(Idea shamelessly stolen from Peat at Peat Long’s Blog, who in turn stoleit from Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub)
The idea for this one is simple. Go through the letters of the alphabet and choose an author for each one. For this one, I’m going by surname. because what normal person shelves by first name? If I can’t think of an author by that initial, I’ve left it blank.
A: Isaac Asimov. Starting off with an easy one. Foundation is one of my all-time favourite books, but all of Asimov’s SF output is worth a look. He’s one of few authors who merits a bookcase all of his own.
B: Ben Bova. I’ve only read one of his books, but New Earth was a strong enough story that he’s earned his place on this list. Definitely an author I need to read more of.
D: David Drake. Drake is one of the founding fathers of modern military SF, and it’s his RCN series, with a classic mix of space adventure of dastardly politics that earns him a space on this list.
E: Kate Elliott. If you’re after bulky, historically-inspired space opera, Elliott’s Unconquerable Sun is a good place to start.
G: Scott G. Gier. I have never met another person who knows the Genellan books, and that is a travesty. A great first contact/military SF series that lies sadly uncompleted, it’s one people should definitely look into.
H: Brian Herbert. A potentially controversial one this. I’ve always preferred the junior Herbert’s work to that of his more famous father Frank. His expansion of the Dune universe is some of my favourite space opera.
K: Eyal Kless. The two-part Tarakan Chronicles are a unique science-fantasy series, and pretty much the only example of that genre I enjoy. A departure from the normal post-apocalyptic wasteland.
L: Cixin Liu. Author of the Three-Body Problem and many others, Liu opened my eyes to the world of translated SF, and I haven’t looked back since. His writing has a truly special sense of wonder that I haven’t found anywhere else.
M: Arkady Martine. One of my favourite authors to emerge in the past few years, Martine’s Teixcalaan duology is so good it resulted in a rare case of me agreeing with the Hugo Awards.
N: Emma Newman. One of the unsung greats of modern British SF, Newman is one of the few authors writing heavily character-focused stories that I truly enjoy. Her Planetfall saga is absolutely worth your time.
P: H. Beam Piper. A Golden Age author who has pretty much vanished from the public conscience, Piper’s gung-ho, violent stories are a precursor to the darker stories preferred today. Space Viking was one of the books that got me into SF, and it still holds up today.
R: Christopher Ruocchio. Hands down my favourite ongoing series, the Sun Eater series secures Ruocchio’s place on this list. If you enjoy big sweeping space opera, tragic epics, or magnificent writing, then this is the story for you.
S: Jamie Sawyer. Another military SF writer, Sawyer’s joined trilogies The Lazarus War and The Eternity War, portray a gripping potential advancement of drone technologies, as humans reincarnate in artificial bodies to run endless suicide missions.
T: Adrian Tchaikovsky. Well it had to be him, didn’t it? I don’t think there’s an author working today who can match Tchaikovsky for either the range of the depth of his output. If you’re looking for a place to start, I’d recommend Children of Time or Cage of Souls.
V: A.E. van Vogt. Without a doubt, the craziest writing I have ever experienced, there is no one who can hold a candle to van Vogt. When spaceships use bows and arrows to bomb planets, you know you’re onto something special. I’m still not convinced that Empire of the Atom is a good book, but it’s certainly a memorable one.
W: Drew Williams. Scrappy underdog crew, big explosions, and action full of heart. William’s space opera novels have everything you could ask for and more.
Z: Rob Ziegler. Though I haven’t read any of his solo works, the novella Ziegler wrote with Bradley P. Beaulieu (Burning Light) is a phenomenal example of short-length SF, and one of the highlights of Tor.com’s fiction line.