Skip To Content

    21 Of The Best British Sci-Fi Writers You've Probably Never Heard Of

    The World Science Fiction Convention touches down in London this week, bringing together fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror novels from all over the world.

    LonCon3 is the first time this fete of the fantastic has visited the UK since 2006 when the 63rd worldcon hit Glasgow.

    Here are the top 21 sci-fi and fantasy authors you should be reading this year.

    1. Joe Abercrombie

    Arild Vågen / Via

    The Lord of Grimdark is best known for adding a gritty, adult edge to the more traditional escapist fantasies of JRR Tolkien. In 2014 he branched out to young adult readers with Half A King, the first book in the Shattered Seas series.

    Must Read : The Heroes – grimdark fantasy at its finest as a futile battle is fought for an ancient monument. | @LordGrimdark

    2. Jaine Fenn

    James Cooke / Via

    A lifelong sci-fi fan and even president of her university SF society, Fenn began publishing her Hidden Empires series in 2008. In 2012 she expanded the series in a set of interlinked short stories titled Downside Girls.

    Must Read : Principles of Angels – the first book in the Hidden Empires series. | @JaineFenn

    3. Malorie Blackman

    Malorie Blackman / Via Twitter: @malorieblackman

    The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman employs a dystopian future to think about issues of race and racism. It made Blackman with of the UKs most respected authors in any genre. She is the current Waterstones Children's Laureate 2013-2015.

    Must Read : Noble Conflict – in a far future ravaged by conflict one young man must learn the truth about the rebels set on destroying his world. | @malorieblackman

    4. Nicola Griffith

    Jennifer Durham

    Early novels Ammonite and Slow River won Griffith the James Tiptree Jnr and Nebula awards, but since then her work has branched away from the traditions of science fiction. Her 2007 memoir And Now We Are Going to Have a Party describes many of the early life experiences that shaped her writing.

    Must Read : HILD – historical novel on the life of 7th century Britain’s most powerful woman. | @nicolaz

    5. Matt Haig

    Clive Doyle / Via

    Young adult novelist Matt Haig has built an outstanding reputation for intimate and slightly strange stories that say smart things about life like The Radleys and The Dead Father’s Club. His funny, irreverent, heartfelt blog and Twitter presence have also earned him a devoted and growing following online.

    Must Read : The Humans – an alien sent to Earth on a terrible mission slowly comes to realise the intricate value of human life. | @matthaig1

    6. Frances Hardinge

    Frances Hardinge / Via

    A charming and slightly absurd sense of humour characterises Frances Hardinge’s fantastic stories for children. Her debut novel Fly By Night was published in 2006, and was soon followed by a string of award winning tales. She is easily recognised by her tradmark black hat.

    Must Read : A Face Like Glass – a tale of deception, cheese-making, betrayal and strategic amnesia. | @FrancesHardinge

    7. Nick Harkaway

    Tom Coates / Via

    His debut novel The Gone Away World established Nick Harkaway as a unique voice in literary sci-fi. His stories blend the affecting humour of Douglas Adams with an edge of literary ambition unusual in the genre.

    Must Read: Tiger Man – big cat super-heroics with a twist located on the fictional island state of Mancreu. | @Harkaway

    8. Joanne Harris

    Gibraltar International Literary Festival 2013 / Via

    Best known for the bestselling Chocolat, Joanne Harris recently claimed that her writing had always been fantasy, she was just waiting for critics to notice. In recent years her stories have become overtly fantastical, and been widely embraced by fans of sci-fi and fantasy.

    Must Read : The Gospel of Loki - a twisted retelling of the ancient Norse myth. | @joannechocolat

    9. M John Harrison

    M John Harrison / Via

    The science fiction writer’s science fiction writer, M John Harrison’s masterful sci-fi, fantasy and horror fiction has influenced every major UK genre writer in the last three generations while remaining genre fiction's best kept secret.

    Must Read : Light – far future space opera intersects contemporary serial killer noir. | @mjohnharrison

    10. Simon Ings

    Simon Ings / Via

    Renowned editor and critic Simon Ings returned to science fiction with his latest novel Wolves, a blistering meditation on grief, mortality and the technology of augmented reality. Science fiction is sometimes criticised for caring more about gadgets than people, Simon Ings is one of the writers changing that.

    Must Read : Dead Water - high seas piracy meets cutting edge scientific speculation. | @SimonIngs

    11. Laura Lam

    Laura Lam / Via

    The child of Haight-Ashbury hippies, Laura Lam’s writing reflects the liberal values of the counter culture. Her debut novel Pantomime takes readers in to a fantasy world of circus acrobats and forbidden love. It has proven to be a winning combination, with Lam recently signing a six-figure, two-book deal with Pan Macmillan for her next novel False Hearts.

    Must Read : Pantomime – visit R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, the greatest circus of Ellada. | @LR_Lam

    12. China Mieville

    Ceridwen / Via

    Perdido Street Station published in 2000 made China Mieville a cult figure among sci-fi readers. Mieville’s novels are everything traditional fantasy is not; brilliantly written, radically political and subversively intelligent. His novels have systematically “reformed” the genre of sci-fi in the image Mieville’s uniquely weird imagination.

    Must Read: The City and The City – two cities inhabit the same physical space, but somehow never meet.

    13. David Mitchell

    Paul Stuart / Via Twitter: @david_mitchell

    With multiple Booker prize nominations under his belt, Mitchell is one of the literary world’s most admired writers, but his fiction has always had an edge of sci-fi strangeness to it. His upcoming novel The Bone Clocks, featuring psychic warfare and immortal wizards, may be his most sci-fi novel to date.

    Must Read : Ghostwritten – nine lives intersect in time and space in Mitchell’s remarkable debut novel. | @David_Mitchell

    14. Sarah Pinborough

    Sarah Pinborough / Via

    In a relatively short career, Sarah Pinborough has already proved to be a prolific storyteller of horror, young adult fantasy and fairy tales. As a self-described “bloke in a nice wrapper” she has a winning online personality that has helped engage a wide readership with her books.

    Must Read : The Language of Dying – a unique novella that enters the emotional and dark territory of death and grief. | @SarahPinborough

    15. Adam Roberts

    Okki / Via

    Despite his unfortunate addiction to making terrible puns on Twitter, Adam Roberts is widely considered to be the most intelligent sci-fi writer alive today. And as a professor of 19th century literature, his critical writings on sci-fi are as influential as his novels.

    Must Read : Yellow Blue Tibia – cold war science fiction in the gritty atmosphere of the Soviet Union. | @arrroberts

    16. Justina Robson

    Catriona Sparks / Via

    Early novels Silver Screen, Mappa Mundi and Natural History established Robson as a startling and original voice in Hard SF. The recently completed Quatum Space quintet spliced cyberpunk technology with the elves and magic of fantasy and fairy tale.

    Must Read : Living Next Door to the God of Love – worth it for the title alone! | @JustinaRobson

    17. Liesel Schwarz

    Liesel Schwarz / Via

    Widely proclaimed as The High Priestess of British Steampunk, Liesel Schwarz has rocketed to fame as the UK's best known author in this popular sub-genre of sci-fi. Her steampunk series The Chronicles of Light and Shadow headed the launch of Random House new sci-fi imprint in 2013.

    Must Read : A Conspiracy of Alchemists – steampunk adventure starring dirigible pilot Eleanor Chance. | @Liesel_S

    18. Samantha Shannon

    Bloomsbury Publishing / Via

    News that Samantha Shannon’s seven book young adult fantasy series had sold to Bloomsbury (publisher of JK Rowling) for a six-figure deal made the author well known long before her debut was published. The Bone Season launched in 2014 to outstanding reviews.

    Must Read : The Bone Season – set in 2059 in a London governed by secretive forces of Scion. | @say_shannon

    19. James Smythe

    James Smythe / Via

    A run of brilliant, high concept sci-fi novels have established James Smythe as one of the most interesting voices in the genre since J G Ballard. Science fiction is often at its best when kept short, and Smythe's novels are quick but pleasingly complex reads.

    Must Read : The Machine – shades of Orwell and Mary Shelley in the tale of a machine that takes alters memories. | @jpsmythe

    20. Charlie Stross

    Xanathon / Via

    When it comes to hard science in fictional form, Charlie Stross is the unargued leader. Stross specialises in razor sharp near future predication, often so near that by the time his books are published, many of them have come true. His insightful blogs on technology and publishing make him one of the most read writers online.

    Must Read : Accelerando - nine interlinked short stories that create a terrifying picture of near future life. / @cstross

    21. Jo Walton

    Jo Walton / Via

    The Hugo and Nebula award winning Among Others was a breakthrough for Jo Walton, bringing her unique voice to an audience beyond sci-fi and fantasy fandom. She is also a popular reviewer and critic of the genre, writing a regular column for

    Must Read : Tooth and Claw – a Victorian family drama, but starring dragons in place of people. | @BluejoWalton