SFX Magazine, a well known UK publication focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy literature, recently published a list of the top 100 authors, as voted on by their readers. Thanks to Adam from The Wertzone for the heads-up!

The top ten looks like this:

  • 10. Robert Rankin
  • 9. HG Wells
  • 8. Philip K. Dick
  • 7. Iain M. Banks
  • 6. Isaac Asimov
  • 5. George RR Martin
  • 4. Douglas Adams
  • 3. Neil Gaiman
  • 2. JRR Tolkien
  • 1. Terry Pratchett

I think this is the first mass-market list that doesn’t have Tolkien at number one, which is interesting itself. I’m glad to see Neil Gaiman so high, and it’s quite impressive to see George R.R. Martin topping the list as the highest non-British author. It’s also interesting to see how many of those authors don’t write epic fantasy; those types of authors usually tend to top lists like this.

The full list is found after the jump.

100. James Herbert
99. Gwyneth Jones
98. Sara Douglass
97. Charles Stross
96. Terry Goodkind
95. Brian W. Aldiss
94. Ken MacLeod
93. Olaf Stapledon
92. Michael Marshall Smith
91. Jon Courtney Grimwood
90. Christopher Priest
89. Jonathan Carroll
88. Scott Lynch
87. David Weber
86. M. John Harrison
85. Jacqueline Carey
84. Kim Stanley Robinson
83. Theodore Sturgeon
82. J.V. Jones
81. Joe Abercrombie
80. Joe Haldeman
79. Simon Clark
78. George Orwell
77. Samuel R. Delany
76. Charles de Lint
75. Julian May
74. Edgar Rice Burroughs
73. Robert Silverberg
72. Susanna Clarke
71. Stanislaw Lem
70. Larry Niven
69. Alfred Bester
68. Katharine Kerr
67. Jack Vance
66. Harry Harrison
65. Marion Zimmer Bradley
64. Richard Matheson
63. Dan Simmons
62. Elizabeth Haydon
61. Terry Brooks
60. Richard Morgan
59. Stephen Baxter
58. Jennifer Fallon
57. Mercedes Lackey
56. CJ Cherryh
55. Harlan Ellison
54. Jasper Fforde
53. Octavia Butler
52. J.G. Ballard
51. Robert E. Howard
50. Sherri S. Tepper
49. H.P. Lovecraft
48. Mervyn Peake
47. Jules Verne
46. Alastair Reynolds
45. Neal Stephenson
44. Clive Barker
43. Jim Butcher
42. Tad Williams
41. Kurt Vonnegut
40. Trudi Canavan
39. Michael Moorcock
38. David Eddings
37. Alan Moore
36. Orson Scott Card
35. Stephen Donaldson
34. Gene Wolfe
33. China Mieville
32. Raymond E. Feist
31. Lois McMaster Bujold
30. Roger Zelazny
29. Anne McCaffrey
28. Steven Erikson
27. William Gibson
26. Guy Gavriel Kay
25. CS Lewis
24. Diana Wynne Jones
23. John Wyndham
22. Philip Pullman
21. Robin Hobb
20. Stephen King
19. Ray Bradbury
18. Arthur C. Clarke
17. Robert Jordan
16. JK Rowling
15. Robert Heinlein
14. Frank Herbert
13. Peter F. Hamilton
12. David Gemmell
11. Ursula K. LeGuin
10. Robert Rankin
9. HG Wells
8. Philip K. Dick
7. Iain M. Banks
6. Isaac Asimov
5. George RR Martin
4. Douglas Adams
3. Neil Gaiman
2. JRR Tolkien
1. Terry Pratchett

There’s a great discussion going on about the list over at the Westeros forums, so I won’t bog things down with a personal breakdown of the list, but here are a couple of the things that stuck out at me:

– Joe Abercrombie, Tad Williams and Jonathan Carroll on the list. Yay!
– It’s nice to see Robin Hobb, David, Gemmell and Steven Erikson ranking as high as they did.
– Terry Goodkind and David Eddings…. Really?
– Considering all he’s done for the Fantasy genre, I think Terry Brooks probably deserved to be higher.
– No Greg Keyes or Paul Kearney is a travesty.

