This week, we continue our look at the science fiction Grand Masters, those writers noted for outstanding achievement in science-fiction/fantasy writing, and therefore a great place to start when looking for good sci-fi/fantasy titles.

Read Grand Masters Part 1 and Part 2.

1996 - A.E. van Vogt (1912-2000)

A.E. van Vogt was a one of the central Golden Age writers who became noted for his inventive, fast-moving science-fiction stories.

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Notable Works:

The World of Null-A (1945, plus sequels)

Slan (1946)

The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950)

The Weapon Shops of Isher (1951)

Transfinite: The Essential A.E. van Vogt (2003 short fiction collection)


jk vance 1997 - Jack Vance (1916 - )

If any one writer can be said to best walk the fine line between fantasy and science fiction, it’s Jack Vance. Equally at home in both genres, his popular Dying Earth series is the best example of the space directly in-between.

Notable Works:

The Dying Earth series (1950 - 1984, beginning with The Dying Earth)

The Demon Prices series (1964 - 1981, beginning with The Star King)

Emphyrio (1969)

Ports of Call (1998) and Lurulu (2004)

The Jack Vance Treasury (2006)


poul 1998 - Poul Anderson (1926-2001)

Poul Anderson is no slouch either when it comes to output volume. His many books and stories tend to be action oriented and are populated with memorable and colorful characters that often realize the dream of space travel.

Notable Works:

Brain Wave (1954)

The Technic History, a vast, multivolume Future History that includes the popular Nicholas van Rijn stories (start with the 2008 omnibus The Van Rijn Method) and the Dominic Flandry stories (start with 2009's Young Flandry omnibus)

Tau Zero (1970)

Fire Time (1975)

The Boat of a Million Years (1989)


cycle of fire 1999 - Hal Clement (Harry Stubbs) (1922-2003)

Hal Clement's fiction sits comfortably in the hard science fiction category, which means that they are jam-packed with wondrous ideas and mind-blowing concepts.

Notable Works:

Mission of Gravity (1954)

Cycle of Fire (1957)

Close to Critical (1958)

Star Light (1970)

The Essential Hal Clement, Volumes 1 - 3 (1999 - 2000)


helli 2000 - Brian W. Aldiss (1925 - )

Brian Aldiss was another writer who was weaned on the fiction of H.G. Wells. Rather than revisit the same themes as previous novels, his writing continually adds to the variety of his work.

Notable Works:

Non-Stop (1958)

The Long Afternoon of Earth (1961, a.k.a Hothouse)

The Helliconia series (1982, beginning with Helliconia Spring)

Frankenstein Unbound (1973)

Billion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (1973, non-fiction, revised as 1986's Trillion Year Spree)


farmer 2001 - Philip José Farmer (1918-2009)

If you were to look at the cutting edge of science fiction anytime past 1960, you will find Philip José Farmer. He repeatedly pushed the envelope of the day, breaking down barriers for sex and religion in fiction. It helped that he was also a very capable writer.

Notable Works:

The Lovers (1961)

The World of Tiers series (1965 - 1993, beginning with The Maker of Universes)

The Riverworld series (1971 - 1983, starting with To Your Scattered Bodies Go)

The Unreasoning Mask (1981)

The Worlds of Philip José Farmer, Volumes 1 & 2: (20101 - 2011)


ursual 2003 - Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 - )

Ursula K. Le Guin's beautiful prose style is put to good use in stories that can simultaneously be vast in scope (like the concept behind her sequence of Hainish novels, which posits a human origin myth credited to the machinations of an alien race) and deeply personal (as evidenced by her character-driven stories).

Notable Works: 

The Earthsea series  (1968 – 2001, staring with A Wizard of Earthsea) 

The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)  

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) 

The Dispossessed (1974) 

Lavinia (2008)

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews.