Top 15 Greatest Science Fiction Writers of All-Time Comments - Mania.com



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fenngibbon 1/30/2009 6:40:20 PM

 I was wondering if Turtledove was going to appear, but I tend to agree with you in excluding him; alternate history is really a different genre than science fiction, even if it has science fiction elements to it.  The Guns of the South has time travel as the premise for what happens, but I wouldn't consider it science-fiction.  In fact, I don't even know if you could call the Worldwar series and its sequels pure science fiction.  

Hobbs 1/31/2009 7:00:10 AM

Tim,  you really did your research on this one.  I agree with your list.  Herbert is right where is should be. Using your baseball phrase, he had that one memorable season that will be forever remembered but his body of work without Dune...we wouldn't know who he is today.  Just a side note someone PLEASE tell Brian Herbert to stop butchering his Dad's novels!

Only one I would have added would have been H.G. Wells but if you are doing this after the 1920's I can't argue with your list.  It should just be pointed out that without Wells we don't get a lot of those writers today.

Hobbs 1/31/2009 7:05:44 AM

I think Cameron had a dream of the actual Terminator, the endoskeleton.  I don't think he dreamed the story, he probably did take some of the story from bits and pieces of what he liked when he was younger.

dynames 1/31/2009 8:06:15 AM

Jack Vance should be in the top 5, not in honorable mention.  His body of great work is extensive and he has won numerous awards.

michaelxaviermaelstrom 2/1/2009 5:12:30 AM

I understand the rationale for excluding Gibson, I just can't agree with it.

1. It's not simply Neuromancer.

2. it's his sprawl trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive)

three books are not 1 book despite the temptation to see it that way, or to point to the best of the three.

3. his Burning Chrome collection of short-stories is as electric and seminal as Neuromancer. 

I'd place it _en par_ with Neuromancer.

(it's the real Cyberpunk manifesto, vastly superior to the Mirrorshades anthology, whose only redeeming quality is that it attempts to ape Gibson's Burning Chrome by including short stories like it and from it)

That's -four- books now.

Which in turn led directly to an entirely new literary category that would be known as: Cyberpunk.

That's 4 books, 2 seminal, 1 MAJOR literary achievement not accompished by any other single author in the 20 or 21st century.

Next, he hit a homerun again with Pattern Recognition, which dominated both left wing media-think (NYT east coast intellectual circuit) and geek-think and continues to.

That's 5 books, 2 seminal, 1 hyper-impacting, 1 impacting  1 MAJOR literary achievement.

If all one reads or focuses on is Neuromancer, which is a classic problem, because it's such a brilliant book, nevertheless it is not the only book, but if it's all one focuses on then of course one will see a one-hit, but I think closer examination is called for.

He is in my view the single greatest (new) genre writer currently living, and we don't give him near the level of respect he deserves ..in his time.

This list perfectly reflects a continuation of that discouraging trend.

Praise for the classic mainstays dismissal for what is currently in our midsts.

With no hyperbole intended, Gibson is not only a great writer, not only the father of a new literary movement, he IS the embodiment of our time. 

We are not even yet living entirely in the world he depicted, we see some of it around us, but we're still nevertheless in the early stages of what will lead to Gibson's world.

How many times does he have to predict, extrapolate, shift or create paradigms?

Does he have to DIE before he will get his due?

Wake up America. 

We have a giant in our midsts and we're treating him like excrement, relegating him to the categoy "Near Exclusion" on top SF writers lists, no less.

Fix that bitch.

:)

Michael X. Maelstrom.

 

michaelxaviermaelstrom 2/1/2009 8:34:52 AM

Post Rant: except for the Gibson snub, otherwise an excellent article. As per the usual Janson capita.

mXm

tjanson 2/1/2009 11:04:00 AM

Michael,

I definitely appreciate the passion you have for Gibson and I don't think in any way i was treating him like Excrement.  i think the fact that I acknowledged him proves it.  He might very well be there someday but to be honest, there would have been others I put on the list before him that also didn't make the list such as Orson Scott Card and Jack Vance.  He's a great writer...just not one of THE greatest...yet

michaelxaviermaelstrom 2/1/2009 7:09:54 PM

 

I agree there are a lot of other good to great SF writers to add to the list, but they're not in the same league as Gibson. 

