Jasper Fforde is an author who writes.... well, science fiction/fantasy. Kind of. He is very hard to categorize, and his books can be found in the general fiction, mystery, young adult, or SF/F sections of your local bookstore/library. He specializes in goofy, intelligent mysteries set in alternate universes. His website alternates between classifying his writings as being in the comedy/fantasy genre and the comedy-SF-thriller-crime-satire genre.
Jasper Fforde was born in London, England on January 11, 1961. He is the son of John Standish Fforde, the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England, and whose signature appeared on sterling banknotes. His early career was spent working a number of jobs behind the scenes in the movie industry, where he worked on a number of films including The Mask of Zorro, GoldenEye, and Entrapment. After receiving 76 rejection letters from various publishers, his first book topped the New York Times Bestseller list in 2001 -- within the first week of publication. He is currently living in Wales with his wife, two daughters, and a dog.
He is best known for his first book, The Eyre Affair, and the resulting ongoing series dealing with the adventures of Thursday Next, a detective who, originally, deals in the mundane world of literary crime -- forgeries, blackmarket book-dealing, overly-liberal interpretations of Shakespeare's plays, stuff like that. Throughout the series she is pulled into curiouser and curiouser situations, from time vortexes to vampire infestations to grey goo scenarios.
As of now, the series consists of seven books:
The Thursday Next series produced a spin-off in the third book, the Nursery Crime series. Well, I say a spin-off, but it's not set in the same world and it shares none of the same characters... But it was heavily referenced in The Well of Lost Plots. It is just what it sounds like; a detective who solves crimes involving nursery rhyme and fairytale characters. The books are well-plotted, engaging, and perhaps a bit darker than one would expect. It currently has two volumes:
My favorite book is Shades of Grey, a very odd story of a dystopian future where social order is determined by your level of color blindness and a totalitarian government suppresses the population though spoons and geese. You'll just have to read it. In theory, this too will someday be a series, although at this point book number two has been postponed a disturbing number of times.
- Shades of Grey, 2009
- Painting by Numbers, projected 2015
- Gordini Protocols, projected ???
And finally, a slightly less odd and exciting series, perhaps an attempt to break into the young adult market, the story of a young apprentice who takes on a clerk job at a firm of magical problem solvers, and finds that she does a lot more than the job description had called for.
Due in part to the difficulty of predicting the success of these sorts of books, and due in part to the difficulty of international publishing, some of these books are very hard to find in America, while others have flooded the bargain bin due to rather extreme over-production. The Thursday Next sequels are commonly found in overabundance, while The Song of the Quarkbeast is impossible to find. The Eyre Affair remains a popular seller, while the Nursery Crime books are comparatively unknown. Whether this sort of thing is happening in other countries, I cannot say.
Regardless, his books tend to be fun, chaotic, imaginative, intelligent, and well worth reading. I highly recommend that you go and read The Eyre Affair ASAP.