Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Top Ten Favorite Authors

I saw this top-ten list at Random Musings and thought it would be fun to see if I could possibly, possibly, pick ten favorite authors and then stop.

To make it easier, I’m imposing a single rule: I can’t put an author on here unless I’ve read eight or more of their books. That means if an author hasn’t written at least eight books, they’re not being considered for inclusion. That simplifies things quite a bit, really. Maybe I should do another list for authors-I-love-but-I’ve-read-only-a-couple-books-by-them. But I think that sort of falls into Favorite Book territory, rather than Favorite Authors.

So, favorite authors. I bet you can fill it at least part of my list yourselves because I talk about some of these authors a lot. But let’s just see.

In the order they occur to me:

1. CJ Cherryh. Cherryh has written . . . uh . . . about five books I didn’t like? Those Russian ones, mostly, and a couple of others I am not very interested in revisiting. And about what, maybe forty that I did like, and a lot of those I really love. Something like that. How could she not be first on my list? I’m showing this particular cover not because it’s my favorite one of her books ever, though of course I love the whole Foreigner series, but because it’s one of my favorite of her covers ever. Just love this one.

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2. Martha Wells. I’ve loved or really liked all her books except one. Oh, and I couldn’t get into the Star Wars tie-in when I tried it. I may try it again, but I’m honestly not a big Star Wars fan, so a tie-in for that world is an uphill thing for me. This cover, I picked because I’m trying to remember to read the Nicholas short story in it. I think it’s the only new-to-me story in the collection, but I do want to read it!

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3. Andrea K Höst. I’ve loved or really liked all her books so far. I haven’t read three of hers, but so far that’s an amazingly consistent record. I’m showing the cover of Pyramids because it’s her newest, but I’m a lot more likely to read Hunting or Stained Glass Monsters next because I know Pyramids is part of a five-book series and, well, maybe I’ll just wait till it’s closer to being finished.

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4. DWJ. One or two of Diana Wynne Jones’ books are . . . just strange. (Hexwood, The Time of the Ghost.) But basically, wow, what a writer. The cover below is far from my favorite ever, but I’m pretty sure this was the very first DWJ book I ever picked up.

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5. Patricia McKillip. I can’t imagine why it took me five slots before I thought of her. The greatest fantasy writer ever. I thoroughly disliked one of hers (Solstice Wood), which only goes to show. But still. The Riddlemaster Trilogy has got to be on my Top Ten All Books Ever list.

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6. Barbara Hambly. I’ve disliked quite a few of her books (those Nazi ones, ugh, and I’m sorry but Mother of Winter was pretty dreadful), but on the other hand I really love a lot of her books, so it kind of evens out. She’s just written so many books that you can give her, oh, at least half a dozen you really dislike and there are still a lot of others to love. Plus she writes one of my favorite vampires series (Ysidro), and my all-time favorite mystery series (Benjamin January).

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7. Lois McMaster Bujold. Because, hey, obviously.

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8. Gillian Bradshaw. I wasn’t a big fan of her Arthurian trilogy, and there have been one or two others that didn’t really do it for me, but then she’s written a lot and some of hers are on my all-time-favorite-books-ever list. Like Beacon of Alexandria. What a book. But I’m not even sure it’s my favorite of hers. Hard to choose.

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9. Sharon Shinn. A lot of hers are comfort reads for me. The shifter ones are a bit emotionally overwrought, but on the other hand some of her titles (The Shapechanger’s Wife) are as nearly perfect as makes no difference.

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10. Guy Gavriel Kay. I haven’t read quite all of his . . . and okay, fine, River of Stars was too tragic for me. But such beautiful writing.

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There, that’s ten. That wasn’t so hard, though it actually is a bit painful leaving out a couple of others that also come to mind. The other kind of list, picking out of the vast universe of all books/authors ever, *that* would be impossible.

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13 Comments Top Ten Favorite Authors

  1. Kristina

    DWJ would be on my list, too, in spite of the fact that I actively disliked Hexwood and was left nonplussed by Fire and Hemlock. But to this day Dogsbody remains one of my favorite reads of all time, and I adore all of the Chrestomanci stories. I’d also put Robin McKinley on my list. Deerskin was the book that brought me back to fantasy after several years away.

  2. Maureen E

    I know I’m in a minority, but I actually LOVE Hexwood. Not Time of the Ghost, though. That one is just weird.

    I like your eight books criteria, Rachel, but I wouldn’t be able to follow it because it cuts out both Megan Whalen Turner and Elizabeth Wein and I just can’t!

  3. Rachel

    I’ve only read Hexwood once and it was . . . quite strange, but I’m not sure I disliked it. I think I need to read it again.

    On the other hand, Dogsbody is definitely, definitely one of my all time favorite books ever. I should try to do a top ten list of my Top Ten Books EVER, but that would be hard.

