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mugaliens
2008-May-26, 07:09 AM
The title says it all.

My vote: Heinlein.

No other author has penetrated the human psyche so carefully, deeply, and cleanly.

And he's pretty dang good at the SF stuff, too!

Acolyte
2008-May-26, 07:26 AM
Larry Niven - unique situations using hard science in excellent stories with good strong characters. Niven writes some unputdownable stuff. Also invented the Future History genre with his Known Space schema. Who doesn't want a General Products hull for their spaceship? Or a Kzinti buddy? Ringworld, the Smoke Ring.

Mind you Greg Bear has to be a very close second. Eon was mind boggling & when Eternity came out I almost didn't buy it because I couldn't believe there could possibly be anywhere to go with it. Very very very glad I did buy it.

I would've voted Heinlein some time ago but the ongoing recurrence of Lazarus Long turned me off.

Arthur C. Clarke was good but like Asimov, his storytelling wasn't as good as it might have been. Bit of a dry read in spite of the excellent ideas involved.

jokergirl
2008-May-26, 07:29 AM
I love AC Clarke for the sheer sense of wonder he inspires, but yes, his storytelling could have been better. And sometimes I get this feeling that despite writing about it, he himself was a little scared of change and the future.
But he still inspires wonder like no other SF author.

My personal favourite book is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, but that's for the literature, not the SF, so I'm not sure if it should feature here.

;)

Kaptain K
2008-May-26, 02:55 PM
Heinlein - Hands down #1, for sheer breadth and depth!

Niven - Good hard science, great characters. Didn't invent "future history" but certainly defined how it should be done.

Asimov - Very prolific (so much so that some critics thought that "Asimov" was an umbrella name for a group of writers!) If he had written nothing but the Foundation books, he would still rank very high on many lists.

E.E. (Doc) Smith - Sub-genre "Space Opera". Some consider his work "juvenile" but it is fast paced and occasionally deeper than expected. Clearly defined characters. The "good guys" were good and the "bad guys" were evil.

Clarke - Would have ranked higher, but the Rama series just seemed to drag on and on and on to what was (to me) a very unsatisfactory conclusion (God did it. Come on!)

HenrikOlsen
2008-May-26, 05:21 PM
There was the Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov triumvirate, with strong imagination but very unimaginative language and then, in '62, while they lay dreaming stars Zelazny came as an avalanche of words and revolutionized the use of language in science fiction.
People who only read his Amber books have missed a treat.

mike alexander
2008-May-26, 05:40 PM
Zelazny, especially his early work and the Shakespearean/Twainian interplay of profound and the ordinary.

Lafferty, grounding the magical in the everyday.

Bradbury, for the words, the words.

Sturgeon, examining human emotion in some eldritch forms.

Kornbluth, who at his best looked at the nasty underside of the future.

Wells, for opening the mine in the first place.

Ellison, for grabbing the reader and sticking her nose in it.

Bester, for his imaginative fireworks.

Heinlein, especially early, for the tightness of his storytelling.


Growing up there was a massive lack of nonAmerican authors available to me, so I missed out on most of those.

Argos
2008-May-26, 06:20 PM
Asimov used to be the best for me as a teen. But as I grew old, I realized how conservative he was, and how dystopic were his worlds.

Clarke now occupies his place, with Heinlein trailing behind.

KaiYeves
2008-May-26, 06:57 PM
I love that quote from Clarke that roughly goes "There are two things that will really change your life- finding burried treasure and having a spaceship land in your yard."

Zachary
2008-May-26, 07:06 PM
One of my personal favorites is Alastair Reynolds. His day job is as a particle physicist so his writings are extremely plausible as well as being incredibly innovative, and he's a great writer!

Paul Beardsley
2008-May-26, 07:53 PM
Arthur C. Clarke was the author of my youth - I was emotionally affected by his death this year. Criticisms of his storytelling are no doubt valid, but what he did was dramatise the ideas, and he did it when that was what I needed.

Warren Platts
2008-May-26, 09:57 PM
William Gibson: he coined the term "cyberspace". Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov and the others are what the old guys that post here read when they were young. (And I include myself in that group.) Gibson, on the other hand, is with the times--our times. I like the trend lately in his books, the way he turns ordinary fiction into science fiction. There is no other science fiction author that captures the essence of our times than the way Gibson does.

Romanus
2008-May-27, 11:49 AM
Robert Silverberg; his social SF approach and (often) deeply conflicted characters has tremendously influenced my own writing. I just love the psychology and sensitivity of his best work.

eburacum45
2008-May-27, 12:08 PM
I must put in a word for Iain M Banks. His Culture books are vast and inspirational, and he is, unusually, a celebrity author in two other fields as well. Literary pundits hold his non-SF fiction in some regard, and I find that whiskey buffs often have his book Raw Spirit to hand. And I was very impressed when he won Mastermind on TV on the same night his team won University Challenge.

ngc3314
2008-May-27, 12:32 PM
Even though Lewis and Clarke have been my favorite authors at different times of life, let me stick up at this point for Poul Anderson. Sheer poetry, provocatively imagined cultures, historically informed fantasy... and having once read it, who could ever forget his essay "Uncleftish Beholding"?

