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Introducing: Recommended Reading by Professionals

Welcome to a new series at SF Signal: Recommended Reading by Professionals!

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.

Who am I?  Well, I’ve been a bookseller at a major chain store in Toronto for 10 years.  I’ve been exposed to a lot of books by large and small presses, and I’m amazed at how certain authors fall through the cracks of recognition, despite having written fantastic novels.  For the past 7 years I’ve run a blog where you can find author interviews, new author spotlights, book reviews and more.

I’m hoping this series will highlight some under-appreciated authors on a biweekly schedule, dependent of course on the responses I get.  I do have several posts lined up already, but I’m looking for more.  If you’re a professional and you’d like to participate, please contact me at jessica (dot) strider (at) with “Recommendations” as the subject.

To get us started, here are some of my recommendations:

  1. Carol Berg – I normally like one or two series by an author and can’t get interested in other things they write.  Not so with Carol Berg.  She’s got several series, all different lengths (from a stand alone to a 4 book series) set in different worlds with different magic systems, types of characters, etc.  And despite coming up with new worlds and everything, she still manages to publish a book a year!  I have loved every book by her that I’ve read (and I’ve read all but her most recent 3, and that’s just because I haven’t had time to pick them up and read them all together – because hers are the kinds of books where you NEED to read the next  one immediately).  My only complaint with her work is that by the end of a series she’s punished her protagonists so much I’m not sure how they’re still alive and optimistic enough to keep going.  My favourite book is Transformation, as it’s got just enough humour to make the abuse the protagonist goes through not seem so grim.  But all of her books are fantastic.
  2. James Knapp wrote the brilliant Revivors trilogy.  His new novel, under the pseudonym James Decker, Burn Zone*, features an asian female protagonist and truly alien aliens.  His writing is tight and fast-paced and you’ve got to pay attention because things mentioned offhandedly in the novel come back as important clues later on.  If you want to give him a try, I’d start with State of Decay.
  3. Violette Malan has written 6 books, two involving contemporary Toronto and the realm of faery (starting with The Mirror Prince), and four secondary world fantasy novels (starting with The Sleeping God).  If you like books with strong paired male and female protagonists, I can’t recommend her work enough.

Stay tuned for the next post where we learn who Brandon Sanderson thinks we should be reading more of!

*So sorry I got the title wrong.  It’s Burn Zone not Burn Dive.  I’ll have to edit more carefully in future.  I’ve also added links to the authors websites so it’s easier to check out their work.

About Jessica Strider (102 Articles)
Jessica Strider worked at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto for 10 years before it closed in 2014. Now she's got more time to read books, so check out her <a href="//">blog</a> for SF/F book reviews, movie reviews, posts about the middle ages, and more.

15 Comments on Introducing: Recommended Reading by Professionals

  1. Berg’s excellent. I’ve been touting Decker’s BURN ZONE as my favorite SF novel of the year so far. Lots of interesting thing going on in that novel.

  2. Paul Weimer // July 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm //

    Three underrated authors, well deserving of further notice and highlighting. Excellent start, Jessica.

  3. Rob – I couldn’t agree more.

    Thanks Paul. Periodically I’ll throw in more of my own suggestions. There are SO many amazing authors out there. I have the feeling my own reading pile will grow via this column.

  4. Mazarkis Williams // July 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm //

    I love Carol Berg’s work! I’m always surprised she doesn’t get more play on the internet. Transformation is my favorite also.

  5. Reading your recommendations was really enjoyable, thank you. I haven’t read any of these authors before but I will be now! I’m looking forward to future posts.

  6. I_Sell_Books // July 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm //

    VIOLETTE MALAN for the love of cheese why isn’t she more popular?! I have all of her fantasy novels here at the store, and The Sleeping God lives on my recommended shelf. Apart from shoving it into people’s bags as they leave, I don’t know how else I can make her sell. :/

  7. Steve O // July 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm //

    I Sell Books-maybe it doesn’t sell well due to the generic cover. Plus a blurb by Charlaine Harris(a godawful bad writer)turns me elsewhere.

    • I_Sell_Books // July 27, 2013 at 11:02 am //

      Yes, but plenty of books with horrible covers sell just fine (Saladin Ahmed, Robert Jordon, et al) – Ooooh…maybe it’s a gender thing.

      • Steve O // July 27, 2013 at 3:35 pm //

        No gender thing-I read a lot of female writers-currently reading a collection of Kit Reed’s short stories. And have books by Megan Abbott, Carol Emshwiller, and Elizabeth Hand on the top of my TBR pile. A will admit to a bias of any book which looks geared to the urban romance crowd or most Baen books covers.

  8. This is, potentially, a really great idea for a series. These 3 recommendations already were rather clear and well-reasoned.

    Also, Steve-O’s got a good point, book covers matter. Frex, these same 3 – I’d normally give them a wide pass because of the rather shoddy cover art (and, to lesser extent, the presence of quotes – I view them less as endorsements and more as insecurity patchers)…

  9. It looks like that James Decker novel is “The Burn Zone”, not “Burn Dive” at least on the US Amazon page

  10. Matt – How did I miss that? You’re completely right, it is Burn Zone. My abject apologies as I fix that.

  11. Fixed. I can only imagine my rear brain trying to remind me of another SF book I liked by an underappreciated author when I wrote the title of Burn Zone wrong. Karen Lowachee’s Burndive is one of my favourite SF books, though while I also liked Warchild I really disliked the third book in that series, Cagebird. I’ll make sure to double check the titles in future before I post.

    I also added in links to the author’s websites. One of the contributing authors did that in their post and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

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