It’s been a tough year for literature, with authors like Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe passing away recently. But the Fantasy/Sci-Fi community has been hit particularly hard, with many notable figures dying this year. So, in their memory, here is my quick guide for what to read by these authors if you’re hearing about them for the first time.
Ursula K. Le Guin – I had not heard of Le Guin until her death in January this year. I’m not sure how I managed that, because Le Guin was and will remain a major figure in fantasy writing. She has quite a catalog to choose from, but I recently finished A Wizard of Earthsea, a story about a young wizard named Ged and his struggle against a shadow he unleashes upon the world. It is a good place to start if you’re reading Le Guin for the first time.
Harlan Ellison – Born in Cleveland in 1934, Ellison died in L.A. last June. He remains a divisive figure in literature. He was not the most well-behaved person (to put it mildly), but Ellison knew how to tell a story. “Repent Harlequin!” said the Ticktockman may be the best place to start if you want to read his work. It is a short, parable-like story about a future society that values lock-step time-keeping above all, and the Harlequin’s attempts to bring disorder to this society. It involves jelly-beans.
Victor Milán – I dare you to look at that cover and tell me you aren’t at least curious about this book. A knight in armor riding an Allosaurus? What’s not to like? Milán may not be a household name, but I recommend The Dinosaur Lords and its sequels, with its mix of combat, intrigue and some supernatural elements. Milán died in February 2018.
Gardner Dozois – Dozois died in May 2018, but leaves quite a legacy behind. He was a writer in his own right, but Dozois is best known for his work as an editor of sci-fi short story collections, particularly as the lead editor for the annual Year’s Best Science Fiction short story collections. The collection released its 35th annual edition earlier this year. If you’re looking for a new sci-fi writer to read, Dozois’ collections are a good place to find them.
Stephen Hawking – OK, I’m stretching a little here, but Hawking’s A Brief History of Time brought black holes and quantum physics to the average reader. His ability to take very complex ideas and explain them in ways that anyone could understand made him a popular figure around the world. Hawking’s work has had a wide impact on both science and science fiction, inspiring many to explore the cosmos in both real and imagined ways.