Among young authors, I watch for anything by Stephen Baxter lately and (thanks to some BAUTers) Alistair Reynolds (no doubt utterly independent of the facts that he was originally trained in astrophysics and that I used to live near Leiden as well...). Come to think of it, I just nabbed another two of his books yesterday; they're expansive enough that these may last me for leisure reading well through the summer.

jokergirl
2008-May-27, 12:45 PM
William Gibson: he coined the term "cyberspace". Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov and the others are what the old guys that post here read when they were young. (And I include myself in that group.) Gibson, on the other hand, is with the times--our times. I like the trend lately in his books, the way he turns ordinary fiction into science fiction. There is no other science fiction author that captures the essence of our times than the way Gibson does.

The more I read Idoru the less I see it as Sci-fi.

His latest books were playing in our time, though you can read them as sci-fi almost without noticing it :)

;)

tdvance
2008-May-28, 06:12 PM
My favorites have already been mentioned--Heinlein, Niven, Clarke, Asimov. I always liked those super-human characters of Heinlein. Clarke seemed really good at vividly describing complex scenes to fill my imagination with detailed images. Asimov's stories were just plain fun. Niven brought me new worlds I'd have not thought could exist before (maybe they still can't, but he made them plausible).

hhEb09'1
2008-May-28, 07:01 PM
Although they're not at the top of my list, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Orson Scott Card nor David Brin.

Acolyte
2008-May-28, 08:35 PM
Although they're not at the top of my list, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Orson Scott Card nor David Brin.The Uplift Wars series was a rivetting read. Ender's Game series is also a standout.

*grins* This is a silly thread - there are too many good authors.

Jigsaw
2008-May-29, 02:45 AM
When I was in junior high, Ray Bradbury singlehandedly ushered me into a world that wasn't Nancy Drew, Perry Mason, or Walter Farley's Black Stallion stories, and for that I will always be grateful.

ToSeek
2008-May-29, 03:00 AM
Moved from OTB to Small Media, with a redirect.

HAVOC451
2008-May-29, 06:17 AM
Alistair Reynolds - I liked "Pushing Ice" but I couldn't get into "Revelation Space."
I have lots of time to read while I wait for Mrs Havoc's doctor appointments. David Weber has been fun to read. I enjoyed the Harington series.

KLIK
2008-May-29, 12:45 PM
AE Van Vogt - 'War against the Rull' and 'Voyage of the Space Beagle'

I don't think I've read anything written more recently than the '70s though (except Discworld ;-) )

hhEb09'1
2008-May-29, 03:15 PM
(except Discworld ;-) )and, this is the first mention of Terry Pratchett?

Disinfo Agent
2008-May-29, 05:08 PM
E.E. (Doc) Smith - Sub-genre "Space Opera". Some consider his work "juvenile" but it is fast paced and occasionally deeper than expected. Clearly defined characters. The "good guys" were good and the "bad guys" were evil.I would rephrase that to "the bad guys were bad, and the good guys were badder". :D


William Gibson: he coined the term "cyberspace". Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov and the others are what the old guys that post here read when they were young. (And I include myself in that group.) Gibson, on the other hand, is with the times--our times. I like the trend lately in his books, the way he turns ordinary fiction into science fiction. There is no other science fiction author that captures the essence of our times than the way Gibson does.Cyberpunk is so 80s! <shudder> :p

dodecahedron
2008-May-30, 03:01 AM
Alistair Reynolds - I liked "Pushing Ice" but I couldn't get into "Revelation Space."

Completely opposite for me. Pushing Ice was an okay story but really slow and plodding and since I really enjoy Mr. Reynold's work I am generous and argue the pacing was meant to convey the countless aeons which passed during their long passage.

Revelation Space was made out of awesome. Not as awesome as Chasm City but awesome nonetheless. Redemption Ark was good but Absolution Gap was more of a grand finally than a grand finale.

Century Rain was really refreshing and surprised me. Initial reviews commented that it had some time travel kind of stuff in it which disappointed me sight-unseen considering the awful mishandling of time travel as a plot device. I'm looking at you, Star Trek. Once I got around to reading Century Rain I was shamed by my unfounded prejudice. Also I can not recommend enough his short story Signal to Noise. Century Rain and Signal to Noise underscore the fact that Mr. Reynolds has the capacity to transcend genre fiction but chooses to stay within its bounds. Hopefully some of his work will broaden the audience from the woefully stereotypical basement dwelling nerds associated with SF.

Iain Banks is really fun to read. Consider Phlebas exceeded my expectations and precipitated my ordering of every other novel unreleased in the USA from overseas. Mr. Banks's work stands in stark contrast with conventional science fiction authors because what he writes is optimistic rather than a pastiche of a dystopian post-9/11 paradigm and I'm looking directly at you Spider Robinson with your awful, awful Variable Star. Less than seventy pages into the novel and I was rolling my eyes at the fact that the tale was horribly dated referencing the WTC and Googling three centuries into the future.

Allen Steele's Coyote series is an absolute delight and in a way it stirs my fatigued and beleaguered patriotism by invoking the 1776 War of Colonial Aggression.