So, what do you think of the list?

  • Rob B June 18, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Robert Rankin? Who is he? And he’s Above Gene Wolfe? Wolfe’s ranking compared to those before him completely invalidates this list for me (Jordan, King, McCaffrey, AND Rowling?!?).

  • aidan June 18, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Though I haven’t read Wolfe – I’m still collecting his early novels – I figured that he would be one of the ones that stuck out as being lower than he deserves.

    One thing to consider is that the reading habits of those in the UK are different than those of us in America, and that’s why we’re seeing people like Robert Rankin so high on the list. He may not really have made a blip over here, but he could be successful over there.

    I usually approach these lists with a grain of salt and try to focus on who’s on the list, rather than what order they appear in. As long as my favourite authors appear on the list, then I can’t complain too much, especially when it’s one compiled by the public.

  • Rob B June 18, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I usually look at this things as a whole, too, but the Wolfe abberration really gets me. His works are pretty readily available in the UK, too, so there’s no excuse there.

  • Gabriele June 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I agree, no Keyes and Kearney is a travesty. Else I’m shocked how many of the authors I have read, about 90% or so. I really need a life. :)

  • David June 18, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Humm, it’s pleasant to see Pratchett on top. And Gaiman’s up there too which is nice. As much as I’d like to, I can’t knock Tolkein, even though I wish he’d sometimes get disqualified on account of being the top fantasy everything.
    Biggest sin in this list: Neal Stephenson being only 45. He deserves top 10 easily. I’d probably slip him in between 1 and 2 meself, but then I’d get mobbed by Tolkein fanatics, calling me ‘heretic’ in elvish.

  • David June 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Oh, dear…
    Speaking of getting mobbed by Tolkien fanatics, forgive the misspelling…
    I’m not that dense, I swear…

  • Mark June 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I have to regard any list that places Jordan, Feist, Butcher, Brooks and Eddings that far above (for example) Jack Vance and Theodore Sturgeon with skepticism. Of course, it’s really a ranking of how much the collective readership enjoys the authors, not a measure of their literary merit. I’d be interested in seeing such a list compiled by the votes of SF&F authors and comparing it to this one.

  • Woody fr/BHAM June 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Arghhh… Zelazney at 30? He’s a lifeshaper – he changed mine.

  • =Dan June 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I hate to be disagreeable but I never got drawn into Wolfe’s books. I was trying to explain to my wife what it was exactly that kept me from reading him enthusiastically (like so many others on or not on this list). The best I could muster was that I feel as if the books have an emotional void, the characters don’t feel like they truly live in their worlds.

    Anyway…two personal faves not on the list: Fritz Leiber and Glen Cook

  • Adam Whitehead June 18, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Robert Rankin is a comic SF/fantasy author whose books can be described as ‘tall tales’, somewhat in the Spike Milligan tradition. He is popular in the UK, and SFX has heavily promoted his work for the duration of its existence. Rankin isn’t quite as popular generally as the SFX placing might lead you to believe, but he is huge amongst the magazine’s readership. Also remember that this was a popular vote by a magazine which is centered mainly on SF TV and movies, not literature. From that perspective the presence of so many classics is reassuring and also the presence of ‘big sellers’ near the top. Wolfe is awesome and in any critical list would be in the top ten or five, but he’s never been a massive seller, sadly.

    Keyes is virtually unknown in the UK. Tor UK don’t do the best job of promoting their books over here. Kearney’s lack of profile is hopefully about to change with The Ten Thousand.

