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Old 11-30-2010, 08:21 PM
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Best Science Fiction Author From The 80's On


In response to complaints that my SF Grand-Master poll contained too many old farts-please submit names to be added to a new SF G-M from the 80's on poll.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:30 PM
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Old farts rule!










Spider Robinson
Chris Bunch
Chris Bunch/Alan Cole
David R. Palmer
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:52 PM
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Andreas Eschbach. His The Carpet Makers is the best science fiction novel of the past 20 years. By far.

Though she's been writing since the 60s, Kit Reed truly came into her own in the past ten years, with two great novels, Thinner than Thou, and the second best novel of the past 20 years, Enclave.
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Last edited by RealityChuck; 11-30-2010 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:39 PM
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Margaret Atwood (true, she does not see herself as a sci-fi writer, but her spec fic works are masterful).
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:49 PM
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Off the top of my head:

Connie Willis
C.J. Cherryh
Vernor Vinge
Greg Bear

Some started in the 1970's, but I think all made the bulk of their fame after 1980.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:51 PM
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Peter F. Hamilton.

hands down winner, fantastic space opera.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:52 PM
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Two more:

William Gibson ( not a favorite, but should be in the conversation )

Neal Stephenson
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:53 PM
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David Brin
Peter F. Hamilton
Vernor Vinge
Robert Charles Wilson

Not all exclusively since 1980 but all had the major portion of their career since then.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:03 PM
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Richard K Morgan. Hands down, that is all. Although I've had enough male/male rape to last me for a couple of decades. Leave off that please/thx.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:04 PM
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Richard K. Morgan
David Weber

ETA:


Quote:
Originally Posted by sinjin View Post
Richard K Morgan. Hands down, that is all. Although I've had enough male/male rape to last me for a couple of decades. Leave off that please/thx.
That's really just in his fantasy book(s). I hear the sequel to The Steel Remains will be out next Sept. cite And yeah, except for that, it was a pretty damn good book.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 11-30-2010 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:08 PM
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I'd vote CJ Cherryh if I had to pick one, if only for her contributions to the fiction of "going native".
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:19 PM
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I'm unsure who I'd vote for, but to the list I would add:

Stephen Baxter
Greg Egan
Alastair Reynolds
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:32 PM
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James Tiptree Jr., pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon
John Varley
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:34 PM
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I'll add Orson Scott Card and Robert J. Sawyer
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:48 PM
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James Tiptree Jr., pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon
John Varley
I'd argue against either of those being a post-1980 author. Both really did a lot of their major work in the seventies.
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:01 PM
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:28 PM
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Terry Bisson
Cory Doctorow
  #18  
Old 11-30-2010, 11:38 PM
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Iain Banks
China Mieville
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:39 PM
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Charles Stross
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:01 AM
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Spider Robinson, Orson Scott Card, and Greg Bear aren't as bad as some of the others, but why wasn't Robert L. Forward put on the list already?
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:01 AM
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Lois McMaster Bujold
Stephen R. Donaldson
Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:09 AM
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Two more:

William Gibson ( not a favorite, but should be in the conversation )

Neal Stephenson
Darn that's exactly the two I was gonna mention. This is where I realize most of the SF I read was written before the eighties.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:11 AM
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Some candidates off the top of my head:

Greg Bear
James P. Hogan
John Scalzi
John Varley
Gregory Benford
Orson Scott Card
William Gibson
Robert L. Forward
David Brin
David R. Palmer
Vernor Vinge
Connie Willis
Neil Gaiman
Kim Stanley Robinson

Last edited by Sam Stone; 12-01-2010 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:15 AM
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Some candidates off the top of my head:

Neil Gaiman
Gaiman wrote SF??
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:45 AM
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Would Fred Saberhagen be eligible? He published some stuff in the 60s, but lots of stuff in the 80s....

Another vote for Spider Robinson

And a nomination for Robert Adams to close out my ballot.

Last edited by Oakminster; 12-01-2010 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Zombie
Gaiman wrote SF??
Gaiman won the 2002 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel for "American Gods". It also won the Nebula in 2003. He won a Hugo for his short story "A Study in Emerald". He won a Hugo for "Coraline". He's been nominated for Locus Awards 25 times and won 15.

