MEME: 25 Influential Writers

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I found this interesting meme and thought I would give it a shot. The object is to list twenty-five writers who have influenced you in some way. Everyone who wants to do this is tagged (and feel free to leave me a link in the comments, as I’d like to see your choices).

Here goes (in no particular order):
1. Philip K. Dick
He may be the one writer who has had the most influence on me. His novels, short stories, and non-fiction have influenced not only my writing, but also my academic interests. PKD is, to put it simply, the man. I owe him a lot as far as my future career is concerned. If it wasn’t for him and Tananarive Due I don’t think I would be interested in the human in science fiction.

2. Tobias S. Buckell
Mr. Buckell has brought back that adventurous side in my writing interests, which is a good thing. Nothing wrong with a bit of adventure and badassery.

3. Salman Rushdie
I’m not actually a fan of Rushdie’s writing, or him as a person (I think he’s a tad too pretentious for my tastes). Still, his writing has had a tremendous influence on my style and he has opened a few doors academically, particularly into issues of history within literature (historical continuity, the consumption of history, and the fragmentation of history). So, while I may not read any more of his work unless I have to, I can at least say he has had discernible influence on me as a writer and as a student and future scholar.

4-5. George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin
I would say that Orwell single-handedly got me into science fiction. He was sort of the beginning for me. I love dystopian fiction as a result. Much like George Orwell, Zamyatin has strengthened by interest in dystopian fiction. He was an early influence to Orwell, so it’s understandable that I like him as well.

6. Richard A. Knaak
One of the first adult fantasy writers I ever read. He was one of the folks that first got me into writing, particularly fantasy, and, well, not much more can be said about that. I still like his books to this day and still remember how his works started getting me interested in reading for fun.

7. William Horwood
One of the reasons I still love reading is because of Horwood. His Duncton Wood books were fascinating and stunning fantasy stories unlike any other. You should read his book too; his work is probably as original as you can get in the fantasy genre, considering that none of his characters are human.

8. Poul Anderson
One of the few folks who made me a lover of science fiction. “Call Me Joe” is probably the first science fiction story that I fell in love with. I’ve since resolved myself to collect all his books, because I want an entire Poul Anderson library!

9. J. R. R. Tolkien
I don’t think this one needs any explanation, to be honest.

10. Robert J. Sawyer
While not an influence because of his fiction writing, Sawyer has, through his discussions of science fiction and his relative popularity, offered a lot of hope in the field of science fiction. I’ve been inspired by a lot of what he has said about the genre and hope he will continue to be as popular as he is today.

11-14. Maurice G. Dantec, Richard Calder, Thomas Pynchon, and Brian Francis Slattery
These folks are all relatively recent influences on me. Calder has primarily had influence on my writing style and content. I’ve become a bit more daring in both, taking up more “controversial” subject matter in some of my stories and altering my prose to be more, well, “literary” (in a good way, I hope).
Dantec has had a similar influence.
As for Pynchon, well I’m not an enormous Pynchon fan, but I have to admit that his writing style, along with several others mentioned here, has made me rethink how I write. The same can be said for Mr. Slattery, who wrote a fantastic novel called Spaceman Blues.

15-17. Isaac Asimov, William Gibson, and Orson Scott Card
As one of those big idea science fiction writers, Asimov has helped secure my interests in science fiction. Foundation was an incredible book.
Gibson is, well, the unintentional creator of cyberpunk, which should be enough for anyone who has read more of my recent science fiction.
Card has been instrumental in fostering my desire to be a professional writer. Not only have I enjoyed many of his books, but his book on writing was, for a long time, my Bible. I’m not sure if I would still be writing today if not for OSC.

18-20. Elizabeth Bear, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due
All three of these authors have had an impact on my academic interests through their portrayals of the Other in their work. I’ve even written a few papers of one of Due’s short stories and I hope to do the same for Bear and Hopkinson in the future.

21-25. Karen Miller, James Clemens, Diane Duane, and Obert Skye
These are some of the best fantasy writers I’ve read. Miller and Clemens have both inspired me as a writer and lover of fantasy, reminding me what good epic fantasy can be (The Innocent/Awakened Mage and Shadowfall are still some of my favorites today). Duane and Skye have kept me fascinated with YA fantasy and have inspired me to write my own series (well, two of them actually, one called The World in the Satin Bag and the other called The Mysterious House of Mr. Whim and the House of (Un)Desirables).

25. Dipesh Chakrabarty, Darko Suvin, Samuel R. Delany, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (and a lot of others)
I’m putting these all in one primarily because they all have written on similar subjects (or at least subjects I am interested in) and have influenced me academically. Without these writers I don’t think I would have developed much in my academic career and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today in my studies.

Well, that’s all of them. Who are some of the most influential writers in your life and why?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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