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Wednesday 25 April 2001

2001 Locus Poll & Survey -- Selected Results

Name 5 Writers | Comments

The 2001 Locus Poll and Survey was conducted this year, for the first time, both online and via paper ballot. About 1/3 of total voters submitted online: 192 valid ballots were received electronically, and some 400 ballots were submitted the usual snail-mail way. (Unfortunately this didn't increase the total votes, compared to last year.) The electronic ballots have already been counted and tallied, but since they comprise only partial results they cannot be announced separately. Complete results of the poll and survey will be published later this year, in the August issue of Locus Magazine, and winners in each category will be presented with the Locus Awards at a ceremony at Westercon in Portland over July 4th weekend. (If we could only get everyone to vote electronically, well, then, we could announce results now.)

There are some results that can be revealed right away: the online ballot had an extra question absent from the paper ballots: "Name the 5 deceased 20th century SF & fantasy writers you think will still be read 50 years from now". The question was considered for the paper ballot but finally left off, on the grounds that it wasn't really that different from asking for people's 5 favorite writers, which we did just two years ago. Or was it? The results are tallied here. For comparison, rankings are shown from the 1999 poll categories for 5 favorite SF and fantasy writers.

The results are generally similar to the earlier question, but there are some notable differences. Many voters did indicate they were making a distinction between their favorites, and who they thought would still be read. Thus there were such votes as:

  • L. Ron Hubbard [yuck]
  • L. Ron Hubbard (if and only if the Church of Scientology still exists ;-)
  • unfortunately 'elron' Hubbard
  • Hubbard (yeah, but...)

    Some votes expressed other clarifications or qualifications:

  • Walter Miller (the one book); Heinlein (the juveniles)
  • Frank Herbert -- on the strength of Dune
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley (but only for The Mists of Avalon)
  • Frank Herbert -- Hopefully people will realize he wrote more than the outstanding Dune series

    And others clearly expressed hopes, or wishful thinking, more than honest expectations:

  • Theodore Sturgeon (if there's any justice in the world)
  • Theodore Sturgeon (Hopefully :-))
  • Edward Whittemore (because otherwise there's no hope for the future) ... Angela Carter (if there's any justice on this or any other Earth)
  • Personal wish: Cordwainer Smith -- not read widely in 50 years, perhaps (after all, he's barely read now), but hopefully work that unique and powerful will always find an audience

    The most striking differences between this tally and the 1999 favorite author rankings are where voters apparently favor some writers even though they don't expect them to survive -- and vice versa.

  • Deceased 20th C. Writers Who Will Be Read 50 Years From Now
    SF rank
    Fantasy rank
    1) Robert A. Heinlein 106 1  
    2) Isaac Asimov 95 2  
    3) J.R.R. Tolkien 82   1
    4) Philip K. Dick 66 4  
    5) Frank Herbert 48 9  
    6) Roger Zelazny 29 15 5
    7) Theodore Sturgeon 26 14  
    8) H.G. Wells 25 8  
    9) H.P. Lovecraft 23   11
    10) Marion Zimmer Bradley 16 45 18
    11) Alfred Bester 15 19  
    12) C.S. Lewis 13   4
    13) Gordon R. Dickson 12    
    14) John Brunner 11    
    15) Fritz Leiber 10 41 3
    16) Edgar Rice Burroughs 8   37
    *) L. Ron Hubbard 8    
    18) A.E. van Vogt 7    
    19) Cordwainer Smith 6 27  
    *) Jules Verne 6 40  
    21) Mervyn Peake 5   16
    *) Clifford D. Simak 5 18  
    *) Olaf Stapledon 5 29  
    24) James Blish 4    
    *) Ray Bradbury 4 16 6
    *) Arthur C. Clarke 4 3  
    *) L. Sprague de Camp 4   42
    *) Robert E. Howard 4   29
    *) James Tiptree, Jr. 4 35  
    30) L. Frank Baum 3   32
    *) Walter M. Miller, Jr. 3    
    *) George Orwell 3    

    Writers with 2 votes:
    Charles de Lint; Lord Dunsany; Guy Gavriel Kay; C.L. Moore; H. Beam Piper; Edgar Allan Poe; Keith Roberts; E.E. 'Doc' Smith; Jack Vance; James White; John Wyndham
    Writers with 1 vote:
    Aldiss, Anderson, Borges; Fredric Brown, William Burroughs, Angela Carter; Chandler, Clement, Crichton, Delany, Ellison, Farmer, Finney; Russell M. Griffin; Henderson, Huxley, M.R. James, Kipling, Kornbluth, Le Guin, Leinster, Martin, Pratchett, Pynchon; Eric Frank Russell, Clark Ashton Smith, Thorne Smith; Schmitz, Sladek; Neal Stephenson; B. Strugatsky; George Turner; Waldrop, T.H. White, Edward Whittemore, Wolfe [Bernard? Gene?]; and Dr. Seuss

    Some of these are predictable: L. Ron Hubbard, as indicated above; writers with solid credentials for 1 or 2 particular books, like Orwell or Miller, who wouldn't on those bases count among most readers' favorite writers.

    But how is it that Gordon Dickson, John Brunner, A.E. van Vogt, and James Blish got fair numbers of votes in this survey, though they didn't rank among the favorites 2 years ago? Perhaps the numbers are too small to be significant; Blish has only 3 votes here.

    Meanwhile, several respondants noted they weren't sure who was alive or who was dead (or overlooked that aspect of the question); thus Bradbury, Clarke, Le Guin, Anderson and several others got votes this time, though they are not yet deceased. Two others in the top ten SF writers in 1999, Silverberg and Cherryh, got no votes for this question.

    © 2001 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.