Reasons:influential; Best Book(s): Ill Met in Lankhmar; Genre: fantasy
Lieber, alongside Howard, is the grandfather of the Sword and Sorcery novel. His work is among the most influential in the fantasy genre, mainly due to the fantastic and diverse characters he builds with his writing. He is a master at creating atmosphere and some of the situations his characters find themselves in are often tinged with humor but there is always an underlying terror as well.
His ability to add excitement and adventure to his writing makes his novels among the most invigorating to read.
George R.R. Martin
Reasons: Classic, Influential, Popular; Best Book(s): A song of ice and fire; Genre: Fantasy
George R R Martin has been called the USAs equivalent of J R R Toliken, and most fantasy readers would agree with this assessment. Martin’s writing is a no holds barred, brutal rendition of literature at its best – he simply refuses to leave any stone unturned, giving the reader 100% on every page. He writes with a flow and poetry that is akin to Tolkien, and while some would call him verbose, his command of the language is superb and the visions he conjures are simply incredible.
In A song of Ice and Fire we have a series that is both epic and stunning; with a medieval European feel, with a dash of zombie and dragon thrown in we have a realistic saga with real characters and events. Martin doesn’t have heroes, he has heroic characters who are neither good or evil, they are simply living their lives based on their own honor – no hero is safe, and many of the so-called ‘good guys’ find themselves out of the book very quickly. The plot is a very complex and detailed one, and it is often difficult to follow, but the resulting story is very well defined and rewarding. It’s simply one of the best fantasy series available and sits aside Lord of the Rings as a true literature classic.
Reasons:classic, influential, popular; Best Book(s):Ringworld; Genre: Science Fiction
Larry Niven was one of the first writers that I read that managed to give aliens their own particular personalities and make this important for the book. Niven is another writer who concentrates on bringing in real science to his writing and this is very evident with Ringworld.
His explanations of the origin of this fantastic world are sound and logical and it's this convincing writing that makes the series so good. I love his ability to create flawed characters, that seem to be able to come together when it's most important and there really are not many books that have this (perhaps some of Ender's game series share this!).
Ringworld is one of the most satisfying series I have read.
Reasons: Classic, Influential, Popular; Best Book(s): Nineteen Eighty Four, Animal Farm; Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
George Orwell is one of the best authors I have read. With novels that are shrewd and have so many underlying meanings and commentaries he is perhaps the most complex author in the science fiction realm. With subtle writing he manages to capture the political mood and make dark predictions about the sordid futures we face.
Animal Farm, which isn't a classic fantasy, is the sort of literature that has so many hidden meanings; I have read it several times, and the older I get the more I find within the pages. As a teenager I saw it as a political novel, but as I get older I see so many different meanings ranging from political, to social that really don't hit you the first time you read it – for me this is brilliance incarnate.
Reasons: Popular; Best Book(s): Eragon series; Genre: Fantasy
Paolini is a very young writer who many say has simply taken the best fantasy and melded them into his own stories; and to a point this is accurate. However, for a young writer, Paolini has shown quite a lot of story-telling talent and over time as he branches out into less traditional fantasy we’ll probably see a master emerge. What Paolini has done is to reinvigorate the genre – Eragon is a great stepping stone for new fantasy readers who want a good book in the genre that is overly complex or dark.
The Eragon series is a vastly popular one that is predictable at times and follows (yet another) Orphan’s quest to discover his destiny in a land thwart with danger and political intrigue. The link between the young man and Eragon is intriguing, and while the story isn’t overly complex it is well written and you end up with a very good story over the course of the four books.