Since publishing her debut novel Ammonite in 1993, Nicola Griffith has won the Otherwise Award (formally the James Tiptree, Jr Award), the World Fantasy Award, the Nebula Award, the Washington State Book Award, and no less than six Lambda Literary Awards, as well as being shortlisted for the BSFA Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Locus Award. The Bending The Landscape anthologies she edited with Stephen Pagel were landmark works of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction. Griffith’s work spans genres, from near-future speculative fiction to historical fiction and fantasy, from noir-esque detective fiction to space opera. She’s even written the award-winning nonfiction memoir And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner Notes to a Writer’s Early Life (2017).
Griffith’s refusal to stay still is part of what makes her such a compelling writer, yet it can make it difficult to know which one of her books is the best place for a new reader to start.
If you’re interested in space opera, read Ammonite
“And these places you go, the people you find, do you come to care for them? Or do you only study them, like strange shells you might find on the beach?”
Griffith’s debut novel immediately established her as an important new voice in genre fiction, and it’s easy to see why. Ammonite is a key work of feminist SF, the missing link between Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion. The novel is an epic adventure set on an alien planet, with enough cool worldbuilding and biological speculation to appeal to any space opera fan. Ammonite tells the story of Marghe, a xenobiologist and linguist sent to study the planet of Jeep by the Company.Jonathon Thornton, where to begin reading the work of Nicola Griffith, tor.com
Note: her new novella, Spear, has just been published, and is available as an audio book read by Nicola herself.