Recently in my MFA class, one of the assignments was to recommend five speculative fiction novels to our peers, explain how they hit the genre tropes, what you loved about them, etc. I was a reading addict long before I started writing urban fantasy–remember in middle school when you had to read your way around a map of the world and get an invite to a pizza party? I made it around the world three times and would have made it around more if I’d started sooner… Anyway, this post is about books and authors I recommend, not the fact that I didn’t have much of a social life in the sixth grade. Or the seventh. Or the eighth … ahem.
I started off the discussion post, which I’m totally cannibalizing for my blog here, because content, by titling it: “Hey kid, ya like urban fantasy?” I don’t know why I called my peers “kids” – probably because I had just told one of my classmates that I had trouble reading his website because the font was gray-on-black. Anyway, let me dust the gray out of my hair, ignore the creaking in my back or those darn kids on my lawn, pull on my reading glasses and share some of my favorite speculative fiction authors.
1. Elizabeth Moon. You like space adventure? You like action-oriented military women protagonists? You want to see a crew of a spaceship face every possible issue a spacefaring crew could face, from technical trouble to overweening bureaucrats? You’re going to want to pick up Elizabeth Moon. Check out the books in the Serrano Universe series, starting with Hunting Party.
2. Myke Cole. Let’s start with the “magic appears in the modern world” fantasy trope and add some badass military characters who have to fight for what’s right, whether or not orders from higher headquarters say it should be done. I recommend starting with Control Point, the first book in the Shadow Ops series.
3. Brian McClellan. Have you ever heard of the genre “flintlock fantasy”? It’s a relatively new term, used to describe a fantasy universe set in a near-Earth in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, and typified by McClellan’s books. Great characters, and a well-developed magic system based on gunpowder, are two of the reasons you should check his work out, starting with the Powder Mage Trilogy.
4. Tanya Huff. She wrote one of the very first fantasy books I ever read when I was a pre-teen, Sing the Four Quarters. I then found out she also wrote fantasy set in the “real world”, which was my introduction to urban fantasy, which has been my lifelong genre love. My status as squeeing fangirl was cemented when she accepted my friend request on Facebook. She writes in several speculative fiction genres, so I suggest taking a look at her publisher’s site and seeing which ones might catch your eye!
5. John Hartness. John’s books are on my mind because I just finished one of his Charlotte, NC-based characters, Quincy Harker, and enjoyed the heck out of it. He writes urban fantasy with a strong regional flare, and is just about one of the nicest guys you’ll meet on Facebook. I suggest you check out the Quincy Harker series, as well as the Black Knight series, as well as Falstaff Publishing, and also follow him on Facebook to keep up with the various writer community things he does!
So, spoiler alert, I usually try to warn people who strike up literary conversations with me at bars, because I will come straight out of my introvert shell and bend their ear (quite possibly both their ears) talking about all of my favorite speculative fiction authors (this list goes on for pages…) until they throw down a twenty for a tip on the bar and run away. I’m always looking for more suggestions for my TBR pile, so if you’ve read a book you think I might like, drop me a note.
And, if you like werewolf secret agents and kickass women who help them fight back against shadowy government organizations, check out the Rick Keller Project. But for now … I’ve got some reading to do!