Grand-Master of Science Fiction: The Final Conflict

Culled from the previous post, we have(in alphabetical order)
Isaac Asimov
Arthur C. Clarke
Robert Heinlein
H.G. Wells
Roger Zelazny

And as expected, Asimov takes the early lead!


And Heinlein catches up with BLAZING speed!

Wells over Verne?! Zelazny in??!! What is this? Bizarro world? I’m out.

Sorry, dood-they were the top five in the previous poll.

Of the remaining candidates, I think I honestly prefer to read Zelazny as an adult ( as a kid it would have been Heinlein in a walk ). But of the five I subjectively feel he is probably least qualified to be Grandmaster.

Asimov, much as I respect him, never did a great deal for me as a fiction writer. Ditto Clarke, with some exceptions. Wells has the historical impact and I might have voted for Verne in that regard, but Wells is a slightly tougher sell.

I’d sorta like to go against the grain and vote against Heinlein. Unlike many I wasn’t really influenced by his political/personal outlook as a youngster and sometimes I think he gets a little too much adulation, primarily for that reason.

But honestly he is an eminently worthy candidate and unlike Wells, Clarke or Asimov, I truly did devour his writing at one time. So, Heinlein it is.

I actually voted for Andre Norton in the previous poll, thinking of how engrossing her early SF work was did it for me. That said, I’m happy enough to vote for Asimov in this poll … his stuff was brilliant and engrossing too. Heinlein never did it for me, then again, I smelled the bait-and-switch in libertarian theory early on, his politics might just be why I didn’t like 'em.

Oddly enough, I like Heinlein’s politics just fine. Also like his personal philosophy. So yeah, tally another vote for Admiral Bob.

What Oak said.

Another vote for the chemistry professor.

Grand Master and there can be only one?
Got to be Heinlein.

Now if it had been, best writer? Or best storyteller? Or best plots?
Might be different.
Face it, many of the cliches are there because Heinlein did them first.

I still can’t stand Heinlein, either in his nonfiction (mostly editorial comments) or his political/sexual screeds dressed up in juvenile fiction. If I were trying to introduce someone to SF, and they were over the age of 12, Heinlein is one of the last authors I’d use. The choices make me sad–they seem like they were chosen by people who haven’t read in the field in the last 30 years. But of those listed, Clarke’s far and away the best, so he gets my vote.

Tough call. I enjoy Zelazny’s style, but Heinlein seems to be the one from that list. Within his time, Wells was far and away the master, and had he lived to write in modern times, he might have ended up the winner. Asimov’s writing is just too dry for me, though his plots are a more coherent than Heinlein’s. I’m not surprised Clarke ranks low in the end, a body of work only occasionally marked by inspiration.

Czarcasm - Excellent poll combo, my most exalted highness.

I like Asimov for what he brought to the genre, but I can’t get through his classics. I can take his style in small doses and enjoy his short stories, but I will never finish the Foundation trilogy.

Clark, like Asimov, stuck to harder science and even included many modern technologies in his stories long before they were invented or commonplace. I find him much more readable than Asimov. Like Asimov and other hard science writers, his writing can get a bit daunting and dull.

I’m probably the only sci-fi fan who hasn’t read Heinlein. I feel that I ought to at least read Stranger, but there are always other things higher on my list.

I don’t care for Wells at all. His contemporary, Verne, far surpasses him in every way in my opinion.

Zelazny is much more of a fantasy author in my mind. There are sci-fi elements in some of his stories, but I simply can’t vote for him as a grandmaster of sci-fi.

In the end, it’s Clark vs Asimov. Clark gets the nod for Rendezvous with Rama.

I wish I had seen the set-up thread, though my vote alone wouldn’t have been enough to put over Niven. IMO, he hits the sweet spot of hard science and readability.

Problem is, the best writers in the field in the last 30 years are no match for any of these five choices, except maybe Zelazny. (Though “A Rose for Ecclesiastes”, all by its lonesome, may deny that.) That’s why science fiction’s popularity as a genre has been sinking fast. Bujold, Card, and Varley, for example, are good writers who tell good stories, but are writers that nobody can compare to the five here.

Why don’t you start a poll for the best since 1980?

As you wish.

So who do you suggest? I mean you say Grand Master, it will skew to those that established the tropes that others followed. Wells, Verne, Heinlein, Asimov, Clark and Campbell just seem like obvious choices. I’m surprised Roger Zelazny made the cut and I like his books quite a bit. I own most of them.

I could see William Gibson being mentioned, but who else?

Oh come on. Look at all the tropes Wells gave us:

Invaders from another planet
Time machines
Unobtainium, I mean Cavorite
Mutants (sorta)
Attack of the Giant ________

Plus, the guy could spin a ripping yarn.

Where’s the respect? How could he not be the grand master with those contributions to the genre?

Taking harmless critters and making them monsters merely by super-sizing them was an incredible concept, I have to admit.

Thirded, also I think Zelaney must have had people drugging the voters in the previous poll to appear in this one.