  • […] The SFX Magazine list of science fiction and fantasy’s top 100 writers surprised me, especially when I scanned the full 100.  These sorts of lists always degrade into a sort of desert island scenario for me, and I spend more time rearranging people than reading more good books (which is all I want the list for anyway, to find more great writers).  So I’m not really paying attention to rank order, because how do you measure Harlan Ellison’s screed of invasive, inflammatory, beautiful spleen against Neil Gaiman, who’s quieter, but just as deep, wise and scary?  I love both their work, and I’m not going to place one over the other. […]

  • Natalie June 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I like Eddings and think he deserves to be there. But Phillip K Dick being beaten at the post by Banks + Gaiman? Really? What happened to Poul Anderson?

  • Commawhite June 19, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Zelazny so low on the list?! He should have get more credit, afer all, he’s work is not conventional and fairly unique…which can not be said about many others…

  • gen50 June 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

    i looked to find which authors i havent discovered,
    i am glad to say that there arent many.

    I dont think i quite agree with all the rankings, but i guess different people have varying opinions and it doesnt matter so much what rank they are than the fact that they ARE on the list.

    at least a lot of my authors are on the list.

  • — Procrastinare June 19, 2008 at 7:50 am

    […] revista hace su top 100 de autores de fantasía y ciencia ficción (anglo, por supuesto, los condenados). Me he reído secretamente (bueno, no tan secretamente) y he […]

  • Josh June 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I was all set to complain about the omission of Samuel R. Delany, but before I got to it, I noticed he is on there – it’s just that his name is misspelled. Only one e in Delany!

  • moopot June 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    No Connie Willis? Boo!

  • sfmarty June 20, 2008 at 7:21 am

    You misspelled Katharine Kerr’s first name.

  • Chris (The Book Swede) June 20, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Btw, Aidan, this post was linked on Neil Gaiman’s blog :)

  • Chris (The Book Swede) June 20, 2008 at 8:58 am

    As you know… Oops… :O

  • aidan June 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Re: misspellings – I cut and pasted this list from elsewhere, so I take no responsibility for the misspellings! That being said, I’ll go ahead and fix’em right now.

    Chris – Yeah, when I checked my stats and saw my views go through the fuckin’ roof I knew something was up. I was ecstatic to see that Gaiman, one of my literary idols, had linked here.

  • Rob B June 20, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Wertehad said: Robert Rankin is a comic SF/fantasy author whose books can be described as ‘tall tales’, somewhat in the Spike Milligan tradition.

    I will then ask, who is Spike Milligan?

    If I’m being to Ameri-centric, sorry.

  • Chris (The Book Swede) June 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Who is…? Who is… Spike Milligan? WHAT?! :P

    To be honest, I’ve never read any of his work but he was a very well respected and popular comedian as well. Wrote an awful lot of poems and stuffs. Regarded still as a very funny man. From about the late 60s and 70s, I think, maybe?

    One of the crazier comedians.

    Had written on his gravestone, “I told you I was ill”, if that helps at all (which I expect it doesn’t!)

  • Jordan June 20, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Lovecraft at 49? Matheson at 64?! This list is puzzling. Although I am quite pleased to see the great Mr. Gaiman at #3, I wouldn’t have placed Pratchett on the pedestal. I hate lists like these. So frustrating for so many people.

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  • Ben June 22, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    83. Theodore Sturgeon??? Really??? Stanislaw Lem at 71?? Jules Verne at 47? In terms of quality fiction writing rather than genre writing, their low placing is a travesty. But to place such an influential writer in Science Fiction, Aldiss at 95, is plain offensive. In 20 years time, JK Rowling will not be read, I’m sure Aldiss will be. I’m not saying Aldiss should be first (not even close), but 95 is being silly.
    This is a small UK genre magazine showing what is popular now, not who is the best or most influential writer. At least the awful JK Rowling isn’t in the top 10. Asimov, Wells, Dick and Tolkien deserve the Science Fiction/ Fantasy top ten, but Pratchett at number one is undeserved. Nasty to say, but that was a sympathy vote.

  • Justin June 24, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Good list. However I am sad to not see Timothy Zahn on the list.

