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Stevenator

My Top 100 Authors, comments requested

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:D

 

Now, I certainly haven’t read all of these authors, but I have done extensive research for the “grandmasters†and “classics†of sci-fi and fantasy and feel the necessity to include them (when I finally do read them, if they are as dry as dust I will immediately blast them of this list). I’m kind of looking at these “unknowns†as a way to collect authors for my “to read†list, so eventually I will be able to boast a Top 100 that I have completely read.

 

If you could post your comments (recommending authors to be shifted up or down or quality authors that missed the list) it would be much appreciated.

 

Here’s the general order I have compiled, from # 1 (Tolkien) to # 100 (Keyes):

Note: I tried to maintain a ranking system that balanced literary quality and plot innovation, using historical importance as a tie-braker

 

J. R. R. Tolkien

Jack Vance

Gene Wolfe

M. John Harrison

Mervyn Peake

Ursula Leguin

Lord Dunsany

Patricia McKillip

Michael Moorcock

Terry Pratchett

Jonathan Carroll

E. R. Eddison

Jorge Luis Broges

Philip Jose Farmer

Brian Aldiss

Tim Powers

H. P. Lovecraft

Roger Zelazny

William Hope Hodgeson

George R.R. Martin

Susanna Clarke

Clark Ashton Smith

Tad Williams

Fritz Leiber

Thorne Smith

James Blaylock

Cordwainer Smith

Douglas Adams

Frank Herbert

Richard Adams

Peter S Beagle

Philip K. Dick

Robert E. Howard

Robert Silverberg

Ernest Bramah

Iain M. Banks

Branch Cabell

Neil Gaiman

Sean Russell

Peter F. Hamilton

China Mieville

John Crowley

Orson Scott Card

TS White

Alfred Bester

Olaf Stapledon

Theodore Sturgeon

Stephen King

William Gibson

Dan Simmons

Steven Millhauster

Magnus Mills

Tantih Lee

George MacDonald

Steven Erikson

John Bellairs

Avram Davidson

Arthur C. Clark

Kenneth Grahame

Arthur Machen

Matt Ruff

Stephen Donaldson

Robin Hobb

William Morris

Jeff VanderMeer

R. Scott Bakker

L. Sprague de Camp and Flether Pratt

Walter Miller

Neal Stephenson

Eric Van Lustbader

Robert Heinlein

George Orwell

Anthony Burgess

Isaac Asimov

Glen Cook

Philip Pullman

E. E. Knight

Kate Elliot

Poul Anderson

Larry Niven

George R. Stewart

Greg Egan

Kim Stanley Robinson

Harry Turtledove

Joe Handeman

Octavia Butler

Paul J. McAuley

Frederik Pohl

Harry Harrison

Michael Crichton

Richard Matheson

Kurt Vonnegut

Ian Watson

James Blish

Charles de Lint

JV Jones

Greg Keyes

Jennifer Fallon

Elizabeth Moon

Daniel Keyes [/i]

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It looks great, but for me there was just one glaring omission: C.S. Lewis. Both Narnia and The Space Trilogy are fantastic, and I think he deserves to be up there.

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hey thanks,

 

yeah, Lewis barely didn't make the cut, but I may have to add him in the 90s range. However, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the only Narnia I find readable by any other than a very young child. Its quite tolling after M. John Harrison.

 

But as you said, he should get in for the Space Trilogy.

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Guest Egwene

lol... glad my eyesight is still ok... I went up and down the list three times looking for RJ. If this is deliberate, than I don't think this list has much in common with how I would rate them.

 

Take a look at the recommended authors thread, Stevenator... lots of comments on there about various people on your list.

 

Well... just had a another look at the list.. out of those hundred I have read about five... and I have shelfs full of fantasy books that I have read. Either most on your list are sci-fi (which I stay clear of) or maybe they are not that well known (rated) where I live.

 

Here is my top dozen:

 

Robert Jordan

Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts colaboration

Robin Hobb

Phillip Pullman

Terry Goodkind

Tolkien

Jean M. Auel

Terry Pratchett

Kelley Armstrong

Maggie Furey

David Eddings

J.K.Rowling

 

My one and only real criteria was... would (have) I read them again. Anything else is just theory.

.

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Frank Herbert should be higher, as well as Heinlein and Asimov. How is it you have Elizabeth Moon, but not Anne McCaffery? Also, did you consider Marion Zimmer Bradly and HG Wells?

