Five Faves From Sci Fi / Fantasy Author Tanith Lee (1947 – 2015)


The world of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers lost a legend on May 24 when Tanith Lee passed away at age 67. The first woman to win the British Fantasy Award for best novel for 1980’s Death’s Master, she also wrote more than 90 novels and 300 short stories. The first book of hers I read was the science fiction vampire novel Sabella, or The Blood Stone. I was immediately hooked. The more books I read, the more I fell in love with her writing. Lee’s skill at world building and character development is impeccable.

When someone is this prolific, it can feel like an overwhelming task deciding how to catch up and where to begin. Here are five of my favorite Tanith Lee books.

Biting The Sun (1999)
Originally published as two books in 1976 and 1977 – Don’t Bite The Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine – this two-part tale of a futuristic, hedonistic world dominated by teenagers (known as “Jang”) is both dazzling and disturbing.

Electric Forest (1979)
This novella is shorter than many of Lee’s other novels, but the journey that Magdala Cled takes throughout its 160 pages is riveting. Imagine if Vanilla Sky were set in an alternate universe and the main character was a woman.

The Birthgrave (1975)
The first part of a trilogy, this uniquely compelling novel focuses on the journey of an unnamed, amnesiac woman who awakens inside a volcano and must travel throughout an ancient world to discover the key to her identity as well as her place in the universe.

A Heroine Of The World (1989)
Much like The Birthgrave, this book involves a journey across the world as well as one towards self-discovery, yet it is less fantastical and in some ways, more engaging. Aradia’s story is the definition of epic and would make a marvelous miniseries (ahem, attention cable networks).

The Silver Metal Lover (1981)
A skillful blend of science fiction and doomed romance (spoiler alert!), The Silver Metal Lover is absolutely heart wrenching. Teenaged Jane falls in love with S.I.L.V.E.R., a kind of pleasure robot for rich people, in a book that feels like a spiritual sister of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

Although finding copies of Tanith Lee’s books may be a challenge, it is a challenge well-worth accepting. Happy hunting and happy reading!

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