I grew up a voracious reader. In elementary school, I shared my classmates’ love for comic books – but, unlike my fellow classmates, I also had a passion for science fiction. It was a habit my mother fed, often surprising me with the books I would read through the summer months. From early July to late August, while all of my friends were out and about, my outdoor activities consisted of sitting poolside, flipping through sci-fi classics. There were a lot of terrific SF authors I discovered later in life (Octavia Butler, John Scalzi, Gene Wolfe) but, looking back, I really owe a lot to the following writers who helped shaped my imagination during those formative years where my creative output consisted of twisty short stories and The Robot Revolution, a 200+ page novel I handwrote on loose leaf during fourth grade…
10) Pierre Boulle
Makes the list purely on the strength of a single novel that gave birth to one of my favorite SF movie franchises of all time: The Planet of the Apes.
Favorite book: Monkey Planet
9) Michael Moorcock
I discovered his science fiction work through my appreciation for his Elric of Melnibone fantasy series.
Favorite Book: The Final Programme
8) H.P. Lovecraft
Technically horror, yes, but with sci-fi underpinnings.
Favorite short story: “The Colour Out of Space”
7) Stephen King
Though considered a horror author, it’s easy to overlook the fact he’s written some fabulous science fiction as well.
Favorite short story: “The Lawnmower Man”
6) Douglas Adams
His work greatly inspired my affinity for sci-fi with a sense of humor.
Favorite book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
5) Isaac Asimov
One of two SF titans who made multiple appearances on my mother’s Literary Gifts list.
Favorite book: The End of Eternity
4) James Blish
His Star Trek tie-in novels lined my bookshelves, but his original novels were equally great.
Favorite book: A Case of Conscience
3) Arthur C. Clarke
The second of the two SF titans who made multiple appearances on my mother’s Literary Gifts list. I loved the humanity in his stories.
Favorite book: Childhood’s End
2) Ray Bradbury
It started with an in-class reading assignment of “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” and continued with books like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.
Favorite book: The Illustrated Man
1) Harlan Ellison
Like Bradbury, a master of the short story. I’ve read everything he’s ever written twice over.
Favorite book: I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream
I’m sure there are more than a few sci-fi fans out there. Which classic authors inspired your love for the genre? Do tell.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!