I prefer Asimov and Heinlein in science fiction"”particularly Stranger in a Strange Land (do you grok?)"”the "director's cut." But I'll have to try Mr. Stoller's recommendations. It's always great to find quality new science fiction.
I really like Asimov's earlier stuff, particularly the original "Foundation" trilogy.Â Later in his career, though, I think that he was really just concerned with hitting 400 books, 500 books, or whatever crazy number he was at.
It's been a while since I read either author, but I remember feeling that both eventually relaxed their quality control a bit too much. As much as I enjoyed Heinlein's earlier writing, I thought that"”in his novels, at least"”his sexual obsessions got the best of him. That's already evident in "Stranger...," which, though still a noteworthy read, has aged a bit badly in its Playboy Philosophy/"free love" trappings. (Granted, in 1961, he was somewhat ahead of his time, but, in 2002, his take on sex holds up about as well as your "groovy" hair in your high school yearbook photo.) That tendency completely derailed 1970's "I Will Fear No Evil," a brain-transplant tale that, dubious social commentary aside, ultimately amounts to little more than preposterous softcore porno. After that, I had a hard time taking Heinlein seriously. To be fair, this is probably his most-maligned work, and part of the problem was that he became very ill before he could complete the editorial process. Alas, his increasingly rampant elitist/Libertarian leanings can't be blamed on peritonitis. I have to concur with LA Guy on Asimov. He had a good stint as a top-notch writer, but somewhere along the way he devolved into little more than an overrated speed-typist. His later Foundation novels, for example, are a good illustration of why trilogies stop at three. Sturgeon was a contemporary of Heinlein's and Asimov's"”Heinlein even sent Sturgeon outlines for stories when Sturgeon had writer's block"”and thus isn't really a "new" author. He's perhaps best known for his excellent 1953 novel, "More Than Human," but his metier was the short story: in 1970, he won the Hugo and Nebula awards for "Slow Sculpture." Star Trek fans may also know that Sturgeon wrote two shows from the original series: "Shore Leave" and "Amok Time," the latter having had considerable impact on the entire mythology of Vulcans. Gibson, on the other hand, is relatively new: he's the original "cyberpunk" author, a specialist in near-future SF whose works include "Johnny Mnemonic," "Neuromancer," "Mona Lisa Overdrive," and so on. He also penned a couple of X-Files episodes. The Sci-Fi film smash, "The Matrix," is largely dumbed-down Gibson"”Gibson even coined the term, "the Matrix," to define his version of cyberspace, upon which the film's version is clearly modeled. All of this has little to do with vocabulary, of course, save that these authors have used it masterfully, with Gibson being particularly creative at coining new terms that have a resonance approaching Heinlein's invention of "grok." As for Reader's Digest, I prefer to do my own digestion.