the thing about people who are like “i don’t like tolkien that much, fantasy should move on and be better” is that i AGREE that fantasy has all the wrong holdovers from lotr. but when you ask those people what contemporary fantasy they think is better, they’ll say shit like name of the wind or game of thrones, and i do not relate to that…..at all?? or even, like, brandon sanderson, whose books i REALLY like. but if you’re still naming mostly white straight male authors, what is it about tolkien you wanted to leave behind exactly???
If y’all’s “moving on from Tolkien” is still centered in reading fantasy written by cishet white men, y’all are missing out.
Martha Wells, Books of the Raksura. Shapeshifting gargoyle-dragon-lizard people in a matriarchal society. About finding a new home and a new family. Really evocative world building that hints at much older civilizations in a luxuriant setting.
NK Jemisin, The Broken Earth series. Post-apocalyptic setting. People of color actively dismantling systems of oppression. People of color being justifiably angry at what has been done. People of color being powerful. A black woman as the main character and multiple queer characters. She won THREE Best Novel Hugos for this series.
NK Jemisin, The Inheritance Trilogy. An empire has imprisoned and enslaved multiple gods, and is using them to further their oppressive systems. The mixed race female protagonist helps them find liberation. Some polyamory and non-binary themes.
Aliette de Bodard, Dominion of the Fallen series. “Dark Gothic fantasies set in a ruined turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war.” Fallen angels, Asian dragons, Viet culture, and queer PoC in positions of power. Her website has lots of free fiction as well. Special mention to The Tea Master and the Detective, a Sherlock Holmes retelling where Sherlock is a WoC and Watson is a sentient spaceship.
Fran Wilde, The Bone Cycle. Beautiful worldbuilding, tradition, (mis)information, climate change. This series is so gorgeous I have deliberately not finished reading it yet, because I am saving the last few chapters of the final book for when I’m going through a rough patch and need something lovely to escape into.
Amal El-Mohtar, Seasons of Glass and Iron. Fairy tale heroines going “nah, fuck this nonsense, we’re making our own story”. Amal mostly writes poetry and short fiction, and all of it is beautifully lyrical. Her words are so beautiful they make me angry.
Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky. It blends several genres in one, and honestly you are better off reading it than reading any summary I could make about it.
And so many, many, many more in the fantasy/sci-fi/horror genres. Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher, Alyssa Wong, Ken Liu, Rebecca Roanhorse, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, Daniel José Older, RF Kuang, Nnedi Okorafor, Jeannette Ng, Ann Leckie, Ted Chiang, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ruthanna Emrys, Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Bear, Saladin Ahmed, Nisi Shawl…
If you can’t afford them, that’s okay, you have options:
- Make sure to check them out at your local library.
- Don’t want to go to the library, or don’t have a means to do so regularly? Ebooks! Overdrive/Libby is your friend–you just need to get a library card and then you can borrow ebooks through their ever-growing database.
You can even recommend books to them–authors will get a sale if the library buys the book! They also have a growing audiobook supply, and you can recommend those to your library as well.
- Libby has a phone app that is perfectly functional, so if you don’t have a dedicated e-reader but own a smartphone, you can get your books that way too.
Do you prefer short fiction? So many of these authors have stuff available online, be it on their website or on zines. A brief search will supply you with more fiction by non-white-dudes than you know what to do with.
Read diverse authors.
Diane Duane, Lois McMaster Bujold, Doris Egan, Ann Downer, Pamela Dean, Emma Bull…
Reblogging so that I can remember some of these names next time my to-be-read pile is winnowed down to a point where I can get new books from bookstore or library (oh, who am I kidding, reblogging so I can get some more books and who cares that I already have piles to read…)