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Robert Jordan is interesting, but scarcely of great merit; he falls into the neo-Tolkien category and couldn’t be termed a brilliant prose crafter. Maybe if he had stuck to his original plan for 6 WoT books he might have managed a ranking, but as its stands he took the extended “Crossroads of Twilight†route and lost his last possible asset, a great plot. So with no great literary, historical, or structural qualities, no commonsensical person could put him in a list of noteworthy authors.

 

Egwene.

 

Besides Hobb, Pullman, Tolkein, and Pratchett because they are already on my list, and Rowling because she is a form of Contempory Fantasy which I am not considering, that leaves:

 

Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts colaboration

Terry Goodkind

Jean M. Auel

Kelley Armstrong

Maggie Furey

David Eddings

 

Out of these authors I cannot seem to find the beef. They are sometimes entertaining, for sure, but I fail to see any enduring value. You must understand I am looking for greatness, not mediocre enjoyment. Honestly, Feist is the only one who would potentially make my Top 150.

 

Frank Herbert should be higher, as well as Heinlein and Asimov

I may have to inch Asimov higher, but it is his prose-crafting let him down. I wanted to be careful not to overrate Herbert. The Dune sequence is of genuine revelence and great intelligence, but there is a dinamic decrease in quality after book 1 and being a space opera, I found ways to rank other authors higher.

 

How is it you have Elizabeth Moon, but not Anne McCaffery? Also, did you consider Marion Zimmer Bradly and HG Wells?

I guess the best answer there is that I can't get everyone in the Top 100 - Moon got in becuase of her contribusions to Militaristic SF, but I am not expecting her to stay there very long once I find more worthy novelists. As for Bradley? thanks, I'll need to put her in. As for Wells? the main reason he would be included is historical importance, and if I did that all the Scientific Romances would need to get their do. I found it much more benificial to only include authors who excelled at all three of my rating categories. -Not to deminish historical importance, but its just not what I am looking for.

 

Akenzar, have I actually found a fellow fan! sad to say I have only read Jerry Cornelius and some of Elric.

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Take a look at the recommended authors thread, Stevenator... lots of comments on there about various people on your list.
I just skimmed through it and found the usual forum-biased opinions; no offence, anyone. But there were 3 authors I put on my "to check out" list.

 

*scratches head* i have too many lists.

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Arioch! Arioch! Blood and souls for Arioch!

 

Ah, you have to love the Sorcerer-King of Melnibone.

 

Truth be told i've never read Cornelius, been meaning to for oh, a couple years now.

 

However, i have read quite a few of the others (Corum, Erekose, Jherek Carnelian, Von Bek, and some others).

 

Keep reading em, if you like Elric then i have to tell you, read Corum as soon as you can. (Course, i'm rather partial to Corum)

 

Before i start rambling anymore, i'm going to shut up.

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What exactly were your criteria for judging? I'm really curious about your list, it seems like you've put quite a bit of thought into it.

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Philip K. Have you ever tried snorting Kool-Aid?

Now that is hilarious! I was just looking over my first post, and it seems this forum has judged that Philip D. I. C. K. $. last name is too inappropriate to be posted.

 

 

What exactly were your criteria for judging? I'm really curious about your list, it seems like you've put quite a bit of thought into it.

I guess the one thing that I find becomes ever more important to me as time goes on is simple writerly quality: sound prose written in a craftsmanlike manner. I reckon M. John Harrison to be possibly our best contemporary speculative-fiction craftsman, though if one widens the field to accommodate writers who straddle the borderline, there are folk such as Steven Millhauser to Magnus Mills who need to be added to the list. You don’t read their books just for the plot, but for the overwhelming beauty of the English language. That is how Bramah and Cabell score so high here but are relatively nonexistent in the common man’s considerations. That is also why Asimov and Heinlein are so low.

 

I also tried to grade originality / plot / structural brilliance. Someone like Erikson got in because of this, even though his prose-craftsmanship varies. Many of the Sci-Fi authors in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s range have helped modify or develop a specific theme or genre in Sci-Fi (including Artificial Intelligence, Cyberpunk, Cyborg, Eugenics, Post-Apocalyptic SF, Science Fantasy, Soft SF, Steampunk, Teleportation, Terraforming, Transcendence, Utopia ect.) and have accordingly scored high in this category.

 

As for historical importance, I really did not want to get chained back. They could block out more deserving authors, thus I made it a “tie-breaker†quality (If George MacDonald and Steven Erikson got in a fist fight, MacDonald would have the upper hand).

 

Take Scientific Romances for example (Shelly, Verne, Wells, Abbott, Stevenson ect.). They have various merits, but by and large they are more in the nature of essays than fiction, having (I feel) more social and historical value than literary merit. Same goes for someone like C. L. Moore in fantasy.

