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

Have you missed Grand Masters One, Two or Three?

2004 - Robert Silverberg (1935 - )

For the prolific author that he is, Silverberg's work is uniquely devoid of sequels. This is a testament to his inventiveness, as are the numerous awards he's collected in his decades as a science-fiction author.

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Notable Works:

Nightwings (1969)

Son of Man (1971) 

Dying Inside (1972) 

The Book of Skulls (1972) 

Phases of the Moon: Stories from Six Decades (2004, short fiction collection) 


freedom's landing 2005 - Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)

McCaffrey is often thought of as a fantasy writer, thanks to her long-running Pern series where humans ride telepathic dragons. But McCaffrey has always considered herself a science-fiction writer, a point she proves with a sf-laden bibliography.

Notable Works:

The Dragonriders of Pern series (1968 - , starting with Dragonflight)

The Ship Who Sang series (1969 – 1997, Starting with The Ship Who Sang)

The Crystal universe (1982- 1992, starting with Crystal Singer)

The Freedom series (1995 – 2002, starting with Freedom's Landing)

The Talents universe (1973 – 1999, starting with To Ride Pegasus)


Ellison 2006 - Harlan Ellison (1934 - )

As colorful as the fiction he writes, Ellison made a name for himself writing short fiction. It's just as well; it's a format he has perfected as a vehicle for delivering sharp, memorable stories.

Notable Works:

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1967, short fiction)

Deathbird Stories (1975, short fiction)

Angry Candy (1988, short fiction)

Edgeworks, Volumes 1- 4 (1996 – 1997, short fiction)

The Essential Ellison: a 50-Year Retrospective Revised & Expanded (2001, short fiction)


gunn 2007 - James Gunn (1923 - )

Gunn is a noted author turned noted science-fiction academic and has produced worthwhile fiction and nonfiction. He also served as editor to one of the field's most prominent retrospective anthology series, The Road to Science Fiction.

Notable Works:

The Joy Makers (1961)

The Immortals (1964)

The Listeners (1972)

The Road to Science Fiction, Volumes 1 – 6 (1977 – 1998, Editor)

Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction (2005)


moorcock 2008 - Michael Moorcock (1939 - )

Moorcock is known as one of the fathers of sword and sorcery, thanks to his Elric stories. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Most of Moorcock's fiction has been written (or retrofitted) to be part of a vast multiverse known as the Tales of the Eternal Champion sequence.

Notable Works:

The Jerry Cornelius series (1969 – 1984, starting with The Final Programme)

The Elric sequence (1963 - 1991, start with the recent omnibus Elric: The Stealer of Souls)

Gloriana (1978)

The Best of Michael Moorcock (2009)



50 2009 - Harry Harrison (1925 - )

Comedy in science fiction is not an easy thing to pull off, but Harrison makes it look easy. His Stainless Steel Rat series pokes fun at bureaucracy while his Bill, The Galactic Hero series takes a humorous look at heroism. Bonus: Harrison writes serious science fiction, too.

Notable Works:

The Deathworld series (1960 – 1968)

The Stainless Steel Rat series (1961 - 2010)

Bill, The Galactic Hero series (1965 - , starting with Bill, the Galactic Hero)

Make Room! Make Room! (1966)

50 In 50 (2001 short fiction collection)


marsbound 2010 - Joe Haldeman (1943 - )

Much of Haldeman's fiction deals with military conflict and the subsequent trauma of it. The subject makes for powerful fiction and, under Haldeman's capable hands, memorable characters and stories.

Notable Works:

The Forever series (1974 – 1999, starting with The Forever War)

All My Sins Remembered (1977)

The Worlds series (1981 - 1992, starting with Worlds)

The Hemingway Hoax (1990)

The Mars series (2008 – 2011, beginning with Marsbound)



blackout2 2011 - Connie Willis (1945 - )

In May, the SFWA will present the Grand Master award to its newest recipient: Willis. Her stories, which often deal with social sciences, are frequently written is a "comedy of manners" style thanks to the witty dialog of her well-realized characters. Several of her stories are a linked set of time travel stories about history students from the future who travel to the past.

Notable Works:

Lincoln's Dreams (1987)

Doomsday Book (1992)

To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)

Passages (2002)

Blackout/All Clear (2011) 

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