Heinlein's works are so earnest but IMHO they haven't aged that well but the ideas posited are timeless. It's disappointing that his later novels, maybe excluding Job, were more self-parody and indulgence than anything else. Niven had a few neat ideas but they were formulaic and, without Pournelle, Niven's work is just sequels or just variations on a previous theme. Still Mr. Niven must be regarded for his contributions to SF considering the breadth of his "Known Space" histories.

William Gibson and Neal Stephenson aren't my cup of tea. The former reads like proto-BoingBoing while the latter just keeps writing and writing and writing that it becomes tedious to read his work. Baroque cycle be damned! I got 1/3 of the way through Cryptonomicon, did not see the fuss and now it gathers dust on my shelf. Be of light heart in the knowledge that I made sure its position is high enough that it will not be assailed by pernicious silverfish.

Finally Philip K. Dick is king of all science fiction authors. Even his bad stuff is awesome. Bonus points for being touched in the head and not being ashamed of that fact.

Exordium
2008-Jun-17, 07:00 PM
Neil Stephenson
I escpecially enjoyed Snow Crash. "Franchise-Organized Quasi-National Entities" and "Hiro watches the large, radioactive, spear-throwing killer drug lord ride his motorcycle into Chinatown."
His style takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth it.
EDIT: should be noted that I actually listened to this book in audioformat before i read it, and the reader did a hell of a job.

And of course others that some have mentioned.

Alastair Reynolds
Iain M Banks
Stephen Baxter
William Gibson
Arthur C Clarke
Issac Asimov

Doodler
2008-Jun-17, 09:25 PM
Frank Herbert

jokergirl
2008-Jun-18, 12:20 PM
...The former reads like proto-BoingBoing...

And where do you think BoingBoing got their style from?

;)

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-20, 01:59 PM
Well for me its a bit harder to define "best". I prefer going by individual books - not authors. For me a defining book was Ringworld. I read it in 8th grade and it utterly changed my perception of books in general. Up to that point i honestly had not done much leisure reading. And lets face it... assigned books are pretty much junk.
So first favorite book is Ringworld. And thus I started reading more Niven. I still like the Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring. There have been a few that I disliked strongly, though. But really most of his books are definitive. (Mote in God's Eye is really amazing as well)
Next would have to be Ender's Game. However that is the only book by Card that is worth anything. I think the rest - even sequels to Ender - are borderline inept.
Clarke is good but bland.
I've read one translation of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin that blew me away. Especially for when it was written its amazing but even not taking the era into account... great book.

Daffy
2008-Jun-20, 02:34 PM
Used to be Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke...and they are still incredible.

But these days, I read everything from Jack McDevitt I can get my hands on.

Chuck
2008-Jun-20, 03:34 PM
I've enjoyed the works of most of the old greats over the years but Robert J Sawyer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._Sawyer) is my current favorite.

Daffy
2008-Jun-20, 06:01 PM
Well for me its a bit harder to define "best". I prefer going by individual books - not authors. For me a defining book was Ringworld. I read it in 8th grade and it utterly changed my perception of books in general. Up to that point i honestly had not done much leisure reading. And lets face it... assigned books are pretty much junk.
So first favorite book is Ringworld. And thus I started reading more Niven. I still like the Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring. There have been a few that I disliked strongly, though. But really most of his books are definitive. (Mote in God's Eye is really amazing as well)
Next would have to be Ender's Game. However that is the only book by Card that is worth anything. I think the rest - even sequels to Ender - are borderline inept.
Clarke is good but bland.
I've read one translation of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin that blew me away. Especially for when it was written its amazing but even not taking the era into account... great book.

I loved all of the Ender books...until he started telling the same story from different perspectives. I like the first 2 Ringworld books..although my favorite Niven is The Legacy of Heorot. Talk about a scary alien species!!!!!!!!!!!

Nick Theodorakis
2008-Jun-20, 06:45 PM
Am I the only one here who likes John Varley?

Nick

Daffy
2008-Jun-20, 09:44 PM
Am I the only one here who likes John Varley?

Nick

I like him a lot...although for me the Titan books kinda went over the top by the end. Still good reads, though.

hhEb09'1
2009-Nov-29, 11:01 PM
I've enjoyed the works of most of the old greats over the years but Robert J Sawyer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._Sawyer) is my current favorite.The BA's blog today (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/11/29/cern-flash-forward-and-robert-sawyer/)mentions Sawyer, and I found a list of the seventeen authors who have won best novel Hugo and Nebula:

Isaac Asimov
David Brin
Lois McMaster Bujold
Orson Scott Card
Michael Chabon
Arthur C. Clarke
Neil Gaiman
William Gibson
Joe Haldeman
Frank Herbert
Ursula K. Le Guin
Vonda N. McIntyre
Larry Niven
Frederik Pohl
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robert J. Sawyer
Connie Willis

Besides Sawyer, which other ones have done it without ever winning both prizes for the same novel?

danscope
2009-Nov-29, 11:34 PM
The title says it all.

My vote: Heinlein.

No other author has penetrated the human psyche so carefully, deeply, and cleanly.