 

I have used a half dozen references to consult in the evaluation of these authors, and have developed a point grade system to correctly judge each author’s work individually, not in comparison to each other. Patricia McKillip was the dark horse of my list, who somehow catapulted herself into my Top 10 by scoring high in all categories (ordinarily I would have put her in the 30’s).

 

I hope that answers your question.

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Guest Egwene

Guess I am just a 'common woman'. To me a book that is beautifully crafted in the english language, but does not attract by entertainement and enjoyment is in my eyes a self-indulgence of the author.

 

I think that a lot of those on your list will sink without trace in the history of mankind, but that people like RJ will still be spoken of in 300 years time. Why? Because stories like his enthuse the 'common masses'.

 

The proof of the pudding lies in the eating they say. In my opinion the mark of a good book is that the reader does not only keep it but picks it up again. And a forum like this is a pretty good indication of how an author has caught the readers imagination.

 

Anyway... lists such as yours at the end of the day are either based on personal judgement or on evaluation of secon hand information. Only time will tell which authors will leave an enduring legacy.....

 

Still... appreciate the fact that you put a fair amount of effort into your list... I just happen to have a different opinion on some of those authors.. (found a few more on your list that I have read, but the name hadn't stuck)

 

:wink:

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I think that a lot of those on your list will sink without trace in the history of mankind, but that people like RJ will still be spoken of in 300 years time

 

you can't be serious!? If you posted that on any other forum other than a WOT community, you would be chewed to bits. RJ is not unique! He has added nothing to the current taste of fantasy and is fringing on the cusp cr@ppy prose! What author do you remember from 300 hundred years ago? One name kind of stands out clearly: Shakespeare! Not the miserable hacks that followed him! I hope you see the analogy. And the majority of my authors have already passed the test of time, the major exception being the high GRRM ranking. He probably has the best running chance so far to be remembered when people look back at this decade.

 

But RJ in 300 years?!?!?!? The English language is going to be a different creature by then, and besides they will have their own petty hacks to read. 24th Century people will only be willing to suffer through the best, Tolkien, Vance, ect. . .

 

To me a book that is beautifully crafted in the english language, but does not attract by entertainement and enjoyment is in my eyes a self-indulgence of the author

 

I am glad do say that none of the authors on my list meet that description. I certainly wouldn't like the type of author that doesn’t provide entertainment and enjoyment!

 

In my opinion the mark of a good book is that the reader does not only keep it but picks it up again. And a forum like this is a pretty good indication of how an author has caught the readers imagination

 

 

Every author on the planet has a forum (hyperbole for effect). And I think to judge a great book, it must be able to transcend out of the written word. And I may beg to differ the difference between “Favorites†and “Greatsâ€. Believe it or not, RJ is one of my favorites but I can see he has no spot on this list.

 

I say good day :!:

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and pullman does, the dark materials are crap, well half of the the secondand all of the third. they had no consistant style at all and i'm fairly sure that the 3rd and 2nd books were written by a tottally different person than the 1st. pah to pullman i say

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I think that everyone is intitled to their own opinions about who they consider to be the "greatest" authors, because I think we all have different characteristics we look for in authors.

 

It's like when someone says that "Billy Madison" is the greatest movie ever made, that's his opinion and he's entitled to it.

 

Personally I believe Stevenator's list is a very good one, with a LOT of worthy canidates on it.

 

My list would be VERY different though, especially since I haven't read at least 50 of the authors on that list.

 

RJ would make mine, but he certainly doesn't have to make anyone elses.

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Aah, very nice to see Ursula K. Le Guin. It saddens me that she is so often overlooked by modern fantasy fans because her books are "too short" or "don't have enough action." She is simply amazing and has left a great impact on me.

 

Bravo, friend.

 

 

Obviously I have a large Robert Jordan bias, as does everyone else here, but it's a bit hard to say he's left no impact. I mean, he's been pumping out bestseller after bestseller for going on seventeen years now. His is easily one of the most popular epic fantasy series' of the past two decades. Give the guy a little credit, eh? If GRRM's name will be remembered, so too, I think, will Robert Jordan's.

 

Though obviously I'm not above being terribly mistaken. ;)

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Guest Egwene

You sound a bit wound up there, Stevenator. Hope you calm down enough at some point to allow for the fact that not everyone agrees with your opinion.

 

I always look at other peoples recommendations and have found many good books that way. Already added one from your list to my wish list on Amazon. I just find it strange that you ask for peoples input and than use expressions like 'cr@ppy prose'.

 

Shakespeare... highly overrated in my opinion. How dare I say that? Well, because it is my own opinion. Not one that english history lessons have indoctrined in me. Same as those books on your list. I will make up my own mind about them based on what I think after having read them not based on popular conception or what the 'intelligencia' has decided is acceptable.

 

We will just have to agree to disagree on what constitutes great. 8)

 

Lights... I have added Ursula L. LeGuin to my wishlist... Got a bit put off her books as I saw a really bad film adoptation a couple of years ago but seeing various recommendations, I have high hopes that the books are ten times better.

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* deep breath *

 

sorry.

 

It takes both a good reader and a good writer to make a book great - a good reader is able to judge a book and a writer for literary qualities beyond the reading pleasure it and he/she evokes in that particular person. :) Reading for pleasure in any other instance is THE way to read! There are many writers I would include on a list of best writers, in a literary sense or in an influential sence, that that I do not find very exciting or pleasurable to read.

 

All of these books on that list are there for verious reasons (none alone for envoking enjoment) and many of the authors that people trying to label "great" obviously arn't, so sorry I got my hackles raised.

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Well I'm very happy to see my four favorite authors on your list but I'd really have thought to see Heinlein higher up there. Just with all his ideas for the future and the science (biology and physics mostly) and engineering ideas he presented. Really if you think of the time he was writing that in. Before there was even much idea at all for a space program he wrote of colonies on the moon, and space travel in a practical sense. I don't ever see his atomic ideas come to light but just his whole universe that he created and maintained in his books. I do recognize that not all of his books could be called quality, definetely enjoyable but not always quality. But I'd think Stranger and a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress would place him higher on the list.

 

With Stephen King, I love him but I think he's a bit too high. He must be getting big points for general appeal and being well known. Because as the Dark Tower series rocks and I love so many of his other books being related to the story line most of them aren't unique. Really right now he's spitting out a lot of the same ideas. I think he's really starting to run out of new stuff.

 

Not sure how I feel about Orson Scott Cards position. Personally I'd like to see him higher but other than my just really loving both his sci-fi and fantasy work he's probably pretty fairly placed.

 

Kinda surprise to see Crichton on the list, I don't really think of him as sci-fi or fantasy but I guess he could be sci-fi. With Jurassic Park, Lost World, and Terminal Man, maybe even slightly with Prey but other than that I think of him really as just a fiction writer. A really good one but not really in this category. What puts him in sci-fi/fantasy for you? (hehe trying go to through my mind and remember all his books) ....Oh Death Eaters is fantasy... and I didn't really like it but I might give it another chance because that was a long time ago I tried to read it.

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Guest Egwene

Stevenator, any book on your list I would be reading for reading pleasure first and foremost and for reading pleasure only. Reading it with the intention of analysing the writing style, the correct usages of english and so forth in my eyes is missing the point of such a book.

 

Whilst I can appreciate if something is written extremely well, I also feel that it is a subjective judgement. I would certainly not call myself a 'good' reader, inferring that others are 'bad' readers. The question of 'taste' comes into this. What you regard as a good quality, isn't neccessarily so in my eyes...

 

Anyway, this goes back to your exclusion of Robert Jordan who in my eyes certainly should be included on that list.. especially compared to some of the people in the lower echelons...

 

I am not saying he should top your list, but not to include someone who has managed to write an epic of such proportion and is still able to attract the amount of readers after 17 or so years.... that makes me question just how you put together your list. In your own words there are many there which you have not read yourselves...

 

One consistent comment you get with WoT.. Everyone agrees how the second read is the best. It is only than that you realise just how well put together the books are. Yes, for some people CoT was a let down because of it's slow pace... but others me included enjoyed that... again... what apeals to one doesn't neccessarily do it for the other...

.

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pah to pullman i say

 

I could see that . . . however, IMHO he is the best 'juvenile' read out there.

 

Aah, very nice to see Ursula K. Le Guin.

 

thank you! I think she has produced some of the most humane and thoughtful science fiction ever written. The Left Hand of Darkness is my favorite.

 

Kinda surprise to see Crichton on the list

 

Crichton is a writer who, because of his mainstream popularity, tends not be associated with the SF genre. Many of his novels do, however, use SF themes and ideas, and although to the purist they may seem a little sensationalist at times, they certainly succeed magnificently as entertainment. Besides those you mentioned, I would consider Andromeda Strain, Westworld, Congo, Sphere, and Timeline all in the realm of SF.

 

And in later revisions I have Heinlein about 7 spots up.

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haha yeah I guess if I had taken the time to look at Crichton's list of works again I would of seen it better. It was late and I was tired and he just doesn't come to mind as a SF writer to me. Glad to see him being recognized.

 

 

 

Heinlein rules.... That is all.

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