Neglected Science Fiction Writers

Upmarket rag, The Times, recently ran an article, by Brian Aldiss, lamenting forgotten SF writers, in promotion for a sparkly new edition of A Science Fiction Omnibus, in the guise of a Penguin Modern Classic.
Ever since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Or, The Modern Prometheus, SF has been dishing out a variety of gloom and diets of catastrophe. The refreshed version of my A Science Fiction Omnibus offers a modest selection. Well, it is not all gloom; there is also fine satire, such as William Tenn's Liberation of Earth, and the comedy of Katherine Maclean's The Snowball Effect. There are also magisterial stories that it is difficult to classify, such as Eric Frank Russell's Sole Solution and Ward Moore's Lot... You know the names of all these authors, of course. What, you don't? I have known and enjoyed many of them for decades, in all their variety... But I do see that a wall much like the Great Wall of China has been erected against SF — although H.G.Wells has escaped the general banishment. It is a shame, for the authors are so different one from another, so disconcerting, so thought-nourishing. So despairing, so optimistic... There could be something most of us are missing.
It's one of those things, isn't it, the forgotten classic we hold dear to our hearts. Authors you just wish had achieved more, had possibly become Greats. In fact, many a time have we Solaris editors taken the afternoon off to scour second hand bookstores, to see what's there in those dusty corners of the science fiction and fantasy sections. (Did we mention we were book geeks?)

So, I wondered if there'd be a decent list of great SF writers that had fallen off the radar. Rather unpredictably (in this office, at least), I'd put forward Michael Coney, as a weaver of fine SF tales. He had this wonderful ability for stating the genuine human sociological implications. A real ideas man, who never lost his focus on what stories are about: people.

Come on, throw some names forward in the comments section. Let us neglect no longer. Which authors do you wish were not forgotten?

7 comments:

James Maxey said...

Cordwainer Smith. His short stories "Game of Rat and Dragon" and "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard" are right at the top of my list of favorite SF stories ever. He had a gift for evoking a sense of wonder through a very straightforward presentation.

Ian Sales said...

Leigh Brackett. Admittedly, an omnibus collection of stories was in the Fantasy Masterworks, but her sf deserves to be better know.

I'd also vote for Mark S Geston, Barry N Malzberg, and John Morressy.

Christian said...

Garry Kilworth. Better known for his novels for younger readers but has penned some fine short stories in his time.

I'd also add Kuttner/Padgett to the list, not because he's neglected particularly, but certainly worthy of wider attention.

alanajoli said...

I don't think that Jeff Duntemann has fallen off the radar, but rather, the radar never picked him up as much as he deserved. He's a remarkable short story writer and novelist, and deserves far more critical attention than he's received.

marco said...

Richard Kadrey, lost and neglected for a while in the post-cyberpunk backlash as the fashion turned against what others perceived as his corner of the genre, but back doing what he does best - wildly inventive writing firmly in-genre but always somehow in a universe all its own - in Butcher Bird.

gary gibson said...

Yeah, I remember Garry Kilworth well. And I was very into Coney's 'Hello Summer Goodbye' (I think it was called) when I were lad. And I always thought it was a huge shame Lewis Shiner fell off the map the way he did - he wrote some of the best stories in the genre back in the Eighties, and his novel Glimpses was superb.

gary gibson said...

Not only Kadrey - there's also KW Jeter, who wrote some amazing stuff (Infernal Devices, Farewell Horizontal). Although some of his books were of distinctly variable quality (I'm thinking Morlock Nights here), when he was good, he was downright amazing. And let us not forget Dr.Adder, surely one of the most twisted works of literature in the whole canon.