It’s always seemed strange to me that Sci-Fi and Fantasy are linked together; while both are works of pure imagining, Sci-Fi typically has a strong focus on technology while Fantasy equals Magic. They are both great genres to explore if one is looking to dive into other worlds for a while. I’m sharing a couple of my favorite titles and authors now, but I guarantee this section will grow.
One author whose stories have elements of both futuristic technology and magic is Madeleine L’Engle, who happens to be my favorite author. She wrote The Time Quintet, which includes my favorite boook, the Newbery-award-winning A Wrinkle in Time. This was originally published in the early 1960s as a children’s book, but I still read this book and its sequel. A Wind in the Door, at least once every year – usually close to Halloween.
JRR Tolkien is probably the most universally known fantasy author; The Hobbit and his Lord of the Rings trilogy have become well-entrenched in the popular lexicon, thanks in part to the movies based on the books. I like the books better, and any one of them would make an excellent winter’s read.
C.S. Lewis, a contemporary and friend of Tolkien, is equally well-known; he wrote the Narnia Chronicles, which were also written for children. I read these books to my son when he was 8 or 9 and he liked them – but I wouldn’t say he loved them the way I did.
What many may not know is that Lewis also wrote a series of adult futuristic fantasy / sci-fi novels. They are Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Together they are known as his Space Trilogy. When I read them I felt a sense of awe at the worlds he created.
A lesser-known colleague of Tolkien and Lewis, Charles Williams, also wrote some fantasy; he is the author of All Hallows’ Eve, a book that is largely set in the twilight world between life and death. I bought a print on demand version of the book which had multiple printing errors. This, combined with the unusual cadence of Williams’ narrative style, made the book a struggle to read for me, but the story, while filled a subtle, unsavory horror that I haven’t seen outside of a nightmare, was worth the effort. This is Williams’ last novel and the only one I’ve read.
Other fantasy authors worth checking out are Lois McMaster Bujold (pure fantasy), Margaret Atwood (dystopian futuristic fantasy), Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Philip Pullman (ostensibly children’s fantasy but quite adult in nature), L. Frank Baum’s Oz books for children, Gregory Maguire, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint (urban fantasy), and so many others.
Classic scence fiction authors include Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and many more. I’ll write more about this genre and its classic titles later and will post news of the updates.