And he's pretty dang good at the SF stuff, too!
******************.............
Hi, We don't call The great Robert Heinlein "The Dean of Science Fiction"
for nothing! He has a desciptive talent, like Ian Fleming, to put you right there in the situation. And his anticapatory talent for technology in the future
is on a par with H.G.Wells and Jules Verne. But his development of characters
and his handle on future situations rivals his gift for science fiction itself.
There are so many great science fiction writers.... and then...
there is Robert Heinlein. If you would write great science fiction,
learn from this giant of science fiction. You shall do well.

Best regards,
Dan

swampyankee
2009-Nov-30, 03:16 AM
Were I to be asked for today's best, I'd probably vote for Dan Simmons or Iain [M] Banks. Were I to be asked for the best sf author to date, I'd have to spend some time reading a lot of books I haven't opened for decades, but would probably end up voting for William Silverberg or James Blish.

To some extent, I think the books Heinlein wrote for the young-adult market were among his best. I've read just about all of his books, and his later books, imho, do not stand up as well as the books he wrote before Stranger in a Strange Land, which many (but not necessarily me) think was his best book.

Ilya
2009-Nov-30, 03:31 AM
******************.............
Hi, We don't call The great Robert Heinlein "The Dean of Science Fiction"
for nothing! He has a desciptive talent, like Ian Fleming, to put you right there in the situation. And his anticapatory talent for technology in the future
is on a par with H.G.Wells and Jules Verne. But his development of characters
and his handle on future situations rivals his gift for science fiction itself.
There are so many great science fiction writers.... and then...
there is Robert Heinlein. If you would write great science fiction,
learn from this giant of science fiction. You shall do well.
I may be the only one here who does not like Heinlein. I used to, in my teens and early twenties... until I realized that humans do not act that way! And that turned me off both Heinlein and his imitators. If I see a book described as "in tradition of Heinlein", I probably will not read it.

As for my favorites: Larry Niven, Greg Benford, Alastair Reynolds.

Jens
2009-Nov-30, 09:07 AM
This is a question rather than an answer, because I don't read SF much anymore. It seems that nearly all the writers introduced here wrote originally in English (what prompted this was the thread title, the "world's" greatest SF writers). Are foreign authors translated into English? I'm kind of curious, because my own favorite authors (three that come to mind are Umberto Eco, Garcia Marquez, and Jorge Luis Borges) are often not originally English writers.

Or is it just that people don't write much SF outside of the English language?

agingjb
2009-Nov-30, 10:00 AM
John Varley, James Blish, Brian Aldiss, C.S.Lewis, David Lindsay - but what they, variously and if anything, mean to me is another question.

swampyankee
2009-Nov-30, 11:48 AM
This is a question rather than an answer, because I don't read SF much anymore. It seems that nearly all the writers introduced here wrote originally in English (what prompted this was the thread title, the "world's" greatest SF writers). Are foreign authors translated into English? I'm kind of curious, because my own favorite authors (three that come to mind are Umberto Eco, Garcia Marquez, and Jorge Luis Borges) are often not originally English writers.

Or is it just that people don't write much SF outside of the English language?

Some of the reason for the preponderance of English-language sf authors may be because many of the respondents to this thread have English as their first language, so sf authors whose writings are not available in English won't be considered. Some of the reason may be that the definitions of genre fiction, especially sf, may not be exactly conformable to English language definitions (I'm still trying to get a clear explanation of how magical realism differs from sf or fantasy), so some non-English-language sf gets published as "mainstream" fiction.

HenrikOlsen
2009-Nov-30, 01:11 PM
This is a question rather than an answer, because I don't read SF much anymore. It seems that nearly all the writers introduced here wrote originally in English (what prompted this was the thread title, the "world's" greatest SF writers). Are foreign authors translated into English?
Stanisław Lem, Polish, Solaris filmed twice, amongst many other stories
Karel Čapek, Czech, R.U.R. amongst other stories, namer of Robots
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Russian brothers, Roadside Picnic(Пикник на обочине) filmed by Tarkovski as Stalker and many other stories

Jens
2009-Nov-30, 01:30 PM
Some of the reason for the preponderance of English-language sf authors may be because many of the respondents to this thread have English as their first language, so sf authors whose writings are not available in English won't be considered. Some of the reason may be that the definitions of genre fiction, especially sf, may not be exactly conformable to English language definitions (I'm still trying to get a clear explanation of how magical realism differs from sf or fantasy), so some non-English-language sf gets published as "mainstream" fiction.

Sure, that may be true. In a way, the reason I was answered was because though English is my first language, I still am a fan of writers from other languages (mostly from translations into English). So I'm wondering how much foreign science fiction has been translated into English.

swampyankee
2009-Nov-30, 03:58 PM
Sure, that may be true. In a way, the reason I was answered was because though English is my first language, I still am a fan of writers from other languages (mostly from translations into English). So I'm wondering how much foreign science fiction has been translated into English.

Neglecting Verne, and using a more-or-less English-language definition of sf, the only ones I can think of off the top of my head would be Stanislaw Lem and Kobo Abe. (Thanks to HenrikOlsen for Strugatsky and Capek, as I had forgotten both)

mike alexander
2009-Nov-30, 10:28 PM
Two I forgot to mention are James Tiptree and Cordwainer Smith (Both psuedonyms, how about that!).

