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Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors for Young Boys

Originally written 20080709 for Slashdot

This list was compiled in response to a request for science fiction and fantasy books for preteen boys -- over 50 authors sorted by chronological age of readers. Some (e.g. Heinlein) have books for younger readers, but continuing with the author leads to adult books. All (except the Acorna series) are accessible to older readers.

L. Frank Baum - classic Oz for the very young
Lloyd Alexander - Prydain
John Christopher (Samuel Youd) - Tripods series.
Susan Cooper - Dark Is Rising series
Robin McKinley
Robert Asprin - Myth Adventures and Phule series. Other series should wait until mid-teens such as the new "Dragon's Wild"; I am eagerly awaiting the sequel and mourn Asprin's passing -- I want more books in the three series mentioned.
Jody Lynn Nye - Mythology
Terry Pratchet - Discworld
Christopher Stasheff - Warlock series, earliest books will need to be reread when older; middle of series is great for children; latest are romances for late teens.
Craig Shaw Gardner
Piers Anthony - Xanth
Brian Jacques - Redwall
Lyndon Hardy - Only one fantasy trilogy.
Harry Harrison - Stainless Steel Rat series. Many other books for different age groups.
Marion Zimmer Bradley - Darkover
Katherine Kurtz - Deryni
Barbara Hambly
Anne McCaffrey - Acorna series is for young children, painful for adults. Talents, Brainships, and Crystal Singer are for any age. Dragonriders vary starting late teens.
Joel Rosenberg - Guardians of the Flame series; warning: main characters die!
Stephen R. Donaldson - Mordant's Need (fantasy), then Gap series (SF). Covenant series for late teens.
Alan Dean Foster - pulp writer great for children but too many clichés for adults.
Edgar Rice Burroughs - classic Tarzan, Mars, and Pellucidar are mandatory.
C. S. Lewis - Narnia
Gordon Dickson - Dorsai (especially appealing to boys), many others.
Terry Brooks (Magic Kingdom for Sale series)
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter, mandatory for this decade
Fritz Leiber - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series is great for boys
John DeChancie - Castle series
Fred Saberhagen - Empire of the East and Swords series
Frederick Pohl
James P. Hogan - SF
Laura Resnick - Fantasy
Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game, Shadow series, Enchantment, Songmaster, Magic Street.
Spider Robinson - Deathkiller trilogy and short stories. Callahan's Series for late teens (fun but adult-themed jokes would be missed when very young.)
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. - Ecolitan and Recluse series.
W. Michael Gear - Now writing long-winded pulp with his wife, but his Spider trilogy (and "The Artifact" prequel) is incredible (warning: main characters die!)
Philip José Farmer - World of Tiers
Terry Goodkind - Sword of Truth series starts well
Roger Zelazny - Amber
David Farland (Dave Wolverton) - Runelords
David Brin
Jules Verne - classic
H. G. Wells - classic
Harry Turtledove - alternate histories, often fantasy.
Douglas Adams - mandatory for potential nerds.
Arthur C. Clarke
Charles Ingrid - SF
Robert L. Forward
Isaac Asimov
Robert Heinlein - mandatory for science fiction discussions.
Poul Anderson
Larry Niven - Ringworld, etc.
Jerry Pournelle
Ben Bova
Greg Bear
Ray Bradbury
Mike Resnick
C. S. Friedman - often requires rereading to understand (even for adults)

This list was compiled by wandering around my library looking for authors suitable for young boys. About a dozen good authors were excluded because their books are targeted at girls.

The list deliberately excludes long-winded fantasy: David Eddings, Raymond Feist, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, and Terry Brooks' Shannara. Raymond Feist's "Magician" is awesome, but I stopped reading after a dozen books. I assumed the boys would be forced to read Tolkein -- that's enough of that genre unless the children really like it. If they did, they could easily find similar material. This list was designed to encourage reading with more action and less descriptive passages. Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series should probably have been excluded for belonging to this genre, but while the plots slow as the series progresses, the writing never gets quite boring enough to qualify (IMO).

Most people only remember Donaldson for the Convenant series. I suggest saving that series until much older. The two books of Mordant's Need and most of his short stories are much lighter and would be suitable for just-become-teenagers (13yo) after reading Rosenberg killing main characters. The Gap series is darker and probably suitable around 15; the style and plot twists are good writing. The Covenant series is for 17+; Donaldson would have been much later in the list without the comment. I dislike dry long-winded writing and would not have mentioned Covenant if the series was not almost mandatory for credibility when discussing fantasy books.

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