I grew up on Robert Heinlein and a few other writers.
Heinlein, to a kid with a developing interest in science and the stars was wonderful. His science was as accurate as was possible at the time his books were written. His characters wrestled with how much mass they could fit on a spaceship without wrecking the acceleration, they had to consider inertia, trajectories and all sorts of stuff that invovled real science and real math.
I trusted him. (Even at that age, I think I was aware that his stories with Martian canals were written at a time when Martian canals were believed to exist) He never let me down. I absorbed knowledge from his novels, and that was something I came to like.
I want novels both to entertain and inform.
(I remember in later years, being amazingly pleased by a couple of novels by Desmond Bagley that had really good geology and weather science in them)
And that is why I really HATE it when a novelist lies to me. To me, it is incumbent on a writer to get their facts correct. I hate it in fan writing, even more in pro writing.
I know fan writers who take enormous pains to get facts correct. They will do research on dates, living conditions, language, etc.
And there are some professional writers who don't.
A friend of mine commented a couple of days ago about a romace writer who had bobcats and lynx in Regency England and it reminded me of a romance I read recently in which the Regency heroine kept a tank of lobsters.
I've kept fish myself. I have no idea at all how a character living a long way from the sea (and thus unable to refill the tank with fresh sea water) would be able to keep the water clean (no electricty to power a filter pump). She can't refill with fresh water because keeping the salinity correct is a problem even for modern marine tanks. Also, how is she going to seal the tank? What waterproof sealants exist in the Regency period that aren't toxic to marine life?
For a tank large enough to keep lobsters, she's also going to need strong plate glass, not easy to come by in remote parts of Scotland. You'd probably have to have it made specially and then transported without breakages along poor quality roads in a waggon.
except, of course, you couldn't get plate glass back then... The processes to manufacture flat glass weren't around until the late 1840s and the early versions were very expensive. Regency windows were made of little square panes of glass, roughly 15cm across.
So, I won't read anything by that writer again.
It's not just annoyance with things that are wrong, it's about suspension of disbelief. If I catch a writer in an error or two, I stop believeing in the story. If I no longer believe in the background, how can I believe in the characters?
I like reading Georgette Heyer and Patrick O'Brien, though both can be hard work on occasion. Neither of them take any prisoners. If you aren't prepared to work with a dictionary in hand, you'll miss a lot of the nuances. (You can survive without, but it's more interesting with). Both use language that is often missing from the dictionary on my Kindle -it really is a horribly basic dictionary - but it manages around 50% of the terms that I look up in Heyer. I don't have O'Brien on Kindle, but luckily I do have A Sea of Words
which is an incredibly useful guide/dictionary to his naval books (far more useful than online dictionaries and Google).
I've read both on occasion without any reference works to hand and enjoyed them, but the enjoyment is enhanced for me if I look up terms like barouche
. I get a better mental picture of the world in whch the characters live and how they interact with it. I also learn some real history in the process.
Although I enjoy fantasy novels, they'll never be the staple of my reading. They can only teach you about their own internal world and that knowledge doesn't carry over.
Fantasy can be easier for some writers - the background is invented (though I can still be really annoyed by fantasy writers who break their own internal rules) and just as hard for others. I like fantasy writers who want their world to work as a complete organism, and that can actually require a fair bit of research. eg. The techniques for bulding a timber frame house will be exactly the same whether your world has dragons or not.
So, I'm a reserach junkie, and I like reading books by other research junkies - but they must still have strong characterisation and a good plot. (Actually, thinking about two recent books I've enjoyed, I can be happy with a fairly simple storyline if the rest is good.)