The prolific and inventive Philip Jose Farmer
June 27, 2002 7:44 PM   Subscribe

The prolific and inventive Philip Jose Farmer has long been one of my favorite science fiction writers, but he is rarely counted among the Lists of Greats of the 'old school' authors.(Asimov, Clarke, Niven et al). Does anyone else have a favorite SF writer who seems to get less credit than he or she deserves?
posted by GriffX (65 comments total)
If you ask me, Sheckley doesn't get enough love. Really nice guy, kind of a stoned ranter sometimes, but downright personable. My mom was his typist for a while around the time he was writing everything in an outliner. He writes good, pulpy, twisted stuff and apparently translates very badly to film.
posted by majick at 8:20 PM on June 27, 2002

Jack Vance.

(altho by his own denial, he's NOT a science fiction writer.)

Without question one of the greatest modern writers ever, SF or not.

PJF is, without question, very good. But I've always felt that he does have the recognition of a Niven, if not an Asimov or Clarke.

Let's hope Hollywood never tries to make shite movies out of any of their work. Oh, wait...
posted by dorian at 8:33 PM on June 27, 2002

Oh, how I love Paul Janus Fiinnegan. The Riverworld series, the World of Tiers series, and my all-time-favorite science fiction/religion novel, Jesus On Mars.

What excellent timing for this link, GriffX. I think I'll start re-reading Riverworld tonight when I go to bed. Or maybe I'll grab Night of Light. It's been a while. Picking up a Farmer book I've not read in ages is like greeting an old friend who's been away on a long journey.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:33 PM on June 27, 2002

I remember about a decade ago going into Pages Books in Toronto (an "independent" bookstore and supposedly hip shop) looking for Philip K. Dick.

"Goodness, no," said Marc Glassman, proprietor, "try a science fiction bookstore."

Now, PKD is everywhere and a "legitimate" writer. Sooner or later the mainstream seems to catch up with the authors they previously ignored.

To this day, I still make Pages my last stop when looking for something.
posted by dobbs at 8:40 PM on June 27, 2002

John Brunner. Shockwave Rider especially.
posted by precipice at 8:45 PM on June 27, 2002

Michael Moorcock. He wrote Elric, and everyone thought he was just an earlier incarnation of RA Salvatore. But he is one of the most interesting, prolific and thoughtful SF writers going. He's one of the last vestiges of the 70s "new wave" writers, that included the likes of Harlan Ellison and Norman Spinrad. Although the more traditional fantasy he writes is excellent - one of my favorite books is The Warhound and the World's Pain, a retelling of the Grail quest with the protagonist hunting Lilith's Cup through 15th century Europe at the behest of Lucifer - try Behold The Man for cloaked religious satire, or The Chronicles of Corum for acid apocalyptics.

Others? Spinrad's The Void Captain's Tale. Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates. James Blish's The Day After Judgment and, even better, A Case of Conscience. Iain Bank's Excession. Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.

There's so many...
posted by UncleFes at 8:48 PM on June 27, 2002

Oh yeah, Robert Sheckley! Thanks for the link--I wonder where my copy of Mindswap got to? I loved that book.

"Watch out for metaphoric deformation."

And then, of course, there is the brilliant and should-be-widely-celebrated Joanna Russ.
posted by jokeefe at 8:50 PM on June 27, 2002

The novels of Thomas M. Disch deserve to be better known. Camp Concentration, an allegory of the effect the Vietnam war had on American society, has been in print for 30 years. 334 is a story of the hard-scrabble lives of a group of New Yorkers in the near future, told as an interconnected series of short stories and novelettes. On Wings of Song, now out of print, says that when we sing, we fly. Literally. Strange, dark, well worth seeking out. The Businessman: A Tale of Terror, also out of print, might have been written by Faulkner, if Faulkner wrote lighthearted supernatural horror.

