Mark Shea wrote a brief note at Catholic Exchange about the philosophical outlook of science fiction and fantasy works that mentions three of my favorite authors, Tim Powers, Michael Flynn, and John C. Wright.
I think I have a fondness for authors who are historically grounded, because it makes their works so much richer. For example, Michael Flynn's Eifelheim is set in a small European village just before the Black Death. You could probably learn a lot just by reading the book. Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark is set in Vienna in 1529 before and during the Turkish seige of the city. I make use of books like this to provide anchor points by which I can mentally situate people and events. Powers' book is how I keep the Battle of Vienna in 1683 and the Siege of Vienna in 1529 separate. This then gives the temporal and strategical framework to know the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was all part of the attempt by the Ottoman Empire to extend their dominion over Europe. All that out of a book about magical beer.
h/t John C. Wright