Famous 20th Century Science Fiction Writers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov
6
Famous As: Novelist, Professor
Birthdate: January 2, 1920
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Petrovichi, Russia
Died: April 6, 1992

Isaac Asimov was an American writer. Best known for his science fiction works, Asimov was regarded as one of the Big Three writers along with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. Asimov is credited with influencing most sci-fi writers since the 1950s. Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman stated that one of Asimov's works inspired him to take up Economics.

 2 Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 16, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 2, 1982

Philip K. Dick was an American writer who was known for his work that explores varied social and philosophical themes. Dick's novels have inspired films like Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, his novel Ubik was included in Time magazine's list of 100 greatest novels published in English since 1923.

 3 Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 11, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Died: April 11, 2007

Science-fiction author Kurt Vonnegut is best remembered for the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, which became a New York Times bestseller. The Hugo Award-winner had also fought against the Germans in World War II and expressed his anti-war and atheist views through his works, which also include short stories, plays, and autobiographical works.  

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 4 H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bromley, Kent, England
Died: August 13, 1946

H. G. Wells was an English writer. Although he was prolific in many genres, he is best remembered for his work on sci-fi novels, for which he is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon became so influential that a lunar impact crater is named after him.

 5 Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 11, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge
Died: May 11, 2001

English author, screenwriter, and essayist, Douglas Adams, is most remembered for his comedy science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As a screenwriter, he wrote two stories for the TV series Doctor Who. He advocated for environmentalism and spoke about environmental issues in his non-fiction radio series Last Chance to See.

 6 Sir Arthur Charles Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 16, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minehead, Somerset, England
Died: March 19, 2008
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his short story The Sentinel, which became the basis of the screenplay of Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke spent the final years of his life in Sri Lanka and hosted shows such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.

 7 Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein
6
Famous As: Science Fiction Writer
Birthdate: July 7, 1907
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Butler, Missouri, United States
Died: May 8, 1988

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author, naval officer, and aeronautical engineer. Heinlein is credited with pioneering a literary subgenre called hard science fiction as he was among the first to stress the importance of scientific accuracy in fiction. Robert A. Heinlein is one of the most influential science-fiction writers of all time.

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 8 Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 8, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington, USA
Died: February 11, 1986

American author, newspaper-journalist, book-reviewer, lecturer, photographer, and ecological consultant Franklin Herbert is most noted for his 1965 sci-fi novel Dune and its five sequels. Dune won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award and spearheaded the Dune franchise. The novel is cited as the best-selling sci-fi novel in history while the series is counted among the classics of the genre.

 9 Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler
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Famous As: Science Fiction Writer
Birthdate: June 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States
Died: February 24, 2006

One of the finest African-American sci-fi authors, Octavia Butler was raised single-handedly by her widowed mother. Best known for the Patternist series and the short story Bloodchild, she often mingled mythology and spirituality in her work. She was the first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

 10 William Gibson

William Gibson
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Famous As: Fiction Writer
Birthdate: March 17, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Conway, South Carolina, United States

William Gibson is an American-Canadian essayist and speculative fiction writer. He is widely credited with pioneering cyberpunk, a science fiction subgenre. His early works, which he produced during the late-1970s and early-1980s, helped create an iconography for the information age even before the dawn of the Internet in the 1990s. William Gibson is also credited with coining the term cyberspace.

 11 Stanisław Lem

Stanisław Lem
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: March 27, 2006

 12 Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
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Famous As: Writer, Environmental Activist
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 13 C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 29, 1898
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belfast, Ireland
Died: November 22, 1963

C. S. Lewis was a British writer whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide after having been translated into over 30 languages. His works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, have inspired the works of other famous authors. Lewis' work continues to attract readership and he was ranked 11th on The Times' 50 greatest British writers since 1945 list.

 14 Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 21, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: January 22, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author. In a career spanning almost six decades, Ursula wrote about political and social themes like race and sexuality. Throughout her career, Ursula had a major influence on speculative fiction. Her book A Wizard of Earthsea is credited with inspiring ideas like 'wizard school', which was later popularized in the Harry Potter series.