Disch's fiction tends to be bittersweet, sometimes playful, sometimes tragic, but always with a darkly comic edge. His ideas are imaginative and original. His prose is exquisite and detailed, a joy and a revelation to read. His stories are unforgettable. He deserves wider appreciation.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:50 PM on June 27, 2002

I posted this link mainly because I've been re-reading the Riverworld books. Farmer invented a world in those books that I've always found somehow comforting. An afterlife where you can fight Herman Goering, take part in battles with Genghis Khan and do it all while being buddies with Samuel Clemens? Sounds like Heaven to me. I've introduce a lot of my friends to Farmer through the Riverworld series, and the pitch I use a lot is that it's 'Narnia for grownups'. I don't think that's far off.

Slithy_Tove - I'm with you on Thomas Disch; "The Genocides" is one of my favorite novels ever, never mind genres.
posted by GriffX at 8:59 PM on June 27, 2002

Roger Zelazny.
As Harlan Ellison said: "His stories are sunk to the knees in maturity and wisdom, in bravura writing that breaks rules most writers only suspect exist. His concepts are fresh, his attacks bold, his resolutions generally trenchant. Thus leading us inexorably to the conclusion that Roger Zelazny is the reincarnation of Geoffrey Chaucer."

All true!
posted by lbergstr at 9:03 PM on June 27, 2002

My feelings concerning Jack Vance are a matter of record.
Avram Davidson is the first name that comes to mind after Vance. A very baroque style and a sly sense of humor:
The marketplace in Poposhki-Georgiu smelled like a barn--that is, assuming a barn to have borne, in addition to the usual odors of hay and dung and animals, a strong scent of ripe fruit, cheap perfume, kerosene, hot grease, fried meat, and fresh-baked pasrty.

A rather unlikely combination for a barn, it must be admitted. But there you are. And here we are. In the marketplace of Poposhki-Georgiu. Tuesday, since time immemorial (that is, for the past seventeen or eighteen years), has been Little Market Day. Great Market Day is Friday. Little Market Day is largely reserved for trading in mules, oxen, and he-goats; only the men come to Little Market Day. Little Market Day really smells like a barn--that is, a barn in which someone has been spilling a great deal of beer and a great deal of the cheapest variety of distilled spirit (known in the local dialect as Maiden's Breath). Few cooked or baked goods are offered on Tuesday, the men bringing their own lunch, and "lunch" to the peasantry of Poposhki-Georgiu traditionally means a hunk of goat sausage, a hunk of goat cheese, a hunk of bread (not exactly black, more like gray), and a bunch of dried sour cherries. Sour cherries are believed to be good for the lower intestine. In Poposhki-Georgiu the lower intestine is regarded as the seat of the deeper emotions. "When my best mule broke his left foreleg," one might hear it said, "it felt like a Turkish knife in my lower intestine.

Also, they tell this story:

First Peasant: Yesterday I came home and found my wife in bed with the goatherd-boy.

Second Peasant: What did you do?

First Peasant: I ate some sour cherries.

The Enquiries of Dr. Englebert Esterhazy
posted by y2karl at 9:07 PM on June 27, 2002

I agree about John Brunner but I prefer The Sheep Look Up. I read books written by Asimov, Brunner, and Niven a long time ago and even then they bored me. I remember Riverworld as being a fun read, perhaps I'll read some of the books again. Delaney, LeGuin, Russ, Pat Murphy, George Effinger, those of the authors whose books I might read again.
posted by rdr at 9:10 PM on June 27, 2002

Stanislaw Lem
posted by crunchland at 9:16 PM on June 27, 2002

As for some of the names mentioned above, consider whether they show up on on a trusted source: Owlcroft House's Great Science Fiction And Fantasy Works.

Tim Powers - 3*s to Vance's and Davidson's 4.

Moorcock-2.5 *

Moorcock seems to me an author capable of high-quality work who has elected, for whatever reasons (but likely financial ones), to substitute quantity for that quality. He is good enough that even his potboilers are passable reading, and the situation is exacerbated by the fact that his quirkiness has caused a devoted cult of followers, who--in my opinion--mistake originality for quality, to arise. What some will pay to read, others will write.

I agree: Moorcock had promise but decided to become the next Piers Anthony. As for some of the rest...

