Monday, 13 September 2010

50 Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors SFX readers consider greater than REH

 (for 2008.  I can't find anything more recent.)

Well, the good news is Howard's in the top 100.

The bad news is, he isn't in the top 50.  Top 10 would be great.  Top 25 I wouldn't grumble overmuch, seeing tastes and opinion are what they are.  But he didn't even make it into the top 50?

For your perusal, here are the fifty authors SFX contributors consider to be greater than The Man from Cross Plains:

1. Terry Pratchett
2. JRR Tolkien
3. Neil Gaiman
4. Douglas Adams
5. George RR Martin
6. Isaac Asimov
7. Iain M. Banks
8. Philip K. Dick
9. HG Wells
10. Robert Rankin
11. Ursula K. LeGuin
12. David Gemmell
13. Peter F. Hamilton
14. Frank Herbert
15. Robert Heinlein
16. JK Rowling
17. Robert Jordan
18. Arthur C. Clarke
19. Ray Bradbury
20. Stephen King
21. Robin Hobb
22. Philip Pullman
23. John Wyndham
24. Diana Wynne Jones
25. CS Lewis
26. Guy Gavriel Kay
27. William Gibson
28. Steven Erikson
29. Anne McCaffrey
30. Roger Zelazny
31. Lois McMaster Bujold
32. Raymond E. Feist
33. China Mieville
34. Gene Wolfe
35. Stephen Donaldson
36. Orson Scott Card
37. Alan Moore
38. David Eddings
39. Michael Moorcock
40. Trudi Canavan
41. Kurt Vonnegut
42. Tad Williams
43. Jim Butcher
44. Clive Barker
45. Neal Stephenson
46. Alastair Reynolds
47. Jules Verne
48. Mervyn Peake
49. H.P. Lovecraft
50. Sherri S. Tepper

Howard is 51.  Here's the list of people below REH:

52. J.G. Ballard
53. Octavia Butler
54. Jasper Fforde
55. Harlan Ellison
56. CJ Cherryh
57. Mercedes Lackey
58. Jennifer Fallon
59. Stephen Baxter
60. Richard Morgan
61. Terry Brooks
62. Elizabeth Haydon
63. Dan Simmons
64. Richard Matheson
65. Marion Zimmer Bradley
66. Harry Harrison
67. Jack Vance
68. Katharine Kerr
69. Alfred Bester
70. Larry Niven
71. Stanislaw Lem
72. Susanna Clarke
73. Robert Silverberg
74. Edgar Rice Burroughs
75. Julian May
76. Charles de Lint
77. Samuel R. Delany
78. George Orwell
79. Simon Clark
80. Joe Haldeman
81. Joe Abercrombie
82. J.V. Jones
83. Theodore Sturgeon
84. Kim Stanley Robinson
85. Jacqueline Carey
86. M. John Harrison
87. David Weber
88. Scott Lynch
89. Jonathan Carroll
90. Christopher Priest
91. Jon Courtney Grimwood
92. Michael Marshall Smith
93. Olaf Stapledon
94. Ken MacLeod
95. Brian W. Aldiss
96. Terry Goodkind
97. Charles Stross
98. Sara Douglass
99. Gwyneth Jones
100. James Herbert

Yes, David Eddings and Clive Barker are above Howard.  Somehow.  The others I can't really argue with on popularity grounds (of course people are going to vote for Jordan, he's seriously popular), though I can certainly argue that Howard should at least outrank Robert Rankin (who I like).  They should at least call it "Top 100 Most Popular Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors," seeing as it's a public poll and all.  Also, where the hell are Fritz Leiber & Poul Anderson?

If I can see a victory here, it's that Robert "Robert E. Howard and Gilgamesh in Brokeback Mountain Hell" Silverberg and Harlan "nobody could write Conan unless you were as insane as Howard" Ellison rank lower than REH.  Though I like Harry "Conan was a crypto-homosexual" Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat, I still take pleasure in noting he too is below REH.

Still, at least he's there.  I've known a couple of sites that don't even list REH, let alone have him in a top 100.


  1. It seem's inane popularity to me. I like Gemmell for instance, but I don't know of a S&S fan that would dare rank him above REH.

    And while I recognize most of the names-there are a few I have never heard of.

  2. Well, the time you spend correcting people that more or less compleatly misunderstand the autor and his work (Howard that is) this lack of mainstream appreciation should not come as a surprise. Look at it this way: If Howard was in the top 5, do you think that would be a serious appreciation of Howards production, or just the ol grogg girls and gore speaking?
    Anyway, ranking autors is stupid unless you go by sales numbers, and that in it self dont say much about the litterature.

  3. I like Gemmell too, but rating him above REH is insane, and I don't know anyone else that would. Gemmell himself sure wouldn't.

    Fredrik, I guess it's the fact that Howard wasn't even in the top 50 that bothered me. I'm also incredibly surprised at how low HPL ranks considering how popular he is these days (on the Net at least). And if REH was in the top five for grog girls and gore... dammit, now I'm sad.

