At the moment I have just started is A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book on the series A Song Of Ice And fire by George RR Martin. Some of you may be familiar with it as the Sky Atlantic show Game Of Thrones.
The best description I have heard for the series of books is "Fantasy for people who dont like fantasy." Which in a lot of ways is exactly what it is. Lots of swords, lors of violence and war, politics and intrigue, oodles of sex and characters that you will love and hate. Some you will hate intitially and grow to actually rather like.
Another book I would highly recommend is Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. It is an astonishingly good book. A complex mixture of fantasy, horror, science fiction and steampunk. The first in a series of three novels it introduces the world of Bas Lag and its principle city state of New Crobuzon, which is run by a bordeline dictatorship.
The story is a complex weave of insurrectionists, the government, criminals and a threat to the city that no-one understands. With a rather nifty sub-plot of a scientist trying to help a bird-man with no wings.
If you like rip roaring adventure... Mr Martin''s tome is for you. If you like deep thought provoking genre breaking stuff, then Mr Mieville is the best.
You''ll like book 5. Book 4 was dull and had all the characters that no one really cares about. Dance with Dragons is good though. Ends on a horrible cliffhanger and the next book won''t be out for years.
George R. R. Martin''s motto: ''every time someone asks how long till the next book I kill a Stark''
I started to read the Hardback of Dance With Dragons but the damned thing is just so heavy. I will get around to it again though, because it is an incredible story.
I actually enjoyed book 4. But that is just me I suppose.
I am really looking forward to the Sci-fi Weekender in Wales next year too. Richard Madden (Robb Stark) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) are going to be there as guests. I am still hoping for Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) though. He is just awesome in the show.
I love scifi/fantasy. James Clemens has written a great series of ''Witch''
books - 5 in total and Robert Rankin has written a vast array of funny scifi/fantasy. I''m always on the lookout for good recommendations - so if anyone has any, please let me know. A few other authors I''ve read are Terry Pratchett, Peter Brett, Tolkien, Katherine Kerr being the most popular.
I am actually a huge Robert Rankin fan, and for reasons unlikely to become clear any time soon, am a good friend of his too. I even have his home number stored in my mobile phone (yes... seriously).
He is a great writer when on top form, and always funny even when he isnt.
If you like weird fantasy, then China Mieville is the man. Boy can that guy write!
For short stories, you cannot go wrong with Harlan Ellison. He is a legend and still writing, though his health isnt too great. But he does have a massive back catalogue of works.
Neil Gaiman is well worth checking out. American Gods and Anansi Boys are great novels. And his short stories are wonderful too.
Iain M Banks and Charles Stross are great for "hard sci-fi" or space opera. Though Stross does a series of books
called "The Laundry" books
, which are kind of Occult/HP Lovecraft/Spy novels. The Atrocity Archive being the first.
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.... Very British fantasy, quite dark and satirical, but a beautiful read.