I mentioned on Twitter when I was reading Ancillary Sword recently (SO GOOD) that Leckie makes me want to read and write all the character-driven SF. To be honest, “hard” SF bores me, and I am generally a very character-oriented reader. So I thought I would at least list a few of my favorites. If you have recommendations, please feel free to chime in!
Since I’ve already mentioned her, Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary books obviously belong here. She’s so good at writing a story that’s both intensely personal and all about implications for the wider world and I looove it.
Leckie has a couple of clear influences (and if anyone lists her influences and leaves these two off, I give them a SEVERE side-eye): Lois McMaster Bujold, especially the Vorkosigan saga and perhaps even more so, C.J.Cherryh‘s Foreigner books.
Also: Doris Egan‘s Gate of Ivory, which I believe I first heard about on Jo Walton’s Tor.com blog, are not nearly as well known as they should be. These are just barely SF as opposed to fantasy, but they’re also fantastic.
Connie Willis‘s Oxford books go in a very different direction (time-travel) but they are amazing and heart-breaking precisely because they are intensely concerned with characters, both past and future. Also, Promised Land, which she wrote with Cynthia DeFelice, and is one of my favorite comfort reads.
The Touchstone Trilogy, by Andrea K. Host, is definitely character-centered, as is And All the Stars. Touchstone, arguably, is science-fantasy rather than science fiction, but I’m putting it here anyway because I can.
R.J. Anderson‘s Quicksilver/Ultraviolet duology, rare and wonderful YA SF, are also thoughtful explorations of identity and family and growing-up.
(Authors I have deliberately not included in this post: John Scalzi, and Orson Scott Card. Both look like they’re character-driven, perhaps, but are actually primarily concerned with quite different things, in my reading.)
Okay, so what else am I missing?