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Highly recommended fantasy and science fiction

Matthew T. Carpenter
The list author says: "These are all books that have given me a great deal of pleasure over the years, often for multiple re-reads. When I was a young teen, a Conan knock off was the pinnacle of the fantasy genre for me. As I have changed so have my tastes, hopefully for the better. These are the books that stuck with me. I'll cheat in these comments and add an honorable mention to JV Jones most current series as a pretty darn good read. Look in my other lists for my suggestions about Lovecraftian fiction."
'IN YANA, THE TOUCH OF UNDYING'
'IN YANA, THE TOUCH OF UNDYING'
"Micheal Shea's picaresque novel of a jaded youth searching for immortality owes as much to Lovecraft as to Vance.  Mr. Shea won a World Fantasy Award for his S&S book about the famous thief, Nifft the Lean."
The Deep
The Deep
"I cannot express the wonder I felt when I first read this book.  I thought it was startlingly original and it remains just as fresh today."
God Stalk
God Stalk
"This was my favorite novel of 1982.  The arcane nature of the Kencyrath, the unfathomable god they worship and the gothic delights of the city of Tai Tastigon hooked me on Ms. Hodgell's fiction for life."
Dark Of The Moon
Dark Of The Moon
"The second book in the Kencyrath series.  Alas for you if you fall in love with this author, because the 3rd and 4th novels each took about a decade to see print."
Seeker's Mask
Seeker's Mask
"Jamethiel and Torisen's stories continue.  This was written around the same time as Dark of the Moon but never saw print until 1994."
To Ride A Rathorn
To Ride A Rathorn
"The 2006 novel of the Kencyrath.  I marvel at the consistency of Ms. Hodgell's prose over many long years of nothing in press, and how wonderful her characters are."
Bound in Blood (Seeker)
Bound in Blood (Seeker)
"From 1982 to 2010 the saga of the Kencyrath continues froom the wonderful writer.  Here's hoping it won't be 5 years until book 6."
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)
"Many other readers have written lengthy commentaries about Martin's work.  All I know is, whenever I get a book in this series I have to pull an all-nighter because I cannot put it down."
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
"Powerful, dark, absorbing, wonderful."
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
"Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite characters in all of fantasy."
A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)
A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)
"Martin moves from strength to strength with this series.  I await A Dance with Dragons with growing impatience."
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle)
The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle)
"Although many books I am recommending have been around for decades, this is relatively new.  It just goes to show you that the genre is alive and well.  This is an absolutely wonderful book."
The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)
The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)
"Another new series I am enjoying immensely.  It is very dark but also completely entertaining with much gallows humor.  The scenes with The Bloody Nine are my favorites.  I also really liked Before They are Hanged, the sequel.  I have not yet read The Last Argument of Kings."
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1)
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1)
"Ausipcious start to a new series, with an absolute rogue for a protagonist.  Red Seas Under Red Skies, the sequel was a good read but not as compelling as the first.  I await The Republic of Thieves with interest."
Neverwhere: A Novel
Neverwhere: A Novel
"As a TV miniseries this story is decidedly dated and filmed on a shoestring budget.  As a novel it is a great way to be introduced to the fiction of Neil Gaiman."
Stardust
Stardust
"In this case, Mr. Gaiman's magical prose was given magical life when it was made into a movie.  It is a wonderful book."
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)
"Whatever else you say about this series, I was absolutely blown away by this book by Dan Simmons.  It remains one of the best sprawling space operas I have ever read, and I loved the horrific aspects of the Shrike.  Treat it as a stand alone; nothing says you have to read any of the sequels.  OK, read Fall of Hyperion but skip Endymion!  I mean it!"
Starfish (Rifters Trilogy)
Starfish (Rifters Trilogy)
"Many scifi writers excel at their ability to grasp and convey physics.  Here is an author who absolutely knows his biology.  This is cutting edge science fiction and I found it gripping.  Alas, I think the final book in this particular series bogged down.  Blindsight is also worth a look."
The Chronoliths
The Chronoliths
"Most of Mr. Wilson's books are worth a look, particularly Spin.  The Chronoliths is my favorite.  I find it vivid, compelling and original."
Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden
"How can you not just love Jack Vance?  I am puttting Suldrun's Garden here as a recommendation for the entire Lyonesse trilogy, which is vintage Vance.  The Dying Earth is even better."
Tales of the Dying Earth
Tales of the Dying Earth
"Buy any of the omnibus editions of these stories by Jack Vance.  They are unique, inspiring, absorbing with matchless use of language."
A Rendezvous in Averoigne: The Best Fantastic Tales of Clark Ashton Smith
A Rendezvous in Averoigne: The Best Fantastic Tales of Clark Ashton Smith
"I first encountered the stories of CAS when a young teen.  He was the perfect anodyne to S&S junk.  I have been spellbound ever since.  CAS is a true American master, a matchless prose poet."
