When I bought my small-town bookstore, it had no science fiction or fantasy section. I went to work populating it with my favorites, most of which are classic stuff by the older authors. It’s doing okay, but it seems that the newer stuff is what’s selling, and I don’t know a lot of the new authors & titles. Help me bring my store up-to-date!
Here’s an overview of what I have:
[li]Douglas Adams - pretty much all of it[/li][li]Piers Anthony - Some Xanth and Blue Adept[/li][li]Isaac Asimov - Robots, Foundation… the classics[/li][li]Ray Bradbury - a few of his better-known titles[/li][li]Terry Brooks - The latest two Shannara titles[/li][li]Steven Brust - All of the Jhereg books[/li][li]Edgar Rice Burroughs - a smattering of Mars books[/li][li]Orson Scott Card - Ender books[/li][li]Arthur C. Clarke - a variety[/li][li]Michael Crichton - Recent novels and Andromeda Strain[/li][li]Robert Heinlein - mostly his later stuff[/li][li]Frank & Brian Herbert - the entire Dune series, including prequels[/li][li]Tanya Huff - her “Victory Nelson” and “Keeper” books[/li][li]Robert Jordan - Wheel of Time books[/li][li]Ursula K. Le Guin - Earthsea books[/li][li]Anne McCaffrey - Pern books[/li][li]Larry Niven - including Ringworld’s Children and some of the stuff he co-wrote with Pournelle[/li][li]Terry Pratchett - Discworld books[/li][li]Spider Robinson - Callahan series[/li][li]R. A. Salvatore - his most popular two or three at any given point in time[/li][li]Neal Stephenson - My three favorites[/li][li]J.R.R. & Christopher Tolkien - Basically all of it[/li][li]Recent “Magic: the Gathering” novels (I sell the cards, too)[/li][/ul]
What should I add?
(Skip the hardbacks, by the way. People just don’t buy hardback science fiction or fantasy around here.)
R. Scott Bakker appears to be doing well with his “Prince of Nothing” series, starting with The Darkness that Comes Before. The first two of the series are out in paperback as far as I know.
There’s also Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance” series, starting with Eragon. I’m told its sort of oriented for younger readers, but from what I’ve seen, it’s much more like Tolkien than Harry Potter. The first one is available in paperback.
Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series starts out good and gets mediocre but seems to be popular nonetheless. But I’d recommend Wizard’s First Rule, the first book in the series.
And your bookstore would be incomplete without a bunch of Iain M. Banks’ books.
William Gibson should probably make an appearance. Definitely stock Neuromancer, Count Zero and [Mona Lisa Overdrive*.
I’ll second the Banks (Culture and similar SF novels, “The Algebraist” is the latest) Kim Stanley Robinson (“Mars” trilogy), you also need China Mieville (“Perdido Street Station”, “The Scar”, “Iron Coundcil”),
David Brin’s “Uplift” novels,
Clive Barker’s fantasy/horror stuff (am currently enjoying Abarat), also Neil Gaiman’s stuff (“American Gods” and the new one coming out, “Ananzi Boys”)
If the Pratchett sells, then Tom Holt might too. I’ve sen omnibus 2-in-1 paperback editions that might offer your readers more bang for their buck.
Draelin, can you suggest any particular Robin Hobb and David Eddings titles? And I forgot about the Incarnations books. Those are great!
CalMeacham, I’ll check out Simmons and Howard. I’ve got some Turtledove, but it’s alternative fiction. Does he do science fiction or fantasy, too?
Baldwin, I dropped de Camp and Anderson because it didn’t sell. I tried one Kim Stanley Anderson title (The Years of Rice and Salt) and it gathered dust on the shelf for a year. I finally dumped it in the clearance bin. I’ll check out Baxter. Any specific titles to recommend?
Snakescatlady, should I look at their newest stuff, or are there specific titles I should check out?
Ghanima, I should have mentioned I also have a young adult fantasy section, which contains Paolini’s books, Harry Potter, Madeline L’Engle, and so forth. As for the other suggestions, I’ll take a look. I can’t believe I forgot Neuromancer! I have Goodkind’s latest, but forgot to mention it in the OP.
C.J. Cherryh’s science fiction is great. Her fantasy isn’t as compelling. I second Turtledove and Eddings. I would add Raymond Feist and Dave Duncan to the list for good fantasy. For military science fiction, I’d say that John Ringo and David Webber are crucial. I’d also add Dave Freer and Eric Flint to your stock. Mercedes Lackey is popular with women fantasy readers. William Stirling’s Draka books and Island In the Sea Of Time series are both excellent. For hard SF, David Brin is a great choice. Greg Bear is alsos a popular hard SF author but I find his stuff uneven in quality. Darwin’s Radio is a great book but the sequel, Darwin’s Children was awful. L.M Modesitt is a good choice for both fantasy and SF, especially his Recluce books.
That should have said “alternate history.” sigh When you go into a bookstore, do you look for alternate history books in the science fiction/fantasy section even if there are no sci-fi or fantasy elements in them? I’ve been keeping them with the general fiction.
Thanks for all those other suggestions, folks. I’ll see if I can narrow this down to a list of specific titles and post it for comment in a few days.
You should have tried the Kim Stanley Robinson version, it was slightly better.
I preferred his Mars trilogy but it can be a love it or hate it experience.
Some other UK authors to consider (I assume they’re available there):
Peter F Hamilton, Night’s Dawn Trilogy and others.
Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon, Broken Angels etc (Futuristic thrillers).
Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space series.
Adam Roberts, Salt, On etc.
I’m rather fond of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen and Old Kingdom books. I haven’t read the Keys to the Kingdom series, but the Abhorsen trilogy is fantastic. They’re YA, but the Abhorsen trilogy has adult versions, which are actually kind of ugly.
Michael Crichton was popular. His books might sell. I’ve checked the New York Times best seller paperback list. Unfortunately, not too much science fiction/fantasy was on there, and they don’t have a seperate science fiction list. Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” was 10th, though, and his “Deception Point” was 21st and “Digital Fortress” was 27th, if you consider those science fiction. “Star Wars: Dark Nest 1: The Joiner King” was 32nd.
I second the call for Richard Morgan. He’s currently got four books out - *Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies * and Market Forces. The first three are a trilogy, involving Takeshi Kovacs, a future flatfoot (in the first book) cum mercenary (the second two). It’s all very cyberpunk/space opera, and quite compelling IMHO.
Market Forces is set in the same universe as the first three, but seems to be set at an earlier time. It’s a standalone story, and of the four it’s my (and hubby’s) favourite. From what I’ve seen, people who like Snow Crash tend to like Morgan’s work.
Also seconding the call for Alastair Renolds’ work, but they do tend to be quite heavy and dry in some parts, so they really would appeal more to the hardcore SF fans, if you’ve got any in the area.
Steven R. Donaldson has a good series, known as The Gap series. I’ve found people who hate his Thomas Covenant series have preferred the Gap series. It’s not as preachy and dry. And you can probably pick up a few copies of it without too much cost.