Zelazny - 1*

Ellison, Sheckley, Spinrad - didn't make the cut.

I agree with these choices as well.
posted by y2karl at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2002

Stone Junction by Jim Dodge -- one of only a very few books he wrote, and not exactly Sci-Fi, more in line with Tim Powers. Both excellent reads. I suppose having 4 (5 if you count the new one) movies made on your work pretty much puts you in the big leagues, I still count P. K. Dick as an underdog.
posted by daver at 9:32 PM on June 27, 2002

ah yes, and for more recent writers (since 1993? or so), Martha Wells never ceases to amaze and astonish me.

hmm, that owlcroft dealie only gave her 2 stars. well :P to that. and they gave Vance 5 stars not 4, hehe.

good thing I'm not so intoxicated yet as to use "without question" again...

two-slash-one stars for Bester?! the man is an absolute god, an actual pioneer of the genre. criminey! except for the ones I agree with, that list is an absolute sham!
posted by dorian at 9:39 PM on June 27, 2002

wow, this thread could really long. Disch, Lem LeGuin are too favorites of mine, as well Anthony Burgess, and Ron Goulart.
posted by fletcher at 9:48 PM on June 27, 2002

Paul Cornell
Steve Lyons
Paul Magrs
Lawrence Miles
Lance Parkin
posted by feelinglistless at 10:46 PM on June 27, 2002

Great thread. My favorites are the really old sci-fi authors from the thirties and fourties, before so much of science fiction was just aliens running around doing human things in space. Cordwainer Smith and Theodore Sturgeon are two favorites. Owlcraft only gave Smith three stars and doesn't list Sturgeon at all (for shame!) but they're great. I found a great 1955 two-volume collection in a used book store in Seattle for $8 a few years back with stories by both. Unfortunately half of it got lent out and not returned or I'd have some other names for you.
posted by krakedhalo at 11:01 PM on June 27, 2002

Have to echo what was said of Thomas Disch — The Dreams Our Stuff is Made On was a damn good thing for someone like me who hadn’t read sci-fi in quite a while (abandoning it, the good with the dross, due to misguided intellectual-posturing). The Genocides is especially brutal (and old enough it should be more well known, written in ’62 or so).

Robert J. Sawyer is another recent find, whom I didn’t know about till recently but I guess he does have cred in the sci-fi world (Calculating God was up for a Hugo, but had the luck of being nominated at the same time as the fourth book in a popular boy-wizard series). His new book, Hominids takes the idea of parallel universes and gallops away with it, and never drops the ball. He’s the best choice you can make if you like, say, movies like Jurassic Park and want something similar in writing, without having to drop straight down to reading Michael Crichton himself.

But “old-school” sci-fi authors...plenty of writers have done great sf but aren’t thought of as sf writers (Anthony Burgess, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.) due mainly to their prolific output otherwise. I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head of sf writers who’ve done the opposite — though Kim Stanley Robinson may have just done it with The Years of Salt & Rice, which is beautiful.
posted by sherman at 11:14 PM on June 27, 2002

Kilgore Trout. Venus on the Half Shell rocked.
posted by mimi at 11:27 PM on June 27, 2002

In high school I read a lot of Philip K. Dick and a lot of Samuel R. Delany.
posted by tingley at 11:35 PM on June 27, 2002

Bester wrote less than a handful of books before he went off to edit Horizon--only one first rate novel makes for so low a rating. A god he is definitely not. As for owlcroft, his list is fairly comprehensive and well considered--of those he included and thought of highly enough, he provides lucid and cogent analysis. As for those he left off, for one reason or another, none of the names mentioned above could hold a candle to the likes of Davidson or Vance. And he's honest enough to admit who and what he has not read--
I cannot, despite almost half a century of voracious reading in SF&F, lay claim to an intimate knowledge of all of even the better authors and works. Since I have adopted a policy of simply not dealing with mediocre or bad works, I run the risk of appearing on occasion to be implicitly castigating one or another author or book when I have simply overlooked him or her or it. That I regret, but prefer to the drudgery of discussing inferiority.
--and, judging from the names on his list, who among us has read as much as him?

