In the second (or maybe third) episode in our new bi-weekly schedule, Jonathan and Gary eventually get around to the question of what books to recommend to someone new to science fiction and fantasy or someone who’s been away from the field for years or even decades.
The standard answer to this a generation ago—Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke—hardly provides an intro to modern SF, and while names like Le Guin and Butler still seem helpful, the question remains what current authors are good entry points. Along the way, we touch upon N.K. Jemisin’s forthcoming The City We Became, which Octavia Butler novel might be the best to start with, Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels, including the recent reissue of his California trilogy along with Maureen McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang.
But first, Gary complains about the overused shorthand of describing a new novel in terms of other novels (“think Novel X meets Novel Y”), and the habit of publicists and even reviewers of describing novels as “for both literary and genre readers.