My Top Six Science-Fiction Authors Plus Three to Watch

Frank Herbert, Jr. - Author of Dune
Frank Herbert, Jr. – Author of Dune

I compiled the list. The criteria are authors of science fiction or any sub-genre of science-fiction with longevity. At the end of the article, I have three current writers to watch who, in time, could move on my list but now do not have a sufficient body of work or longevity writing science fiction.

I find that the best science-fiction writers are among some of the most creative writers ever. These authors made my list. I have read the people I have listed. Most will disagree, but these are my favorites.

Ray Bradbury

1. Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction author.

Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and the science fiction and horror stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951). Ray Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers.

He also wrote and consulted on many screenplays and television scripts. These include Moby Dick, and It Came from Outer Space. Many of his works were made into comic books, television shows, and films.

Isaac Asimov

2. Isaac Asimov (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; circa January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke; he was regarded as one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.

Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire Series and the Robot Series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in the earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series.

Later, beginning with Foundation’s Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and before produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson.

He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction “Nightfall,” which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.

Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books historically explain scientific concepts, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its most unadorned stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, history, William Shakespeare’s writing, and chemistry.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

3. Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.

He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time. His other science fiction writings earned him many Hugo and Nebula awards, along with a broad readership, making him into one of the towering figures of the field. For many years, he, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction.

Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, Clarke proposed a satellite communication system — an idea that, in 1963, won him the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal and other honors. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.

Clarke was a science writer, who was both an avid popularizer of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability and wrote over a dozen books and many essays (which appeared in various popular magazines) on these subjects. In 1961, he was awarded a Kalinga Prize, an award given by UNESCO for popularizing science. These along with his science fiction writings eventually earned him the moniker “Prophet of the Space Age.”

Robert Heinlein

4. Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the “dean of science fiction writers,” he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality.

He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the “Big Three” of science fiction authors.

A notable writer of science fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Astounding Science Fiction magazine—though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any significant degree.

Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed specific social themes: the importance of personal liberty and self-reliance, the obligation people owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the importance of space travel on human cultural practices.

Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; also, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded “Retro Hugos”—awards given retrospectively for books and stories that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence.

In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including “grok” and “waldo,” and speculative fiction, as well as popularizing the terms like “TANSTAAFL,” “pay it forward,” and space marine.

He also described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door Into Summer, though he never patented or built one. Several of Heinlein’s works have been adapted for film and television. In Chapter 3 of the novel “Podkayne of Mars,” he anticipated the cell phone, 20 years before the technology was invented by Motorola.

Orson Scott Card

5. Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for science fiction. His novel Ender’s Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986) both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both science fiction’s top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. A feature film adaptation of Ender’s Game, which Card co-produced, was released in late October 2013 in Europe and on November 1, 2013, in North America.

Card is a professor of English at Southern Virginia University, has written two books on the subject of creative writing, hosts writing boot camps and workshops, and serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. A great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, Card is a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In addition to producing a large body of fiction works, he has also offered political, religious, and social commentary in his columns and other writing.

Frank Herbert, Jr.

6. Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction writer best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for science fiction, he was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, short story writer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.

The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with complex themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power. Dune itself is the “best-selling science fiction novel of all time,” and the series is widely considered to be among the classics of the genre.

The photo is Frank Hebert, Jr. I met him at a conference in the late 1970s where he was a speaker.

Three to Watch

Click on their name and the link will take you to their Amazon Author Page to learn more about each. Lindsay Buroker is the most prolific of the three listed below. Each author has a unique style. In time, with focus on the science fiction genre, they could potentially become one of the all-time giants of the genre. Who am I to say this? I am just a fanboy reader of the genre.

  1. Lindsay Buroker
  2. Ernest Cline
  3. Andy Weir

References: Wikipedia articles on the authors and their author pages.

Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004

 

Shiites and Sunnis

The year was 2004. During the spring and summer violence inundated the Iraqi nation. The nation’s Shiites and Sunnis headlined the sectarian fighting. The disbanding of the Army of Iraq by the United States Proconsul fueled the situation.

The results of the United States Proconsul’s actions were the infusing of many scores of angry young men into the streets of the population centers in Iraq. These men had no jobs skills, no jobs, and no prospects for employment.

These men were literally raging in the streets. The Shiite clergy fueled their anger which developed into a rage and campaign for jihad against the United States and all “occupation forces.”

Mahdi Militia

August 2004, Muqtada Al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric, called upon thousands of Mahdi Militia, his armed followers, and de facto private army, to resist the occupation. Fighting would break out in several locations. The holy city of Najaf, the site of the largest Moslem cemetery in the world, and the Imam Ali Mosque were major sites of fighting.

Fighting in 120-degree Heat

U.S. forces found themselves fighting in 120-degree heat. The battleground was through a tangle of crypts, mausoleums, and crumbling graves. The fight was rough. It had the religious zealots against the motivated and disciplined United States Army and Marine Corps troopers. It makes for a spellbinding account of Americans in battle.

The book itself is excellent. Dick Camp tells an exceptional story. The book’s quality is remarkable. I am referring to everything from the writing, a large number of high-quality color pictures, and even quality of the book’s paper. I recommend Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004 by Dick Camp.

A Vision for Writing

visionDisclaimer: This article talks about religion in general and the Christian faith, in particular. Psalm 118:17 says “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”

Christian Writer or Writer Who Is a Christian?

Not all writers who are Christians are called by God to a full-time writing ministry or to write in the inspirational genre. Let’s be honest, not all authors write about God, Jesus or Christian themes.

People write about a variety of subjects. Writers write about what they know or what interests them. I know that is the way I do it.