The Instrumentality of Mankind may well be the best 'Future History' set of stories ever written.

And both created GREAT story titles.

Daffy
2009-Dec-01, 03:36 PM
Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Spider Robinson, Jack McDevitt, Larry Niven...

Paul Beardsley
2009-Dec-01, 03:40 PM
A radio version of Capek's RUR came out on CD fairly recently. Whilst very dated, it's nevertheless a great listen, with a moving ending.

The BBC have released a lot of other excellent radio plays based on classic SF work - Wyndham, Clarke, Wells, and even Stephen Baxter. If you want a treat for Christmas, ask for any of these.

chaboyax
2009-Dec-02, 12:22 PM
i really love peter f hamiltons books. the nights dawn trilogy and the commonwealth saga are the best books ive ever read. not to hot on the dreaming void books has anyone read these

Fazor
2009-Dec-02, 04:16 PM
I'm not big into sci-fi, which I've stated before, but two of my favorite authors are partly known for their sci-fi, and that's Bradbury and Verne.

My love of Bradbury is for the same reason others have mentioned him; "his words". Bradbury's story telling and mastery of the language is something that is unparalleled by any author's I've ever read. I'm not going to be as bold as to say that there's no author as great a storyteller as he, but *I* have yet to come across any. But in the interest of this thread and it's topic, I'll have to admit that I tend to like his fantasy and realist stories more than the sci-fi ones . . . though any given story can encompass all three.

Jules Verne. . . I don't know what it is exactly about Verne that I love. I think the adventures he dreams (rather, dreamed) up just have the same spirit as the adventures that I really lose myself in. Now he cheated with 20,000 leagues, because like many men [people, not gender], I fall in love with all things oceanic and underwater. I guess it's just that to us land creatures, it's another alien world -- same reason many of you love stories about space and space travel. But even prior to that, Journey to the Center of the Earth was the first Verne I read. I'm currently listening to an audio recording of Around the World, and have been very fascinated with that.

But again, I don't love Verne for the "sci-fi". Center of the Earth, for instance, is something I'd consider more fantasy. It's been a long time, but I don't remember any "science" in it, other than if you count fictional zoology / botany.

In other words, I probably needn't have commented here. But I do so love Bradbury and Verne that I use every chance I get to proclaim that. ;)

HenrikOlsen
2009-Dec-02, 06:57 PM
I'm not going to be as bold as to say that there's no author as great a storyteller as he, but *I* have yet to come across any. But in the interest of this thread and it's topic, I'll have to admit that I tend to like his fantasy and realist stories more than the sci-fi ones . . . though any given story can encompass all three.
I would suggest you try the early Zelazny, for another one who was rather good with words.

DonM435
2009-Dec-03, 09:35 PM
Clarke and Asimov were the ones I read constantly (though I preferred their nonfiction). However, Phillip Jose Farmer's work was the most fun, when he supplied background and continued adventures for Doc Savage, Tarzan and the rest.

(I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs' science fiction about the time that I was learning to read. Though not quite the stuff that my teachers would approve of, he kept this kid reading for a few years, so I remain grateful to him.)

SolusLupus
2009-Dec-03, 10:22 PM
Nobody every mentions Zelazny. :)

I liked his work a lot. Almost all of his characters, even those most fantastic, were very "down to earth".

Chuck
2009-Dec-03, 11:25 PM
Maybe everyone looks up a list of science fiction authors online to remind them of whose work they've read and fill up reasonable sized lists before they get down to Zelazny.

Paul Beardsley
2009-Dec-04, 03:05 PM
Nobody every mentions Zelazny. :)
Except when they do... (See posts 5 and 6.)

DippyHippy
2009-Dec-06, 02:33 AM
Sorry, I haven't had time to read everyone's replies so you'll have to forgive me if I cover old ground...

I used to read Clarke, Greg Bear, some Heinlein... I especially liked Ben Bova's Kinsman and Millennium novels. Not the most imaginative or thought-provoking sci-fi in the world, but at the time (1992/93) I found them very inspirational. Greg Bear's Forge of God and Anvil of Stars were very imaginative. I enjoyed those.

But the because influence on my thinking - and subsequent writing - was Philip K Dick. I always said that if you weren't screwed up before you read his work, then you would be after. I can't tell you how inspired I was when I was writing short stories by reading some of Dick's. And it all started with Blade Runner.

SolusLupus
2009-Dec-11, 06:51 PM
Except when they do... (See posts 5 and 6.)

My mistake!

traceur
2009-Dec-20, 11:38 AM
it's interesting how the age difference here manifests itself.

for me my first entry into sci-fi was Gibson's Neuromancer, and it what got me to check into this new "web" which i found out was recently installed in my dad's office slightly over a decade and a half ago.

