by Tyler Cowen
on June 16, 2007 at 10:12 am
Marc Andreesen gives a list, what do you think? Marc just started, he is already one of the best bloggers out there.
Interesting list. I love Stross, but dang, it’s a bit depressing to hear him described as #1. His ideas are really strong, which is good, because his prose, characterization, and plotting are all pretty weak. It strikes me as a sad thing for the science fiction field if he is the best at the moment; there should be someone stronger out there.
Other than Vernor Vinge (who is old but very good news), I find I don’t have much desire to read the rest of the list. Though I do keep hearing good things about Scalzi from wildly different sources.
I find myself more attracted to fantasy these days. I don’t think it’s the genre so much as the active authors…. I’m not aware of any science fiction writer I would say is writing at the level of a Neil Gaiman, Steven Brust, or Caroline Stevermer, much less someone truly great like Gene Wolfe. (Except to the extent those authors occasionally write SF, of course!)
Hmm… though I guess I’d put in good words for John Varley (old author, but two recent novels read like very-well-updated Heinlein) and my friend Elizabeth Bear. (Though I like her fantasy better than her SF so far.)
Vinge’s latest disappointed me; a good idea book, but poorly written. Scalzi is promising. Reynolds is wonderful, and the genuine science is deeply satisfying. The rest I will run out and buy right now.
I’ve been surprised by Cory Doctorow–not just any old internet personality, his short stories are entertaining and delightful.
Nice comment, Sol. I think Andreesen’s list is not much different from one that might answer the question, “Who are the clearest heirs of Robert Heinlein, writing over the past decade?” I like Stross, Reynolds, and MacLeod, and a few others, but most seem to share the same weaknesses with respect to characterization, the quality of prose, thematic depth, and so forth–just like Heinlein. Well, that’s science fiction for you. (For what it’s worth, my favorite SF writers are Lem, LeGuin, and Vance; Gaiman, Pratchett, and Pullman for fantasy.)
I’ve enjoyed most of the authors and their works on this list. Scalzi is enjoyable both the “serious” and lighthearted works. and has an amusing blog too .
I tend to prefer Hamilton for his ability to create consistent and thorough worlds. Orson Scott Card mentions in his book on writing science fiction that one must be consistent, if you introduce a way to put people in stasis, you’ve got to explain why that can’t be done when someone is injured, or else do it. Hamilton is good at that, letting technology and its consequence fill the world. Though he does probably fall into the whole “organic technology” trend too much and the whole possession thing might be a bit much to chew in the Night’s Dawn trilogy.
I recommend Scalzi and Morgan too, though often I get to the end of a Scalzi book and find that while I enjoyed, it seems lacking in some way. Like all the ideas are old and the synthesis of them together has been fun, but not fulfilling or groundbreaking. Just well crafted though. Not such a bad thing though.
I’d love to see an Altered Carbon film trilogy. I imagine one actor playing Takeshi Kovacs, but he’s just motion captured so all of the sleeves move the same and speak with the same cadences. So it’d be heavy on the cgi. Or else extensive make up.
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