Over at the Westeros Forums there was a bit forumwide vote to determine who, in their minds, were the ten best writer’s of speculative fiction. It’s an interesting list, with a lot of terrific authors, but obviously lists are subjective. One much also consider that not only are the Westeros Forums a fantasy based forum, they’re also a George R.R. Martin dedicated forum, so we shouldn’t be too surprised who made the top of the list.

That all being said, Westeros is a great forum with a lot of well read posters and, as expected, they’ve put together a solid list that any newcomer to the speculative fiction field would be smart to take a look at. You can find the thread and discussion dedicated to the list HERE.

Werthead, poster on Westeros and also the scribe of the wonderful Wertzone, tallied the votes and even wrote a bit about each of the finalists:

The List

10. Frank Herbert (26 votes)

The author of the Great Dune Saga (Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God-Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune) as well as many, many individual novels such as The Jesus Incident, The Priests of Psi and The Dosadi Experiment. Dune is widely considered the greatest SF novel of all time and I’m guessing Herbert’s position here is based on just that novel by itself.

9. Joe Abercrombie (29 votes)
The newest author on the list, with just three books to his name, namely The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings). During counting the callow youth Abercrombie was neck-and-neck with Lynch but a late burst of speed saw him pull ahead of the long-haired one. Good to see the British end being held up smiley2.gif

8. Stephen R. Donaldson (30 votes)
The author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War, The Power That Preserves, The Wounded Land, The One Tree and White Gold Wielder), Mordant’s Need (The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through) and the monumental SF Gap Saga (The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story, The Gap into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge, The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises, The Gap into Madness: Chaos and Order and The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die). Has lately returned to fantasy with The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant with two more books to come). Donaldson arguably kicked off the post-Tolkien epic fantasy boom of the late 1970s, with Lord Foul’s Bane appearing at the same time as Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara.

7. Steven Erikson (34 votes)
The author of The Malazan Book of the Fallen (Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper’s Gale and the forthcoming Toll the Hounds, Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God) and several SF and fantasy short stories is a somewhat controversial author, his series being one of the most divisive in recent memory. Nevertheless, his vast worldbuilding skills and the colossal, mind-boggling scope of his story deserve attention.

6. China Mieville (36 votes)
The populariser of the ‘New Weird’ school of SF&F, he is best-known for his Bas-Lag novels (Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council), although his single novels King Rat and Un Lun Dun are excellent as well, as is his short story collection Looking for Jake. His next work is sure to attract a lot of attention.

5. Robin Hobb (38 votes)
Aka Megan Lindholm, Hobb is the author of The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest), The Liveship Traders (Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny) and The Tawny Man Trilogy (Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool, Fool’s Fate), which all share the same world. Her most recent work, The Soldier Son Trilogy, has received rather mixed reviews.

4. Gene Wolfe (38 votes)
Arguably one of the greatest SF&F authors of all time, his Book of the New Sun quartet is essential reading for the genre. However, he has also written many other vital books, from The Wizard-Knight through to the Book of the Long Sun, Peace and much more.

3. R. Scott Bakker (49 votes)
A surprisingly high entry for Scott, whose controversial status on the boards I assumed would relegate him down into the teens somewhere. Bakker’s Prince of Nothing Trilogy (The Darkness That Comes Before, The Warrior-Prophet and The Thousandfold-Thought) has become one of the most hotly-debated and discussed fantasy series of recent years and his new SF thriller, Neuropath, looks set to be equally controversial. He is now working on the sequel series to Prince of Nothing, The Aspect-Emperor, which will kick off at the start of 2009 with The Judging Eye.

2. JRR Tolkien (186 votes)
Well, what can be said? The father of modern fantasy and still one of its most popular authors, for The Hobbit and The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales as well as The Lord of the Rings.

1. George RR Martin (272 votes)
Colour me shocked wink.gif I did consider making GRRM ineligible on the basis of board bias, but that seemed a bit ridiculous. In the end, it’s surprising the number of people who didn’t vote GRRM number one, but virtually every entry had him on there somewhere. Anyway, congratulations to George!

I was quite tickled to see Joe Abercrombie appear on the list, as well as Robin Hobb ranking quite high. An author I would have liked to see some love for was Tad Williams, author of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. So what about you?

  • Do you agree with the list?
  • Who was missed?
  • Who shouldn’t be on there?
  • What would your list look like?
  • Joe Sherry May 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Did you read Abercrombie’s response to the announcement? I’ve got a man-crush on this guy’s blog posts.

  • aidan May 12, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I certainly did, in fact that’s where my attention was first drawn to the list!

    Those of you who are interested can find the response we’re talking about HERE.

    Like you, I also have an enormous man-crush on Abercrombie that I’m sure he’d never be able to live up to if I met him in person.

  • Jim C. May 13, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Tad Williams. Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is probably in my top three favorite fantasy series of all time. It seems extremely underrated and underread, to me, but maybe I’m missing something. Has it just not been as widely read as I presume, or have most fantasy fans read it and found it lacking?

  • ediFanoB May 13, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I agree with Jim C.
    Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is also one of my all time favorites.

    I assume that a lot of people who like it too didn’t know about the voting.

    I also think that there a lot of people like me:
    I like books, especially fantasy books but I never participate
    in votings for books or authors.

    I know there are a lot of people in Germany who like it too.

  • aidan May 14, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Jim – Tad’s an interesting beast, and I’m not sure why he isn’t mentioned more often on lists like this one, especially considering George Martin has often cited Memory, Sorrow and Thorn as a direct influence of A Song of Ice and Fire.

    As far as I know, Williams is DAW’s best selling author (though Rothfuss can’t be far behind at this point in book by book sales), so people have read him and still are reading him, and those that like him love him, but I expect, like ediFanoB said, that a lot of people are put off by his slow pacing and heavy description.

    Also as ediFanoB mentioned, Williams has an enormous fanbase outside of North America, his Otherland novels were even turned into a big budget radio play in Germany, and that may explain why he’s not seen more often on the english-centric message boards and blogs.

  • Jim May 15, 2008 at 5:19 am

    That’s an interesting point, Aidan and ediFanoB, I had forgotten about his popularity in Germany and elsewhere.

    Williams’ knack for weaving a complicated but ultimately amazing plot, along with writing characters the reader can easily relate to, has always made up for any slowness of pacing, for me. Although I admit I’ve been having trouble getting through the Shadowmarch books — they’re probably the first books by TW I haven’t devoured in a matter of days.

  • ShaneH May 15, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Well, I’m a fan of Terry Brooks, for the most part, so I’d have to add him to my top ten somewhere. I’d put Jim Butcher up there as well, and of course Brandon Sanderson, who is one of my absolute favorites (top three?). Finally, Patrick Rothfuss, though I realize it may be a little early to add him to such a list. Truthfully, I’m not completely done with ‘The Name of the Wind’, I’m close, but it’s safe to say that it is shaping up to be one of, if not THE, best book I have ever read.

  • Mark Y. May 16, 2008 at 3:45 am

    To me, you left Simon R. Green off the list and Jennifer Fallon…Robert E. Howard, Frizt Leiber, Michael Moorcock..back in the day…