Recommended Reading by Professionals…with Gail Carriger

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Gail Carriger. New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger writes comedic steampunk mixed with urbane fantasy. Her debut novel, Soulless, won the ALA’s Alex Award. Her Parasol Protectorate books, their manga adaptations, and the first of her new YA series, Etiquette & Espionage, are all bestsellers. Her new book, Curtsies & Conspiracies, releases November 5, 2013. She was once a professional archaeologist and is overly fond of tea.


  1. Judith Tarr is a well known author within the SF/F community but I don’t think she has ever quite attained the broader recognition her books deserve. My favorite of her work is Lord of the Two Lands, a fantastical alternate history of Alexander the Great moving into Egypt. The main character, an Egyptian priestess named Meriamon, is sent as a lure, omen, and diplomat into the heart of the invading Greek army. What makes Tarr brilliant is her writing style: she uses short, punchy, fragmentary sentences that nevertheless manage to convey eminence depth of meaning, emotion, and characterization. Everything she writes is precisely implemented, bladed and cutting, even when joyful. For example:

    After a long while she found another word. “Sekhmet?”

    “Here.”

    Soft paw, prick of claws. Murmur of inquiry: “Mrrrrttt?”

    Trust me, in context, those few words will make you cry. The Lord of the Two Lands is as near to perfect as a book can get, filled with adventure, action, and tension yet also bittersweet and wildly romantic. It’s one of those I return to again-and-again, and as an author I am always slightly disheartened knowing I myself could never write such clean sharp prose.

  2. Ann Maxwell [aka Elizabeth Lowell] is a prolific writer better known for her romance novels then her science fiction, of which her last was Timeshadow Rider in 1986.  (I still live in hope that she may finish the Firedancer series, three of which came out in the early 80s and ended on a cliffhanger). I can’t fault her, since her romances afford her a living, we writers must eat. But if you can get ahold of some of her stand alone science fiction, you’re in for a treat. Timeshadow Rider is my favorite. Where Tarr is a master of brevity, Maxwell dances with words. Her prose is lyrical, poetical, and flowing but not flowery. Her science fiction reads like some surreal myth about the future. Her aliens are precisely that, so alien I feel, as a reader, like they are almost beyond my comprehension, and yet I am eager to try to understand them all the more because of that. Each time I reread her books I feel like I am learning something different about her dream-like vision of the future.
  3. Claudia J Edwards wrote four fantasy novels in the late 80s, one of which was the first in a planned series. Sadly, she died in 2010. That series might have been one of my favorites, but as it’s unfinished, I’ll focus on Taming the Forest King. I adore this book, it’s one of the few I reread regularly and I know will always cheer me up. It’s a straight up classic fantasy with a super tough female main character, military service, magical monsters, and one of the most perfectly executed love triangles ever written. This is one where I’m not going to comment on the writing style, because, frankly I’m too sucked into the story – every time – to be able to tell you anything about it. And that, in and of itself, is a major recommendation.