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Honoring Great Authors of Today

August 16, 2010

This week’s topic is about our favorite authors and who we think are the great authors of today. To be honest, I’ve been dreading this post all week. I don’t have a favorite author. At least not in the sense that I visit the person’s website once a day and stalk them on Twitter. Heck, I don’t even have a favorite book. I read a lot. I read often. My “favorite” book is whichever one I’m currently carrying around and obsessively reading (which happens to be Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward).

As for “great authors of today”? Please. That’s too subjective. One would first have to determine the criteria for a great author. Success in the writing industry means different things for different people. Sure, most of us aim to write a best seller and make a nice chunk of change. But I do know of one author who told me they don’t want their book to be popular, they want it to get banned! Of course in my opinion, all press is good press.

But what, then, makes a great author?  Their skill in the craft? Writing a classic literary piece that children study in their English Comp. classes for decades to come? Is it an author that challenges society and forces them to look at the flaws of the word, like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?

Or is it the sales that make an author great? Is it the ability to write an entertaining piece that captures the attention of many, in a world where reading is a fading past-time replaced by television, video games, and the internet?

Who knows.

The problem is that “successful” authors are the exception, and they are too often contradictory to what a successful author is supposed to be like. Ahem. I don’t think I need to mention Stephenie Meyer, but there are others too. In my opinion, Laurell K. Hamilton and L.A. Banks can join Stephanie Meyer in the “bad, yet successful” pile.

I think what makes a truly great author is one who has proven his skill to be worthy  AND has topped the Best Sellers charts. I can think of only one such person. Someone who crafts flawless, breathtaking, mind-blowing, works of art. Someone whose novels I’ve read and would recommend to everyone.

This man is Sci-Fi writer Orson Scott Card, author of the famous Ender’s Game series, and countless other Fantasy novels, including one of my favorites, Enchantment.

Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won Hugo and Nebula Awards. Card has also written multiple screenplays, biblical novels, American frontier novels, poetry, “How to” books for writers, and teaches writing workshops and seminars.

Yes, I do believe Card has gone above and beyond Great Author status and is a truly rare genius of the craft. Tell me, readers, are you a Card fan? An Ender’s Game fan? Who do you believe is the greatest author of our times, or, who are your favorite authors?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Ien Nivens permalink
    August 16, 2010 11:11 am

    No argument with Card, but I have to say that, for my money, no one living today has built a more enduring body of work in both Sci-Fi and Fantasy than Ursula Le Guin. She’s at the top of her game in her recent Western Shore trilogy with Gifts, Voices and Powers. And don’t forget that Anne Rice is still around, just a bit distracted lately. She’ll be the antidote to Meyers long after the sparkle has worn off of Twilight. Also, J.K. Rowling’s going to last, like it or not, alongside Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling, because real entertainment doesn’t go out of style.

    • J.D. Brown permalink*
      August 16, 2010 11:41 am

      Ien,

      I did consider mentioning Ann Rice, I was a huge fan of hers back in her vampire days, but I went with Card because he’s still actively writing Sci-Fi, as wells as all the other genre’s he’s dabbled into.

      I heard Rice recently ditched going to church. There’s an article about it on the net, I’ll try to find it. I doubt she’ll ever go back to her old style of vampires and witches, but as you’ve said, hers will always be classic.

      I have not read any of Ursula Le Guin, I’ll have to look her up.

      Thanks.

  2. August 16, 2010 11:25 am

    Very well said, Ien. Especially with calling Rice “distracted” 😉 I doubt she’ll get back to her original style ever, but she is a talented storyteller and hope she produces work again.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that even after my years of sci-fi and fantasy reading I have not read Card or Le Guin (although, in my defense, most of my reading in those genres was done in the 80’s and early 90’s).

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. August 16, 2010 8:16 pm

    Well said, J.D. What does the reader want from their fiction? Do we speak only of the literary masters who weave their tomes well over the heads of the masses, as well as the so-called enlightened? Or are we talking about you and me who simply wish to be entertained, man? Lol!
    There is much to consider.
    Anyway, thanks for trailblazing. Those of us who post Fridays just love seeing what the others think well before we even have to put “pen” to “paper”. Just Kidding. My post actually wrote itself this morning, however.
    Thanks for posting.
    –Jimmy

    • J.D. Brown permalink*
      August 17, 2010 10:05 pm

      James,

      Posting on Mondays makes me feel special. Lol. I feel as though I’ve been given the task of setting the stage for the rest of the week. It’s with great pride that a state my opinion while still leaving plenty for Mr. Friday to write about. 🙂 I can’t wait to read your post.

  4. Robert C. Nelson permalink
    August 16, 2010 9:05 pm

    When one mentions great, the first person who comes to my mind is Edgar Allen Poe. To me, no one else even comes close. Yes, I enjoy reading many other author’s works and consider many of them to be brilliant, and yet..yet he was special. He made me see, feel, touch, smell, and hear things that I never would have imagined possible. He made the unknown known. It is because of him that I write. Never will I achieve his mastery, for he has set the goal high. but I can try, and try I will.

    • J.D. Brown permalink*
      August 17, 2010 10:09 pm

      I love Poe’s poetry and I have great respect for that man. I miss the days of beautiful, drawn out prose. Of course, Shakespeare also comes to mind. But for this specific topic, I tried to stay on the contemporary side.

  5. August 16, 2010 9:52 pm

    Great post Jen. You make some great points here and I totally agree with you. I’m so used to you and I being silly during our chats that it amazes me that you can be serious sometimes LOL Seriously though, great insites and thanks for the reccomendations. I’ll definitely see about picking them up soon.

    • J.D. Brown permalink*
      August 17, 2010 10:12 pm

      Ah, thanks Ana? Thinking I couldn’t be serious. Pssh. Lol.

  6. August 16, 2010 10:48 pm

    Embarrassed to say I haven’t read Card. I agree with Anne Rice, but there’s a romance there, with Stan agreeing to marry her in the church before his death. I spoke to her at a book signing here, and she told me several publishers told her she would never be a writer. She was going to self publish when she got the call. I’m still a fan of hers, not sure about her writing, though.

    Ursula LeGuin – wow, there’s a name I haven’t spoken in over 30 years. She was wonderful with the world building and pure fantasy – the first time a SciFi was sensual for me.

    My two favorite authors are James Elroy (loved Maximum Bob) and Paul Theroux. Love their characters. Theroux wrote Mosquito Coast. It wasn’t a happy book, but the characters! As usual, the movie didn’t do justice to the book.

    But I still have to go with Diana Gabaldon for Outlander. Just the sheer volume of material, and all the history I learned about. The hero and heroine’s story through time, just tickles everything pink in my psyche. Only problem is, I have to spend the whole day reading, not a book you can pick up and mosey along with. But when I’m done, I feel smarter. I feel like a better reader, and writer.

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