Speculative fiction readers often have favorite genres. Fantasy lovers, love fantasy; sci fi readers love sci fi, and so on. But what about favorite authors?
I find myself gravitating to authors I love, and generally gobbling up anything they’ve written. Until I find a clunker or two.
I read Narnia as an adult and fell in love with the world but also its author, so I began reading everything I could by C. S. Lewis. That’s how I discovered books like The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, his space trilogy, and Til We Have Faces. At one point I even read as many of his nonfiction books I could get a hold of. Notice, I was willing to cross over from fantasy to science fiction (and from fiction to nonfiction) without batting an eye. I cared more about what the author was saying than what tool he was using to say it.
At one point, I began a search for “another Lewis.” I think that’s how I came upon A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. The thing was, when I read the next two in the series, I didn’t find then of the same caliber and never sought out the last two of the quintet. Nor did I discover any of her other, many books.
In my quest for another Lewis I also found Lloyd Alexander and his Chronicles of Prydain—like L’Engel’s series, a five book set. This one I stayed with and loved and thought I’d found what I was looking for. But when I finished, what came next? I read one other, or bought it and started it. I don’t remember which because that was the last of Alexander I read.
The point is authors can captivate a reader, maybe more than a genre does, but to keep their loyalty, an author needs to keep delivering.
Here’s another example. After I read J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, I began a search for another author, similar to the one who had penned a story I loved. This pursuit was particularly necessary because there were no other Tolkien books on the horizon at that time. A friend suggest I try Stephen Donaldson’s Wounded Land trilogy. After a false start with the first book, I was hooked.
When that series ended, however, a second trilogy came out. Because I was a Donaldson fan now, I dived in. And kept reading because the trilogy was like one long story. But I was disappointed with those books and especially the last one. So when I heard, years later, that an author I’d loved had a new trilogy, set in the same world, I was enthusiastic, but not so much that I’ve done more than read a bit of the first book, then put it down.
So what about you? What series of books have you fallen in love with and consequently followed the author into another novel or another speculative world? And what about the ones that initially grabbed you but didn’t live up to the promise in the next book or so? Any of those?
Or maybe you’re not a reader that particularly cares about the author. You want to follow the characters or dive into the worlds (so, for example, Narnia written by anyone else would be just fine, as long as there was more Narnia).
How important is it for authors to Keep getting it right? Are you willing to overlook one clunker? Two? Are you like me, looking for authors who write in a way that reminds you of another you’ve loved?
I’m curious what you all have to say in the comments or at Spec Faith’s Facebook page or at another site where this article is shared. Let other readers know your thoughts.