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Werthead

SFX's Top 100 SF&F Authors

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[i]SFX Magazine[/i]'s new special edition is full of coverage on SF&F literature. It's an interesting read, but the most interesting part is their Top 100 Authors list, as voted for by readers of the magazine.

100. James Herbert
99. Gwyneth Jones
98. Sara Douglass
97. Charles Stross
96. Terry Goodkind
95. Brian W. Aldiss
94. Ken MacLeod
93. Olaf Stapledon
92. Michael Marshall Smith
91. Jon Courtney Grimwood
90. Christopher Priest
89. Jonathan Carroll
88. Scott Lynch
87. David Weber
86. M. John Harrison
85. Jacqueline Carey
84. Kim Stanley Robinson
83. Theodore Sturgeon
82. J.V. Jones
81. Joe Abercrombie
80. Joe Haldeman
79. Simon Clark
78. George Orwell
77. Samuel R. Delaney
76. Charles de Lint
75. Julian May
74. Edgar Rice Burroughs
73. Robert Silverberg
72. Susanna Clarke
71. Stanislaw Lem
70. Larry Niven
69. Alfred Bester
68. Katherine Kerr
67. Jack Vance
66. Harry Harrison
65. Marion Zimmer Bradley
64. Richard Matheson
63. Dan Simmons
62. Elizabeth Haydon
61. Terry Brooks
60. Richard Morgan
59. Stephen Baxter
58. Jennifer Fallon
57. Mercedes Lackey
56. CJ Cherryh
55. Harlan Ellison
54. Jasper Fforde
53. Octavia Butler
52. J.G. Ballard
51. Robert E. Howard
50. Sherri S. Tepper
49. H.P. Lovecraft
48. Mervyn Peake
47. Jules Verne
46. Alastair Reynolds
45. Neal Stephenson
44. Clive Barker
43. Jim Butcher
42. Tad Williams
41. Kurt Vonnegut
40. Trudi Canavan
39. Michael Moorcock
38. David Eddings
37. Alan Moore
36. Orson Scott Card
35. Stephen Donaldson
34. Gene Wolfe
33. China Mieville
32. Raymond E. Feist
31. Lois McMaster Bujold
30. Roger Zelazny
29. Anne McCaffrey
28. Steven Erikson
27. William Gibson
26. Guy Gavriel Kay
25. CS Lewis
24. Diana Wynne Jones
23. John Wyndham
22. Philip Pullman
21. Robin Hobb
20. Stephen King
19. Ray Bradbury
18. Arthur C. Clarke
17. Robert Jordan
16. JK Rowling
15. Robert Heinlein
14. Frank Herbert
13. Peter F. Hamilton
12. David Gemmell
11. Ursula K. LeGuin
10. Robert Rankin
9. HG Wells
8. Philip K. Dick
7. Iain M. Banks
6. Isaac Asimov
5. George RR Martin
4. Douglas Adams
3. Neil Gaiman
2. JRR Tolkien
1. Terry Pratchett

An interesting list, especially since [i]SFX[/i] is not primarily literary-focused. There are some dubious votes in there (Goodkind, Douglass, Canavan) but all in all I'd say it's a reasonable list and mercifully non-epic-fantasy oriented. There's a lot of classic SF and Fantasy authors in there (blame Gollancz's Mastworks series, which have done very well in the UK and boosted the profiles of many authors) and the newbies are much further down the list (Lynch and Abercrombie near the bottom, no sign of Ruckley or Rothfuss at all).

The Top Ten is the most interesting. I like Robert Rankin but as a good popcorn author. His books are funny but rarely make you think very much. He is also quintessentially British in his humour and I don't think his books travel very well. In nearly three years on this board, I've hardly ever seen his name come up at all. Wells, Dick, Asimov and Clarke are all classic SF authors with a tremendous impact on the genre, no problems there. GRRM's presence is a pleasent surprise: I'd expected him to be in the teens somewhere. That said, [i]SFX[/i] itself has boosted GRRM's UK profile by heaping lavish praise on AFFC and [i]Dreamsongs[/i] when they were released, and made AGoT the most modern entry on their SF&F Classics list earlier this year.