Last edited by Sam Stone; 12-01-2010 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
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Gaiman won the 2002 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel for "American Gods". It also won the Nebula in 2003. He won a Hugo for his short story "A Study in Emerald". He won a Hugo for "Coraline". He's been nominated for Locus Awards 25 times and won 15.
The Hugo awards are for best "Sci-Fi or Fantasy work". I think American Gods and Coraline are pretty clearly in the "Fantasy" side of that (I've never read "A study in Emerald").

Some authors kinda bridge sci-fi and fantasy, and you can't really put them in one camp or another, but I don't think Gaiman is one of them. His stuff is pretty straight up fantasy (and I'd vote for him if we do a "best post-1980 fantasy author" thread).
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:07 AM
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Speaking of Gaiman though, I'll nominate Alan Moore.
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Old 12-01-2010, 02:09 AM
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The Hugo awards are for best "Sci-Fi or Fantasy work". I think American Gods and Coraline are pretty clearly in the "Fantasy" side of that (I've never read "A study in Emerald").
A very clever take on the original Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet." Insomuch as it features
SPOILER:
vaguely Cthulhuian Elder Gods ruling the British Empire
, I'd label it solidly as fantasy. Great fantasy, but fantasy.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:02 AM
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David Brin, is, to my mind, the best SF author of the last 20 years. Reading his stuff is spectacular in its sense of wonder, science, and adventure. But his glacial pace holds him back.

John Varley and Jack McDevitt deserve a shout out. McDevitt, in particular, does space adventure very well with both the Priscilla Hutchins and Alex Benedict novels.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:10 AM
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Bruce Sterling
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:13 AM
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Dan Simmons stands out for me.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:14 AM
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Seconding John Scalzi.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:15 AM
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Steven Baxter
Paul McAuley
Jack McDevitt
Ian McDonald - The Dervish House is probably the best sf novel I've read this year...
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robert Charles Wilson
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:33 AM
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:59 AM
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Ian M. Banks , totally no contest.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
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Gaiman won the 2002 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel for "American Gods". It also won the Nebula in 2003. He won a Hugo for his short story "A Study in Emerald". He won a Hugo for "Coraline". He's been nominated for Locus Awards 25 times and won 15.
Harry Potter won a Hugo too. Winning a Hugo does not make a book science fiction.

Quote:
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I'd argue against either of those being a post-1980 author. Both really did a lot of their major work in the seventies.
Varley wrote Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Red Thunder, Wizard, Demon, Millenium, The Pusher, and Press Enter after 1980. He was only 33 in 1980. I think he can reasonably be included in this poll.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:21 AM
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Top of the list, gotta be Iain Banks. Superb craftsmanship, brilliant ideas, a very well worked out SF universe ... his concept of how life might be in a truly wealthy society, and with superhuman AIs commonplace ... absolutely brilliant. No one else is on his level.

That said, Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson (a weak craftsman compared to the rest, but the ideas are SO FUCKING INTERESTING) C. J. Cherryh (Downbelow Station was a RIIIIIIIIIDE and the Chanur were a TRIIIIIP!) William Gibson, genius-level craftsmanship and his vision of cyberspace still is fascinating. I'm probably forgetting one or two, though I read all the entries previously and rejected those named for various reasons, though I have enjoyed their work. Gotta be something really, really special to get on this list, and these people are, in my opinion.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:43 AM
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Varley wrote Steel Beach, The Golden Globe, Red Thunder, Wizard, Demon, Millenium, The Pusher, and Press Enter after 1980. He was only 33 in 1980. I think he can reasonably be included in this poll.
It's a matter of opinion. But the way I look at it, Varley made a huge impact in the seventies when he was writing major stories one after another. By 1980, he was still writing stories but his output was slowing. He pretty much stopped writing by the mid-eighties and almost disappeared for ten years.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:50 AM
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David Brin, is, to my mind, the best SF author of the last 20 years. Reading his stuff is spectacular in its sense of wonder, science, and adventure. But his glacial pace holds him back.
Are you talking about the pace within his books or the pace at which he writes?

