Friday, March 26, 2010

Ten authors who've influenced me the most.

The BayouRenaissanceMan has a post up about the ten authors or books that have most influenced his life. The original blog meme called for books, but I'm not the only one who has trouble just listing a single work by an author rather than a long list of that author's works so I'll be listing authors.

Here are my ten, in random order:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien. His Middle Earth works introduced me to a whole new genre of writing, fantasy. I'd read a lot of science fiction when I picked up The Hobbit, but fantasy works opened up a whole new kind of world to me. Aside from being fantastic works in and of themselves, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings introduced me into a type of world that I previously had never imagined and gave me hours and hours of enjoyment.

2. Robert Jordan. Jordan's Wheel of Time series was epic in proportions. They were, at the time, some of the longest books I'd ever read. Rich with scenery and a plethora of characters I was gifted with some very enjoyable times while reading these books. No author taught me more about honor that Robert Jordan. I was sad to learn of his death before he completed this series. The last book was written by another author, using Jordan's notes, and at some point I will re-read the series and see how the final chapter of the story.

3. Terry Goodkind. Goodkind's Sword of Truth series of novels has probably had more influence on me that any other author. I owe him for helping me to find my way to real moral philosophy, for showing me a world that could be, for showing me how life should be lived. His works take place in a fantasy setting, but are heavily influenced by the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

4. Ayn Rand. No other philosopher that I have read has come closer to nailing my understanding of the world. I do not agree with her to a T, so I do not call myself an Objectivist, but I do think that had I had a few years to discuss her philosophy with her maybe we could have changed that. I think I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed reading her novels. The Fountainhead is my favorite of her fictional works, though I believe John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged is one of the single best pieces of the written word in existence.

5. Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert is one of the greatest writers to ever put pen to paper. His Dune novels are legendary. The complexity of his works is staggering, but so very enjoyable. I am to this day fascinated by his ability to weave religion, politics, and society together over the span of eons.

6. Anne Rice. To most people Anne Rice is a vampire author. She is, and probably the best one there is. Her descriptive ability is astounding, and while I enjoyed all of her books that I have read it was her erotica that influenced me the most. I was opened up to new ways of looking at sexual encounters, and she helped me admit some truths to myself that have made life a lot easier to live.

7. Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein is probably my favorite science fiction author. His works are both entertaining and thought provoking. I've found I agree with him far more often than I disagree, and I wouldn't mind exploring the worlds of Lazarus Long. Starship troopers and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress are must reads for anyone.

8. John Ross. John Ross's book Unintended Consequences took me from being someone who was interested in guns to being a complete and total gun nut. It's a radical work on guns and their place in American society. The novel is parts historical, parts contemporary fiction. It made me dig deeper into gun issues and is probably responsible for the single biggest shift in my thinking from left leaning moderate to hard line libertarian. While not the best written, it would be hard to point to another single book that had more influence on my life.

9. Jaqueline Carey. Ms. Carey's Kushiel series of books appeal to the romantic in me. They are primarily love stories, but with a historical fantasy background inter-meshed with high adventure and intrigue. I'm a sucker for passionate love, with all of it's ups and downs, and even if you can't always get one I'm going to do what I can to get my happy, romantic ending.

10. John Ringo. John Ringo is an author that I just love to read. His novels are entertaining, full of adventure, plenty of realism, and he challenges my beliefs. I like the fact that he takes issue with the practicality of my philosophy. In many respects I have the same criticisms, but just as often I disagree. But it's good to be challenged, and made to think, all while being entertained by bloody action and gallows humor.

There are so many more I could add to this list: David Weber, Tom Clancy, the numerous authors of Star Wars Novels, but those were the ten that stood out in my mind. A year from now that list might be different, as I suspect it might have been a year past.

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