Top Ten Authors I Most Wish Had Written Lots More Books

Elaine T mentioned Cordwainer Smith in a recent comment, and you know, it made me realize that he belongs to the broad category of Authors Who Unfortunately Wrote Just A Few Books.

It’s a shame how some fine authors write just one or a few books and then vanish from the scene for one reason or another. Here are a handful of authors I wish had a backlist about an order of magnitude greater than actually exists:

1. Cordwainer Smith, actually Dr. Paul Linebarger, wrote peculiar stories set in a peculiar far-future. His stories are simply not like anything else in SFF. At the time he wrote them, they were unique; today, they are still unique. Mostly they were shorter works, though NORSTRILIA was novel-length. It’s a real tragedy that he died young, having written just that handful of stories and single novel.

2. Doris Egan. She wrote the Ivory trilogy, which I love, and CITY OF DIAMOND (as Jane Emerson), which was far from flawless — it has a kitchen-sink clutter to it — but which I also love. There was plenty of room in both worlds to go on and I very much wish she had, but she switched to writing TV shows instead.

3. Janet Kagan wrote the Star Trek tie-in novel UHURA’S SONG, one of my great favorites; also HELLSPARK and MIRABILE, both of which I loved. Unfortunately she did not go on with her writing career and then passed away in 2008.

4. Emma Bull. I know, I know, she participated in the Shadow Unit shared world stories, along with Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette and others. The first book in that series is free, by the way. I really enjoyed that series, but I would love to see Emma Bull go on and write some more actual novels. I really enjoyed WAR FOR THE OAKS, which I see now has a contender for Worst Cover Ever:


Who in the blazes came up with that cover for WAR FOR THE OAKS? Man, that’s bad.

Also, I wonder if Bull will ever actually write the other half of TERRITORY? Cause along with McKinley’s PEGASUS, that is the unfinished duology I would most like to see finished.

4. Barry Hughart. BRIDGE OF BIRDS and its two sequels are so charming, but I believe I heard that he simply felt he was done writing after that one trilogy. What a shame.

5. Zenna Henderson. Such charming stories. Alas, she only produced a relative handful of stories. They’re all short work, but mostly linked.

6. Joy Chant. I really enjoyed RED MOON AND BLACK MOUNTAIN, a rather odd but very lyrical portal story. Chant wrote a few other books, too, but this was my favorite.

7. Marta Randall. She wrote half a dozen or so novels. THE SWORD OF WINTER was my favorite of hers.

8. I’m not going to get quite to ten, but the final author I’d just like to mention is . . . Jane Austen. If her life and publishing career had not been cut tragically short, just think how many more books of hers would now be on our shelves.

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8 thoughts on “Top Ten Authors I Most Wish Had Written Lots More Books”

  1. Have you ever read Henderson’s non-People stories collected in THE ANYTHING BOX and HOLDING WONDER? some of them pack a punch and don’t qualify as ‘charming.’ Excellent, but harder edged than most of the People stories. And a couple always creep me out.

    Last time I poked around McKinley’s site for news on Pegasus sequels, she was saying it wanted to be a trilogy. FWIW, given that was months ago.

    I’m sure there are writers I’ve wished had written more, but off hand I can’t think of any, drat it.

  2. Not quite the same thing, but I was very disappointed that Kate Elliot never finished her Jaran series. I’ve never gotten as invested in her other series she did afterwards, and her reasons for abandoning that one sounded more market-based than artistic. I really liked that series for its examination of what happens when cultures at vastly different technological levels meet.

    Also, I love Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, so while I recognize that all authors work at their own pace, I do wish that there were a bit less time between books. On Goodreads it indicates there should be 2 more books in that series in the future, but there’re no dates or anything – it’s just a tease right now.

  3. Andrea, OH I SO AGREE about wishing all the future books I have planned so far would just write themselves and leap onto shelves! It’s not like I would run out of ideas! I’d be glad to work on some OTHER book as yet undreamed of if the next five or so would just appear. Do you suppose there are little faerie creatures that will slip out and write books for you, instead of making shoes, if you put out the right kind of treat?

    SarahZ, that’s true, I never felt the Jaran series came to a real conclusion, though I hadn’t realized Elliot also didn’t feel it had ended. I have another trilogy of hers on my TBR pile, which I would really like to try this year, but who knows. And I guess I didn’t think of MWT because even though she is sloooower than I might like, she is still working, and will surely finish that series eventually. I sure hope she doesn’t get struck by a meteor or anything in the meantime, though.

    Elaine, yes, I’ve read everything of Henderson’s, and yes, some of those stories are creepy or sad or both. I won’t believe in the rest of PEGASUS until I see it on the shelves; the second book has been in the works so long I don’t have any faith it will ever appear.

  4. I’ve *heard* of China Mountain Zhang. It counts as one of the many I always sort of meant to look up…

  5. Jane Austen is an even better example than most writers who died at 42, since the first version of Pride & Prejudice was rejected by a publisher shortly after she completed it at age 21. So even with an early death, her career might easily have been 20 years instead of 6.

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