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Science fiction and fantasy are booming across multiple types of media these days: television, superhero films with strong SFF elements, and gaming are all enjoying a solid boost from science fiction and fantasy concepts. But what types of stories led us to this excellent time to be a SFF fan? What books inspired and entertained us until we reached this moment? Here are 60 of some important and thought-providing texts from science fiction and fantasy's long history.

These are books which many people loved, that created new fans, entertained old ones, or renewed someone's love of genre. Perhaps they even led some of the authors we love today to write in the very genre that we all enjoy so we can keep moving forward. Check them out below; how many have you read? :D

Note: all blurbs come from Goodreads!

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Grimspace by Ann Aguirre — As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.

Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro — The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood — Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

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Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear — Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather's throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg — The rebellious Valen has spent his life trying to escape his family legacy. But his fate is sealed when he winds up half-dead, addicted to an enchantment-which leads him into a world he could never possibly imagine...

Chime by Franny Billingsley — Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

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Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop — Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence-and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men-sworn enemies-know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love-and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...

Tithe by Holly Black — Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett — Two generations after destruction rained down upon America's cities, the population is scattered into small towns. Cities are forbidden by law, as is scientific research.

Rumors abound of a secret place known as "Bartorstown", where science is untrammelled by interference or hatred. A youth named Len Colter, developing an unhealthy thirst for knowledge exacerbated by the discovery of a forbidden radio, sets out on a long road. During this journey, he will change his mind many times before determining the correct direction for himself, and the benighted America in which he lives.

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Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster BujoldShards of Honor: Betan Cmdr Cordelia Naismith and enemy Barrayaran Aral Vorkosigan are attacked and marooned together. Aral, misnamed "Butcher of Komarr", captures her. They exchange meanings of honor and love.

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull — Eddi McCandry sings rock and roll. But her boyfriend just dumped her, her band just broke up, and life could hardly be worse. Then, walking home through downtown Minneapolis on a dark night, she finds herself drafted into an invisible war between the faerie folk. Now, more than her own survival is at risk—and her own preferences, musical and personal, are very much beside the point.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler — When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny... and the birth of a new faith.

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Synners by Pat Cadigan — Synners are synthesizers - not machines, but people. They take images from the brains of performers, and turn them into a form which can be packaged, sold and consumed. This book is set in a world where new technology spawns new crime before it hits the streets.

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh — The first book in C.J.Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke — At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England—until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

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Survival by Julie E. Czerneda — When her Field Base is mysteriously attacked, Dr. Mackenzie Connor must flee for her life. Joining forces with an alien archaeologist, she escapes to his planet on a quest to find a defense against the unknown agressor-before they launch a full-scale invasion of Earth.

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean — In the ancient Scottish ballad "Tam Lin", headstrong Janet defies Tam Lin to walk in her own land of Carterhaugh...and then must battle the Queen of Faery for possession of her lover’s body and soul.

In this version of "Tam Lin" Janet is a college student, "Carterhaugh" is Carter Hall at the university where her father teaches, and Tam Lin is a boy named Thomas Lane. The book is set against the backdrop of the early 1970s.

King's Dragon by Kate Elliott — The Kingdom of Wendar is in turmoil. King Henry still holds the crown, but his reign has long been contested by his sister Sabella, and there are many eager to flock to her banner. Internal conflict weakens Wendar's defences, drawing raiders, human and inhuman, across its borders. Terrifying portents abound and dark spirits walk the land in broad daylight.

Suddenly two innocents are thrust into the midst of the conflict. Alain, a young man granted a vision by the Lady of Battles, and Liath, a young woman with the power to change the course of history. Both must discover the truth about themselves before they can accept their fates. For in a war where sorcery, not swords, may determine the final outcome, the price of failure may be more than their own lives.

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Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman — On the distant world of Erna, four people—Priest, Adept, Sorcerer, and Apprentice—are drawn together to battle the forces of evil, led by the demonic fae, a soul-destroying force that preys on the human mind.