But tastes differ: Philip K Dick is not in Owlcroft, due in part, no doubt, to his all too often piss poor, slap dash sentences. Literary quality is one of owlcroft's stated requirements. Dick had his merits and powers but stylist was never an apt description of him. Yet I would have included him.

I erred--Vance, as did Lafferty, got the highest rating--and yet you call it a sham, dorian? Oh, I see now I missed the except for the ones I agree with...
posted by y2karl at 11:37 PM on June 27, 2002

Anyone who could dream up The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897) , War of the Worlds (1898), and The Island of Dr. Moreau (1895) gets top billing with me.
posted by iconomy at 11:40 PM on June 27, 2002

There's Howard Waldrop who is often ignored by the mainstream because he mostly writes short fiction, though they are pretty good tales, like Mr. Goober's Show or The Ugly Chickens. My favorite by him is Night of the Cooters, which is a retelling of the War of the Worlds, but told as if the Martians landed in Texas instead of New Jersey, and written with character actor Slim Pickens as the protagonist.

Another favorite is Bradley Denton, writing stories like Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede and The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians.
posted by bragadocchio at 11:43 PM on June 27, 2002

I have always also had a weakness for short stories, and Alan Dean Foster wrote some in the 70's, specifically two stories(The Empire of T'ang Lang and Dream Done Green) that owned me in ten pages. Haven't been as impressed since, so maybe that's just a snippet of a writer's arc that I appreciate. But a praying mantis laying in wait outside my office window still shuts production down, as I stare and drift into another critter's world. Did you know a large mantis is one of the few creatures that can hunt hummingbirds?

Clarke got me started on SF with his short stories. I've always had a particular love for the skilled use of the dagger, as opposed to the armada.
posted by dglynn at 11:48 PM on June 27, 2002

If I could only take the work of one sci-fi author to a desert island it would be Stanislaw Lem - Solaris and the Cyberiad alone are just fucking brilliant. He is so far beyond everyone else, he is his own genre. If I could take two authors it would be Lem and Vance.

Overlooked? Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light alone should cement his reputation. Walter Miller Jr. - A Canticle for Liebowitz. Theodore Sturgeon - I own his collection of short stories and Microcosmic God never fails to amaze me.
posted by vacapinta at 12:00 AM on June 28, 2002

Mister Cyril Kornbluth.

He knew more about now, then, than lots of people know now.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:21 AM on June 28, 2002

Moorcock had promise but decided to become the next Piers Anthony. As for some of the rest...

Comic book writer Warren Ellis once told a story about how Moorcock had to pay a bill and quickly (within a few days) buzzed off a 40,000+ word novel to pay off the debt.

Disch is definitely worth checking out, and is incredibly overlooked. He has a tendancy to write sentences that are far too eloquent for their own good.

John Shirley's "Eclipse" is horribly overlooked, a cyberpunk book that is as relevant today as it was in 1985 (most cyberpunk could only dream of ageing as well).

Though "only" comic book writers, Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis have spun together tales that rely on definite sci-fi elements ("Invisibles" and "Transmetropolitan" respectively) and have been more overlooked than they should be (though the mainstream is definitely picking up on them).

Steve Erickson is rather well known, but his name should be on every person in America's tongue. When he's on, he has few rivals (when he's off ummmm.... *whistles*)

Greg Bear's "Blood Music" was incredible and Gordon R. Dickson's "Soldier Ask Not" is definitely worth checking out.

In general, Sci-Fi authors don't get the credit they deserve. After all, the sci-fi section is often treated like a literary ghetto, but, as Philip K. Dick pointed out in Shifting Realities, few sci-fi writers do it for the money or recognition.
posted by drezdn at 12:43 AM on June 28, 2002

Don't mean to go all Mormon on you all and shit.

But have you fuckers read that book Ender's Game and shit?

