I have been an avid, obsessive, compulsive (pick your adjective) reader of science fiction since I was a kid. I got asked by a friend the other day for a recommendation for a good sci-fi to read.
As I was pondering his request, I realized that the sci-fi genre, in my opinion, has a serious lack of memorable authors nowadays. Maybe I’m getting old and I just don’t appreciate the new breed – kind of the way I think 80’s rock in many ways is superior to what is put out today.
So, who are my favorite authors? Let me tell you – then go ahead and comment and tell me who YOURS are (even if it’s not sci-fi). Who knows – maybe you’ll turn me on to something new!
My Favorite Authors
- Isaac Asimov
He is the definition of sci-fi for me. His influence on me, indeed all of sci-fi–dom, is staggering. He is best known for his Foundation Series, but he wrote literally hundreds of other books/stories. One of my favorites is Caves of Steel, part of Asimov’s Robot Series, which takes place thousands of years before the Foundation Series on a repressed and overcrowded Earth. Also, don’t forget about Pebble in the Sky, the first novel in his Galactic Empire series. It’s about a retired man in the 1950’s who between one step and the next ends up tens of thousands of years in his future.
- Robert Heinlein
One of the most influential writers in sci-fi, Heinlein also had a easy-to-read style that kept the reader engaged from cover to cover. I was a late adopter of Heinlein but once I started I couldn’t stop. My favorite book Stranger in a Strange Land, about a human raised by Martians. He also wrote Starship Troopers, from which a crappy 90210-esque movie was made. The book is MUCH better; trust me.
- Ben Bova
Bova was one of my first “favorites” when I was a teenager. His Orion series completely enthralled me – the story of a near-immortal man plucked from time-to-time to do the bidding of the “gods” who were nothing more than really, really advanced humans from the future. His nemesis was a godlike Neanderthal who tries to change the time stream constantly so Neanderthals and not homo sapiens emerge as the dominant race on Earth. His latest books, in the past decade, have been “hard” or “almost realistic” science fiction stories about mankind’s journey through the solar system and the politics and intrigue that follow us wherever we go.
- Douglas Adams
I absolutely love Douglas Adams’ books. Not a single bit of science in them, but he was the absolute master of comedic sci-fi. Unfortunately, the comedy in his books does not translate well to the big screen, as we’ve seen more than once as directors tried to take Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy out of print and onto film. I can’t pick up any of his books without laughing every 3 minutes – it’s that funny.
- Spider Robinson
Spider doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He, too, writes comedic science fiction, but also has other more serious sci-fi books out there. He is a great writer with such an easy style that I enjoy just picking up his books. His Callahan series of short stories is what he is best-known for and they are truly worth the read. The series starts with Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon.
- Alan Dean Foster
Foster is and always will be in the top 3 list of my favorite authors. He is one of the most prolific writers alive today. He has done dozens of media novelizations, such as Alien, aliens, Alien 3, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Transformers. The first books I read from him were his fantasy Spellsinger series, but I quickly found out that his sci-fi skills were superior to his fantasy skills. His novels, the Damned Trilogy are fantastic – I highly recommend them.
- E E “Doc’ Smith
One of the early “greats” of science fiction, Smith wrote a very compelling series that spanned a universe. His Lensmen series, started in the late 1930’s, help create science fiction as we know it today. If you read it now, it is very dated, sexist, and almost reads like a male fantasy – but get past that and see how remarkable this series is. You’ll love it.
- Arthur C Clarke
What can I say here that hasn’t already been said? He’s an icon – almost on par with Isaac Asimov in my opinion. His book, 2001: A Space Odyssey was turned into one of the most-loved science fiction films of our time. But he has done so much more than that. He is one of the most recognized named in science fiction.
- Orson Scott Card
How can I not have Card in this list? He is not just an amazing author, he is a teacher as well. He writes books, has classes and lecture, and generally tries to uplift new authors and shed some light on the mysterious craft we call writing. He is best known for his Ender series – which is an incredible tale of how a handful of pre-teen kids conquer and destroy and entire alien species – without even realizing it.
- Harry Harrison
I thought I’d round off the list with one of my early favorites. Harry Harrison wrote the tongue-in-cheek Stainless Steel Rat series, about galaxy-spanning thief and do-gooder who calls himself the Stainless Steel Rat, as well a West of Eden, a parallel timeline where dinosaurs were never wiped out.
So that’s my top 10 list of favorite sci-fi authors. Who’s on your list?