I have a shameful confession to make. I don’t read as much sci-fi and fantasy as I ought to.
When I was a child, my education in those areas came primarily from the legacy my father had built up when he was a boy. He owned stacks on stacks of old pulp paperbacks, a treasure trove for me. I would spend hours browsing through the titles and authors. Even then, though, I would almost always choose something from the same collection of names. Asimov. Bradbury. Christopher. Clarke. Heinlein. Pohl.
Occasionally I branch out and consume something new. However, I almost always do so by recommendation only. A friend’s raving about a particular graphic novel brought me in touch with Neverwhere and Neil Gaiman. A teacher slipping me a paperback copy of Ender’s Game on the sly introduced me to Orson Scott Card. Card himself served as my gateway to Octavia Butler (Wild Seed) and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn). I probably never would have given any of those novels a second look in a bookstore. Now I find it impossible to imagine living without their works and words.
From time to time, I attempt a “catch-up” binge wherein I seek out a list of books I have never read before and — well, and devour them. Such binges have brought me into contact with Ken Grimwood, Joe Haldeman, and Sheri Tepper, among others. Yet I can never sustain them. It’s not that I get put off by something I read. Never once has a binge of mine found a bad book. Perhaps it’s the fear of finding something I hate and feeling obligated to read it. Perhaps it’s sheer force of habit, entropy asserting itself. In any case, eventually I retreat back to my older favorites.
Well, I feel an urge for another binge coming on, and I’d like to sustain it. Does anyone out there have any suggestions of authors or works? Sci-fi, fantasy, and horror preferred, of course — but I have been known to read mysteries, historical fiction, and the occasional best-seller. I’ll gladly read a soup can if there’s nothing else around.
I hope you won’t let me come to that.