Pratchett beating Tolkien? Probably controversial in some quarters, but I think it's a perfectly valid placing, and frankly you'd almost expect it in a UK-centric poll. In the accompanying interview Pratchett says it's a sympathy vote for his alzheimers condition, which I doubt very much. He's simply a prolific author who usually finds something interesting and worthwhile to say in his novels. True, when he overdoes it, it sometimes kills the book dead but 90% of the time he pulls it off to impressive effect.

It's also enlightening that Bakker is nowhere to be seen (though he does get a mini-interview at the rear end of the magazine which is quite amusing). Abercrombie's entry also has a 'hilarious' photography accompanying it, if UK-based boarders want to check out a copy ;)

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Terry Pratchett?! Incredibly dubious choice for #1 (and I liked some of his books).

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GRRM's the first non-English entry in the list, and Asimov right behind. Thank god SFX isn't so provincial as to make 70% of its top 10 Brits... Oh, wait. ;) (I am just joking, BTW, for those who are wondering.)

Pratchett's sold a _lot_, he seems rather well-loved by his fans, and of course there's the personal angle with his recently being diagnosed with Alzheimer's... so, no huge surprise here. Gaiman's doing damned well for himself, too, but not undeservedly. I need to figure out how to convince Linda to let me get the Absolute Sandman volumes...

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GRRM as the top non-Brit is extremely impressive, IMO.

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No Bakker?

Your subtitle lies Wert!!!

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Any word on what sort of circulation SFX has, or how many people participated in the vote?

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I'm pleasantly suprised with Gemmell on the twelfth place.

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I wouldn't have expected Pratchett to beat Tolkien for the first place but like others said, part of it might be the sympathy vote. Not that he isn't an incredible author whose books I enjoy tremendously.. I'm glad to see Martin doing so well. I agree, it is mostly a British oriented list but that's to be expected. I'm delighted that classic fantasy and SF authors haven't been ovelooked.

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I'd switch Tolkien with Pratchett at least....great to see Gaiman and GRRM so high...and Lynch made the list. Michael Moorcock so high is a travesty, though...and Goodkind being ON the list. And JK Rowling so high is just....ridiculous

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[quote]Any word on what sort of circulation SFX has, or how many people participated in the vote?[/quote]

40,000, and they're being rather coy about the second one. It would be rather amusing if it turned out to be less than who voted in our poll, but I rather doubt that.

As for Pratchett, he is a phenomenon. He's 'merely' a big author in the States, but in the UK he's the country's biggest-selling living author other than Rowling. Unlike Rowling, he also gets almost continuous critical acclaim and even the literati seem to have taken to him, after he was endorsed by the likes of AS Byatt (Tony Parsons called him 'our Dickens', which is a fair comparison). I personally am of the opinion that Pratchett will continue to be read a century or two down the line (as will Tolkien) whilst pretty much every other author on this forum will have faded into total obscurity.

Personally I would probably put Tolkien ahead, but Pratchett would definitely be up there.

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180-ish people voted on the [url="http://forum.sfx.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=13514&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=150"]SFX Forum[/url]. More voted by email and snailmail, but how many is unknown.

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No doubt Pratchett is HIGHLY deserving of a top spot and Gaiman as well...I do question some of the choices, though...

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[b]Werthead[/b]
[quote]There are some dubious votes in there (Goodkind)[/quote]

You know. Besides this forum and Malazan, I have yet to meet people who like fantasy but dislike Goodkind. On a couple of other forums that are not strictly Fantasy/sci-fi oriented Goodkind doesn't have such a bad reputation.

I have not read him yet but I wonder what could be worse than The Book of the New Sun ...or Tomas Covenant...or American Gods, although AG is one level higher than TC and TC probably? is better than The Book of the New Sun....

