100 of the best

Back in April I posted about UK based SFX Magazine searching for the top 50 science fiction and fantasy authors. Well, the results are out and they’ve released a top 100. The top ten are:

10. Robert Rankin
9. HG Wells
8. Philip K. Dick
7. Iain M. Banks
6. Isaac Asimov
5. George RR Martin
4. Douglas Adams
3. Neil Gaiman
2. JRR Tolkien
1. Terry Pratchett

I think that’s a pretty strong list, everyone there a worthy top ten place holder. However, not surprisingly, the results are almost certainly skewed by current events. Almost every one of these things over the years has put J R R Tolkien in the number one spot. It seems like Tolkien is the respected father of all things fantasy and he’s naturally accorded first place. It’s like trying to play professional tennis – everyone knows that second place is the equivalent of first really, because no normal human can beat Roger Federer. In the same way, no one can really beat Tolkien in a top fantasy author list.

However, this year Tolkien has been relegated to second place by Terry Pratchett. Now, I’m a massive fan of Terry Pratchett and have every book he’s ever written. I’ve read them all too. But I can’t help thinking that his position at the top of the list is more to do with a combination of sympathy for the shocking news of his Alzheimer’s Disease combined with his higher media profile as a result. Just lately everyone has been reminded of Terry Pratchett. Then again, that’s no bad thing. The man is a bloody genius.

The same applies really to Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams, in third and fourth place respectively. The recent tragic death of Douglas Adams means that he’s higher in the minds of fans than usual and Neil Gaiman is such a media whore that he’s rarely out of the news at the moment. Talk about the darling of the moment. He does seem to work like a dog too, which helps, naturally. Again, these are two authors that I am an immense fan of and in awe of their ability, but I would hazard that media profile has more to do with this list than anything else. Then again, I suppose that’s true of any list. After all, I’m quite clearly the world’s sexiest man, but I just don’t have the PR required for the world to notice. It’s all about getting it out there, baby.

The entire top 100 sci-fi and fantasy authors list, according to SFX, looks like this:

100. James Herbert
99. Gwyneth Jones
98. Sara Douglass
97. Charles Stross
96. Terry Goodkind
95. Brian W. Aldiss
94. Ken MacLeod
93. Olaf Stapledon
92. Michael Marshall Smith
91. Jon Courtney Grimwood
90. Christopher Priest
89. Jonathan Carroll
88. Scott Lynch
87. David Weber
86. M. John Harrison
85. Jacqueline Carey
84. Kim Stanley Robinson
83. Theodore Sturgeon
82. J.V. Jones
81. Joe Abercrombie
80. Joe Haldeman
79. Simon Clark
78. George Orwell
77. Samuel R. Delaney
76. Charles de Lint
75. Julian May
74. Edgar Rice Burroughs
73. Robert Silverberg
72. Susanna Clarke
71. Stanislaw Lem
70. Larry Niven
69. Alfred Bester
68. Katherine Kerr
67. Jack Vance
66. Harry Harrison
65. Marion Zimmer Bradley
64. Richard Matheson
63. Dan Simmons
62. Elizabeth Haydon
61. Terry Brooks
60. Richard Morgan
59. Stephen Baxter
58. Jennifer Fallon
57. Mercedes Lackey
56. CJ Cherryh
55. Harlan Ellison
54. Jasper Fforde
53. Octavia Butler
52. J.G. Ballard
51. Robert E. Howard
50. Sherri S. Tepper
49. H.P. Lovecraft
48. Mervyn Peake
47. Jules Verne
46. Alastair Reynolds
45. Neal Stephenson
44. Clive Barker
43. Jim Butcher
42. Tad Williams
41. Kurt Vonnegut
40. Trudi Canavan
39. Michael Moorcock
38. David Eddings
37. Alan Moore
36. Orson Scott Card
35. Stephen Donaldson
34. Gene Wolfe
33. China Mieville
32. Raymond E. Feist
31. Lois McMaster Bujold
30. Roger Zelazny
29. Anne McCaffrey
28. Steven Erikson
27. William Gibson
26. Guy Gavriel Kay
25. CS Lewis
24. Diana Wynne Jones
23. John Wyndham
22. Philip Pullman
21. Robin Hobb
20. Stephen King
19. Ray Bradbury
18. Arthur C. Clarke
17. Robert Jordan
16. JK Rowling
15. Robert Heinlein
14. Frank Herbert
13. Peter F. Hamilton
12. David Gemmell
11. Ursula K. LeGuin
10. Robert Rankin
9. HG Wells
8. Philip K. Dick
7. Iain M. Banks
6. Isaac Asimov
5. George RR Martin
4. Douglas Adams
3. Neil Gaiman
2. JRR Tolkien
1. Terry Pratchett

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2 thoughts on “100 of the best

  1. I don’t mean to turn this into a Jordan bashing, but honestly, I tried reading his series and couldn’t get through book 4, much less 5. I can’t see standing around waiting for something to finally manifest itself.

    I am glad however that Terry Practhett made it to number 1! He is the only author I have had to ‘collect’ and follow. I sometimes buy multiple copies of his books just because they have different covers.
    This man is a master story teller and someone I will never tire of.

  2. Well said, Patrick. I haven’t gone so far as to buy alternate covers of Pratchett’s work, but I have collected one copy of everything he’s done.

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