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Jack Vance
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Lord Dunsany
Ernest Bramah
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Gene Wolfe
China Mieville
Jeff Vandermeer
Philip K. Dick
(sadly no link for fletcher pratt)

Great SF and F(the very best)
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Old Earth Books
One man's probably useless list of weird fiction


The Phoenix and the Mirror - Avram Davidson
Naples in an impossible Roman age as only the superstitions of the dark ages would have imagined it; the poet Virgil as a puissant alchemist and sorcerer. A very enjoyable adventure with a well-realized mystical order. First in a series. The second novel, Vergil in Averno, is extremely weird and can be difficult to read, but has the usual Davidson virtue of being impeccably written. The third novel in the series, The Scarlet Fig, has been posthumously edited to completion and should be available in 2005.

The Blue Star - Fletcher Pratt
Immaculately realized secondary world that goes beyond swords and sorcery. Something of the vivid details of Vance but with a less mannered tone. The central conceit of the novel, the Blue Star's magical properties, is a good one, though the characters are somewhat slight.

A Storm of Wings - M. John Harrison
Probably I should recommend the whole series but I've only read this and the first novel, which wasn't spectacular. This one, however, is really excellent. Harrison manages to convey the odd beauty and horror of a world that is metaphysically unraveling without losing the reader in the madness of it all. And he does the "eternal city" better than anyone.

The Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe
Endlessly complex, endlessly debated (I think Wolfe has to be the most comprehensively discussed SF/F author on the web). Worth reading for Wolfe's unmatched mastery of prose and the intricate, mysterious secondary world. I like Wolfe's short stories most of all, but this comes as a close second.

Little, Big John Crowley
Epic story about a family and their intersections with the hard-to-explain. Beautiful, iconoclastic, rich with symbolism and very hard to describe adequately. It's quite a mountain to climb, but the view is terrific, and I think the novel is absolutely essential for any serious reader of fantasy or 20th century american literature. Crowley's short novels are also worth reading: pick up "Elsewhere" for 3 excellent examples.

Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
Big, splashy mission statement of the new weird. Highly grotesque steampunk-esque urban fantasy with some truly frightening, distinctive antagonists. The main characters are oddly irritating at times. Mieville's sequel, The Scar, is also good, but is somewhat anticlimactic and suffers from a truly odd choice of protagonist. The third novel in the series, Iron Council, has much better pacing and more interesting characters. All three novels are great fun but can grate at times because they try to be thrillers and social commentaries, and don't really succeed at both.

City of Saints and Madmen - Jeff VanderMeer
A set of novellas set in an iconic, somewhat unreal city (weird fiction seems to have strong urban tendencies). The novellas hold together so well that it's hard to believe they were ever published separately. Has a truly outstanding fictional history stuck in the middle. There's supposedly a new edition with even more content, but I haven't the money to buy a book I already own.

Lyonesse (Suldrun's Garden) - Jack Vance
I should probably disclose that I am a Vance collector and die-hard. While most of his work is science-fantasy, the Lyonesse series is a historical fantasy, and a very good one. Vance's prose style is unusual and can be a hard sell; think P.G. Wodehouse with laser guns and ogres. I recommend giving it a try, though; you might very well find yourself as miserably addicted as I am.

Zothique (Tales of) - Clark Ashton Smith
So incredibly excessive, but so wonderful all the same. Smith, a poet by trade, has a way with words which he may go a bit far with, but it's all in the name of vivid, evocative madness. These stories are from an old and dying world, drenched in wickedness and ancient gods. Somewhat in the vein of Lovecraft (and they walked in the same circles, Smith writing sometimes in the Lovecraft canon), but more fantastic and less horrific. Ashton Smith's fantastic poetry (collected in The Last Oblivion) is... interesting, if nothing else.

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
It doesn't really fit in neatly with the rest of these books. But it's certainly weird and it's always worming it's way into lists and discussions of mine. An alternate history, mixed with metaphysics. Extremely effective and disturbing. It will stay with you for a long time.

The Circus of Dr. Lao - Charles G. Finney
Small, mysterious novel, somewhat reminiscent of Bradbury. Highly recommended by some: I was impressed, though it isn't my favorite novel. Very good for a change of pace.

The High Place - James Branch Caball
Part of Cabell's huge "Biography" series of creative works... a number of which are truly excellent. The High Place is a profane and hilarious allegory concerning idealism and the problems it creates. The Cream of the Jest is also a must read, as it is the best meta-discussion of writing fantasy that I've yet found. And Jurgen, the most infamous of Cabell's novels, is just as good as either of these. Cabell can be an acquired taste, but once you acquire it you probably won't lose it.


The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
Ursus of Ultima Thule - Avram Davidson
The Left Hand of Darkness- - Ursula K. LeGuin
The Mabinogion Tetralogy - Evangeline Walton
The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
Swords and Devilry - Fritz Leiber
A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
The Knight - Gene Wolfe
Don Rodriguez - Lord Dunsany
The Titus Groan Novels - Mervin Peake

Eying Hungrily

In Viriconium / Viriconium Nights - M. John Harrison
Veniss Underground - Jeff VanderMeer
Islandia - Austin Tappan Wright
Aegypt- John Crowley
The Scarlet Fig-Avram Davidson