want to find out what happens to Arya and Jon Snow, don’t you? But, wait! YOU CAN’T DO IT TONIGHT because you have to submit galley proofs for your next book and BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Of course, I have plenty of time to write long comments on web logs… hmmm …

  16. Ken MacLeod: I really didn’t like much of what I read until I read “Newton’s Wake”. That book rocks.

    “Feast of Crows” is mocking me as well. And I don’t have galley proofs to check!


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