  • Adam Whitehead June 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I’m not sure if you can say it’s a ‘small’ vote. More than 3,000 votes were placed, which gives the list roughly six times the validity of the Hugo Awards, and SFX is actually the biggest SF&F mag in Europe (possibly the US as well; are there any US SF mags that sell more than 40,000 copies a month? I’m pretty sure Locus doesn’t).

    For me, the list is fascinating for the very fact that it was voted for by ‘normal’ SF fans, the people who only buy a few books a year and aren’t the hardcore well-read lot you encounter on the Internet. From that perspective the list is extremely encouraging, if only for Rowling not winning by a landslide. The question isn’t that Aldiss being at #95 on the list is bad, it’s that him being on the list at all when he’s got maybe four books in print in the UK at the moment is a great achievement.

  • Luke June 27, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Wow, yet another top 100 list that is beyond my comprehension. Being an avid reader of fantasy I fail to see how the magnificent Steven Erikson comes 30th. This is surely some kind of joke? His work is so far ahead of just about anything else I have ever read that it perhaps deserves a classification all of its own.

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  • muscrat June 30, 2008 at 8:38 am

    who is terry pratchett, and why is rod serling not on the list?

  • Seb July 3, 2008 at 4:42 am

    I agree with Luke, Steven Erikson is magnificent. I think if another Top 100 list will be made 10 years from now he will at least be top 15.

    I just finished reading Robin Hobbs latest series, and I have to say I have a hard time seeing what people like so much about her writing. All her books can be summarized by: the main character gets blamed for just about everything, and then there is some type of happy ending. And during this, the word “rebuke” is used about a million times.

  • ZANZA September 13, 2008 at 3:48 am

    I reckoned the Forever War was class-A shit

  • ZANZA September 13, 2008 at 3:49 am

    hey, is Bernard Cornwell on this list?

  • ZANZA September 13, 2008 at 3:50 am

    CS Lewis, good stuff

  • […] SFX’s Top 100 Authors […]

  • jmaxx30 November 26, 2008 at 8:38 am

    A list compiled or voted on by people that actually read good sci fi or fantasy would not have Anne McCaffery higher on the list than Stephen Donaldson. Although Hobb, Leguin and Rowling are up there pretty high … that is a good thing. And it’s interesting that Stephen King is in the top 20 … Black House and the Dark Tower Series are some of the best fantasy books ever written. I guess I’m just disturbed by the fact that someone who is arguably one of the best selling fantasy authors of all time (Donaldson), whose novels are referenced in advanced litarature course at some fairly high level universities would be ranked so low on this list. And McCaffery whose novels are nothing more than thinly disguised romance novels would be ranked so high. I agree she should be top 100 but top 50 is pretty ridiculous. Although I think that Terry Brooks and Orson Scott Card are both extremely over rated writers … esp Brooks (who pretty much got famous on a direct rip off of Tolkien). Still thanks for putting this together.

  • […] the biggest moments for me in 2008 came in June, when I re-posted SFX Magazine’s list of the top 100 SFF authors of all time, as voted on by their readers. Little did I know that this quick aside (secretly […]

  • Michael September 6, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    you know, top imagine the man who CREATED cosmic Horror, in its entirety HPL really shoulda scored a little higher, im wondering what basis these authors were judged on, sure lovecraft couldnt form a decent conversation if it bit him in the err bottom, but a little credit where it is due. for instance Steven King based many stories off what is obviously Lovecraftian mythos…sigh and yet rated higher, i guess this is a populatirty contest not a contest of creativity srry Steve, hate to knowck youre work i prefer to leave that to you but geez… to think Rowling almoast outscored Phillip K Dick. that in and of itself is a disaster… swich harlan ellison with Lovecraft and lovecraft with “potter” (has she even written anything else worth reading other then english lessons??? WTF…

  • […] comparison, you can find SFX’s list of ‘Top 100 Authors’ HERE. […]

  • […] question, I can’t find anything on the SFX website to directly link to). This time it was Top 100 Sci-Fi Authors compiled from lists sent in by the […]