He ought be the first consideration for new entry.

He isn't _only_ a great writer, he's also the father of a whole literary movement whose work rippled into the creative technological class to influence latter 20th century and 21st Century tech and social development.

He is the reason WIRED became so popular (it was his presence in/his articles that initially attracted genre fans to the zine and gave it its all-important `edgewise gravitas' without him the zine could have been framed as a sales brochure for new tech. Gibson gave Wired its edge)

His work is sited by Internet pioneers as having been influential in their -desire- to bring about his envisioning of Cyberspace.

Popular authors like Neal Stephenson (who thankfully for your spleen and to your credit you did not mention above Gibson) deconstructed his Neuromancer to bring about their own deserved if still Gibson influenced success. 

(much like Pratchett's deconstruction of Adams led to his)

The Matrix writers have credited Gibson (and Ghost in the Shell anime which itself credits Gibson) as the main source for their inspiration.

A great bulk of latter day technological development is credited to people that credit reading Gibson as a major source of their inspiration and drive.

Ask me, filing an author this omnipresently if subcutaneously influentual under "Near Exclusion" IS treating him in an un-deserving manner.

I believe there's a term for the effect, it's referred to as, "damning with faint praise".

It may not be your intent (judging by the otherwise quality article above, you appear to be driven by caution and conservatism, preferring a longer history) but damning with faint priae, is nevertheless the effect of placing Gibson beneath honourable mention, relegated to "near exclusion" at the bottom.

Ask me, he has already well-earned the title "One of Greatest SF Writers".

It's the _recognition_ for that, that is lacking.  And not simply by you.

He's a big part of that too.

Part of the problem AISI is that by SF writer standards he's still considered young, with a relatively small body of work, however its been so impacting that ought be moot by now.

Another part, the bigger part is of his own making: he doesn't like standing still, he doesn't want to be pigeon-holed, and so he constantly downplays and distances himself from his previous work.

If you praise Gibson to Gibson, he'll bite your head off and discount his own work.

Ask Gibson about Cyberpunk? first thing he'll tell you is that it doesn't exist and never did, and if it did, it's old news and should be buried.

The problem with that is that while it may be commendable in that it keeps him constantly on his toes, constantly looking forward, it ALSO gives a cue to others, to discount or dismiss his work.

A writer friend once said to me (after I'd uncharacteristically done so)

"never heavily criticize or heavily downplay your own work, if you don't like it, why should anyone else?"

He had a point.

There's a fine line between modesty and disparaging the value of your own work. Gibson frustratingly obliterates that line, criticizing his previous work, so he will not be lulled into resting on his laurels.

But I believe the answer MUST remain that Quality will out and be recognized.

Eventually. 

Despite the current dismissive framing.

In any event, I've attempted to make the case for why Gibson is _already_ one of the Greatest Science Fiction Writers of All-Time.

He doesn't need to produce any more seminal works or influence any more techs or influence the development of society anymore than he already has to wear that title. 

He's already earned it, in my books.

But I can see many (you're not alone, I am aware) still want more, more, more.

Well, even if we must agree to disagree, I can agree with you in that, I too look forward to more from Gibson.

mXm.

 

klaatu1701 2/1/2009 10:17:17 PM

It did my heart good to see Arthur Clarke as number one, with Heinlein and Asimov in close order. These great writers had a deep and profound effect on me in my youth and in many ways (more so Clarke and Heinlein) moulded the person I am today. I will wager that when this list is revisited in the future the name Stephen Baxter will join the list.

ConstantGeographer 2/2/2009 3:26:25 PM

Good list. Gibson is where he belongs, for the time being. Time will tell.

Also, not only should Brian Herbert walk away from Dune, but somebody, please tell Kevin J Anderson to walk away period. Everything he touches turns to suck.

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