Who is the greatest science fiction writer of all time?

This thread is for collecting names for a poll.
Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Vinge, Ellison, Pohl and many, many others-which one gets the title of Grandmaster of Grandmasters?


There is no god but Robert, and Spider is his avatar.–deep and profound thing that I made up just for this thread.

According to her, it’s Ray Bradbury :smiley:

H.G. Wells, of course.

Whatever names people suggest, the winner of the poll will be Robert Heinlein. He is to science fiction what the Beatles are to rock.


My vote goes to Isaac Asimov.

I think it’s a bit silly to vote on a single greatest writer for a genre that broad, but if you’re collecting names for a poll, you might want to include:

E. E. Doc Smith
Cordwainer Smith

I could Google a list 20 times that size-I want Dopers to pick one.

Jules Verne.

What do I win?

Of the classic (pre-WWII) writers of science and speculative fiction I would have to cite Jules Verne as being the most literate and details. Wells, while one of the acknowledged founders of science fiction, was not a great writer at his best, and tended to be didactic toward the end of his career.

Of modern writers (post-WWII to the present) I would argue that Fredrick Pohl and Harlan Ellison have been most influential and are the most consistently readable throughout their careers. Other authors like Clarke, Heinlein, Herbert, and Gibson have had fruitful periods but both the quality and scope of work became restricted, and for all many of their later works are readable only by prior fans, as they become so self-referential. Ellison and Pohl, unlike those listed above, continued to write a large body of short fiction throughout their careers, which is often the ideal medium for exploring many concepts in speculative fiction.


The original Dune was the single greatest science fiction novel I have ever read, by leaps, bounds, and light years. I’m going to have to vote for Frank Herbert.

edit: I see the OP has come back and clarified.

So I am changing my post to vote for Harlan Ellison, because Heinlein is getting so many votes and I want to be contrary.

I would not give him my vote as “best,” but certainly better than some other names thrown out there: Philip K. Dick.

Then you could make this a nomination poll and then run one of those elimination games.

And of course, according to Bradbury himself, he shouldn’t be on the list:[

](Books: Grandfather Time (Weekly Alibi . 09-27-99))

I’m aware of his work.

I love Heinlein’s stuff, but it’s just gotta be H. G. Wells.

Ellison would be proud of you. And in the same vein, if it can only be one name, I’ll site Pohl.


Mary Shelley should be given an honorific nod.