Nasa / Space

Who are today's Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein?


TechRepublic member lcallander asked me for some suggested reading material, with a rather intriguing sci-fi stipulation:

"I was rereading an old post, where guys were reminiscing about reading 'Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark,' my personal favorites. I got out of reading SF in the '80s and am bewildered by the variety today. What do guys who liked H, A, and C read today?"

Well, that's a really interesting question. I'm really only able to answer the Heinlein part of it, since I've read very, very little Clarke or Asimov (blasphemy, I know). John Scalzi's Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, and The Last Colony are openly admitted Heinlein pastiches, the first of which won the Campbell Award and was nominated for the Hugo.

Scalzi's style is breezy and easy to pick up, so I'd start there. I'm also told (though haven't read) that John Varley's Red Thunder and Red Lightning ably pick up the Rocket Ship Galileo torch. That's about the extent of my advice.

Thankfully, Amazon.com can actually help some here. (Shocking, I know.) See, Amazon has a nice bit of collaborative filtering that lets you view items that Amazon customers bought before and after buying a product that you're interested in. That's a fancy way of saying: These people bought X and also bought Y, so if you like X, odds are you'll also like Y.

So, let's take Stranger in a Strange Land (my favorite Heinlein novel) and check out its extended list of Customers Also Bought items, scrolling until we find some modern stuff not written by Uncle Bob himself. Filtering out the usual suspects of Hugo winners who get bought out of sheer notoriety, we find: Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Now, let's do the same thing with Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, and we get: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. For Asimov's Foundation we get: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Do this for a number of books by Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, and you'll begin to get a picture of where adherents of the Old Masters go to sate their sci-fi thirst today. Do the same for Hyperion, Red Mars, and Ender's Game, and you'll link into a web of recommendations that open whole new doors of possibility.

Of course, for all of Amazon's tech, there's nothing like a good old-fashioned reader recommendation. So, how about it Geekenders -- what modern writer (published since 1990) would most satisfy a fan of Asimov, Clarke, and/or Heinlein? Post your recommendations in the comments sections. With any luck, we can help a fellow member out (and maybe even attract some SFSignal attention).

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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

81 comments
timgesner
timgesner

In science fiction literature, like almost anything else in this world, it is an accepted fact that without change, there can be only stagnation and death. All of "today's" greatest writers are indeed standing on the shoulders of the sci-fi greats (and not-so-greats) that have come before them. The question I think you should be asking - is simply - "Who is writing really good science fiction right now?" I say this, because I just re-read one of my favorite Heinlein books a few months ago (The Door into Summer), and found that despite the fact that I still found the "bones" of the story strong and relevant, the details of the story were quite charming, but dated, and short-sighted. Please don't get me wrong, I adore Heinlein & I think that without him, we might still be expecting our wives to be docile and in the kitchen, but as the world changes, and writing changes, it has matured and become wiser - not so cut and dried. Take two novels by one of my current favorite authors - Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson. These books show two very different girls as sometimes main characters, both of which have different personalities and desires and seem as if they are real people, whereas Heinlein tended to use the same characters for nearly every story he did - characters that were almost entirely interchangeable. Once again - not trying to start a fight - but Heinlein's children were too good - too self-assured and too one-dimensional. Take another great author - Philip Pullman and his "Golden Compass" trilogy. The child character is a full and robust person - filled with internal conflict, as well as external. Although some may argue that this isn't technically sci-fi - I disagree. In essence, what I'm trying to say is this: don't waste your time looking for the newest "version" of an older writer, instead, focus on finding stories that amaze and excite your imagination, the way those other writers used to - and by doing so, I'm not so sure I would trust Amazon to direct you. A lot of it also depends on your own tastes. Some people prefer stories written about great space battles and such, but much of this is very formulaic. Instead try Iain M. Banks for an adult version of these and other types of science fiction that will expand your mind - (such as Feersum Endjinns) - The Ender's Game books take another angle that will blow you away (author is Orson Scott Card). David Brin's Uplift series are great as well as L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Ghost and Ecolitan series (he also writes good fantasy). Truthfully, I could go on and on - there is so much good stuff out there, you could quickly become overwhelmed. Talk to people you admire and think alike and they will most likely direct you towards stuff you'll enjoy, but don't get too comfortable - taking you out of the norm is what great science fiction is all about.