  4. Yeah, David Gemmel was a good writer but his books are directly influenced by Conan. And Diana Wynne Jones, George R.R. Martin, and Michael Moorcock, really? A lot of these authors aren't in the same league as REH.

  5. Moorcock I think is worthy of consideration (though REH is better, IMO). Don't know Jones. Martin, though... nah, he's nowhere near REH's or Moorcock's league. Fevre Dream was very good, though.

  6. I suspect Leiber and Anderson simply aren't well enough known anymore, especially Leiber. Anderson's work is still very easy to find in used bookstores and even in current editions but I don't know that he's ever really been championed as a great writer. He usually gets backhanded as "above average, wrote a couple of really good ones, merely decent most of the time".

  7. Perhaps. Anderson gets a lot of love in SF circles, though. Who knows.

  8. I'm not bagging on the authors, though. I'm just questioning them being above R.E.H. "Game of Thrones" was a wonderful book and Michael Moorcock was the third fantasy author I was introduced to (right behind Tolkien and Howard). Although his anti-Tolkien stance has knocked him down the line in my favorite authors list.

  9. and where is Fredric Brown? and Robert Bloch? and Karl Edward Wagner? and authors that I haven't read but sure are interesting like Charles R Saunders or Glen Cook? and masters of modern horror like T.E.D. Klein,Charles L Grant,Dennis Etchison,Robert R McCammon? well maybe they aren't very known today but I have the impression that horror specially the modern one is very poorly considered not like s/f or fantasy...
    by the way Al what's your controversy with Harlan Ellison,though he is not very translated to spanish I have read some stories by him very well written...
    other thing is Edgar Allan Poe in the list?

  10. Joe Lansdale is another great modern horror writer...

  11. Well, that's the nature of subjective lists, sadly.

    The problem with Ellison is that he said Howard was crazy, which is discussed here:

  12. Leiber's absence from the list is criminal. To have Terry Goodkind, Sara Douglas, Terry Brooks (he who made a career off of ripping off Tolkien) and Richard Morgan on there, but not Leiber? It's especially odd when William Gibson (#27), in a recent interview with CBC radio, mentioned Leiber as a major influence.

    They killed Fritz, I tell ya!

    I would be more upset about Stanislaw Lem's relatively low rank over Howard's though. And while I do love Terry Pratchett, even he wouldn't agree to getting the #1 spot.

    Then again, I haven't particularly agreed with any of these lists.

  13. Nice to see ya back, OLS! Hope you enjoyed your travels.

    Weirdly, I can understand (though certainly not condone) Lem's lower rating, considering he's a foreign author. People are weird about foreign authors.

    And Pratchett at #1 is shocking, but I'd take him over - say - Goodkind.

  14. Christ! Anne McCaffrey? Trudi Canavan? David Gemmell? Half the people on this list couldn't write their way out of a paper bag! And no Peter S. Beagle?

    Sad. Just sad.

  15. I'm more a fan of Gemmell's "Jerusalem Man," myself: Druss left me cold. I don't know why.

    But seriously, J.K. Rowling's on the list. I don't hate on her, she's clearly popular and has some modicum of talent, but come on.

  16. I actually think Rowling deserves to be on there. The Potter books started out as clever fun and ended up being surprisingly adult; they are worth taking seriously. (Not the dreadful movie versions, though!)

    It's great that Olaf Stapledon is on the list - a truly amazing writer - but where is Lord Dunsany? Or E.R. Eddison? Or William Morris? It's a shame these SFX readers don't seem to know some of the greatest and most influential fantasy writers. There's so much beauty out there that is simply being forgotten.

  17. Well, I can certainly agree on Stapledon. Lack of Dunsany, Eddison and Morris is worrisome too.

  18. Talk about a bizarre list. Some comments:

    1. Terry Pratchett:Seriously, Terry Pratchett is ranked over Philip K Dick, Olaf Stapledon, H G Wells, etc. ? Solid evidence that anything produced in the 25 years (at a minimum) preceding a poll should not be counted.

    3. Neil Gaiman, whose oeuvre is one extended riff on James Branch Cabell, ranks third?

    5. George RR Martin is the highest ranking American, over Poe, Dick, Lovecraft,Howard, Leiber, etc.?

    37. Alan Moore: Can someone explain why Gaiman ranks so far ahead of Moore?

    44. Clive Barker: Why is Barker even on the list?

    49. Lovecraft: How does Barker outscore Lovecraft?


    Fritz Leiber: This is criminal. How can Leiber, a man who did groundbreaking work in horror (CONJURE WIFE, OUR LADY OF DARKNESS), science fiction (THE BIG TIME, THE WANDERER), and fantasy (FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER)not even make the list?

    Edgar Allan Poe: The man who defined the horror story, who influenced practically every writer in the field, is less important than James Herbert?

  19. Thanks for the copied list: useful for reference.

    Hmm; no EE Doc Smith = no Space Opera/Star Wars/etc. Interesting omission, as are others...

  20. No problem, irbyz! The lack of Smith is a bit odd.