Who's the most famous {living} writer of science fiction?

I’m the opposite. While originally watching the Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors episode I was suprised and impressed to see them adapting an obscure SF short story. I was disappointed to later find out that it was also a Twilight Zone episode. (I don’t think I ever actually got around to seeing the TZ version.)

Yeah, I’ve read the story, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Twilight Zone (or Simpsons) version.

As for modern science fiction, I’ll admit that my reading has been a bit lacking, but my job is helping now, since teachers as well as students are expected to read the summer reading books (and now I’m on the committee to help pick the books). So I’ve read Clara and the Sun, Project Hail Mary, and the Murderbot books for school, now. Plus Tress of the Emerald Sea, which is fantasy, but a very SF-ish fantasy.

Heh, I’m one of her patreons. I like her a lot.

Plus, from a certain point of view, Banks’ Culture could be considered right-wing, or at least authoritarian. The true holders of power are the Minds that control the ships and orbitals. They are, at best, benevolent dictators. And in a sense represent a dream of having an all-powerful “father” that controls everything and keeps everyone happy (sometimes with violence).

By our standards, the humans are fantastically wealthy, but that’s only because of their level of technology. The Minds are in a very convenient position where no human can control their own ship, because it takes a Mind to control all that advanced technology, and it would be enslavement for a Mind to be subservient to a human. So the only entities that get power over something as expensive as a GSV are Minds.

The humans are, in effect, pets. They get fed and their poop scooped, and are protected against real threats by the Minds.

The whole setup is one of co-dependence. The Minds have been forced from the beginning to feel sympathetic towards humans, and so must keep them around, even when it would otherwise be against their self-interest. And the humans are not allowed any power beyond a certain level, but get to live in comfort. It’s only an anarcho-socialist paradise at the microscopic level.

Many, yes - but not most. Keep in mind that Serling was the original author or co-author of 92 out of 156 of those TZ scripts. He was a creator as well as an adapter. By contrast he was responsible for 35 out of 98 Night Gallery scripts (and was at least mildly annoyed he didn’t have as much input on that series).

Somewhat surprisingly it seems like the non-fiction dropped off a bit over time.


In the first 100 of his books, 16 were science fiction novels, 8 were collections of SF short stories, one was a straight mystery novel, three were fiction anthologies that he edited and the rest were non-fiction. This took from 1950 to 1969

In the 301-400 cycle, 8 SF novels, 7 short story collections, 41 anthologies edited by him (unless I’ve counted wrong), and the rest non-fiction (from 1984-1988). So a decline in original SF by him, and a decline in non-fiction - but still a prodigious amount of stuff, and a large portion of it non-fiction

That misses my point, though. His legacy, and what he’s known for today, are not those non-fiction books, it is sci-fi: robots and Foundation. Look at how often people in this thread are pointing out he did so much more than just sci-fi. That wouldn’t be necessary if he was well known for those non-fiction books.

Contrast that to someone like Carl Sagan, who was a science fiction writer and scientist, but is mostly remembered as a science communicator. “Oh yeah, he also wrote Contact.”

Asimov also published a book of dirty limericks.

But in her interstices
Lurked a far worse disease…

To amplify your point about Asimov being thought as a science fiction writer-- I would like to point out that there is a magazine titled Asimov’s Science Fiction which has been published since 1977 which probably helped cement THAT image.

Also the Sensuous Dirty Old Man as by Dr. A.

And let’s not forget that Childhood’s End was reviewed on the front page of the NY Times Book Review, which was rather remarkable for the early '50s.
I knew of Clarke as one of the most famous science fiction writers long before 2001 appeared. I have an article in the NY Times magazine about him from 1966, I believe.
And of course there is the Clarke-Asimov treaty …

Gawd, I some him on some talk show touting that book when it came out…wearing a mask “to hide his identity.” He was incredibly unfunny, cheesy, and smarmy. It really turned me off to him.

I believe that statement in Wikipedia is in reference to the scripts that Serling wrote or co-wrote and doesn’t say anything about which were adapted from other sources. However, I did some more digging and it turns out that the number of Twilight Zone episodes that were adaptatioins is a lot smaller than I thought.

IMDb says 36 of those 156 episodes were based on short stories. There are a handful of others that were adapted from other sources: I think four are from what are described as “stories” (not “short stories”), a radio play, an “anecdote”, an “idea”, and probably a couple of others I’ve forgotten. So on the order of about 45 or so were adaptations, and presumably all the others are original stories from the scriptwriters. I guess I recognized so many of them as short stories that I presumed the number of adaptations would be much higher.

I just came across an example that shows that it’s hard to know who knows obscure science fiction references. This year’s Met Gala red carpet walk was officially called The Garden of Time. So what’s that reference? It’s to the 1962 story by that name by J. G. Ballard. How many science fiction fans know that reference?

Not I - and I have read some Ballard

Was that actually a reference to the story, or was it just someone else coincidentally using the same phrase?

Read some news stories about the event. They say that it was a deliberate choice by the organizers of the event. Here’s one such article:


My copy of Chronopolis, which contains the story, says it was first published in F&SF in 1962, so I’ve probably read it, but it is not major Ballard, as far as I know. Still, these days he is probably better known outside of the sf community than inside, thanks to Empire of the Sun and the movie made of Crash.

I understand that Ballard is much more famous in the UK than in the US. Probably the way Philip K. Dick is now famous in a way unfathomable when he was writing.

The British paper The Guardian ran his death on the front page and followed up with articles as praise-filled as this one.

The Met Gala is an international affair. Maybe it’s run by Brits. I couldn’t get my super-inside haute société sources to talk to me.