ed.stapleton
ed.stapleton

For Heinlein, following his personal responsibility and self reliance themse check out L. Neil Smith; "Probablility Broach," "Forge of the Elders," "Henry Martin." Although the works of John Ringo are reminiscant of Starship Troopers, read his Legacy of the Aldanata series starting with "Hymn Before Battle" and for an odd mix of fantasy and sci-fi try his Council Wars series starting with "There Will Be Dragons." David Weber does a grand job of modern space opera with some political intrigue subplots in his Honor Harrington series beginning with "On Basilisk Station." Those should give you a decent start.

alex.kutuzov
alex.kutuzov

Face it guys, the genre has moved on. There is no-one today who is writing like those guys, because no-one would read them. I look in my bookshop under the fantasy/science fiction section, and would be hard pressed to find a science fiction book. Ideas which authors used to express in 100 pages now take 600 pages. New wave, cyber-punk, fantasy, etc have taken over from what those authors used to write. No, I don't appreciate the better quality of characterisation and literary merit. If that was what I liked reading I would be reading mainstream literature, not science fiction. But to answer the question - what do we read when we run out of Asimov, etc? We either move on, like many respondents (and Heinlein), or we look for other old authors, like some of the other respondents. I am a dinosaur of the latter variety, reading many of the authors like Vance and Dickson, etc, whom others have mentioned. But most of these are contemporaties with the greats, not modern authors. I find it strange that no-one mentions AE van Vogt, who was also a giant contemporary with the big three. Maybe most of you have moved on more than you thought. When I ran out of these other authors, I moved on to even less famous authors like Murray Leinster, James Schmitz, Keith Laumer, H Beam Piper, Eric Frank Russell or older giants like Clifford Simak and Jack Williamson. The other place I look is to British SF authors, who are not as well known as their American counterparts. Bob Shaw, Phillip E High, David Gerrold, John Brunner, James White, etc are very accomplished authors. I haven't run out of books yet. I guess if I do - I will have to move on.

hercules.gunter
hercules.gunter

In my view, there simply isn't anyone. The fact that this question is raised suggests to me that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I have become rather disillusioned about science fiction. The great writers of the past wrote stories which explored new ideas on a grand scale (technologies such as psychohistory in Asimov's Foundation series) or on a subtle level (picking apart human social conventions as in Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land"). Today's writers focus on next week's science - gene modification, nanotech, or the fringes of current astronomy). Put another way, sf used to examine the issues we would face in a decade or twenty, and now examines the issues we face now. Someone else mentioned Larry Niven. He would be my all-time favourite author, unfortunately not a very prolific one. But he extrapolated transplant technology to the frightening consequence of organ-legging, although he thought it would become a problem by the 22nd century, not the late 20th. If you haven't read him, do! Especially read "Ringworld", "The Mote in God's Eye", and the sequels, but also his future history series which precedes "Ringworld". I am watching this thread in the hope that someone else can suggest writers who produce the same sense of wonder that I used to feel.

Sydesh
Sydesh

Cannot believe theres no mention of Paul McCauley and his novel RED DUST (relevant to Heinlein). also I think Walter Jon Williams Voice of the Whirlwind needs a mention in relation to Asimov

nhalliwell
nhalliwell

I'd geuss Niven tops the list for me, Gibson and Sterling provide riveting reads also, some amazing stuff from Greg Bear too. Perhaps they are not todays AsiClarLein, in that they're different genre's, but they certainly provide me with wonderfull places to visit. If you're looking for SciFi matierial to enjoy these authors can provide. Closest match? Niven's Destiny's Road.