    I thought about Robin McKinley, but actually I’m not totally sure I really like eight of her books. It’s just the ones I love, I REALLY love. I have read Deerskin multiple times, but I have to say, I skip some of the early part.

    I know, Maureen, but the eight-books-rule made it actually possible to choose! Otherwise it would be impossible!

  4. Elaine T

    We share several – CJC, McKillip, Bujold, Hambly, Kay, DWJ, Host, … I add Sagara/West, Joan Aiken – I think I make the eight books just on short story collections of hers (but I STILL haven’t found the collection with the story where the magic words were Lancashire Hot-Pot, grumble), Dorothy Dunnett… I think that makes 10, yes?

    I’d add Nicholas Stuart Grey but he didn’t write enough books that I ever found. Holds up even to adult reading, though.

    Robin Mckinley yeah, I get it. She puts words together wonderfully, but I don’t love all her books.

    And HEXWOOD is very twisty and made a lot more sense on rereading, but I still don’t love it.

  5. Rachel

    Oh, Aiken! I think you’ve mentioned her before. I’ve read a couple of hers and have another on my TBR pile, but that’s it so far. Dorothy Dunnett, somehow I didn’t think of her. Maybe because she has written a) the Lymond set; b) the Niccolo set; and c) the Dolly mysteries — so to me that kind of feels like just two (very large) works plus the mysteries.

  6. pete mack

    In no particular order:
    Vernor Vinge
    Charles Stross
    Daniel Abraham
    Gay Gavriel Kay
    Martha Wells
    Elizabeth Bear
    Connie Willis
    Tamora Pierce

    After this, picking gets much harder.

    Honorable mention:
    Dorothy Dunnett

  7. Craig

    I’d pick two from your list for sure, McKillip and Bujold; Bradshaw is likely, especially after being primed by the list. DWJ is possible: I think of her more as someone I used to read than someone who’s a current favorite, but I actually *have* bought and/or read some of hers I never got around to when younger in just the last few years. I like quite a few of the others but would not be likely to select them for a favorites list — I haven’t even read 8 books by many of them.

    Tim Powers is my other favorite fantasy author, and I’ve never been able to figure out how to rate him vs. McKillip because they’re so completely different. John C Wright is probably writing my favorite SF at present. Heinlein, Niven, and Poul Anderson are all possibilities among older SF figures, though I’d be unlikely to choose all three. (I’m not sure I’d have considered Anderson, except that we found out a few months ago I own more of his books than any other writer’s. Revealed preference ought to be worth something.) Oh, and I’d throw in R.A. Lafferty, who was adopted by SFF but is really his own genre; the strangest author on my list or anyone else’s.

  8. Rachel

    Strangest author? How about Cordwainer Smith? He was way outside mainstream SF in the 1970s and he’s just as far outside the SF mainstream now.

    Not that I can compare him to Lafferty, since as far as I remember I’ve never yet read anything by Lafferty.

  9. Rachel

    Oh, interesting list, Pete. I need to read more by Elizabeth Bear! Willis is one of those authors, like Tim Powers, who I can see perfectly well is very good, but don’t actually like as well as she deserves. I’ve really liked some of Vernor Vinge’s work. And some of Daniel Abraham’s, but he tires me out. I can only read one book by him at a time and then I want something lighter.

  10. Craig

    I’m a big Cordwainer Smith fan, but you can’t get to 8 books for him: he only wrote about four (“about” because it was mostly short stories – you can get all his SF in two volumes from NESFA. And should, if you don’t have them in other editions).
    …Plus three non-SF books under other pseudonyms. And a nonfiction textbook on Psychological Warfare. So I guess it *is* theoretically possibly, but anyway, *I’ve* never read any of his non-SF.

    There’s a few Lafferty shorts which got reprinted a fair amount when we were discovering SF and you may have run into one or two, but you were never a big short story fan as I recall. I’ll have to see if I can find a suitable one for you to try out, one of these days.

    Oh, and Pete: Vernor Vinge is an excellent choice; I haven’t read his couple most recent books, though, so I’m not sure I’m at 8 for him. Stross just goes past me, for some reason (even the non-horror), and I’ve yet to read a book by Elizabeth Bear even though I keep thinking I ought to fix that.

  11. Rachel

    Oh, I was thinking of Cordwainer Smith as “unique” not as “favorite.” Though I do like his work quite a bit and should re-read them sometime.

  12. pete mack

    Rachel – About Abraham: It depends on the series. His MLN Hanover stuff is VERY different. He seems to pick a different pen-name for each genre.

  13. Rachel

    MLN Hanover is Daniel Abraham? Just looking at the description for the first book in that series, I would never have guessed. I might well his quick-paced UF better than his loooong complicated epic fantasy. *Adds to wishlist*.

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