After Hours

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, 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).


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...

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