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5 Must-Read Contemporary Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors

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Lewis Parsons spends his days as a librarian based in scenic coastal New England. He got his start by reading the Atlas (really). Terry Pratchett dragged him along the rough adolescent years, which he spent immersed in Discworld. Along the way he discovered science fiction by way of Mary Shelley, and of course found the magic of J.K. Rowling. He went on to study History and literature with no particular career aims; and was talked into the Rutgers University MLIS program in 2012. He thinks Gilgamesh is the greatest story ever told. He writes about games, politics, films and libraries at @LewisP7641 . He aims to write a YA bestseller before the age of 60.

Speculative fiction; dragons, spaceships, ghosts, and ghouls. Spec. fiction has some of the most fantastic creations in literature, and brings us our biggest sagas and most memorable settings.

It is also a genre undergoing a remarkable diversification, bringing in voices and points of view from around the world. Here are five hot writers to catch now. Expand your horizon and be able to say “Of course I’ve read that!”

the grace of kings by ken liuKen Liu

Ken Liu is a renaissance man. Author, lawyer, programmer, translator, and a creator of spectacular short fiction and novels. Liu’s The Paper Menagerie is a sublime work of childhood wonder and memory. Drawing from his experiences as a Chinese-American in suburban Connecticut, it strikes deep chords in the hearts of readers. Liu is also drawing inspiration from Asia for his epic Dandelion Dynasty series, an expansive silkpunk that is epic in every sense of the word. Liu hits it out of the park with every word he writes, so read him, now!

N.K. Jemisin

Jemisin is red hot right now, and is looking like the next great speculative author. Her Broken Earth series is an exploration of cultural and systemic oppression set in a world of cataclysm and change, a world that may truly deserve to be destroyed. The first book in the series, The Fifth Season, has a truly unique writing style, a great twist, and strong, engaging characters. Her The Effluent Engine is a steampunk reimagining of Haiti gaining independence from France, and is as great as it sounds. Jemisin’s world building and plots are top notch, but her characters are her true gold and need to be experienced.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted ChiangTed Chiang

Chiang’s work is mesmerizing. He is a master craftsman who has taken the under-recognized formats of the novelette and the novella to great heights. Perhaps the highlight of his career is Story of Your Life, released in 1998, about the nature of language, free will, and exploring the question of whether knowing your future would be a boon or a curse. It was recently adapted into science fiction hit Arrival. He is a steady producer and his new-found fame might push him to greater heights.

Marie Lu

Lu has been producing young adult dystopian works for years now. Don’t let the subject scare you off—Lu’s writing rises above the tropes of the genre to offer gripping, engaging narratives with deep characters and strong emotional arcs. Her Warcross series is heating up (think in the vein of Ready Player One), and she is building a presence as a writer of strong stories in the DC universe. There are great things to come from her.

who fears deathNnedi Okorafor

Okorafor is a prolific creator of short stories and novels, often with Nigerian settings, characters, and themes, with archetypes and imagery drawn from West African folklore, mythology, and history. Her work is great for all ages, spanning children’s books to adult novels, and has earned her a shelf full of awards. Why should you catch her now? One of her most well-regarded pieces, the post-apocalyptic Who Fears Death, is coming to HBO.