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I actually find Terry Goodkind a very fun read if you can leave your mind somewhere where it won't say "But that's impossible" or "That's very unlikely" or "Are they retards?"

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It's not too bad a list, as these things go.

There's a prominent list of top books in the world chosen by readers (with an accompanying list chosen by literature professors). The top three on that list are:
Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead
Battlefield Earth
:ack:


C.S. Lewis ought to be higher, is my chief complaint. There are a few how ought to be machine gunned off the list (Tad Williams, Donaldson and Pullman catch my eyes), but everybody seems to differ on those choices.* Besides, they all have big readerships. I assume that there are a whole bunch who slipped through the cracks that shouldn't have (ie. Walter Miller Jr.), and a bunch of primarily short story authors who got shafted.


* Though for two of the three I mention, my criticism is that they're just awful writers, just not very good at [i]writing[/i]

[edit: and dear God, David Eddings at number 38. But, but he just keeps writing the same book! Over and over again... Just changes the character names and scenery around a bit, and republishes. I can't be the only one to have noticed this...]

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Absurd list. Pathetic. Inane. Disgusting. Despicable.

Foolish in the extreme.

I would print it out and wipe my ass with it, but it would do it too much honor.

Clive Barker>Jules Verne?

*ETA: Oh, it's a poll.


People are fucking stupid.

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[quote]You know. Besides this forum and Malazan, I have yet to meet people who like fantasy but dislike Goodkind. On a couple of other forums that are not strictly Fantasy/sci-fi oriented Goodkind doesn't have such a bad reputation.[/quote]

Goodkind, like Brooks and Eddings, does well with people who don't read much and those writers are the only ones they pick up on. Generally, the second people start reading more in the genre and come across the really good writers, these authors are consigned to the dustbin. What is quite amusing is that wherever you go, the people who do really like Goodkind tend not to pick up on his 'important human themes' (unless it's a Goodkind message board) and just enjoy it as a cheesy fantasy adventure with dragons and magic. And even they usually lose the will to live somewhere around Book 7.

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[quote name='Stego' post='1403820' date='Jun 18 2008, 12.30']I would print it out and wipe my ass with it, but it would do it too much honor.[/quote]
Too much honour to the list or to your ass?

[quote name='Stego' post='1403820' date='Jun 18 2008, 12.30']People are fucking stupid.[/quote]
This is news?

And may I just say...

81 muthafukas!

Take THAT Brian W. Aldiss! In your FACE Chris Priest! Read 'em and WEEP Scott Lynch! Have at you now...

Hold on.

GEORGE 1984ing ORWELL is supposed to be a better writer than ME????????

MMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE???????????

Hello? Complaints department?

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[quote name='Werthead' post='1403855' date='Jun 18 2008, 08.04']Goodkind, like Brooks and Eddings, does well with people who don't read much and those writers are the only ones they pick up on. [b]Generally, the second people start reading more in the genre and come across the really good writers, these authors are consigned to the dustbin.[/b] What is quite amusing is that wherever you go, the people who do really like Goodkind tend not to pick up on his 'important human themes' (unless it's a Goodkind message board) and just enjoy it as a cheesy fantasy adventure with dragons and magic. And even they usually lose the will to live somewhere around Book 7.[/quote]

All true, except for this part.

I've introduced alot of people to fastasy. You'd be surprised how many people are HUGE ASOIAF fans, and still love Sword of Truth and Eragon and other utter shite like that.

The thing is, as you say, they don't really pick up on the "themes" and just read it the way I did when I read most of the series when I was younger. As pure fantasy. In fact, most people stop reading it around the time the themes really start hitting you in the face. (You start feeling it around Soul of the Fire, and then Faith of the Fallen is most people's breaking point)

Alot of people read Goodkind as pulp, and not as a serious thing to be thought alot about.

Eragon I can't account for though. That book is an ass stain on the genre.

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