Slow River by Nicola Griffith — She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore Van Oesterling had been the daughter of one of the world's most powerful families...and now she was nobody, and she had to hide.

Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and taught her how to reinvent herself again and again. No one could find Lore now: not the police, not her family, and not the kidnappers who had left her in that alley to die. She had escaped...but the cost of her newfound freedom was crime and deception, and she paid it over and over again, until she had become someone she loathed.

Lore had a choice: She could stay in the shadows, stay with Spanner...and risk losing herself forever. Or she could leave Spanner and find herself again by becoming someone else: stealing the identity implant of a dead woman, taking over her life, and creating a new future.

Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly — When the Black Dragon seized the Deep of Ylferdun, young Gareth braved the far Winterlands to find John Aversin, Dragonsbane—the only living man ever to slay a dragon. In return for the promise of the King to send help to the Winterlands, Aversin agreed to attempt the nearly impossible feat again.
With them, to guard them on the haunted trip south, went Jenny Waynest, a half-taught sorceress and mother of Aversin's sons.

But at the decadent Court, nothing was as expected. Rebellion threatened the land. Zyerne, a sorceress of seemingly unlimited power, held the King under an evil spell, and he refused to see them. Meantime, the dragon fed well on the knights who had challenged him.

In the end, Aversin, Jenny, and Gareth had to steal away at night to challenge Morkeleb, largest and wisest of dragons......but that was only the beginning of the perils they must face.

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Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge — In a cut-throat world of highwaymen, spies and smugglers, and insane rulers in silly wigs, runaway Mosca Mye and her goose companion have uncovered a dark plot winging its way towards the city. Soon mischief and mayhem will lead to murder.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb — Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell — Jame is a Kencyrath, the chosen people of the Three-Faced God, who fight the demonic being called Perimal Darkling. At the same time, she fights an internal battle for their honor because 3,000 years ago the leader of the Kencyrath betrayed his people to the Darkness for his own immortality.

She also must find her ten-year old brother Tori and return him the sword and ring of their father. If that is not enough she has to stand before the rathorns, wear the cloak of living snakes, kill one god, and resurrect another. All in a day's work for Jame.

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Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson — The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff — In the distant future, humans and several other races have been granted membership in the Confederation - at a price. They must act as soldier/protectors of the far more civilized races who have long since turned away from war... — Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr was a battle-hardened professional. So when she and those in her platoon who'd survived the last deadly encounter with the Others were yanked from a well-deserved leave for what was supposed to be "easy" duty as the honor guard for a diplomatic mission to the non-Confederation world of the Silsviss, she was ready for anything.

At first it seemed that all she'd have to contend with was bored troops getting into mischief, and breaking in the new Second Lieutenant who had been given command of her men.

Sure, there'd been rumors of the Others - the sworn enemies of the Confederation - being spotted in this sector of space. But there were always rumors. The key thing was to recruit the Silsviss into the Confederation before the Others either attacked or claimed this lizardlike race of warriors for their own side. And everything seemed to be going perfectly. Maybe too perfectly...

God's War by Kameron Hurley — Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn't make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on...

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war—but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

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The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin — In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe - and kill those judged corrupt.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones — Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr — Even as a young girl, Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible realm. Little did she know her extraordinary friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he vowed never to rest until he'd righted that wrong-and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill and all those whom she would hold dear: her father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against darkness. . . and a quest to fulfill the destinies determined centuries ago.

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The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein — Steerswomen, and a very few Steersmen, are members of an order dedicated to discovering and disseminating knowledge. Although they are foremost navigators of the high seas, Steerswomen are also explorers and cartographers upon land as well as sea. With one exception, they are pledged to always answer any question put to them with as truthful a response as is possible within their own limitations. However, they also require anyone of whom they ask questions to respond in the same manner, upon penalty of the Steerswomen's ban; those under the ban do not receive answers from the steerswomen.

