Authors who have used “suspension of disbelief” and sensawunda
was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books. He also wrote an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards.
Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov’s most famous work is the “Foundation” series, the first three books of which won the one-time Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966. His other major series are the “Galactic Empire” series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in the much earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He also wrote over 380 short stories, including the social science fiction novelette “Nightfall”, which in 1964 was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery. He wrote on numerous other scientific and non-scientific topics, such as chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, biblical exegesis, and literary criticism.
Quote: [T]he only thing about myself that I consider to be severe enough to warrant psychoanalytic treatment is my compulsion to write … That means that my idea of a pleasant time is to go up to my attic, sit at my electric typewriter (as I am doing right now), and bang away, watching the words take shape like magic before my eyes.
Robert A. Heinlein
was an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and Naval officer. Sometimes called the “dean of science fiction writers”, he was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His published works, both fiction and non-fiction, express admiration for competence and emphasize the value of critical thinking. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.
Heinlein became one of the first American science-fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the “Big Three” of English-language science fiction authors. Notable Heinlein works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers (which helped mold the space marine and mecha archetypes) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His work sometimes had controversial aspects, such as plural marriage in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, militarism in Starship Troopers and technologically competent women characters that were formidable, yet often stereotypically feminine – such as Friday.
A writer also of numerous science-fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship (1937–1971) of John W. Campbell at Astounding Science Fiction magazine, though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree.
Heinlein used his science fiction as a way to explore provocative social and political ideas, and to speculate how progress in science and engineering might shape the future of politics, race, religion, and sex. Within the framework of his science-fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the nature of sexual relationships, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices.
Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. Four of his novels won Hugo Awards. In addition, fifty years after publication, seven of his works were awarded “Retro Hugos”—awards given retrospectively for works that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence. In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including grok, waldo and speculative fiction, as well as popularizing existing terms like “TANSTAAFL”, “pay it forward”, and “space marine”. He also anticipated mechanical computer-aided design with “Drafting Dan” and described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel Beyond This Horizon. In the first chapter of the novel Space Cadet he anticipated the cellular phone, 35 years before Motorola invented the technology. Several of Heinlein’s works have been adapted for film and television.
Heinlein published 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 collections during his life.
Arthur C. Clarke
was an English science-fiction writer, science writer, futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.
He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most influential films of all time. Clarke was a science fiction writer, an avid populariser of space travel, and a futurist of a distinguished ability. He wrote many books and many essays for popular magazines. In 1961, he received the Kalinga Prize, a UNESCO award for popularising science. Clarke’s science and science-fiction writings earned him the moniker “Prophet of the Space Age”. His science-fiction writings in particular earned him a number of Hugo and Nebula awards, which along with a large readership, made him one of the towering figures of the genre. For many years Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction.
Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, he proposed a satellite communication system using geostationary orbits. He was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–1947 and again in 1951–1953.
Clarke emigrated to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1956, to pursue his interest in scuba diving. That year, he discovered the underwater ruins of the ancient Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee. Clarke augmented his popularity in the 1980s, as the host of television shows such as Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World. He lived in Sri Lanka until his death.
L E Modesitt, Jr
is an American science fiction and fantasy author who has written over 75 novels. He is best known for the fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. By 2015 the 18 novels in the Recluce series had sold nearly three million copies. By 2019 there were 22 Recluce novels.
In addition to his novels, Modesitt has published technical studies and articles, columns, poetry, and a number of science fiction stories. His first short story, “The Great American Economy”, was published in 1973 in Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact. In 2008, he published his first collection of short stories, Viewpoints Critical: Selected Stories (Tor Books, 2008).
Modesitt was born in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts and lived in Washington, D.C. for 20 years while working as a political writer.
He has worked as a Navy pilot, lifeguard, delivery boy, unpaid radio disc jockey, real estate agent, market research analyst, director of research for a political campaign, legislative assistant for a Congressman, Director of Legislation and Congressional Relations for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a consultant on environmental, regulatory, and communications issues, and a college lecturer and writer in residence.
Approach to writing
Modesitt has stated, “When all the research, all the writing group support, all the cheerleading, and all the angst fade away, and they should, the bottom line is simple: As a writer, you first must entertain your readers. To keep them beyond a quick and final read, you have to do more than that, whether it’s to educate them, make them feel, anger them by challenging their preconceptions—or all of that and more. But if you don’t entertain first, none of what else you do matters, because they won’t stay around.”