 15 Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton
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Famous As: Author, Screenwriter, Film Director
Birthdate: October 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: November 4, 2008

Michael Crichton was an American filmmaker and author. He wrote several science-fiction books, which have sold more than 200 million copies. Many of his books, such as The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Congo, Rising Sun, and Disclosure, have been adapted into highly successful films. He is also credited with creating the popular medical drama TV series, ER.

 16 Andy Weir

Andy Weir
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 16, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Davis, California, USA

Software engineer Andy Weir soared to fame with his debut novel The Martian, which was later made into a hit film by Ridley Scott. Born to a physicist father and an electrical engineer mother, Wier grew up interested in topics such as relativistic physics and orbital mechanics, although he didn’t graduate.

 17 Liu Cixin

Liu Cixin
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Famous As: Science fiction writer
Birthdate: June 23, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Yangquan, China

Liu Cixin is a Chinese science fiction writer who has won the prestigious Galaxy Award on nine occasions so far. He is best known for his novel The Three-Body Problem, which earned him the Hugo Award in 2015. In 2017, Liu Cixin won the Locus Award for his work Death's End. Many of his works have been adapted into films.

 18 Bruce Boxleitner

Bruce Boxleitner
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 12, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Elgin, Illinois, United States

The American actor, who shot to fame following his success in the television series How the West Was Won, Bring 'Em Back Alive and Scarecrow and Mrs King, starred in Babylon 5 films. Bruce William Boxleitner is also known for his comic roles. He appeared in video games and is credited as the author of two science fiction novels.

 19 Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mitcham, Surrey, England, UK

A reputed English author, Michael John Moorcock began his writing career as a teenager, selling fictions to various British pulp magazines. He became the editor of New World magazine by his mid-twenties. Concurrently, he continued to write, primarily science fictions and fantasies, and received multiple awards and honors for them.  

 20 Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 24, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Richland, Washington, United States

American author, playwright and script-writer Orson Scott Card is best-known for writing the series’ Ender's Game and The Tales of Alvin Maker. First two novels of the Ender's Game series are counted among the most influential novels of the 1980s and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, while The Tales of Alvin Maker series won the Locus Fantasy Award.

 21 Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 13, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Euclid, Ohio, United States
Died: June 14, 1995

Author Roger Zelazny led the New Wave of science fiction and soared to fame with his series The Chronicles of Amber. The six-time Hugo Award winner published over 150 short stories, too. He made use of anachronisms, minimal dialogue, and heavy references to Hindu, Norse, and Egyptian mythological tales.

 22 Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons
3
Famous As: Fiction writer
Birthdate: April 4, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, United States

Best known for his Hyperion Cantos series, author Dan Simmons initially taught as part of an elementary school program named APEX. He has trained people in writing and has his own writing curriculum named Writing Well. He is also often found writing at his isolated cabin near Rocky Mountain.

 23 Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Pynchon
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Essayist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: May 8, 1937
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Glen Cove

Thomas Pynchon initially joined Cornell to study engineering physics, but changed his major to English after a brief stint with the U.S. Army. A master of black humor, he soared to fame with novels such as The Crying of Lot 49 and Inherent Vice. He is media-shy and is rarely photographed.

 24 Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer
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Famous As: Politician, Novelist, Writer, Playwright, Science fiction writer, Children's writer
Birthdate: April 15, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London

Jeffrey Archer is an English author and former politician whose books have sold over 320 million copies around the world. Archer has been a controversial figure; he was convicted of perjury in 2001 after which he was sent to Belmarsh Prison from where he was later transferred to Wayland Prison. His conviction ended his political career.

 25 Larry Niven

Larry Niven
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Best known for his iconic Ringworld series, science-fiction author Larry Niven has won multiple accolades, including the Hugo and Nebula awards. The grandson of oil magnate Edward L. Doheny, Niven had initially studied math but later devoted himself to writing. He has also penned scripts for sci-fi TV series.