kc5qla
kc5qla

Greg Bear, K S robinson, And Spider Robinson to start with.

cstreez
cstreez

Dan Simmons is incredible. The Hyperion series was superb, but has anyone tried "Illium" and "Olympus"? What a mind he has! I love almost everything by Orson Scott Card.

gkrayenhof
gkrayenhof

Harry Harrison is both a hoot and serene. While he is not ACH, he has a vivid imagination and a smooth writing style. The ???Stainless Steel Rat??? and ???Bill the Galactic Hero??? test the limits of absurdity, they are fun to read. ???Make Room!, Make Room!???, the origin of ???Soylent Green???, and his ???West of Eden??? and ???Stars and Stripes??? alternative history trilogies are exceptional in their creativity and detail.

charlesw
charlesw

...Clarke. You do realize he is still alive, right?

afterhoursman
afterhoursman

Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, and David Brin are my choices to replace Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke.

crivart
crivart

Read the first tome, take just a little breath and jump to the second one; then take some days for best apreciation, perspective an stuff. Then read the two books left of the Hyperion Chants. That's all I have to say.

steve.jones
steve.jones

The Ringworld novels were great, and Mote in God's Eye.

chipmeister
chipmeister

I think I would be cautious about Amazon's "also bought". I have seen some pretty strange associations to the point that I believe them to be more of a marketing ploy to 'push' product.

bheite
bheite

I personnaly like David Weber, Steve White (The Starfire Universe), and a realative unknown Bill Baldwin. Bill wrote The Helmsman novels, and is reissueing them in a rewritten "Directors Cut" versions. He has a 7th novel "The Turning Tide" coming out in early 08. They are fun, easy reads and resemble some of Heinleins space treks, but without the wry humor that Heinlein was capable of. Try Bill, for some basic good space opera.

rkoenn
rkoenn

For some hard core science try Jack McDevitt. I have enjoyed everything I have read by him. Also try Alan Steele, his Coyote series which mix in some politics and ecology oriented themes but still get the science right. Bova's planetary series are good and I believe his latest, Titan, has received a couple of awards as well as great reviews. Lots of good books and authors, too little time.

juliebeman
juliebeman

A great resource is long-time editor Gardner Dozois' series of "The Year's Best Science Fiction" anthologies. The anthologies contain short fiction, but an extensive "Year in Review" essay at the beginning of each book contains lists of recommended novels, magazines, films, and more. One of the benefits of reading the short fiction is that you can identify authors whose style you like, and then purchase their books. Dan Simmons, Orson Scott Card, and Kim Stanley Robinson have written some great stuff. Robinson's Mars trilogy is fantastic (I've read it several times), as is Card's "Ender's Game." I would also recommend Samuel Delaney (mind-bending). One of the great things going on in the genre is that more and more authors are writing hard SF again, as opposed to epic, "hero's quest" kind of things (think "Star Wars"). Vernor Vinge comes to mind. Genetic engineering, privacy issues, and the ascent of the corporation provide great fodder for contemporary SF. For a great book that explores the themes of religion, exploration, and space travel, check out "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. This novel amazed me. For fun detective-type stories, Jack McDevitt has some great stuff ("Polaris," "The Seeker"). Have fun exploring!

carlisle
carlisle

As a longtime fan of Arthur C. Clarke, I don't expect to find a comparable author/scientist anytime soon... Because Clarke is much more than an author, his material clearly reflects much more in true "science" fiction... Of course I must admit I am biased, but I believe 2061 would have made a great film.

carlisle
carlisle

As a longtime fan of Arthur C. Clarke, I don't expect to find a comparable author/scientist anytime soon... Because Clarke is much more than an author, his material clearly reflects much more in true "science" fiction... Of course I must admit I am biased, but I believe 2061 would have made a great film.

