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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.”

Comments

cool 6 years ago

childhoods end, ray bradbury

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David Klamet 6 years, 1 month 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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uhadmeatsmellthis 6 years, 1 month ago

Bill (and Hillary) Clinton......oh wait a minute, are they science fiction?

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

"I've tried at least four times to get through the second book, which name escapes me at this point, and failed each time."


"Dune Messiah", and I would say that it is the slowest read of the six.

The Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson books are fine, but nothing special. You can tell that they are the product of less gifted writers just using Herbert's notes, as the books are heavy on references to the Dune Universe, but light on the socio-political complexity that made Frank's books so entertaining and rich.

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notnowdear 6 years, 1 month ago

The bible, but it is not my favorite.

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notnowdear 6 years, 1 month ago

Ray Nelson wrote EIGHT O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

PK Dick is indeed good. Don't know why I didn't remember him. Have at least 5 of his books and his stories on iPod/iTunes. MINORITY REPORT: About military Generals who attack and/or sabotage successful peace-keeping efforts so they can keep their jobs and power. VALIS. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (I think so). Love Gnostics!!!

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Dark Over series, are great books. I had a real mystical relationship with THE MISTS OF AVALON. Was a poor student at the time of it's release, and couldn't see paying $16 for a first edition, hard cover. I visited it often at the Town Crier for a week or so, and finally did get the book. Am so glad to have the book mentioned above. It is in a front place in my library, greatly valued. Such is the life of a true conservative.

Julian May's Jack The Bodiless, my favorite of May's. Just love the concept.

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mick 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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matahari 6 years, 1 month ago

Phillip K Dick!, Michael Crichton!

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jonas 6 years, 1 month 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.

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BrianR 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

"If the rest of the Dune series were as inspired as the first, there would be no question at all."


jonas,

Are you talking about the rest of Frank Herbert's Dune books (Messiah, Children, God Emperor, Heretics, Chapterhouse) or the "prequels" that Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson created from Frank's original notes?

I thought the subsequent 5 books are part of why the original was so magical. The storyline was so deep and complex. I especially enjoyed God Emperor and Chapterhouse. Every 5 years or so, I re-read the entire series and lament the fact that Frank died before he seemingly finished his Universe.

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jonas 6 years, 1 month 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.

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jonas 6 years, 1 month 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

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Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

Anyone keeping track of the points?

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

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Drew_Carey 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month 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.

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RedwoodCoast 6 years, 1 month 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.

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Mkh 6 years, 1 month ago

ChristmasCarol (Anonymous) says:

"Aldous Huxley for "Island"

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

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ms_canada 6 years, 1 month 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.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

Aldous Huxley for "Island"

Frank Herbert for "Dune"

Oh, I already answered.

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M. Lindeman 6 years, 1 month ago

Stephen Kings - Dark tower series was outstanding his Four past midnight was good too.

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notnowdear 6 years, 1 month ago

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.

Robert A. Heinlein in Postscript to Revolt in 2100

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notnowdear 6 years, 1 month ago

I think the Science Fiction of the 9-11 Commission is a waste of paper, should never have been written. I use the book to prop up a failing piece of furniture, but may need it for heating kCals if the costs continue to increase.

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notnowdear 6 years, 1 month ago

Heinlein is THE MAN!! He was amazing. I have well over 20 of his books. He has words worth memorizing. http://www.quotableheinlein.com/

Of course, one cannot fail to mention James Gunn too.

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sgtwolverine 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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dminear60 6 years, 1 month 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.

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autie 6 years, 1 month ago

It's a toss up between Donald Rumsfedlt and Dick Cheney......umm. maybe they're really science fiction actors, not writers. My bad.

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KansasPerson 6 years, 1 month 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.

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snoozey 6 years, 1 month 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.

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bennyoates 6 years, 1 month ago

Harlan Ellison, one of the great short story writers and author of "City on the Edge of Forever," voted the best episode of the original "Star Trek."

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fleeba 6 years, 1 month 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!

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Mariann 6 years, 1 month ago

Parkay or course.....:) I din't think b3 was smart enough to read....:)

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BABBOY 6 years, 1 month ago

I like George Lucus. Yeah, I know his books are more screenplays from his movies. But, I read the books so in my mind, that counts.

Yeah, I am oversized nerd...

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thomgreen 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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Ceallach 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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Noemon 6 years, 1 month 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).

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MyOpinionCounts 6 years, 1 month ago

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

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 1 month ago

"rammy (Anonymous) says:

Do you nerds wear capes when reading your little sci fi books?

Or maybe pretend to fire your lazer gun at the end of each chapter?"

Yeah! Mr. Ramirez slinked back on the LJW. He's so the most awesomest with his insightful commentary and wit.

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b3 6 years, 1 month ago

Charles Sheffield, check him out.

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sunflower_sue 6 years, 1 month 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...

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 1 month ago

Diana Gabaldon... Just smut and fluff with a bit of time travel thrown in...

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

Awww, someone doesn't understand the big words.....

It's okay rammy, Curious George books are good too--you don't have to be ashamed and lash out.

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rammy 6 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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sunflower_sue 6 years, 1 month 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)

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

Frank Herbert Alastair Reynolds

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 1 month ago

Al Gore and L. Ron Hubbard come in at a close second.

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The_Original_Bob 6 years, 1 month ago

Marion Sydney Lynn. Maybe better known under his pen name of Nick Danger.

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ChristmasCarol 6 years, 1 month ago

Ray Bradbury

Elizabeth Hand (whose real name I am not sure of and works have been transcribed and altered) Les trois jetees

Janvier Betancourt

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preebo 6 years, 1 month 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.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 1 month ago

Favorite? Hands down, Jules Verne. As a child, I pondered why his character Captain Nemo wanted to drown the NFL, the National League, the American League, the League of Women Voters, and all those Wednesday night bowlers...
20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea? What was so magic about 20,000?

Most Loathed? Al Gore. It's more fiction than science.

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amazonratz 6 years, 1 month 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.

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Multidisciplinary 6 years, 1 month ago

This guy, just found this bit of scientific fiction last night. (Now I get a chance to cause havoc in the Lawrence workforce today) I just wish I'd written it. Don't miss it. Don't forget to stop to breathe. Enjoy. http://minx.cc/?post=257448

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