Doris Egan - the Gates of Ivory trilogy.
It's sooo much fun. Female protagonist, no cliches, no stereotypes, just a real 3D honest to goodness person. No chainmail, no swords, some sorcery, no wenches, no rape threats, no women knowing thier palce, just a person like you or me, ona rela world.
Just delicious. Thoughtful, textured provocative writings for young adults without patronising them. Older adults will get just as much from them, because they are not dumbed down.
A glorious sci fi writer from the 50s. Particular favourites are Day of the Triffids, Trouble with Lichen, Web and The Chrysalids along with any of his short stories. I'm not so keen on The Midwich Cuckoos but I hear lots of people do like it. He was quite a progressive writer and had many women scientists in his books, in actual high level positions.
Ursula Le Guin
Fluid, graceful, diverse and intelligent. Try reading the Earthsea books, The Lathe of Heaven or The Birthday of the World and Other Stories. She is rather brilliant, and I mean that in the old fashioned sense of the word.
Fantastic satire. The Discworld books are the best and what he has devoted his life to writing, but Nation is also pretty good. I don't care for the Truckers books. if you decide to start reading the Discworld you will get more out of it reading them in order, but then again the first book, The Colour of Magic is rather dire. Start with The Light Fantastic instead. Or try Thief of Time.
He satirises detectvie novels, fairy tales, wizadry, jingoism, death, religion, Shakespeare, the cinema and Christmas amongst many many other things.
George R R Martin
Favourite. author. ever. A Song of Ice and Fire is the current series in progress and I cannot stress how good this is. Many many different characters, all are 3 dimensional including the children, political intrigue, assasination, marching armies, direwolves dragons. You will find something you like. In another aurthor's hands this story could be run of the mill and base. In Martin's it's not. If you don't fancy the fat books that comprise this series try picking up Dreamsongs Volume 1, it's a collection of his short stories. Then read With Morning Comes Mistfall, The Ice Dragon and The Monkey Treatment and come back and tell me you haven't fallen in love with his work.
I've read her Shiver Barrens tirlogy and blow me down with a feather, but she's written a fantasy series with people of colour as the focus. The stories are fun and easily readable, not great literature but a pretty good way to pass the time.