Not all Christians actively practice their faith and beliefs. Many have struggles with their faith.

I consider myself a writer who is a Christian, not a Christian writer. My faith affects all areas of my life. It slips into my writing most of the time. Sometimes I even do it on purpose!

Encourage Others To Trust in Jesus Christ

Psalm 118:17 is in an account where the psalmist reminds us we should conscientiously do our duty to all, and trust God to accept and bless us. It says we should seek to live to declare the works of God.

It’s okay for a Christian writer to encourage others to trust in Him, serve Him and live for Him. Such were the triumphs of the Son of David, in the assurance that the good pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand.

Commit Our Works to the Lord

We should commit our works to the Lord. Try praying for a vision for your writing, to God to give you the desire to write, and to open doors of opportunity for you to write.

If you are a Believer in Christ, you can then “declare the works of the Lord.” Include your faith in your writing just like you do in your everyday life.

Do Not Hold Back

In the late former Beatles member George Harrison’s autobiography “I, Me, Mine” he mentioned he did not hold back in promoting his Hinduism faith and the Hare Krishna movement with songs like “My Sweet Lord”. He viewed his celebrity as a way to support his beliefs.

Include Your Faith in Your Writing

Why shouldn’t a Christian include faith in his or her writings? Again, Psalm 118:7 says “…declare the works of the Lord.” Habakkuk 2:2 declares “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” The key is the writer needs to write. Your faith is part of who you are.


This article originally appeared in the February 11, 2015 issue of Author Culture.

Patience and Persistence

Negotiating the Labyrinth

Two of my personal traits are patience and persistence. I needed them both this morning as I spent two hours and fifteen minutes online with technical support, customer support, and their managers at a major IT services company.

Without mentioning the web hosting company’s name, I negotiated the labyrinth and achieved my goal of canceling services I had purchased with a full refund. The cancellation was not easy. Getting the full refund was even more of a challenge.

Never Give Up

I had tried their 30-day full money back guarantee purchase of some bundled web hosting services. Each part of the bundle had their own customer retention team whose mission in life was to keep you from canceling. It took an act of will for me to make it through this challenge.

I had hoped to go to coffee with the men in my Bible fellowship class at 7:30 am. Instead, I spent from 6 am to 8:15 am being very patient and very persistent.

The bottom line was, I win.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Comfort

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Have you ever been overwhelmed by your thoughts of how you will be able to handle or manage your loved one’s or your chronic illness? Have the “what ifs” overtook you? Are the majority of your thoughts confused and even torturing you with the cares and fears about the future?

Today we will see how God’s comfort delights our soul. His promises, contained in His word (the Bible), and the memory of our past experiences of His care and kindness to us, afford us comfort. They can restore our discouraged mind.

Today’s Bible Verse:

Psalm 94:19 (KJV), “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

What the verse means:

When we find myself worried because of considering various possible outcomes and scenarios, listen to ungodly counsel from well-meaning friends, or just drown in self-pity, we need to return to the Lord for true rest and comfort. God’s comfort satisfies my soul. Focusing and meditating on His Word and teachings comfort me and actually delight me. True comfort only comes from God’s Holy Spirit!

Praying using the verses:

  1. Heavenly Father, we confess too often our thoughts we are filled with various and confusing ideas. Protect us from the negative thinkers and their negative counsel.
  2. Lord Jesus, we confess at times we are tortured with cares and fears about our future due to our loved one’s chronic illness.
  3. God Almighty, we praise you because your comfort delights our soul.
  4. Your promises we have heard taught in Sunday School as well as heard preached in church, and have read in the Bible. They comfort us.
  5. Lord, the memory of our past experiences of your care and kindness to us, afford us such comfort as they restore our discouraged mind.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Shelter and Tower

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Sometimes the daily struggles of living with a chronic illness overwhelm us. At these times we need a place of retreat, a place of refuge. The Believer in Jesus Christ has such a place. It is to come before God. We can do this by reading the Bible, praying, and being still as we wait and listen for God’s still small voice.

Today’s Bible Verse:

Psalm 61: 3 (KJV), “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”

What the verse means:

Today’s verse reminds us of God’s faithfulness to David in times past, how He has delivered us. As a Christian, we too can remember God’s faithfulness in our life. We know the comfort we have felt from his presence and how we have found safety in His word and presence. We also know because of faithfulness past and His unchanging nature, He will not leave us now. He is a strong tower of protection for us from the enemies we face.

Praying using the verses:

  1. Father in Heaven as we reflect on your Word we remember Your faithfulness to us in times past.
  2. Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your protection and provision in the past.
  3. God of the Heavens and the Earth, we know You are eternal and that Your nature is unchangeable. It is because of this we ask You deliver Miss Benita from the Melanoma and Neuroendocrine Carcinoid.
  4. We ask this Lord because we have seen in our own lives and know that only You have the power to deliver her.
  5. We ask this also because our experience is and has been that You are here ministering to use in our time of need.
  6. Since Your do not sleep, slumber, or change who You are, we know You will not leave Miss Benita alone as she daily faces the cancers

Photo Source: Pixaby

Winter’s Night 2.0

Winter Nights 2.0

The frigid nights fall earlier
On these chilly winter days
And the moon-man mounts the sky
Veiled in Metropolis haze

The mornings all break later
So slow the new day’s dawn
The bitter blanket lingers
For the winter nights are so long

Stars spangle the satin sky
As the moon-man dips down low
Twinkling winks from a million worlds
And here we are, do they know?  

Oh I wish the night would never end
Yes, I wish the night would never end

February 2017

Photo Source: Pixaby