How good is SF writer Julian May?

Is Julian May rated by the SF fans on the dope? She’s a popular writer in the UK I would say, maybe one of the biggest SF sellers on the shelves in the 80s - 90s just going by how many of her books used to get stocked in the shops. I really liked her world building, ideas on psychic powers, alien societies - a good all-rounder I would say. THat said, I never hear her mentioned as one for the pantheon, I wonder what her reputation is amongst the cognescenti?

I enjoy SF/fantasy books across the range, but they always get mentally compartmentalised into can write / can’t write. Julian May is a rare in betweener for me, can sort of write. Surprised to see from her wiki that she’s been at it ages, 76 years old!

I used to work in the SF industry (I was a key SF marketing person for a major US book retailer), and was a voracious reader of SF in the 80s & 90s and to tell you the truth, I’ve never even heard of her.

She may have just hit bigger in the UK than the US… it happens sometimes. Or I may be a complete ignoramus… also possible.

“Can sort of write” sums it up. Her galactic milieu mythos promised a lot, but by the time you got to the last couple of books, it was “eh”.

Her Pliocene Exile books are excellent - they’re among my favorite science fiction. The later Galactic Milleu books aren’t nearly as good, and should probably be avoided.

May is also a member of athe very small group of female SF writers capable of writing convincing male characters (actually, as far as I can tell, it’s just her and the younger Ursula K. LeGuin).

FWIW I’ve never heard of her either, though I can’t claim as much SF expertise as you.

I’ve heard of her, but never read her. I think Pepper Mill has. Her books are certainly on sale in the US in common book stores (which is more than you can say about a lot of classic SF writers – try to find Cordwainer Smith without going to a used book store, or contacting the New England Science Fiction Association). I was surprised to see the name “Julian May” attached to episodes of a 1950s SF TV show.
Still, I’ve never seen anything by May in anthologies or anything, and I never bought a May book.

I’ve never read any of her novels, but I’ve always loved “Dune Roller,” which I read in an Alfred Hitchcock collection when I was a kid. I once caught a few minutes of an apparently really awful movie based on the story.

Dune Roller! That was it.

Before it was a Movie, it was on TV’s Tales of Tomorrow:

I remember liking the Pliocene exile novels, but I can’t remember much about them.

I tried to get into the Pliocene Exile Books, but I could never get more than halfway through the first one before I just set it down and didn’t pick it up again.

Add C.J. Cherryh to that group.

May is okay, not spectacular, with the Pliocene Exile books, but somehow managed to turn the Galactic Mileu books into utter duds. An astonishing achievement, given the books’ premise.

I agree.

Lois McMaster Bujold is also often cited for this.