That's what it's all about.
posted by crasspastor at 1:45 AM on June 28, 2002

this is kind of a weird thread. my first reaction was that since i had read works by most of the authors mentioned, they couldn't really be considered underdogs.

(i haven't even heard of any of the ones on feelinglistless' list though...hmm...feelinglistless posted...a list!)

then i realized: i actually read sci fi.

i agree with drezdn: sci-fi authors don't get the credit they deserve.

tim powers is fun, but there's not a whole lot of depth there.
iain banks culture series is great fun too, but i couldn't really get into his other stuff.

i cast my vote of "literarily significant" underdog for sam delaney.
posted by juv3nal at 2:17 AM on June 28, 2002

Steve Aylett - does things with the English language that can turn you in your skin, but I don't think he'll ever enjoy massive popularity.
posted by hmgovt at 2:27 AM on June 28, 2002

not so much sci-fi as fantasy (god i hate this categorization thing) but the few novels that Barry Hughart wrote I recommend to everyone I know.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 3:03 AM on June 28, 2002

AE van Vogt
posted by todd at 4:29 AM on June 28, 2002

Michael Moorcock, definitely. David Zindell. Iain M Banks. Robert Silverberg and Fritz Leiber get my old schoool votes.

awesome recommendations, generally. :)
posted by elphTeq at 5:02 AM on June 28, 2002

posted by mcwetboy at 5:51 AM on June 28, 2002

i'll third john brunner, second fritz leiber and first piers anthony! c'mon -- split infinity, on a pale horse and macroscope alone are enough to cement his SF/fantasy heavy metal cred :)

btw, for intriguing relative unknowns i've been refering to the antipope's sideblog reading list. also recently came across a bit speaking highly of c.j. cherryh... oh and robert charles wilson! not to be confused with RAW :)

michael a. stackpole?
posted by kliuless at 6:40 AM on June 28, 2002

Melissa Scott. Her DreamShips is a wonderfully inventive cyberpunk-inspired novel with an unusual conception of space travel. She's also in a niche all to herself, as she describes on her site: "one of the few lesbians writing about queer characters whose science fiction is published by the so-called mainstream SF houses."
posted by rcade at 6:59 AM on June 28, 2002

on a pale horse and macroscope alone are enough to cement his SF/fantasy heavy metal cred

Or maybe they're just barely enough to redeem him for the Xanth novels, bringing him to neutral.
posted by crunchland at 7:58 AM on June 28, 2002

Gene Wolfe.

Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer you've never read, the greatest SF/fantastic fiction novelist to be completely ignored by Hollywood, possibly the greatest co-inventor of a potato-chip ever to be published.

But it's no use. I've tried my whole adult life to get people to read Gene Wolfe. Then they take one look at the first book of the New Sun ("The Shadow of the Torturer") and think it's John Norman's "Slave Girl of Gor" or something....

Wolfe, Lem, James Tiptree, Jr., and I'm excited by an Australian writer whose name escapes me...waitaminit (googling)....Sean McMullen, that's it. Good stuff.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:00 AM on June 28, 2002

Would James Tiptree Jr. be considered an underdog? I think she was great.
posted by darkpony at 8:02 AM on June 28, 2002

Walter Tevis is my favorite modern writer in any genre or none, and no-one I've ever mentioned him to had heard of him. He didn't write many books, but how's this for genre-spanning: in 1961, he wrote The Hustler; two years later, he wrote The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Then, for seventeen years, he drank, and wrote nothing; then, the mournfully beautiful science-fiction novel Mockingbird — my favorite book.

Random House has sample chapters on-line, so you can get addicted for free: here's the first chapter of Mockingbird, and here's the first chapter of The Man Who Fell To Earth.
posted by nicwolff at 8:05 AM on June 28, 2002

I've been grooving on Iain M. Banks (especially his Culture series) after Consider Phlebas was recommended in a MeFi thread that I can't find.

