Blasters, cloaking devices, faster-than-light travel, and strange aliens abound within science fiction—well, most of it, anyway. The science-fiction genre contains countless authors and even more books and stories, shows and movies. Sci-fi is the genre that transplants readers into the future, bringing them face-to-face with aliens, sparkling technology, and new views on humanity and what it means to be human. With each novel written, science-fiction writers bring something new to the table of far-off worlds and future societies. Here are four science fiction writers that were at the top of the game. As always, there is no particular order to this madness.
Author of the seminal classic, Dune, Frank Herbert is considered by many to be the very best science fiction writer. Period. That praise is given to Mr. Herbert for just one book: again, Dune. A profoundly sweeping and well-crafted epic, Dune blend mysticism and history with government and politics to create an outstanding work of speculative fiction.
Though best-known for his Dune saga, Herbert wrote dozens of other novels and copious short stories. In addition to that, Herbert penned a few nonfiction accounts, several essays, and various newspaper articles. Frank Herbert paved the way for master world-builders like George R.R. Martin; he will certainly live on in the halls of literary greatness for years to come. His son, Brian Herbert, along with science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson, began to continue the Dune saga after Frank’s 1986 death.
Arthur C. Clarke
Though most famous for the Odyssey novels and the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Arthur C. Clarke was truly a master of the written word—probably since birth, but there are no confirmations of this. Spinning dozens of tales of space, futurism, and the human condition, Clarke’s stories often defy being labeled with only one genre.
Though known by many average Joes as the man who wrote the Odyssey series, Clarke’s short stories often show up his novels in many regards. Managing to pack in a dense amount of pathos into stories that often run less than ten pages in length, Clarke inspired dozens of authors—and at least one filmmaker—to take his work and somehow make it their own. Clarke, a venerable master of “hard sci-fi” died at the age of 90 in 2008. Though his body is no longer present on this Earth, his influence resounds in almost every science fiction work of the modern era.
Robert A. Heinlein
Easily the most “literary” of authors on this list, Robert Heinlein’s novels were iconoclastic with their use of themes and underlying messages. Using his novels to preach about the state of man during the time in which he wrote, Heinlein attracted non-sci-fi fans with his new and fresh ideas regarding the future and humanity.
With a canon that includes such profound books as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein won four Hugo Awards for Best Novel in his career. His pioneering use of readable language in hard science fiction set a precedent that many authors within the genre still look toward. Though he passed on in 1988, the books he crafted and the movies they became still fill shelves the world over.
Though never really writing serious science fiction like his contemporaries, Douglas Adams is, nonetheless, one of the genre’s absolute bests. With is wit and satirical take on space travel and the future world, Adams created a plethora of recognizable characters and belly laughs. Most famous for his collection of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels, Adams dipped his fingers into many entertainment pies, including starring in Monty Python and presenting radio programs in his native UK.
Ever the satirist, Adams cracked jokes right up until the day he died in 2001. From playing guitar withPink Floyd and contributing to their album The Division Bell to rubbing shoulders with the Monty Python cast and writing for Dr. Who, Adams was a comedy and science fiction god; but let’s not tell him that, because he was also a staunch atheist. He was a great among greats—we salute him with our towels.The Top Four (Dead) Science Fiction Writers,