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress — In this future, some people need no sleep at all. Leisha Camden was genetically modified at birth to require no sleep, and her normal twin Alice is the control. Problems and envy between the sisters mirror those in the larger world, as society struggles to adjust to a growing pool of people who not only have 30 percent more time to work and study than normal humans, but are also highly intelligent and in perfect health.

The Sleepless gradually outgrow their welcome on Earth, and their children escape to an orbiting space station to set up their own society. But Leisha and a few others remain behind, preaching acceptance for all humans, Sleepless and Sleeper alike. With the conspiracy and revenge that unwinds, the world needs a little preaching on tolerance.

Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz — In the land of Gwynedd, the Haldanes have long ruled and have long kept a dangerous secret: there are those of their blood who possess the magical powers of the Deryni. To be Deryni in a land ruled by the all-powerful Church is to be branded an outcast.

But now, young Prince Kelson is about to assume the throne after the mysterious death of his father. He must be told of his magical heritage. For his legacy is being challenged by a woman who does not hesitate to lay full claim to her Deryni powers. And to face her in magical combat, Kelson must learn a lifetime’s worth of magic in a few short days.

If he loses, he dies as his father did. And if he wins, he is King—but all the world will know that he is also Deryni…

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle — It was a dark and stormy night. Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan — Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin — The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous communication. It is the life work of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the arid anarchist world of Anarres. But Shevek's work is being stifled by jealous colleagues, so he travels to Anarres's sister-planet Urras, hoping to find more liberty and tolerance there. But he soon finds himself being used as a pawn in a deadly political game.

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Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie — On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

Ash by Malinda Lo — In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Warchild by Karin Lowachee — When Jos' parents are killed in an attack on their trading ship, the boy is kidnapped by the attackers and then escapes - only to fall into the alien hands of humanity's greatest enemies. He is soon coerced into becoming a spy against the human race.

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Legend by Marie Lu — From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths...

Until June's brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.

In a shocking turn of events, the two uncover what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey — "Dragonsong," the first volume in the series, is the enchanting tale of how Menolly of Half Circle Hold became Pern's first female Harper, and rediscovered the legendary fire lizards who helped to save her world.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire — October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.

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Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre — In a far-future, post-holocaust Earth, a young healer named Snake travels the world, healing the sick and injured with her companion, the alien dreamsnake. But she is being pursued...

The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna — Magic? It's for the rich, the powerful...the Archmage and his elite wizards and cloud-masters.

Livak is not among them. She haunts the back taverns of the realm, careful to appear neither rich nor poor, neither tall nor short...neither man nor woman. Obscurity is her protection, thievery her livelihood, and gambling her weakness.

Alas, some bets are hard to resist. Particularly when they offer a chance to board a ship for Hadrumal, the fabled city of the Archmage. So Livak follows a minor wizard, Shiv, in an attempt to turn a rune or two, never dreaming that the stolen tankard she wants to sell contains the secrets of an ancient magic far more powerful, and infinitely darker, than any mortal mage's spells.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley — There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her...

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His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik — Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies...not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor — In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue.

Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny—to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself.

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Boss loves to dive historical ships, derelict spacecraft found adrift in the blackness between the stars. Sometimes she salvages for money, but mostly she's an active historian. She wants to know about the past—to experience it firsthand. Once she's dived the ship, she'll either leave it for others to find or file a claim so that she can bring tourists to dive it as well. It's a good life for a tough loner, with more interest in artifacts than people.

Then one day, Boss finds the claim of a lifetime: an enormous spacecraft, incredibly old, and apparently Earth-made. It's impossible for something so old, built in the days before Faster Than Light travel, to have journeyed this far from Earth. It shouldn't be here. It can't be here. And yet, it is. Boss's curiosity is up, and she's determined to investigate. She hires a group of divers to explore the wreck with her, the best team she can assemble. But some secrets are best kept hidden, and the past won t give up its treasures without exacting a price in blood.

