The best speculative fiction novels by authors you probably haven’t heard of

Why am I passionate about this?

As a not well-known writer of science fiction, that grew up reading speculative fiction novels by not very well-known authors, I want to shine a light on the more obscure corners of my bookshelf. Neil Gaiman and Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Jordan get plenty of press. They don’t need any help. This is a list of authors that I don’t think enough people are talking about. And it’s a shame, because all of them have a lot of really interesting worlds to explore. Enjoy.   


I wrote...

LIFE in the 23rd Century

By Jason R. Richter,

Book cover of LIFE in the 23rd Century

What is my book about?

LIFE in the 23rd Century is an absurd, light-hearted dystopian future to distract you from your horrific dystopian present. If 1984 were written by Monty Python. Not as dark as Brazil, not as absurd as The Fish Slapping Dance.  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hammer and the Cross

Jason R. Richter Why did I love this book?

I think that Harry Harrison is one of the most undersung speculative fiction authors that no one has ever heard of. Except you have heard of him. Kinda. His story “Make Room, Make Room” was turned into the movie “Soylent Green” with Charlton Heston. (Turning old people into food was not in the original story.) 

Harrison’s books run the gamut. You want intergalactic Ocean’s Eleven? Try the Stainless Steel Rat series. You want ridiculous military science fiction? Bill, the Galactic Hero is what you’re looking for. You want to know what would have happened if Vikings had siege weapons and conquered England? That’s what The Hammer and the Cross is all about. I’ve read this a dozen times and it always makes me regret not becoming a blacksmith. 

By Harry Harrison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hammer and the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an alternate history set in A.D. 865, Shef, son of a Norse raider and an English lady, tries to carve out a kingdom of his own in England, while Christian kings and Viking worshippers of Asgard battle for the country's dominion.


Book cover of The Holmes-Dracula File

Jason R. Richter Why did I love this book?

Fred Saberhagen is another author that wrote a lot of really great books but no one really talks about him. I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a kid and was disappointed when I realized that I’d read all of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. I found a beat up copy of The Holmes-Dracula File in a used bookstore and I was hooked. The book is as advertised, Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula team up to solve a mystery. Just like Harry Harrison, Saberhagen also wrote a lot of books that cover the waterfront of speculative fiction. (If you want a good fantasy series The Book of Swords series is great.)  

By Fred Saberhagen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Holmes-Dracula File as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1887, London, Victoria’s Jubilee -- criminals threaten to release thousands of plague infested rats on the day of celebration. The extraordinary powers of the Count and sharp mind of the Master Detective team up to avert a catastrophic public disaster. (And, the reader discovers more than a deerstalker hat and an Invernes Cape in Holmes’ family closet.)


Book cover of The World of Null-A

Jason R. Richter Why did I love this book?

I’m a huge Philip K. Dick fan. I read an article where PKD said that A.E. van Vogt was his favorite author, but I’d never even heard the name before. Then, everywhere I went for about a month – barbershops, thrift stores, coffee shops – there was an A.E. van Vogt book laying around. Which is something that would happen in a PKD novel, but more sinister. If you like the otherwordly, discombobulating feeling of reading Flow My Tears the Policeman Said or A Scanner Darkly, you’ll enjoy The World of Null-A.

By A. E. van Vogt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World of Null-A as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Grandmaster A.E. Van Vogt was one of the giants of the Gold Age of classic SF, the 1940's. Of his masterpieces, THE WORLD OF NULL-A is most famous and most influential. It was the first major trade SF hardcover ever, published in 1949, and has been in print in various editions ever since. The careers of Philip K Dick, Keith Laumer, Alfred Bester, Charles Harness and Philip Jose Farmer were created or influenced by THE WORLD OF NULL-A. It is required reading for anyone who wishes to know the canon of SF classics.


Book cover of Lord of Light

Jason R. Richter Why did I love this book?

This one may not be as obscure as the others. I had heard the name Roger Zelazny but I never picked any of his books up. I don’t know why. Eventually Lord of Light was recommended so many times, that I had to go get it. And it’s fantastic. Imagine if all the myths of Hinduism are retold as science fiction. The gods aren’t magical, but gifted with terrifying technology that appears magical to us mere humans. (For bonus crossover points: I also recently found a book that Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen wrote together about a world where every Edgar Allan Poe story is reality and not fiction. That one’s called “The Black Throne.”)

By Roger Zelazny,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Lord of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world?

Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. The gradual unfolding of the story - how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology - is one of…


Book cover of Awfully Appetizing

Jason R. Richter Why did I love this book?

I hear you saying to yourself, “Please, recommend another book by a dead guy, Jason!” Well, sorry to disappoint, but this recommendation is from a living author. I’m actually a huge fan of this guy and he’s still alive putting out books. Awfully Appetizing follows Walter, a ghoul (undead carrion eater), that was raised by humans. Walter runs a funeral parlor where he disposes of bodies in the secret war between the werewolves and the vampires in a Colorado college town. The writing is funny. The characters are great. If you like the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher, you’ll love Awfully Appetizing.  

By Leod Fitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Awfully Appetizing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Walter Keppler is a quiet, private man. He lives in a trailer park at the edge of town, and is working hard to pay off the startup loan he needed for his funeral home. In his spare time, he likes to camp, fish, and eat roadkill.
Walter Keppler is a ghoul, raised by humans. He’s one of the many monsters who calls the town of Collinswood Colorado home, but he’s spent most of his life struggling against his darker nature, and trying to stay as far away from the rest of the creatures of the night as he possibly can.…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of For Fukui’s Sake: Two years In Rural Japan

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Author Snow lover Fish out of water Traveller

Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who teaches him the meaning of being 'priden'.

Struggling with Slovene, a language with grammar so complex it can cause brain damage, and battling bureaucracy, he explores the culture and characters of this underappreciated ex-Yugoslav republic, its wild beauty, and its wild animals.

A love letter to Slovenia, this rare, adventurous account follows a foreigner trying to build a new life — and rebuild an old house — in a young country still finding its own place in the world.

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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