Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Epic Quest Begins

I see it more and more, writers of epic speculative fiction having the devil of a time trying to find representation for their work. Few agents come out and say in their guidelines "Send me epic _______ fiction." The blogosphere is noisy with the YA-loving crowd and their parameters. It's hard to do research for epic speculative fiction because the people who work with it or write it aren't a dominate presence online (collectively.)

So I'm embarking on a quest to find out as much information as I can. I'll share my findings here on the blog and if you've done some research, please share also.

By epic, I'm referring to:
Huge, door-stopper books that are standalones; also series, sagas, and trilogies of epic proportions. These are books where there is a lot of story/plot, often with multiple POVs, and they take place in fantastic worlds or settings. See also this blogpost: Where are the massive epic science fiction series? Also you can pull up "epic" lists off of Goodreads or even Amazon (although take them with a grain of salt because the books listed are based off where readers categorize them.)

My first step was to comb online looking for authors of epic novels and to write them down on a spreadsheet. I came up over 200 names from my first gleaning alone and I'm sure I'll find a lot more. Finding so many authors cheered me up because it proves people will read long series and fat books. Some of the authors are dead, some are long-time veterans, but quite a few are new and thriving. There is a market for this kind of fiction.

I also noticed that epic authors tend to use initials; that there are a lot of Davids, Richards, and Kates; and that both male and female authors came up about even in body count on my list. Epic fantasy outnumbers epic science-fiction or epic paranormal. Epic YA speculative fiction gets a lot of the limelight these days but don't discount the adult crowd just yet.

Some websites that deal with epic speculative fiction:
Locus Magazine
Epic Fantasy Books Blog

What are your favorite epic books and your favorite epic-writing authors? Help me refine my list so I can move on to stage two: identifying publishers and agents (if applicable.) I hope to have a good-sized list of websites and blogs by epic authors next time for you.


  1. Favorites? Brandon Sanderson-Mistborn, Robert Jordan- WOT (passed away), Kristen Britain- Green Rider series, Kate Elliott, Jenifer Roberson. Orson Scott Card, Terry Brooks- Shannara, Terry Goodkind

    Notice none of them are new writers. It's killer out there for epic fantasy.

  2. Mine are old as well -- Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. Arthur C. Clarke. John Crowley's Little, Big (not a series, but a fantastic fantasy novel). Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series. Tad Williams' various series. (Others already mentioned by Michelle). -- LucidDreamer

  3. Hm...I think I'll need to weed down the list even more to veterans and newbies. It'd be interesting to do a comparison. Perhaps the problem is also that there are few agent/publisher newbies to go with the supply and demand.

  4. I don't know who wrote 'Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' but they are a newbie. On second thought, it might be YA epic.

  5. N.K. Jemisin. Looks like she has 5 books under her belt, plus quite a few anthology contributions. Probably on par with Sanderson. Goodreads doesn't file her under YA as much as epic fantasy.

  6. Maybe you can add me to the list. ;) I signed on the dotted line for my epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure. March 2013!

  7. Note to self: Add awesome Michelle to the epic author list.

  8. I've started reading the Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. It's good epic fantasy. Nice world building.