What Boss finds could rewrite history, cost lives, and start an intergalactic war.

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The Female Man by Joanna Russ — Living in an altered past that never saw the end of the Great Depression, Jeannine, a librarian, is waiting to be married. Joanna lives in a different version of reality: she's a 1970s feminist trying to succeed in a man's world. Janet is from Whileaway, a utopian earth where only women exist. And Jael is a warrior with steel teeth and catlike retractable claws, from an earth with separate - and warring - female and male societies. When these four women meet, the results are startling, outrageous and subversive.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi — John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce—and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine—and what he will become is far stranger.

A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski — A Door into Ocean is the novel upon which the author's reputation as an important SF writer principally rests. A ground-breaking work both of feminist SF and of world-building hard SF, it concerns the Sharers of Shora, a nation of women on a distant moon in the far future who are pacifists, highly advanced in biological sciences, and who reproduce by parthenogenesis—there are no males—and tells of the conflicts that erupt when a neighboring civilization decides to develop their ocean world, and send in an army.

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The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring — When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow - the realm of the Grass King - and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king's concubine... or replace her.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater — Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them—until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

City of Pearl by Karen Traviss — Three separate alien societies have claims on Cavanagh's Star. But the new arrivals—the gethes from Earth—now threaten the tenuous balance of a coveted world.

Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer Shan Frankland agreed to lead a mission to Cavanagh's Star, knowing that 150 years would elapse before she could finally return home. But her landing, with a small group of scientists and Marines, has not gone unnoticed by Aras, the planet's designated guardian. An eternally evolving world himself, this sad, powerful being has already obliterated millions of alien interlopers and their great cities to protect the fragile native population. Now Shan and her party—plus the small colony of fundamentalist humans who preceded them—could face a similar annihilation . . . or a fate far worse. Because Aras possesses a secret of the blood that would be disastrous if it fell into human hands—if the gethes survive the impending war their coming has inadvertently hastened.

cover of Her Smoke Rose Up Forevercover of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Makingcover of The Snow Queen


Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr. — These 18 darkly complex short stories and novellas touch upon human nature and perception, metaphysics and epistemology, and gender and sexuality, foreshadowing a world in which biological tendencies bring about the downfall of humankind.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge — The Winter colonists have ruled Tiamat for 150 years, slaughtering the gentle sea mers in trade for off-world wealth. But soon the gate to the galactic Hegemony will close, Tiamat will be isolated, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. Unless... Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can commit a genocidal crime - and destroy destiny... unless Sparks Dawntreader, the Snow Queen's companion, can survive sea and city, palace and slums - and find destiny... unless Hegemony Commander Jerusha Palathion, the Snow Queen's victim, can find one ally on Tiamat - and change destiny... And unless Moon Summer, a young mystic, can break a conspiracy that spans space - and control destiny. Because Moon is the Snow Queen's lost weapon. The Snow Queen's lost rival. The Snow Queen's lost nemesis. The Snow Queen's lost soul. Moon is the Snow Queen's clone...

cover of Farthingcover of The Cloud Roadscover of To Say Nothing of the Dog


Farthing by Jo Walton — Eight years after they overthrew Churchill and led Britain into a separate peace with Hitler, the upper-crust families of the "Farthing set" are gathered for a weekend retreat. Among them is estranged Farthing scion Lucy Kahn, who can't understand why her and her husband David's presence was so forcefully requested. Then the country-house idyll is interrupted when the eminent Sir James Thirkie is found murdered—with a yellow Star of David pinned to his chest.

Lucy begins to realize that her Jewish husband is about to be framed for the crime—an outcome that would be convenient for altogether too many of the various political machinations underway in Parliament in the coming week. But whoever's behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn't reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts and underdogs—and prone to look beyond the obvious as a result.

As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out—a way fraught with peril in a darkening world.

