Fifteen authors (poets included) who have influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
- Roger Zelazny
- Nigel Findley
- Fritz Leiber
- J. R. R. Tolkien
- Carl Sagan
- Gary Gygax
- Chris Claremont
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Stephen King
- David Sedaris
- Sarah Vowell
- Neil Gaiman
- Erick Wujcik
- William Shakespeare
- Ed McBain
Zelazny, obviously, was hugely influential on me, both in how I write and in how I view the world. Since I write about that with some regularity, I won't rehash that here.
Shakespeare and is the only author on the list whose work is indisputably considered literature (though I could make a strong argument for Tolkien, and Vonnegut). Tolkien needs no introduction, and Vonnegut produced what I consider the most powerful anti-war book ever made with Slaughterhouse Five.
There are several authors of role-playing books on this list (Gygax, Findley and Wujcik) and I like each of them for a different reason. Gygax has an arcane, idiosyncratic style to both his diction and meter and I started role-playing when I was about ten, so he was very influential on my thinking and my writing. Findley was possibly the most literate and prolific author ever to work in the field and Wujcik was the man who convinced me to bring critical thinking to my games, and to a lesser extent, to other arenas.
And while we're on the subject of pulp, I read the hell out of Stephen King's books. When I was a kid, there was a summer when I think I read literally nothing else. Fritz Leiber wrote what I consider the best sword and sorcery story ever written with Ill Met in Lankhmar.
I guess I have a soft spot for public radio commentators with funny voices, because I sometimes even take a break from blogging about Zelanzy and Lily to say how much I like Sarah Vowell. I have to tried to emulate their brand of sardonic observation, with somewhat mixed success. Carl Sagan was the unflagging ambassador for science. More than anyone before or since, he could make science seem like a grand and noble pursuit. Ed McBain narrowly hedged out Raymond Chandler. Click here for an earlier post about why I love his writing.
I read a lot of comic books and Claremont and Gaiman represent two poles about what I love in the field. Claremont brought soap opera drama and Gaiman brought art. (He also wrote American Gods, just about the best book EVAR!!!)
Those were my influences. How about you?