The only bad part about Banks is that his Sci-Fi is either not printed in the US or out of print so I had to order from
posted by bshort at 8:07 AM on June 28, 2002

Damn, the two I was going to mention noted right before I post. It's worth mentioning, first of all, that PJF just won the Grand Master award from the SFWA, so he's not that overlooked. That said, Gene Wolfe is one of my absolute favorite writers and James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon) has written some of the best stories I've read (and lead a rather remarkable life). If you can find a copy of Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by Tiptree (it's now out of print) it's definitely worh perusing. In addition to Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun I'd also recommend The Fifth Head of Cerberus and, for short stories, The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories. Here's a nice article from the Washington Post praising Wolfe. I agree that Disch and Moorcock are great too (but you have to choose your Moorcock carefully).

As far as SF criticism goes there's no one more authoritative than John Clute. He's read everything, and he's a smart and literate reviewer.
posted by finn at 8:35 AM on June 28, 2002

Some of my semi-obscure favorites, not mentioned above:

Julian May

Norman Spinrad
posted by MattD at 8:38 AM on June 28, 2002

Iain M. Banks' sci-fi is astounding and wonderful - sociological commentary and riproaring yarns. His dark fiction (written under 'Iain Banks') is also superb... Walking on Glass is a personal favourite: twisted, evocative and moving.

Nevertheless, he's far from a nobody. Lem, Wolfe, Zelazny, Card, Silverburg, Moorcock are also by no means unknown, but perhaps they're unappreciated by the Star Trek PocketBook crowd.

Robert J. Sawyer, as mentioned is a great idea-man. Most of his recent books suck, though. Calculating God, despite its potential, had quite possibly the worst ending of any book I've ever read. Sawyer's Quintaglio Ascension (Farseer; Fossil-Hunter; and Foreigner;) is his best work... a world where dinosaurs have evolved into modern creatures, without a trace of cheese, and who are pushed by difficult circumstances from their Medieval age to a spaceship future within just over a century. Political drama meets fantasy exploration meets Sigmund Freud meets Gladiator.

There's one fantabulous, "classic" sci-fi author I'm astonished hasn't been mentioned here. The Great Clifford Simak. His endings were never perfect, but his stories! His stories!
posted by Marquis at 8:40 AM on June 28, 2002

bshort: Iain Banks has been my favourite author for almost twenty years (since I read his first fiction novel The Wasp Factory in the mid-eighties). His science fiction (both the Culture series and the non-Culture books) and his fiction are first-rate (with a couple of notable exceptions, and note that Classic Glamour Photography, which always pops up in a search, is a different Iain Banks). A good source for Banks books is, and they tend to be slightly less expensive than Amazon. His newest book (fiction, not science fiction), Dead Air is due in September. Ken MacLeod (a friend of Iain Banks') writes interesting political science fiction.

I also like Greg Egan and Greg Bear.
posted by biscotti at 8:43 AM on June 28, 2002

Definitely agree with biscotti on the Greg Bear thing. I loved his Blood Music, sort of a biotech/nanotechnology what if.
posted by paladin at 9:15 AM on June 28, 2002

Barrington Bayley -zen master of the space opera.

Barry N. Malzberg -the most depressing sf writer ever. (but somehow still fun!)

Also, Disch is great, but I think his short stories beat his novels.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:20 AM on June 28, 2002

May I suggest, again, this time by a title, The Avram Davidson Treasury? For underrated--and this is what the question was--he has all the above and all too often over-rated names whupped by a country mile.

For the most part this bearded Orthodox Jewish autodidact wrote what one might call fantasy, of a sort, sometimes drifting into the starry realms of science fiction and sometimes into the wild gardens of the antiquarian essay (see the wonderful -- and highly idiosyncratic -- Adventures in Unhistory). Grasping fruitlessly for comparisons, his admirers have likened Davidson to Saki, Chesterton, John Collier, Lafcadio Hearn, Kipling, even I.B. Singer and S.J. Perelman. And you can see what they mean. I would add that he frequently reminds me of the New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell: Two similarly brilliant stylists with a compassionate interest in bohemians, losers, immigrant culture, New York, oddities, con artists, crackpot inventors, and the passing of humane, small-scale neighborhood life.