phugger
phugger

Peter F Hamilton........ Fallen Dragon (single book) The Night's Dawn (trilogy - long) Misspent Youth/Commonwealth Saga (two halves - long)

jwalls
jwalls

Ack! What a question! I'm such a huge fan of Asimov, Clarke, and especially Heinlein (of course _Stranger in a Strange Land_ is my all time favorite book). One name that I will agree with is Orson Scott Card's _Ender's Game_ and the following series. It's amazing!! Does it follow any of the three's writing style? I don't think so, but he is definitely a new old-favorite. Cheers.

robert.weir
robert.weir

Taking the point from the original article (ie who are you reading now if you used to read Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein....) - I've read Asimov and Clarke extensively, Heinlein only really Stranger, but these are the authors that I rate now in the SF field. Direct match-ups aren't intended. Kim Stanley Robinson - I've read quite a bit of his and I'm a fan. Red Mars was so skillfully done that I was almost ready to shout at one of the characters by the end of it. I loved Antarctica, also Icehenge. Some of the early stuff I found a bit mixed (Short Sharp Shock and The Memory of Whiteness I found either dull or confusing) although Escape from Kathmandu is worth tracking down IMO. Elizabeth Moon - discovered initially through her collaborations with Anne McCaffrey, and I then found Hunting Party and loved it. Not all of the Serrano Legacy books are great, but enough are to continue reading. I liked the first book of the Vatta's War sequence but haven't got round to reading any others yet. Stephen Baxter - I believe he's co-operated with ACC on some stuff, and I picked up Voyage on the off chance a while ago and thought it was a brilliant piece of alternate history SF. The only other things I've read of his are "Prospero One" (a short available online set in the Voyage universe) and Moonseed, which I wasn't too sure of at first but still managed to enjoy by the end.

madoc99
madoc99

I used to read all the "past masters", Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Pohl, Dickson, Farmer, Blish, etc. Favourites included Bradbury, Sturgeon and Zelazny. Lately, I've found myself reading more fantasy. However, the most significant development during the last couple of decades has probably been the emergence of so many good women writers, like Emma Bull, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Tanith Lee, Caroline Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold - and I'm leaving out several wonderful fantasy authors who don't produce SF. From the current crop of male authors, I like David Weber, highly recommended if you like military stategy and good characters including some of the strongest female characters in SF.

rinseout
rinseout

Banks is one of the best Sci-Fi authors I've come across, although he's more renound for his straight fiction, like "The Wasp Factory" under his other name of Iain Banks. I haven't read any Heinlein but Banks' output does compare in scale with Asimov's magnum opus Foundation series. Enjoy!

John D.
John D.

Hi Jay. Check out SF Signal's reader challenge #7: The Next Science Fiction Grand Masters for a bunch of names as suggested by our readers. It's not a direct match-up to Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, but it's a start.

royhayward
royhayward

a new universe and has some compelling plots and characters, but he is not as pure as Asimov, maybe more like Heinlein. But he is not really 'like' anyone. I would recommend a quick pass at one of his books if you are looking for a new author to read.

timgesner
timgesner

Leo Frankowski's "Copernick's Rebellion" Walter Jon William's "City on Fire" and the Drake Maijstral series Sheri S. Tepper's "Grass" and "The Gate to Women's Country" and "After Long Silence" Larry Niven and Steven Barnes "Dream Park" books David Feintuch's Seafort Saga (Midshipman's Hope) Ian McDonald's "Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone " - very cool Alan Dean Foster, Brian Daley (Jinx on...), Cory Doctorow is new & fresh, JD ROBB (adult-ish), Debra Doyle & James D MacDonald's Mageworld series, Jack McDevitt, and more and more and more...

sconyers
sconyers

I'm a bit confused by why you say nobody today writes sci-fi. If you mean that SF should have actual science in it, then I urge you to check out David Weber's Honor Harrington books, where space travel is relativistic and a large part of combat is figuring vectors and acceleration. Also, John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass series is excellent and full of actual science. Starting with book 2, the series is co-authored by Travis S. Taylor who has a PhD in Physics. I learned more about partical physics by reading these books then I ever knew there was to learn. ;)

robert.weir
robert.weir

I've read quite a bit of AE Van Vogt's stuff and some of it I agree is well worth searching out. Slan, The World of Null-A, Moonbeast and The War against the Rull spring to mind. He's an ideas man though, and sometimes the writing suffers for me - some stuff I found unreadable.... Bob Shaw writes better characters, but can be a bit patchy. Nightwalk remains one of my favourite books by him, and there should be honourable mentions for the likes of Who Goes Here, Orbitsville and The Ragged Astronauts too.

alex.kutuzov
alex.kutuzov

I do agree with your sentiments, but I was composing my post when you posted yours [see "Today there are no Asimovs"]. "The Mote in God's Eye" is one of my all-time favourite books, but I do find Niven difficult to read [sometimes I think Pournelle fixes his english]. One thing I do disagree with - Larry Niven not prolific??? - You kidding me?!?!

dsrobinson
dsrobinson

Have you read Keith Laumer's Retief series? Classic spoof on the UN. Another author just published a new one, and it's so true to the characters. I really loved it! But overall it's fluff. Not that some RAH wasn't fluff. Number of the Beast (I know, everyone here hated it) was a nice little romp through his (and others') worlds. I always thought of it as a kind of homage to the myriad universes out there. I've not really found another author who's entertained me so widely, at least not someone I would call a new version of him. Bujold, Weber, Moon, Stephenson, Kay (fantasy - and the only author I will buy in hard cover)... mostly the usual suspects already brought up in this thread. With most authors I like one series they wrote, but don't really feel the need to branch out to others. Or when I've tried, they don't capture me as well. RAH had an amazing ability to really capture something in a stand alone book. You don't see that so much anymore. I kinda miss it.

marissa
marissa

Heinlein, Dick, and Card are my top 3 favorites in SF. But close behind is David Gerrold with his Chtorr series. I love the characters, the psychological issues that are extreme in the book, but true to life, and most of all, the very complete ecological system Gerrold creates for the invading aliens. It's not just an alien invasion, but a replacement of our entire ecology and species by those of another world.

rkoenn
rkoenn

I agree with Niven also and it has been a long, long time but Mote was great. I especially enjoyed that they came up with a believable alternative societal structure that was believable embedded in an excellent story.

tschuld
tschuld

I have a fondness for all three especially Clark. When I was in grade school we had two big fat anthologies of his short stories in our school library. They started me on the path of hard SF. As for Heinlein, I?m afraid his prose as not weathered well ? he has a dated hip-ness in some of his stories that I now find grating. However books like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and the ?real? Starship Troopers have a human touch which makes them classics. I like Asimov not for the Foundation stuff but rather for I Robot and the Positronic Man which again have a very human themes running through them. So what makes good SF in the tradition of these authors? Not just good hard SF but writing that emphasizes the human condition. That is where authors like Greg Bear, Dan Simons, Jack Varley and Kim Robinson and others really shine ? even if not all the time.

johnm
johnm

Weber has authored several really good series and has started a new one with "Off Armageddon Reef" that is pretty good, but I was surprised at how well I liked his collaboration with John Ringo on the "Prince Roger" stories. And his "Bolo" stories were excellent. Elizabeth Moon has a good series going about "Vatta's War" that reminds me of Cherry's "Chanur" stories for some reason. S.M. Sterling has a potentially great series that begins with "Dies The Fire". Hard to justify as "Science" fiction unless you conclude that string theory is right and one of our dimensions has rolled up as another with slightly different physics unrolled and replaced it. Several Alternate History series are doing well from Turtledove, Flint, Stirling and Weber. Though not science fiction, Eric Flint's alternate history on the War of 1812 is a keeper. I'm awaiting the second volume in paperback.

jondavis
jondavis

Weber although not in the style of the Great Authors still has a flair like Asimov of working to be complete and thourough with no gender bias and is thoroughly wonderful in execution of his stories.

phil
phil

I think that Banks is sometimes underestimated as an author outside of the UK. His sci-fi series are epic and wonderfully written. My recommendation is start at the beginning (Consider Phlebas). Watch out for his alter ego, though. These are also excellent books, but reading both sets alongside each other can become disorientating!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The Dorsai novels are still good, my favourite Dickson novel is The Right to Arm Bears, very close to making my obscure list that one, definitely number 7

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I like Dickson's work, but he's almost a contemporary of Asimov and Clarke late in their careers, as is Haldeman (mentioned in the previous post). Isn't the question about authors?

Salmanassar
Salmanassar

I was happy to discover after the named three (and I would definitely add Alfred E Van Vogt and Jack Vance to those!) people like Orson Scott Card and William Gibson took over writing "real" SF. Neuromancer was a discovery. And then there is Otherland by Tad Williams, which goes a step farther. Still enough writers to let us fly on their imagination!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I like a lot of William's stuff, but Drake Majistral left me cold. If I had to read one more paragraph about the social mores and hand-kissing I would have gladly chewed my wrists open. "Dream Park" rocks, and we're getting so much closer to it every day. The first time I saw an ad for "Survivor", DP came to mind. Seafort depressed the heck out of me. Midway through the second one I gave up. I've never seen an author give his character so much to endure. I've enjoyed Foster for a couple of decades, but I don't think I like the direction he's taken Flinx in over the last two or three books.

alex.kutuzov
alex.kutuzov

Yes, AE Van Vogt's stories were out there, but that was part of his charm - his uniqueness. I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to read all his good stuff at the beginning - those mentioned, as well as Battle of Forever, Earth's Last Fortress, Weapon Shops of Isher, and the Null-A series; the first two - the third book was rubbish. I have now read about 20 more of his books and have found none which have compared to the early reads. Please let there be another classic out there, somewhere. And you are right - when he is good, he is very good, and when he is bad ... Phillip E High is my next van Vogt - I just can't put any of his books down.

hercules.gunter
hercules.gunter

Yes, Alex - Niven was not prolific, most unfortunately. I have almost everything he ever wrote on not much over half a shelf. Heinlein runs to two shelves. Asimov didn't write a thing in sf for a couple of decades, and I have less than half what he wrote, and that's more than my Niven section. Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers (my wife's collection) both run to more books. Pratchett spills over multiple shelves. Niven wrote a lot of short stories, published over the years in Worlds of If (my favourite ever magazine - it selected for stories which posed what-if scenarios, and strongly shaped my preference for exploring new ideas) and I grew up with Pierson's Puppeteers and tnuctipun, then Pak and ramrobots and all his giant ideas against a three-billion-year backdrop, was suitably outraged by puppeteers in Ringworld, again in Engineers. No other author has played with my emotions as much, or captured my imagination as much. I very much agree about Mote, and still can't decide whether Moties are to be pitied or feared (even after Moat). But I do maintain than while he has written a moderate amount, he has not been a very prolific author, especially considering that he has never needed to earn a living and has had the freedom to do with his time whatever he wanted - and that he hasn't written more is a great pity.

hercules.gunter
hercules.gunter

I get the impression that you're judging Heinlein's juveniles and adult works by the same yardstick. His juveniles were a constant battle between him and his publisher, who imposed her own standards on his writing and much of this body was not what he wanted to write - see "Grumbles from the Grave" for his perspective on this. As far as his adult stories go, I have enjoyed all but "Fear No Evil", although the sudden drift in "Number of the Beast" was unsatisfactory. Some have argued elsewhere in this discussion that his heroes were too competent. I would argue that alongside the heroes of E E Smith (Lensman series) and A E van Vogt (Null-A series) they're bumbling incompetents, but the only thing "wrong" about them is that they actually get things to go their way - and fiction is largely about wish-fulfillment, isn't it?