Heinlein & Zelazny where later entries, they did however probably influenced me the most. that's being said, there's depth of ideas and there's depth of expirence, and the most enjoyable rides i've had in sci-fi are in the richness of Kim S. Robinson's mars trilogy and in Douglas Adams (though if you include fantasy then i do prefer Terry Pratchett over Adams tbh).

between the first and the later entry there was also 2 books whose titles & authors i can't recall.. one was about a fantastic boom of hyper-intelligence throughout all of earth and the other was about an astronaut coming back to earth and finding out people have changed through a treatment to remove the violent urges, creating sort of "a utilitarian dream and a hero's nightmare"... both where very influential but i read them when i was very young.

edit: i can't believe i almost forgot -> add Neal Stephenson & Gene Wolfe to the list.

galacsi
2009-Dec-20, 01:01 PM
Jules Verne, read him when I was a teenager , ASIMOV , Jack Vance , almost everything from jack vance is good ! Sylverberg , Niven , I am not a great fan of Heinlein even if I did enjoy some of his books. From the more recent writers : SAwyer and his dinosaurs , Baxter (very good but a little sad ) , Iain M Banks (beginning to annoy me) , and Peter F. Hamilton . . . .

I don't read SF anymore at this moment , too much fantasy in the libraries and no more good SF.

TJMac
2009-Dec-20, 03:54 PM
This is a great thread....

I have to be honest, I can't honestly keep track of every author's name. Then I tended to go through stages, where I would read as much of one author as I could find, then drift off to another, and so forth.

I remember absolutely loving Heinlein when I was a teenager. Then, as time went on, whether it was my reading tastes changing, or his style of writing, I got so I really didn't care much for his stuff.

C. J. Cherryh was also a big favorite of mine, and still is. Of course, she writes both fantasy and S.F., and I'm pretty sure Ive read all of her writing.

Peter Hamilton is another one I always like reading. Had never read any until someone gave me a grocery sack full of used paperbacks, that had one of his series included.

Then, a lot of authors, that honestly, I'd have to google, just to think of their names now. Bova, Clark, Pournelle, Niven, Asimov, etc...

I truly don't know that any of them changed my life, but certainly some of them made me think in directions I would never have gone otherwise.

TJ

swampyankee
2009-Dec-20, 11:34 PM
What they mean to me?

Since all fiction is escape literature (ducking rocks thrown by upset English teachers), what "it means to me" is whether it was fun.

If I want great truths, I'll read some Schlichting or Thwaites.

tdvance
2009-Dec-21, 01:23 AM
ah yeah, I wanted to read a Jules Verne novel in HS for a book report, and the teacher said, "no, I only accept classics".

Yep--Niven says SF is the ghetto of literature.

swampyankee
2009-Dec-21, 02:15 AM
ah yeah, I wanted to read a Jules Verne novel in HS for a book report, and the teacher said, "no, I only accept classics".

Yep--Niven says SF is the ghetto of literature.

Verne is missing one of the important features of a classic: people will read his work without being threatened by English teachers. Sorry, but about the only way you could get me to read Hemingway today would involve firearms.

speedfreek
2009-Dec-23, 12:28 AM
I rate Gibson's cyberpunk trilogy, Stephen Baxter's manifold series, Reynolds, Niven, Heinlein, Bear, Clarke and all the usual suspects.

But what ignited my passion for Sci-Fi in the first place, when I was 11 years old?

The early works of Alan Dean Foster.

(please back away from this post, there is nothing to see here, move on swiftly please...)

tdvance
2009-Dec-23, 01:03 AM
Verne is missing one of the important features of a classic: people will read his work without being threatened by English teachers. Sorry, but about the only way you could get me to read Hemingway today would involve firearms.

Ah, Tom Clancy's definition of a classic: at least 100 years old and children are forced to read it.

swampyankee
2009-Dec-23, 02:11 AM
Ah, Tom Clancy's definition of a classic: at least 100 years old and children are forced to read it.

I think that high-school English teachers could ruin a perfectly good chase scene, like the one in The French Connection.

Chuck
2009-Dec-23, 02:22 AM
ah yeah, I wanted to read a Jules Verne novel in HS for a book report, and the teacher said, "no, I only accept classics".

Yep--Niven says SF is the ghetto of literature.
I wanted an H G Wells novel for a book report and was told to choose something more profound.

danscope
2009-Dec-23, 02:38 AM
That is the pity. I just found a complete collection of H.G. Well's classics.
They 'Read' wonderfully. You would think you could be reading a novel by
Ian Fleming. To me, the descriptive powers of good Science Fiction authors
sets them apart from the mundane. Those english teachers who lean away from Sci-Fi could compromise to the point of having at least "One"
sci-Fi project where the book was either science fiction or fantasy, so long as the student works toward the end of presenting the author as
good literature. I am sure that in our opinions, there are excellent choices
for study.
The banquet of literature is a broad table with something for everyone in it's own time.
Bon appetit .

Dan

HenrikOlsen
2009-Dec-23, 06:50 AM
I think that high-school English teachers could ruin a perfectly good chase scene, like the one in The French Connection.
I've had a Danish teacher admit that an unfortunate side effect of the analysis done to the story in order to learn how to analyze stories was to ruin the subject of the exercise.

mike alexander
2009-Dec-23, 07:50 AM
Ah, Tom Clancy's definition of a classic: at least 100 years old and children are forced to read it.