Don't be frightened by the price--it's out in paper now. The Sources Of The Nile is one story that still resonates with me. Ah, T. Pettys Shadwell, "the most despicable of living men"... The Golem, too, is a classic.
posted by y2karl at 9:33 AM on June 28, 2002

An amazing novel that no one has mentioned yet is Red Spider, White Web by Misha.
Nightmarish, dystopian, hallucinatory, and profoundly feminist; llike nothing else I have ever read.
posted by Rebis at 10:42 AM on June 28, 2002

I strongly second the Barry Hughart recommendation, and Brian Aldiss, Clifford D. Simak, Barry B. Longyear and Connie Willis all deserve nods.
posted by rushmc at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2002

May I suggest Octavia Butler? Everyone I've lent Wild Seed or Lilith's Brood to has been unable to put them down. And no, I didn't glue them to their hands, either.
posted by kittyloop at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2002

hee hee, a new used-book store just opened up in my town (before this there were NONE! only b&n) and I picked up a whole set of May's pleistocene series for one measley dollah. no more having to go into the city for Strand, now I can hang out here and watch the bookseller and his friend play guitar.

Gene Wolfe is definitely underrated, I always mean to read more of his work but never seem to.

For more hardcore science types, you can't beat Sheffield or Vinge.
posted by dorian at 12:07 PM on June 28, 2002

The Great Clifford Simak. His endings were never perfect, but his stories! His stories!

Until I saw your mention of him, I had forgotten how great he was. Simak's the type of author I remember mainly in the library when I walk past his books.

The other time I'm likely to remember him is when I hear people talk about social anxiety disorder, as it was an important element in his brilliant book City pointing to a future where most people would be afraid to talk to each other in person (not to mention the talking dogs).
posted by drezdn at 12:39 PM on June 28, 2002

sarcasm and joking aside, I did find the owlcroft list pretty decent...I became quite enamored of it once I was assured that there would be no mention of Jordan or Eddings or Goodkind recipe-ilk.

comment, comment, comment. I'm such a scattershell.

yes, Cherryh is a must, especially her older work. Cyteen, a true classic. and I love the Ruskaniya mythology of her one series...especially since it's my heritage.

Stackpole's latest seems very promising too.

ooh! time to get ready for a weekend at the beach, which book shall I take?!
posted by dorian at 12:47 PM on June 28, 2002

BTW, Solaris the Movie (the second after Tarkovsky's) is on its way (dir. Soderbergh, starring Clooney)
posted by vacapinta at 1:28 PM on June 28, 2002

biscotti: cool, thanks for the tip. I'll check them out.
posted by bshort at 1:32 PM on June 28, 2002

Then, for seventeen years, he drank, and wrote nothing; then, the mournfully beautiful science-fiction novel Mockingbird — my favorite book.

Wow. Talk about bleak. I guess that's what 17 years of not writing and just drinking will do to you.
posted by crunchland at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2002

another thread for the 'favourites' drop-down. big up greg egan and philip jose farmer (early stuff mainly), bo bo, fire up, booyaka, rinse out, rewind etc.
posted by asok at 2:01 PM on June 28, 2002

Oh, and Olaf Stapledon! (Sorry, Marquis, I had overlooked your shout-out to Simak when I posted earlier.)
posted by rushmc at 2:10 PM on June 28, 2002

mmmm, stapledon-dyson construct.
posted by dorian at 4:05 PM on June 28, 2002

Greg Egan is really good, not enough people have read his books or short stories.

And he keeps his site updated aswell
posted by Iax at 6:58 PM on June 28, 2002

You guys are all absolutely correct and I love all your selections. May I add C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, Nancy Kress, Marion Zimmer Bradley and James Blish?
posted by Lynsey at 4:21 PM on June 29, 2002

bshort: no problem, but it occurred to me after the fact that you'll likely get even better prices (if you take shipping into account) from here in Canada ( or

I forgot to mention John Varley and Neal Stephenson, too.
posted by biscotti at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2002

« Older Just who is spamming you and how?   |   A great music editor passes on. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments