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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Greg Egan, Octavia Butler, Iain M Banks (the M is important; the non-M stuff isn't SF), Ursula Le Guin (does she count as obvious?), Eleanor Arnason, Neal Asher, Sheri S Tepper, Mary Doria Russell. It might be worth making an effort to include feminist SF, and SF written by women. The LiveJournal Whileaway community [livejournal.com] could help here. Ditto SF by non-white people.
    • To name some more excellent authors who happen to be female and/or not-white ...

      * Jacqueline Carey
      * Steph Swainston
      * Elizabeth Hand
      * Nina Kiriki Hoffman
      * Sarah Monette
      * Walter Mosley (he wrote a couple SF things in addition to the Easy Rawlins mystery novels, which are also excellent)
      * Connie Willis

      The number of non-white SFF authors seems to be really, really small, and Mosley was the only one I could think besides Butler & Delany, who were already mentioned. I believe Stephen Barnes is a black man, but I've never read his stuff, and Nalo Hopkinson is also black (I have one of her books but haven't read it yet). Linda Nagata is probably Japanese, with a name like that, or at least married to a Japanese man ;) Her novels are pretty good.
      • The first author I have to mention is Gene Wolfe. The reasons why I have to mention him should be obvious to anyone who's familiar with his work.

        I'd also recommend John Crowley, especially Little, Big.

        These two are authors who both tend to show up on other author's lists of favorites, and are often cited as examples of "literary" merit in the SFF genres.
      • The Roomate also suggested Connie Willis, she'd heard good things about her via her flist on Live Journal. I'll certainly have to add her to the list of people I want to read.
        • I quite like Connie Willis too. I was umming and ahhing about suggesting her, since I do feel her books are a bit samey, but this may be an unfair conclusion — I need to reread a bit.