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Who is your favorite science fiction author?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 21, 2008

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Photo of Sean McGrath

“Arthur C. Clarke, because of all the things he got right like geostationary satellites. It’s more science than fiction.”

Photo of Molly Daughety

“Kurt Vonnegut. I just like his social commentary that he laces through the narrative and how he takes metaphors and makes them relevant to our everyday lives.”

Photo of Therese Osterhaus

“Madeleine L’Engle. She wrote a series of books, and I wasn’t really into science fiction until I read one of them. It was so good that I ended up reading them all.”

Photo of Tom Peterson

“Robert Heinlein. He wrote ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ and ‘Starship Troopers.’ He has an incredible sense of humor in his books that I really like.”


BrianR 10 years, 3 months ago

I like Asimov but there are many great sf writers out there.

amazonratz 10 years, 3 months ago

The late Octavia Butler wrote spookily prescient (read Parable of the Sower) sci-fi. She wrote a gutwrenching book about an African-American woman transported back in time to meet her white slave ancestor as a small boy (Kindred). Ms. Butler, a female African-American sci-fi author--rather unusual--has received many awards.

preebo 10 years, 3 months ago

Finally... R_I agree on something.

Jules Verne greatest Sci-Fi author of all times.

As for most loathed, R_I... I'd have to go with L. Ron Hubbard, or should I say Katie Holmes' Baby Daddy.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 3 months ago

Stephen King for his Dark Tower Series and Diana Gabaldone, if you care to lump her into the sci-fi category, for her Highlander Series. (Where is that next book, Diana? Huh? Huh? whip cracking sound)

sunflower_sue 10 years, 3 months ago

rammy, The hubby likes it when I put on the cape. It's all good! And you said "fire your lazer gun." giggle

R_I, You say "smut and fluff" like it's a bad thing...

MyOpinionCounts 10 years, 3 months ago

I agree with Sunflower - Stephen King's "Dark Tower Series" is amazing.

Noemon 10 years, 3 months ago

Hard to pick a single favorite. Top five (in no particular order) would be: Maureen McHugh Octavia Butler Dan Simmons David Brin (usually his fiction's pretty medicore, but when he's on, he is on) pre-1996 or so Orson Scott Card

If you're lumping fantasy in with science fiction, add George R. R. Martin to that list (yeah, I know, Martin's written straight up science fiction too. It's not not terribly good science ficiton, in my estimation), along with Tad Williams (I'm kind of counting Otherland as fantasy rather than science ficiton. It was basically a science fiction framework that allowed for the exploration of a bunch of fantasy worlds, really).

Ceallach 10 years, 3 months ago

Frank Herbert, definitely. Also Julian May, I loved the Pliocene Exiles series, particularly "The Golden Torque."

thomgreen 10 years, 3 months ago

Isaac Asimov is my favorite author, but Robert Heinlein wrote my favorite book of all time, "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress".

Chrissy Neibarger 10 years, 3 months ago

Larry Niven I can't get enough of his books, and there are tons of them out there! That guy's been writing since the 50's!

snoozey 10 years, 3 months ago

I grew up with Heinlein,Vonnegut,Clark, Asimov, Herbert and many other writers of the 1960's and 70's all of whom shaped my world view. The more recent authors like William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, David Brin, Orson Card and Greg Bear offer a twist on the more modern existence. I agree with just about everything posted here so far with the exception of Steven King whom I find pedestrian at best. The genre can claim it's share of the most gifted writers of the century though I gotta admit I do hungrily await every new Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen and Cormac McCarthy piece to come down the pike.

KansasPerson 10 years, 3 months ago

I read "But What Of Earth" by Piers Anthony (the second edition with all his comments and footnotes) and I thought there must be something wrong with me because I just LOATHED IT. His juvenile treatment of women (especially the breast fixation which got pretty funny after a while) combined with his almost psychotic grudge against the editors who marked up his first edition (when actually a lot of their comments were spot-on) got old really fast. I tried to enjoy the story in spite of all that, but it wasn't really possible.

I keep trying periodically to get into some SF author or other, especially when recommended by a friend, but maybe I just don't have the right mindset! Or maybe I just have the bad luck of picking the wrong books, time after time. It does seem like there is a lot of crap being published. (Can I say crap on this board?) And some of the authors seem to be really self-indulgent writers who can't bear to have one bit of their genius edited out, so you end up with a book that's totally lacking in subtlety.

dminear60 10 years, 3 months ago

My better half likes Isaac Asimov but to be honest, it is not my favorite genre. If i had to pick, it would be Michael Crichton.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 3 months ago

Ray Bradbury, maybe. C.S. Lewis also wrote a few sf books.

ms_canada 10 years, 3 months ago

I have never been too keen on science fiction but as a teen ager, I read several of Edgar Rice Burroughs books and one was about life on Mars, don't remember too much of it but do remember that Martians were hatched from giant eggs. I think that story could be classed sci fi. And I also agree with sunflower sue that the Diana Gabaldon series Outlander could be classed sci fi. Since I am a big history buff, I particularily liked that series, (6 books) because she brings in a lot of difference history. For a lady to travel back in time 200 years by stepping through a cleft in a large standing stone in a circle in Scotland has certainly got to involve some science.

Mkh 10 years, 3 months ago

ChristmasCarol (Anonymous) says:

"Aldous Huxley for "Island"

That is one of the greatest books ever...imho.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 3 months ago

Of the very few who I've read, probably Ray Bradbury.

ibroke: I really had no idea that everything I've been learning in my biological anthropology class is fiction. Let me just tell the rest of the field that. Oh, and I should probably let the biology and ecology departments know about it, too.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

When I was younger it would have been Asimov or Bradbury. Now, McCaffrey, Bunch & Cole, Scott Westerfeld, it would be hard to choose between those as my current favorites.

Drew_Carey 10 years, 3 months ago

25 pts minus 5 to multidisplinary for the link. -5=Funny but not a book.

notajayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Anyone keeping track of the points?

Soemone want to start a blog on the best posts of the day/week/month?

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

anne mcaaffrey even though she tends to get pushed to the romance side.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

If the rest of the Dune series were as inspired as the first, there would be no question at all. As it is, I'm not sure. . . .

Herbert Douglas Adams Vonnegut . . . the list goes on

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

And I have to question the posters who listed Cheney, Rumsfeld, the 9/11 commission, etc.

Clearly, they are sublime authors of fantasy, but fantasy and science fiction should remain separated, in my opinion.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

logic: Maybe I just lack determination. I've tried at least four times to get through the second book, which name escapes me at this point, and failed each time. Granted, a lot of my reading seems to have that happen to it these days, once I finally get a chance to put down the textbooks and my Chinese readings. Maybe I'll try again after I graduate.

But yes, I too have heard Herbert died before finishing, and I have heard that his son's co-written books are truly terrible to behold.

mick 10 years, 3 months ago

Who was it that wrote the short story that was the basis for the movie "They Live!"?

David Klamet 10 years, 3 months ago

Isaac Asimov, his robot books and stories.

The "I, Robot" and "The Bicentennial Man" movies didn't do justice to the stories they were, supposedly, based on.

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