I was recently asked on social media to name fifteen authors, from whom I would automatically purchase books… without question. Now, I took this to mean authors who are still living (and publishing) — which eliminates a great many old favorites from science fiction, such as Robert Sheckley, Roger Zelazny, Octavia Butler, Alice (Tiptree) Sheldon, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and innumerable others.
Of course, fifteen is such a small (and arbitrary) number! But that was the challenge, so I’ll stick to it. This list focuses largely on science fiction, yet I’ve included a few nonfiction authors as well.
In no particular order, here’s my list. I’ve annotated one particular book written by each author as just one example of their many fine works:
- Vernor Vinge (Rainbows End)
- Kevin Kelly (The Inevitable)
- Kim Stanley Robinson (2312)
- Michael Chabon (Moonglow)
- Nancy Kress (Beggars in Spain)
- C.J. Cherryh (Downbelow Station)
- Tim Powers (The Drawing of the Dark)
- Robert J. Sawyer (Quantum Night)
- China Mieville (The City and the City)
- Greg Egan (Diaspora)
- Gregory Benford (Timescape)
- Greg Bear (Eon)
- Rebecca Solnit (A Paradise Built in Hell)
- Peter Diamandis (Abundance)
- Liu Cixin (The Three Body Problem)
For a longer list, I would most certainly add Joe Haldeman, Larry Niven, Nalo Hopkinson, Jack McDevitt, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross, Stephen Baxter, Neal Stephenson, Ursula LeGuin, Connie Willis, Peter Hamilton, John Scalzi… and the great Robert Silverberg to name just a few.
How can I stop? So many of the books are like old friends… and so many of the authors are old friends.