Thank heaven he has nothing to worry about.

Disinfo Agent
2009-Dec-29, 03:58 PM
[...] and the other was about an astronaut coming back to earth and finding out people have changed through a treatment to remove the violent urges, creating sort of "a utilitarian dream and a hero's nightmare"...That sounds like Lem's Return from the Stars.

traceur
2009-Dec-29, 08:29 PM
That sounds like Lem's Return from the Stars.
thank you, that's the one :)

to explain why it was influential i'd need to note the time in which i read it:
i was quite young, 2 years after we (israel) where in the middle of the first Iraq-US war and my memories of the missile silo's still quite fresh, a time of a lot of local violence with school buss bombings one after the other and having funerals for another dead soldier in town every other month or so, yet also a time where there was a lot of emerging hope in the peace process and an intensive public debate surrounding it.
as a young kid you don't think much about this - its normal and all you know - but it was lem's return from the stars which brought on my first "political" thoughts - about politics, society and human nature - "my" as in not of parents, teachers or news reporters nor completely the author's, but my own. in this sense it was highly influential.

and i think a lot of books are like that - especially those read at a young age - they aren't always important for you because they are works of art or have a very deep meaning or ideas, but rather simply the role they took in your life.

danscope
2009-Dec-31, 11:10 PM
For a great all-time science fiction story, I have to consider
"The Time machine " as top notch fiction. A good friend of mine spends each new years eve watching the 'original' film with Rod taylor.
I love the collection of clocks and other time pieces displayed in his living room. Quite the collection.
Happy New Year to all of you.

Danny and Celine

Xelebes
2010-Jan-01, 05:36 AM
Jules Verne - I just liked his works. It was a long while ago since I last read a story of his but I still like his works, goshdarnit.

Isaac Asimov - Pleasantly dry. Like crackers - do I ever love me some crackers. Never trying to rush me into a topic and always explained what the terminology enough to help me figure out what was going on.

Neal Stephenson - the only author I've known whose works as hes gotten older have gotten more awesome as each book came out. Save for the hiccup that was Anathem.

danscope
2010-Jan-01, 07:06 AM
And Robert Heinlein.. for sheer adventure !

Barabino
2010-Jan-01, 11:05 AM
Some of the reason for the preponderance of English-language sf authors may be because many of the respondents to this thread have English as their first language, so sf authors whose writings are not available in English won't be considered. Some of the reason may be that the definitions of genre fiction, especially sf, may not be exactly conformable to English language definitions (I'm still trying to get a clear explanation of how magical realism differs from sf or fantasy), so some non-English-language sf gets published as "mainstream" fiction.

In general it's true...

Of course everybody knows Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. :cool:

In France there are huge lots of both written sf and graphic novels...

for example if you like strange animals like Wayne Barlowe's, you'll love those graphic novels:

http://www.mondes-aldebaran.com/

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=aldebaran+leo&x=16&y=20

this series is translated worldwide and is "hard" science fiction, but there are whole bookshops more to read...

Barabino
2010-Jan-01, 11:21 AM
Moebius (Jean Giraud) was greatly influenced by Jack Vance...

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61t1%2BMTf79L._SS500_.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=pharagonesia&x=14&y=21

Barabino
2010-Jan-01, 11:25 AM
Caza:

http://www.bedetheque.com/Couvertures/Caza_30x30_01.jpg

Paul Beardsley
2010-Jan-01, 12:04 PM
Of course everybody knows Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. :cool:

I was delighted to learn yesterday that about ten minutes of the first adaptation of Solaris is available on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3vWid1xAYw

(There are other clips linked but they don't have subtitles.)

It was made four years before Tarkovsky's masterpiece. I emailed a groups of friends about it and got this reply:


Interesting clip...not just interesting as cinema history, but it is also a clip that includes many of the ideas and pathos that made Solaris so powerful.

It strikes me that Solaris was potentially what Paul refers to as a killer premise--an idea that can be developed in many ways, spawning all manner of offshoots. The idea of people from your past or your memories being recreated was unique, and although a lot hinged around the claustrophobic plot device of the isolated space station, there must be ways for this idea to be used in other contexts. Why has no-one developed this idea further?

(I would argue that this has been developed further - notably in Silent Hill 2.)

Paul Beardsley
2010-Jan-01, 12:11 PM
For a great all-time science fiction story, I have to consider
"The Time machine " as top notch fiction. A good friend of mine spends each new years eve watching the 'original' film with Rod taylor.
I love the collection of clocks and other time pieces displayed in his living room. Quite the collection.
Happy New Year to all of you.

Danny and Celine

Happy new year to you both.

I regularly read the book, and I still have a soft spot for the film.

Please please please tell your friend about the radio play version the BBC did last year. Apart from some unnecessary (but mostly unobtrusive) framing material with H.G. Wells, it's a really beautiful adaptation. The scene in which Weena sings in her own language had me in tears.

danscope
2010-Jan-01, 06:53 PM
Thank you so much for the BBC radio program tip. I'll try to get a copy.
Perhaps they will re-broadcast some time or even present it on line. :)
After all; they have all the time in the world .
Best regards,
Dan

mike alexander
2010-Jan-01, 11:48 PM
I pretty much feel The Time Machine is the best science fiction story ever written. And the title is the best title ever pasted on an SF story.

swampyankee
2010-Jan-01, 11:56 PM
I pretty much feel The Time Machine is the best science fiction story ever written. And the title is the best title ever pasted on an SF story.