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells — Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival...and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself... and his newfound kin.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis — Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump. It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.

But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right—not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.




Supplemental Material


SFF In Conversation: Women Write SFF (Andrea K Höst’s Keeper Bookshelf)
Women in SF&F Month: Big Giant 2015 List
Women in SF&F Month: Trudi Canavan
Great Science Fiction Authors
Are You Well Read in SF/F?
The 10 Best Science Fiction Books
book meme: my personal sff canon

Date: 2016-08-08 01:24 pm (UTC)
okrablossom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] okrablossom
Excellent! Quite a number of my favorites here that I thought were lesser-known, so that's wonderful to see. Thank you!

Date: 2016-08-08 02:30 pm (UTC)
goodbyebird: Text: This, this, this, and this. (yay stuffs) (TEXT this this this and that too yeah)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
Awesome!

Date: 2016-08-08 03:13 pm (UTC)
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
From: [personal profile] vass
Read it: 20/60
Read it, started it, or read any other fiction by that author: 37
Heard of that author before: 54.

I have some catching up to do. Good.

Date: 2016-08-08 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
So many books....

I've read 16 of them. The Handmaid's Tale I need to reread, (did I see somewhere it is being adapted into a tv show or film...) I also want to reread Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series, they were the first books by her that I read. But I didn't have the money to buy books back then, and was reliant on the library. And then I moved and never actually got around to finishing the series.

Loved McKinley's Sunshine. It's awesome.
And Robin Hobb, I adore the Fitz books, and there are loads of new ones in that 'verse that I have yet to get to.

Jo Walton's Farthing I'm pretty sure I have on my bookshelves, but I haven't read it. Maybe that'll be my next read...

Date: 2016-08-08 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you, Renay!

I've read 25 of these books.

I've read books by 34 of these Authors.

You're adding to Mount TBR.

I would add Zenna Henderson--preferably Ingathering, all of her People stories (plus one previously unpublished one). Published by NESFA Press.

The writeup for The Steerswoman does not convey how absolutely wonderful those books are. READ THEM. They are fantastic.

There are so many good books on this list!

Date: 2016-08-08 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theillustratedpage.wordpress.com
Karin Lowachee's Warchild is one of the best science fiction books I've ever read, and it's a pity that almost no one's heard of it. My library doesn't even own a copy!

Other books on this list I enthusiastically support:

- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Look, if you don't want to read the book, at least go watch the BBC mini series. Both are amazing.
- God's War by Kameron Hurley. Nyx is the best anti-heroine I've ever encountered, period. This is one of the most memorable science fiction trilogies I've read in a long time, and I highly recommend it.
- Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I know the movie's much more popular, but honestly I like the book a lot better. Sophie and Howl just have so many more sharp edges, which is delightful.
- Sunshine by Robin McKinley. My favorite vampire novel.
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The synopsis makes this sound like a kissing book, which it really isn't. It's much more focused around the friendship, which is why I love it so much.
- To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. This one's hilarious.
- The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells. I'm actually going to be running a read along for this one in September! The post is here for anyone interested - link. (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18197371-sept-the-cloud-roads-raksura-1?comment=155051509#comment_155051509)

There's just so many good books out there, and I feel this immense desire to share the ones I love. There's a few more on your list that are on my TBR somewhere. I've actually been meaning to get to King's Dragon this summer, but with one thing or another, it's lingered on the pile.

Rosemary and Rue

Date: 2016-08-08 09:59 pm (UTC)
kingrat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kingrat
Rosemary and Rue is on sale *right now* for $1.99 for Kindle.

Date: 2016-08-08 10:33 pm (UTC)
isweedan: Gerard (longish black hair) with a coffee and a thick book. In a Place of Books. (Gerard! At the Bookstore!/Library! - Ban)
From: [personal profile] isweedan
What a SPLENDID list! I love it!

