Genre fiction: What writers do you think people will still be reading 100 years on?

Charles Dickens wrote genre fiction. So did Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. So did Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. But for every one still being read today, many of their contemporaries have gone out of print and been forgotten. People still read Agatha Christie but John Dickson Carr has fallen by the wayside as has Erle Stanley Gardner.

What 20th century genre writers will still be read in the mid 21st century? Will Louis L’amour survive? How about Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein? Are there any contemporary Romance writers that will still have fans 100 years from now? I have my own opinions but am curious to hear what other dopers think.

John Le Carre. Alexander McCall Smith. Kathy Lette. John Mortimer. Vikram Seth and Graham Greene, if you count them as genre writers.

Asimov and Heinlein, probably.

Stephen King, definitely.

Frank Herbert (unless his son ruins everything). Anne McCaffrey.

I’m probably going to get blasted here, but I was thinking about this very subject today and I really think Piers Anthony (WAIT! WAIT! Let me explain…) will still be read, even if it’s only the Incarnations of Immortality books. That series is the best thing he’s ever written, and (up to the last book, which feels like it was an afterthought) it’s a damn good series.

They’ll still be waiting for Jordan to finish the Wheel of Time series.

nitpick: the mid-21st century is only 50 years away, not 100.

50 years from now, I’d add Lois McMaster Bujold, Larry Niven, and Mercedes Lacky.

100 years from now, probably just Niven from my set.

New stuff.

John Irving

C.S. Lewis

J. K. Rawlings

Tolkein, Lewis, Christie, Sayers, L’Amour, Rowling, Pratchett, and probably a ton of authors whom I already loathe like Lillian Jackson Braun and Eoin Colfer. Bah.

Tolkien might last 500 years or longer.
Rowling stands a good chance of lasting as long as Milne or Baum so I would put her on the 100 year list.
Lewis should have another 100 years.
Heinlein might last 100, but he might not. Asimov will probably be resurrected by a company that makes domestic Robots. Clark will probably fade away.
Regretfully EE Doc Smith is nearly gone.
Tom Clancy will be forgotten.
King will probably fade away.
Anthony will be long gone.
Niven, Pournelle, Brooks, etc. will all fade away.
Anne McCaffrey, LeGuin and L’Engle will probably all last as having more of a feminine touch and appeal to young girls. If the Little House of Prairie books lasts as long as they, these 3 Queens of Fantasy will probably stick around.

100 years is a long time to remain even borderline popular. Milne, Baum, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are very exceptional. You forgot Edgar Allen Poe.

Lovecraft has some staying power also. He has always had a cult following and it has slowly grown rather than diminish over the years.


I have every confidence that Terry Pratchett will remain popular one hundred years in the future. His books have very broad appeal, which means that a large segment of the reading public is a potential audience for him. At the same time his fast pacing, with two or three laughs per page, fits well with today’s short attention spans, and will fit even better with tomorrow’s even shorter attention spans.

Other than him, I don’t hold out too much hope for today’s writers of adult fantasy. Most of it is crap. Of course most novels in any genre at any time are crap. The problem with today’s situation is that the publishing companies put their muscle behind formulaic, uninspired writers. The ten percent who don’t produce crap are rarely given a big marketing push, so they don’t get top-shelf treatment at the bookstores. Can such authors survive for a hundred years? In cases. James Branch Cabell has a reasonable cult following today, seventy years after he stopped publishing. I hold out hope that authors such as Hugh Cook, James Stoddard, and Neal Barrett, Jr., will maintain similar small cores of devoted fans for generations to come.

The thing is, it’s just so hard to predict. I mean, up until quite recently Lud in the Mist was out of print, even though it’s on a whole lot of genre writers’ “most influential” lists. Some things that are insanely popular when they’re written fade away - honestly, I think maybe J. K. Rowling will be one of these. I mean, I like Harry Potter as much as the next girl, but honestly, there’s so much out there that’s so much better - maybe I should say I hope Harry will fall out of favor and that, say, Garth Nix and Phillip Pullman survive.

Among romance authors, possibly Georgette Hayer. And I’m pretty sure that one day kids will be forced to read Stephen King books and whine about how boring they are - I think you’ll be able to buy nice editions of, say, The Shining or The Drawing of the Three in any space-Barnes and Noble, but collectors will be hunting down The Tommyknockers as a rarity and acting like it’s a really good book just because you can’t find it anywhere.

I do think it’s interesting how many “beloved classics” are children’s books (or at least considered as such now), and it might be easier to pick out the new children’s classics than the adult ones.

C.S. Forester

Heinlein, I have no doubt

Fredric Brown, I sincerely hope, for mysteries, schience fiction, and fantasy

Stephen King – take my word. I think he’ll outlast his critics

Rex Stout. If Arthur Conan Doyle has survived this long, Stout will, too.

From Sci-fi:





Why? Because their works are just so “big.” They had an impact, and are still influencing other writers. Ideas like the Dune political intrigues, the Foundation rebuilding the galaxy, aliens influencing Human evolution, an immense artificial world encircling a star, or Valentine Michael Smith don’t easily fade away.

Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren.

John Barth (Is Meta-fiction a genrte?), but not his neighbor James Michener.

Not only will Kipling be remembered, I think he’s overdue for a critical re-evaluation and rehabilitation.

But not Salman Rushdie. He’ll be remembered as a symbol, not the writer of anything anyone will happily read.

Weren’t most of these 19th century writers, though?

Yes, I was repeating the examples of the few Genre writers that did remain popular for 100+ years and adding a major one. That is all. We already know they lasted. But your question brings up a good point, they are all likely to last another hundred years.


I’d agree with all of What Exit?'s post 9, except that I think that Stephen King does have staying power, and his books will probably be read for a loooooooooong time to come. “Salem’s Lot,” “Misery” and “The Stand” will stand the test of time, in particular, I think.

One other author I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned. He’s already stood the test of time, I think.

Edgar Rice Burroughs – his books are still in print. They’re still making Tarzan movies (and not just Disney). I don’t think they’ve ever been out of print. Besides his Tarzan books, you’ve got his Mars series and his Pellucidar series, and minor stuff like Carter of Venus and the Caspak books and the M<oon Maid and a lot of one-offs.

I am really split on King, his books are very popular but he is still an active writer. Other than Poe and Lovecraft, have any other Horror writers had staying power.
Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley for one book each. Who else?
This makes me think that King will also fade, I do not see his stories as timeless. That is why I am not even sure Heinlein will survive the test of time. This is quite a concession from me as he is my second favorite author.


I like to think westerns will always be popular. We’re still fascinated by the old (wild) West, which hasn’t been wild for how long, about 130 years?

So it wouldn’t surprise me to see books by Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Ed Gorman, Robert F. Jones, and Cormac McCarthy in a 22nd century bookstore. Or on the nets. Or whatever.

I think people will always read historical fiction and I have my favorites, but the genre has changed so much, it’s hard to even guess which writers will hold up.