If you're talking about his writing, I agree that Brin's hit an inexplicable dryspell. He used to release a new novel every year or two. But he basically came to a full stop after Kiln People in 2002.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:08 AM
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Excellent list! Scalzi's interesting: he writes firmly in the Heinlein vein, but his prose is much more than workmanlike, and his characters are, if not exactly realistic, still much more so than Heinlein's. As annoying as I find Heinlein's writing, I always look forward to a new Scalzi book.

Robert Charles Wilson is my recent favorite, entirely for Spin, which is the best SF I've read in the last 10 years.

Ian Banks doesn't really do it for me, but I've only read one of his books; I don't remember the name or the plot (began with a superscience woman using an intelligent missile to devastate a medieval army), but maybe it was one of his weaker ones.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a total idea man, with reasonably good prose. Damn, his books are slow. I mean, goddamn.

Richard Morgan? Meh. Again, I read one by him, about a neanderthal mercenary (more or less), and while it was diverting, I didn't really feel the need to read more.

Are we counting folks who have written a lot in the time period, or only folks who started in the time period? If the former, you know I gotta nominate Ursula LeGuin. While her most famous works are from the 70s, she's written some stellar SF in the past few decades also.

If Neal Stephenson would team up with someone who would tell him how to end a book, I might consider voting for him.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:00 PM
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Two names that I haven't seen so far:

Jonathan Lethem
Ted Chiang


Both I'd say should be in the running for Best SF Author, but maybe not if the poll is for some sort of modern day Grand Master.
Neither has the amount of output that I feel would be required for the latter.

However, even with the above two, I'd probably still vote for one of the Robinsons.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:21 PM
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Seconding China Mieville. His works blow the top of my skull off.
Also, Octavia Butler.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:31 PM
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I concur with Robinson, Vinge, and Varley, and would add Niven-and-ournelle and Bujold (mentioned once in a list above).

Like Vinge, Niven and Pournelle both began writing and brought out some important work before 1980, but the majority of what they will be remembered for is their collaborative work, and the great majority of that postdates 1980.

Last edited by Polycarp; 12-01-2010 at 01:31 PM. Reason: I hate typoes!
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:59 PM
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Butler--great idea! Wild Seed is the best vampire-versus-werewolf story ever. Granted, it contains neither vampires nor werewolves. I'm still right.

China Mieville is amazing, but I wouldn't classify anything he's done as science fiction, with the possible exception of making a snarky technicality argument for Kraken.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:59 PM
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How about the man who never grows old: Robert Silverberg?

Since 1980, some highlights:
Sailing to Byzantium (1984)
At Winter's End (1988)
The Face of the Waters (1991)
Kingdoms of the Wall (1992)
Hot Sky at Midnight (1994)
Starborne (1996)
The Alien Years (1997)

also:
Robert Reed
Ted Chiang
Orson Scott Card
  #47  
Old 12-01-2010, 02:53 PM
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How about the man who never grows old: Robert Silverberg?
For some reason, I can't STAND Silverberg's prose. It's so flat, dull and lifeless. I think those years of being the most prolific, high-speed hack EVER did Something Bad to his writing talent.
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:16 PM
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I agree: I've tried Silverberg several times, and really don't get the appeal.
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Old 12-01-2010, 04:06 PM
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Neal Stephenson (a weak craftsman compared to the rest, but the ideas are SO FUCKING INTERESTING)
For me, Stephenson is like watching a world-class gymnast who, at every performance, executes maneuvers of such unbelievable dexterity and perfection that you can't even imagine how such things are humanly possible, and then at the very end, does a belly flop onto the mats with accompanying trombone "Wah-wah" sound. Every. Goddamn. Time.
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:21 PM
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In order, based on a combination of the quality and quantity of work I've read by them:

1. Alastair Reynolds
2. C. J. Cherryh
3. Iain M. Banks
4. Peter F. Hamilton
5. Richard K. Morgan
6. Vernor Vinge
7. Jack McDevitt
8. Neal Stephenson
9. Octavia E. Butler
10. Charles Stross

and an honourable mention to James Alan Gardner.

And in my opinion all of the above are much better writers than Heinlein, Clarke, Azimov, Niven, Pournelle. I grew up on Science Fiction, cut my teeth on "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," and inhaled everything I could find from the golden age on. The only names I can think of from the old guard who stand up to the younger writers are Sturgeon, Dick, Cordwainer Smith, and Jack Vance .
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