Gods in Darkness: The Complete Novels of Kane
Gods in Darkness: The Complete Novels of Kane
"I still love a good S&S yarn, and no one does it better than Wagner.  Kane is the ultimate antihero.  If you can get them, the omnibus editions of short stories (The Midnight Sun) and novels (this book) from Nightshade Books are the best.  His horror collections are well worth a look, too (In a Lonely Place, and Why Not You and I)."
Tigana: Anniversary Edition
Tigana: Anniversary Edition
"Mr. Kay's books are character driven.  This is his best, most magical novel.  The Fionavar Tapestry also really jazzed me back in the day."
Bride of the Rat God
Bride of the Rat God
"I got fatigued by some of Ms. Hambly's works due to a sameness of characters, plots and politics, but this wild mixture of 1920s Hollywood and ancient Chinese magic is a real treat!"
The Darwath Trilogy (Vol 1)
The Darwath Trilogy (Vol 1)
"You can buy used copies of the individual books in this trilogy for pennies, and this is Barbara Hambly's best fantasy."
Those Who Hunt the Night
Those Who Hunt the Night
"I do love a good vampire novel (not the gothic sex romantic tripe filling the coffins these days) and Ms. Hambly's novel is one of the best.  The sequel, Traveling with the Dead, is also very good."
I Am Legend
I Am Legend
"Speaking of vampire books, forget the movie.  This is *the* defining modern vampire story."
A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)
A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)
"I still think the original Earthsea trilogy is as good as any fantasy story ever written, although I was not particularly enamored of Tehanu.  What the heck, no one says you *have* to read the fourth book."
Wizards & the Warriors (Chronicles of Age of Darkness) (Chronicles of An Age of Darkness 1)
Wizards & the Warriors (Chronicles of Age of Darkness) (Chronicles of An Age of Darkness 1)
"This is the edition from the UK of Cook's wonderful book, and it is a whale of a read.  Just when you think it's conventional it goes off in wild directions.  In the US it was published as Wizard War.  Of a planned 20 book series, 10 were published."
This Immortal
This Immortal
"In my youth I was (and remain) a huge fan of the first 5  Amber novels.  Nowadays this is my favorite Zelazny; it is just a fresh as when I read it 3 decades ago.  I am also very fond of A Night in the Lonesome October."
Cryptonomicon
Cryptonomicon
"Is this fantasy?  Is this science fiction?  Who cares!  It's great: hysterically funny with thrilling action, interesting history and very moving parts also."
Mindbridge
Mindbridge
"Think of this as a first contact novel.  I think it is Joe Haldeman's best book."
I, Robot
I, Robot
"In my formative years I read all of Mr. Asimov's books.  Although I got fed up with his refusing to stop tinkering with his Foundation series, I think his original robot short stories remain on my short list of best science fiction.  I also recommend the orginal Foundation trilogy, but stop after that!"
Lankhmar Volume 1: Swords and Deviltry
Lankhmar Volume 1: Swords and Deviltry
"This serves as my warm recommendation for the S&S classic Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories by Leiber.  I have loved these characters for a long time, although I wish Mr. Leiber had stopped *before* Swords and Ice Magic.  The later books are decidely weak and could be skipped without regret."
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Magic Carpet Books)
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Magic Carpet Books)
"Over the years I have become less than thrilled with some of Ms. McKillip's later books.  It doesn't matter.  I will forever be in her debt for this masterpiece.  It is an absolutely wonderful read.  I very much liked the Riddle of Stars books when I read them in the late 1970s, and The Book of Atrix Wolfe."
Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 2)
Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 2)
"Unlike Williams' The Dragonbone Chair or Bakker's The Prince of Nothing, which both fizzled after a great start, the Malazan series has maintained a consistently high quality.  Some might not like such ponderous books but I find them fascinating.  This one is my favorite."
The Throne of Bones
The Throne of Bones
"This is the best collection of stories about ghouls you will find anywhere.  It is Mr. McNaughton's masterpiece.  Very graphic and gory, but heck, it's about ghouls..."
Retief's War (Jaime Retief Series #3)
Retief's War (Jaime Retief Series #3)
"I put this book on my list in homage to golden memories from my youth.  I loved these books when they first came out for their deft plotting, wonderful characters and hilarious dialogue.  Laumer used his own diplomatic experience when crafting the Retief books."
Westermead: A Collection of Tales
Westermead: A Collection of Tales
"I really enjoyed this collection of stories by Scott Thomas.  Westermead has a very Celtic feel and the mood is mostly autumnal.  I hope Mr. Thomas will continue to explore this world."