After The Technicolor Time Machine, the time travel novel was finished. Kaput. Dead. Defunct. Passť.

danscope
2010-Jan-02, 07:05 AM
Time travel, like any other plot must be written well, devolope characters
you may identify with and fill the plot. Cheap pulp will always be cheap pulp,
but a novel is an artform which shall always be treasured.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Jan-02, 07:37 AM
After The Technicolor Time Machine, the time travel novel was finished. Kaput. Dead. Defunct. Passť.

After Pride and Prejudice, the two-people-who-overcome-initial-dislike-and-fall-in-love novel was finished. Kaput. Dead. Defunct. Passť.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-02, 10:48 AM
Yeah, I'm a bit confused at swampyankee's claim there.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Jan-02, 11:29 AM
I think I know what he means, but if so, he's wrong.

The Technicolour Time Machine did a lot with the idea of time travel, including the idea now known as the djinn (when you give something to your past self so that later in life you can give it to your past self). But later time travel stories did a lot of new stuff.

Robert Silverberg's Up The Line explored amusing paradoxes, and the idea of time travellers obsessing over having, er, liaisons with their ancestors. The same author did various other memorable things with time travel, including a traveller being wholly seduced by the natural historical beauty of an ancient city in Thebes Of The Hundred Gates.

Gene Wolfe's The Urth of the New Sun had a space traveller share a cabin with her younger self. The protagonist had already learnt that his own life had "originally" been a lot more straightforward, but someone from the future had intervened.

Many have used time travel to compare and contrast societies, often to amusing effect. Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time is my favourite, but there are many others.

Larry Niven twisted the idea that time travel into the past is a fantasy into the idea that a working time machine would deliver the traveller into a fantasy land - where horses have horns, for instance.

Stephen Baxter used his Time Ships and his accelerated wormholes to explore the implications of modern cosmology.

These are the examples I can come up with without even trying!

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-02, 11:32 AM
Yeah. I don't think that any book really "destroys" a tool, and I see a Time Machine as a tool in a story. That's the real thing I'm getting at.

It's like saying that a 1950s video has "killed" the Raygun, or a WWII film has "killed" WWII stories. (To be fair, though, the amount of WWII films and games are a tad over the top).

swampyankee
2010-Jan-02, 02:52 PM
Yeah, I'm a bit confused at swampyankee's claim there.

It wasn't a claim; it was a badly worded snarky comment.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-02, 04:56 PM
It wasn't a claim; it was a badly worded snarky comment.

You terrible person. Please go back in time and prevent yourself writing the initial post immediately.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Jan-02, 05:01 PM
I'm looking forward to The HD Time Machine With Surround Sound.

danscope
2010-Jan-02, 08:36 PM
I will as well. Good science fiction is an adventure... always.
Best regards,
Dan

peteshimmon
2010-Jan-02, 08:37 PM
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle has been a
favourite for its insight into how our
governments might react to a really
plausible scenario. From 1957 maybe but it
still seems bang up to date. The second half
of the novel is much more a fantasy but still
fascinating.

danscope
2010-Jan-02, 10:27 PM
That's high praise, Pete. I'll read it.
Best regards,
Dan

nauthiz
2010-Jan-03, 02:05 AM
I'd like to sneak in a shout-out for Jonathan Lethem. Girl in Landscape and Amnesia Moon are two of my favorite books in recent memory.

On the sci-fi front, he stands out in my mind for being rather sparing with introducing speculative elements. His characters don't ride hovercycles when a plain old bicycle will do.

tdvance
2010-Jan-03, 02:14 AM
Just read Niven's short story "Flare Time"--not as good as most of his stories, but interesting. The premise is a planet near a flare star has life divided into two classes: that which thrives on the intense stellar/solar flares, and that which protects itself from them. When there's a flare, most life go into a shell, dig into the ground, etc., while life that's been dormant since the last flare come to life like and "party" like the demons of Night on Bald Mountain.

danscope
2010-Jan-03, 09:04 PM
Sounds like a lot of tourist on display in Mexic or Florida.
When the sun shines, they slip into the shade....and sip their lemonade...

Dan

Phantomimic
2010-Jan-04, 02:54 AM
I have read many of the "classics", Bradbury, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke etc. But a more contemporary author that really blew me away with his "Hyperion" series is Dan Simmons.

Daffy
2010-Jan-04, 06:58 PM
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle has been a
favourite for its insight into how our
governments might react to a really
plausible scenario. From 1957 maybe but it
still seems bang up to date. The second half
of the novel is much more a fantasy but still
fascinating.

One of my first Sf reads that got me hooked on the genre; a really good book as I recall.

danscope
2010-Jan-05, 05:51 AM
I think the first Science fiction film I ever saw in a theater was "The Fly "
with Vincent Price . Quite the experience.