On 15 Influential Authors

My friend Julio Angel Ortiz tagged me with this on Facebook:

The Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Try to tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

Fifteen authors who have influenced me:

1. Isaac Asimov
2. Philip K. Dick
3. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
4. Will Durant
5. F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. C.s. Forester
7. Ernest Hemingway
8. Nick Hornby
9. Fritz Leiber
10. Ian MacDonald
11. Sir Thomas Malory
12. Larry Niven
13. Anne Rice
14. Charles Schulz
15. J.R.R. Tolkien

Some random commentary…

4. Will Durant is best known for his 11-volume The Story of Civilization series, which chronicles human history from pre-history to the Napoleonic Age. When I want to sit down and read a history book, I’ll pick up a random volume, open it to a random page, and start reading. Durant’s prose is an amazing thing; it’s easy to read, immensely informative, and so vibrantly full of character. Yes, these books are woefully out of date, yet I treasure them. (In a similar vein, I recommend H.G. Wells’ two-volume history, through World War I, The Outline of History. It’s not as compulsively readable, it’s not as vibrant, but it’s a good introduction to history by one of literature’s giants.)

8. Despite some issues with Hornby (his fiction peaked with About a Boy, his non-fiction can be a bit much to take), I enjoy reading Hornby’s work, and I find his best work to be somewhat revelatory. If there’s a modern writer I’d like to imitate, it would be Hornby.

9. The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories are the only works of Leiber that I’ve read. That’s enough for me. “Lean Times in Lankhmar” is my favoritest short story ever. I keep meaning to reread the series. I keep hoping Dark Horse Comics will get a Lankhmar comic book series off the ground. I keep wishing that Guillermo del Toro will make a Lankhmar film — and hire Hellboy‘s Mike Mignola to do the concept art.

10. The only work of the late MacDonald’s that I’ve read is Revolution in the Head, his song-by-song deconstruction of the Beatles’ canon. In my opinion, this book is the essential piece of Fabs scholarship. It’s as much a musical survey of the Beatles as it is an analysis of the cultural landscape of Britain in the 60s. I don’t always agree with MacDonald, but that’s okay — he makes me think about what I feel about the Beatles.

13. I read Anne Rice in college to impress a young woman. I liked Interview with a Vampire a lot, I liked The Vampire Lestat slightly less, I was indifferent to Queen of the Damned, I was annoyed out of my mind with The Tale of the Body Thief, and I loved Mnenoch the Devil (mostly because it was Paradise Lost, with added vampire goodness). The books after that? I bought them, I usually bailed by page fifty. Either I’d changed or Rice had changed, or maybe we’d both changed. But I liked reading the first two books, I wrote a vampire novel (unpublished) due in large part to reading her work, and even the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine spec script I wrote had some Ricean touches.

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