Date: 2016-08-09 01:53 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
A bunch of these are favourites and a bunch on my epic 'to read' list and a bunch that I will consider adding too :D

Wonderfully comprehensive and interesting list!

Date: 2016-08-09 02:05 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Heh. I can't see a list like this without having Opinions.

- C.J. Cherryh: I would recommend the Chanur series -- good worldbuilding, some seriously ALIEN aliens (matrix-brained methane-breathers, anyone?), and a lovely over-arching character arc for Pyanfar.

- C.S. Friedman: I couldn't get into the Black Sun series; it fell prey to the Eight Deadly Words on the first book. But I will wholeheartedly recommend her hard-SF work: In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, and This Alien Shore. All are stand-alones (well, ICB has a sequel, but it's still not a series), and TAS features two neurovariant protagonists and is on my Desert Island list.

- Ann Leckie: I've read the whole trilogy and recommend it very highly. She sets a high bar with the first book and sticks the landing perfectly in the third.

- Anne McCaffrey: Be aware that the beginning of this series is nearly half a century old. It was ground-breaking at the time, but there is some outdated sexual stereotyping along the way, and a few scenes that now read as seriously problematic. Still good stories, but younger readers in particular should be prepared to encounter some stuff that will make you side-eye.

- Seanan McGuire: This series starts out good and just keeps getting better with every book.

- Martha Wells: OMG. READ THESE BOOKS! The worldbuilding is simply astounding, and Wells makes her Raksura characters both human enough to identify with and completely alien at the same time. Currently on my 3rd re-read of the first 3 books (will be picking up the 4th one before or at Worldcon).

Date: 2016-08-09 01:39 pm (UTC)
dancing_crow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dancing_crow
Patricia Briggs wrote Dragon Bones and dragon Blood that I liked a lot. Her subsequent mysteries are solid but don't hit my buttons the way those first two do!

Date: 2016-08-09 08:06 pm (UTC)
magid: (Default)
From: [personal profile] magid
Lovely list!

I personally prefer The Ship Who Sang to the Dragon books for Anne McCaffrey, though it's a collection of related short stories (which begat a series).

Also worth checking out: books by Pat Murphy. They're all stand-alone novels. The City, Not Long After, Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell, There and Back Again (particularly for fans of The Hobbit).

Date: 2016-08-31 09:42 pm (UTC)
clairerousseau: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clairerousseau
Ohh, Renay I LOVE The Ship Who Sang! I think you'd particularly like it in conversation with Ancillary Justice.

Date: 2016-08-10 01:45 am (UTC)
jain: Dragon (Kazul from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles) reading a book and eating chocolate mousse. (domestic dragon)
From: [personal profile] jain
Excellent list! There's a lot of books on it I've read and loved--or at least appreciated even if I couldn't love them--and even more books that I'll have to try.

I'd call the following books essential SFF, as well:
Sarah Canary -- Karen Joy Fowler
Swordspoint -- Ellen Kushner
The Perilous Gard -- Elizabeth Marie Pope
The Sparrow -- Mary Doria Russell
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang -- Kate Wilhelm

And the following authors ought to be represented, though it's not as obvious which of their books ought to make the list:
Angela Carter
Shirley Jackson
Tanith Lee
R. A. MacAvoy
Maureen F. McHugh
Patricia A. McKillip
Andre Norton
Patrica C. Wrede
Jane Yolen

How good is The Long Tomorrow?

Date: 2016-08-10 03:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Rhetorical question, as it is awesome. -G

Date: 2016-08-11 12:01 am (UTC)
aquila1nz: gollum (gollum)
From: [personal profile] aquila1nz
I've read 25 of these, most of which are books I loved, so now I want to read everything else on this list. Thank you.

Date: 2016-08-12 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanhatedliterature.net
Hey, you made Metafilter, and John Scalzi approves of the list (http://www.metafilter.com/161523/how-many-have-you-read#6661512 )!
Some additional recs there (and some typical why no X comments.

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