doug
doug

There's always been a militeristic fascist element to S-F that I can't stand. Heinlein's one of the best examples of this, and I haven't been able to read his work since my early 20's. But I love David Weber. It's really kind fo scary. :) Jack McDevitt is actually one of the S-F writers closest to Issac Asimov. Except maybe for Foundation, Asimov's stories are almost always mysteries. McDevitt does the same thing. C.J. Cheryl is by far my favorite author, tho.

dsrobinson
dsrobinson

I made someone at work read that this year. Trying to expand his horizons. Another fun but obscure one is Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by Tom Holt. Certainly not a H, A, C level author, but still fun. And I would say that the Dorsai books were good until ... I think it was the last one ... where the main character started walked on air. Right round the bend there.

dunnj
dunnj

I saw the original "The Thing" when I was 6 years old, and it scared me so badly that I stayed away from Science Fiction for a very long time. After getting a masters degree, one of my professors suggested I read Poul Anderson's "The Corridors of Time" written in 1969, and it opened up the door. From Anderson I moved into fantasy, but occasionally re-read Heilein ("Stranger in a Strange Land" was a cult read in the '70s), Clarke and Asimov. I would love to know who has taken their place. What would Hollywood do without Phillip K. Dick?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Once you'd become accustomed to the level of pain he got put through. Majistral, well rubbish in my opinion. Dream park, I found well juvenile.. Flinx, I found totally unreadable, the humanx series is about the only thing Foster's done on paper that I have any time for.

alex.kutuzov
alex.kutuzov

You only think highly of the first two Ringworld books? I thought Ringworld Throne was pretty well done. Based on your definition, I concede Niven wrote no more than 20 novels by himself, as well as the usual collections. Not prolific enough - I like that. Now that you bring it up, Niven has written more in collaboration with others than any other major author that I can think of. I thought that Footfall was a good read too. I think it would make a great movie if done properly - lots of scope for visual effects. Great climax with a man putting his foot on the alien leader in victory.

hercules.gunter
hercules.gunter

As it happens, I just finished reading Ringworld's Children over the weekend. I don't think it has the same appeal as the first two Ringworld novels, but I enjoyed it to an extent. I don't count the Man-Kzin Wars as Nivens - they're in his universe, but not of his pen, except for the odd story (I know of one in the 9th collection, I presume there may be others). I don't count the collaborations with Jerry Pournelle and/or Stephen Baker, since they're not as good as Niven alone - Mote excepted (Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall are, I believe, generally overrated). My count is 20-some Niven titles, counting the few I don't own, and several of those are collections of short stories with considerable duplication. Perhaps a compromise view: he hasn't been prolific enough. Well, quality beats quantity, I suppose ... By the way, I have gathered from his intros to his stories and books that Asimov didn't stop writing fiction to earn a living - he found a Mission to popularise science, and didn't find time for frivolous fiction for a long, long time. Then I think he worked towards getting a title in every major Dewey classification, but he did eventually get back to the Foundation series and tie it all together rather well.

alex.kutuzov
alex.kutuzov

You must be missing some titles. At my last count, Niven has published about 60 science fiction books. Heinlein and Asimov (my favourite) have about 55 each. One of my great disappointments is that Asimov stopped writing SF for so long because he needed to earn a living. You should be thankful that Niven has the freedom to write what he wants rather than what he has to. Quality is always better than quantity. The other advantage you have is that Larry is still alive and writing, while Isaac, alas .... PS .. Did you know that there is a 4th book out in the Ringworld series? Its called Ringworld's Children.

online
online

I wouldn't worry about liking David Weber. His books (I'm thinking Honor Harrington, as I've never read any of his other stuff) aren't military novels, they're character dramas with in a space navy setting. Honor Harrington is a modern Horatio Hornblower, and C.S. Forester wrote primarily about one person, with the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars as his backdrop.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Starship troopers ? For more without RAH political opinions. I'd recommend John Ringo and David Drake, but for the master, then you need look no further than Jerry Pournelle. Cherryh is well, just brilliant.

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