Help me brainstorm? If…

Help me brainstorm? If you were trying to name big name literary people who do speculative fiction-y stuff, what names come to mind? And on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most weighty, how impressive do you think they are generally considered to be in literary circles, by literary folks?

For example:

  • Salman Rushdie, 10
  • Isabel Allende, 10
  • Angela Carter, 9
  • Michael Chabon, 7
  • Aimee Bender, 7
  • George Saunders, 7
  • Laura Esquivel, 5
  • Jonathan Carroll, 3
  • Graham Joyce, 3
Please feel free to disagree with my numbers too -- I'm mostly making these up. In fact, it would be helpful if you would disagree, and explain why.

10 thoughts on “Help me brainstorm? If…”

  1. Garcia Marquez and Borges would both be 10s, methinks.
    Kate Atkinson not on the scale, but won the Booker Prize half a decade ago.
    Some of Fred Chappell’s stuff dances close to magic realism, but I don’t know how well he’s known outside of the southeast US.
    Nancy Willard – probably not on the scale either (in part because she may be better known as a children’s author), but still, fine adult work.

    God, I need to read more. . .

  2. On Nancy Willard:

    She’s very respected in the poetry lit world,
    not a 10, but definitely 7 or 8.
    Also up there, in speculative mythology would
    be Eleanor Wilner (_Reversing the Spell_) at
    7 or 8.

    Now, back to Peg 🙂

  3. I would have described Graham Joyce as a spec fic writer who does literary-ish stuff, but that’s a quibble.

    A few names I would add to your list:
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 10
    A.S. Byatt, 9
    Italo Calvino, 9
    John Crowley, um, I have no clue, at least a 3

    There must be more…I’ll have to think about it a bit.

  4. A few that come to mind:

    Michael Moorcock – seems to have migrated from pulp to mainstream literary fiction, perhaps a 7 or 8?

    Umberto Eco – ?

    Kurt Vonnegut -8?

    Margaret Atwood – 7?

    Ursela Le Guin – 8 ?

    I think a few of the other recent Nobel Prize winners are known for magical realism, so perhaps them as well.

  5. On the Nobelist front, add Jose Saramago. (I guess that winning the Nobel automatically gets you a 10.)

    Are we restricting ourselves to contemporary writers only? Nathaniel Hawthorne and Guy de Maupassant wrote the odd spec fic-ish piece. (And of course, there’s always Edgar Allen Poe and Villiers de l’Isle Adam, but I think their reputations in the literary field tend to vary precisely with how receptive a given person is to the idea that spec fic can be literature, so I don’t think you’ll win any arguments with them.)

  6. Kathy Acker: niche? posthumous bubble? does that count for or against? 😉 either way, a strong 9

    Samuel R. Delany: an acquired taste maybe but very litty I think. In my experience, it’s hit-and-miss as to when/how he gets mentioned but he’s also often-noted as a “writer other writers read” for what that’s worth and, of those who are familiar with him, he’s held in high regard. A 10 in my mind.

  7. This stuff is perfect. Thanks, guys! I actually need both living and dead people, for separate purposes, so this is all great. I’ll post an updated list soon.

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