Back a couple of years ago, Smithsonian Magazine reminded its readers of a 1936 poll that asked which contemporary authors would endure the slings and arrows of critics, such that their works would be considered “classics” in the year 2000 (the poll was conducted by The Colophon — a magazine for book collectors that sadly did not itself “endure”). These are the authors their readers came up with:SFF Classics

  1. Sinclair Lewis
  2. Willa Cather
  3. Eugene O’Neill
  4. Edna St. Vincent Millay
  5. Robert Frost
  6. Theodore Dreiser
  7. James Truslow Adams
  8. George Santayana
  9. Stephen Vincent Benet
  10. James Branch Cabell

Well, seeing as how I have eight of those on my shelves and recognized one of them (I confess I did have to look up James Truslow Adams), they didn’t do so bad.

So, FanLit readers (you can, ahem, “predict” where this is going, can’t you?), what names would you place on a list of fantasy/science fiction authors writing today whose work is destined to be labeled a “classic”? Give us an author or two, or feel free to give us a whole list of ten, along with some accompanying explanation as to why you feel these writers deserve a spot on such a rarefied list. Just to make things a bit harder, we’re going to knock out the already-lauded greybeards of the field, and say your authors have to had been first published in 1990 or later (so no J.R.R. Tolkiens, C.S. Lewises, Margaret Atwoods or Gene Wolfes).

Note: This column was inspired by a column at Open Culture.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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