(Or "550 words on my favorite books.")
Be careful what you ask for, April. Because here some of my favorite authors in the Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction arena. (Anyone else out there have recommendations?)
Post Apocalypse Style
A perfect example is Margaret Atwood. I recently read "Oryx & Crake." Yes, another post disease-apocalypse novel, but done in a way only Margaret Atwood can do it.
MK Jemisin's "Fifth Season" could be said to be a post apocalyptic novel, too, but it could also be called 'dystopian future,' or even 'fantasy/' In fact, it's all those things. Either way, I highly recommend this award winning novel.
I also like "Station Eleven" (Emely St. John Mandel) about survival in groups, post disease-apocalypse. Will they survive? Are they sane? Another good read is "The Lightest Object in the Universe," by Kimi Eisele. A post disease-apocalypse cross-country ordeal.
"Applied" SF style
If you like to put 'science' into your sci-fi, then Liu Cixin's "Three Body Problem" is for you. Today's hard SF is more often ASF or 'applied science fiction' that address the physics and engineering challenges of SF. I like hard science, but can't do the math. Three Body Problem helped feed the need yet didn't make me feel too much like a dunce. Also consider J.S.A. Cory's "Expanse" series (see Space Opera, below.)
Magical Realism style
Prefer light Magical Realism? Try "All the Birds in the Sky," by Charlie Jane Anders. Please. You won't regret it. Prefer YASF? Then I very much recommend "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer, the sci-fi re imagining of Cinderella. How about undead in a time of steampunk? Then "Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest should be on your list. Like magic in a time of Steampunk? China Miéville's "Perdido Street Station," then.
Science Fiction Fantasy
This one's easy for me: Brian Sanderson. I prefer "Mistborn" and "Elantris." On the other side of the spectrum, "Cerce," by Madiline Miller. Both are outstanding examples of the genre, each created by very different writes. (P.S. If you love world-building, go with Sanderson.)
If you're into gritty space opera, then James S.A. Cory's "Expanse" series is for you. Their scrappy spaceship crew stays true to the challenges of applied science without loosing a storytelling beat. (Now an award winning television series I haven't seen.) If you want to explore more sociological aspects of the 'scrappy space ship crew' theme, then Becky Chamber's "A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet" is a good way to go.
Finally, here are two, utterly brilliant titles/authors you must read. Both titles are space-opera takes on one person discovering a little "self" in an imperial galaxy. (Sorry, no dogfights in spaceships.) First is Ann Leckie's "Ancillary Justice." The second is Arkaday Martain's "A Memory Called Empire." Don't miss the change to spend time with these two books (IMHO).
My most-honorable mention goes to C.J. Cherryh. The influence of her Company Wars milieu is recognizable in everyone from Ann Leckie, to J.S.A. Cory. Her space opera, Downbelow Station set the standard for modern applied sci-fi. A rare woman writer in the genre during the 1980's. I recommend: "Downbelow Station," "Rimrunners," and "Heavy Time." (And "Pride of Chanur" in her Chanur series.)
I regret nothing! Great list. Thanks for sharing.