Jo Walton Stirs Up a Hefty List of Neglected SF/Fantasy Authors and Books

January 24th, 2010

Source: “Neglected Books: the list,” at http://www.tor.com.vhost.zerolag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=58654

SF novelist Jo Walton put out a call for recommendations of “authors that should be getting the sales and the attention and yet remain obscure” on the SF/fantasy website, Tor. It generated a tremendous number of responses, which she’s compiled into a list organized into four categories:

  • Books and authors Jo’s reviewed elsewhere on Tor (with links to her reviews)
  • Books and authors she’s read but not reviewed
  • Books and authors she hasn’t read
  • Books and authors that are well known and shouldn’t be on this list

Cover of early U.S. paperback edition of 'Children of the Atom'The last shows that Walton’s kept a discriminating filter on her list. Of Steig Larson’s novels, which someone nominated, she writes, “These are a stupendously successful non-genre best sellers. The opposite of obscure.” I’ve seen them on the end caps of airport bookstores in Belgium, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. in the last two months: definitely NOT neglected.

On the other hand, she notes, “Other times I was surprised to find an author I’d never even vaguely heard of who published several books. I read a lot, and I’ve spent a lot of time online and in conventions hanging out talking about books.” Two authors in particular she cites are Wilmar Shiras and Wilhemina Baird.

Shiras’ short story, “In Hiding,” is considered one of the best SF short stories of the 20th century. She later incorporated it into her 1953 novel, Children of the Atom. Children, which was something of a precursor to the X-Men series, is back in print in a fine facsimile edition from Red Jacket Press, although cheaper copies of several different paperback editions can be found on Amazon.

Baird is the pen name of Joyce Carstairs Hutchinson, a Scottish woman who quickly turned out four “cyberpunk” novels in the mid-1990s and then stopped–at least for the moment–publishing. Her first book, Crashcourse anticipated the rise of reality TV.

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