 26 William Golding

William Golding
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 19, 1911
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newquay
Died: June 19, 1993

William Golding was a British playwright, novelist, and poet whose novel Rites of Passage earned him the Booker Prize in 1980. In 1983, Golding was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1988, William Golding was knighted for his contributions to literature. In 2008, he was mentioned in The Times' list of 50 greatest British writers since 1945

 27 Iain Banks

Iain Banks
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 16, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dunfermline, Scotland
Died: June 9, 2013

 28 N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.

N. K. Jemisin became the first writer to win the Hugo Best Novel award thrice consecutively and is best known for her Inheritance trilogy and her Broken Earth series. The African-American author is also a trained psychologist and has worked as a counsellor in several universities.

 29 James Doohan

James Doohan
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Television actor, Film actor, Actor, Novelist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: March 3, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vancouver
Died: July 20, 2005

Canadian actor James Doohan was initially a soldier in the Canadian army and had even sustained injuries in World War II. He later soared to fame with his Saturn Award-nominated role of Montgomery Scott in the Star Trek film and TV franchise. He also voiced the character in various video games.

 30 Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 6, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oxford, England

Best known for his Xanth novels, such as Well-Tempered Clavicle and Esrever Doom, bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Piers Anthony was born to Quaker parents in Britain, who later settled in the U.S. He lives with his wife in a remote forest area in Central Florida.

 31 Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini
4
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Science fiction writer, Children's writer
Birthdate: November 17, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York

Best known for his mythical series The Inheritance Cycle, author Christopher Paolini had started writing his first novel, Eragon, at 15. He also stepped into the world of adult sci-fi with To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. He holds the Guinness record for being the youngest bestselling author.

 32 Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 23, 1952
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Waukegan, Illinois, United States

 33 J. G. Ballard

J. G. Ballard
4
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Autobiographer, Screenwriter, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: November 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shanghai
Died: April 19, 2009

J. G. Ballard was an English novelist, satirist, short story writer, and essayist. Renowned for his uniqueness, Ballard's style of fiction is referred to as Ballardian in the literary world. Many of his works have inspired movies, such as Crash and High-Rise. J. G. Ballard’s work has also inspired other popular writers like John Gray, Terry Dowling, and Lee Killough.

 34 Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. Delany
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City New York, New York, US

Known for his science-fiction novels such as Dhalgren, Babel-17, and the Nèverÿon series, author Samuel R. Delany often touches upon themes of sex, race, and language. A descendant of civil rights activists, he dropped out of college to write. Though gay, he was once married to lesbian poet Marilyn Hacker.

 35 Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 20, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Port Jefferson, New York

Born to Chinese immigrant parents, author Ted Chiang is a qualified computer scientist and works as a technical writer. The Hugo- and Nebula-winning writer is best known for his short stories, novelettes, and novellas such as Tower of Babylon and Seventy-Two Letters. He is also known for his signature ponytail.

 36 Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison
3
Famous As: Comics writer, Writer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: January 31, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glasgow

 37 Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 31, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fort Meade, Maryland, United States

 38 Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon
3
Famous As: Writer, Essayist, Screenwriter, Novelist, Columnist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: May 24, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Best known for his Pulitzer-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon is known for dealing with themes such as nostalgia, divorce, and Jewish identity. He has also contributed to TV and film projects, such as the Star Trek series. He is married to novelist Ayelet Waldman.

 39 Anne Inez McCaffrey

Anne Inez McCaffrey
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 1, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 21, 2011

Anne Inez McCaffrey was an American-Irish writer, whose unpretentious down-to-earth style made her popular with children and adult alike. A prolific writer, she had around 100 titles to her credit, several of which were written in collaboration with her son. Best known for her juvenile fictions, including her Dragonriders of Pern series, she had been honored with many distinguished awards.

 40 Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts
6
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: October 10, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Silver Spring

An author who has penned over 200 romance novels, Nora Roberts is also known by her pseudonyms such as J. D. Robb and Jill March. Apart from writing New York Times bestsellers such as Hideaway and Under Currents, she has also penned the suspense series In Death.

 41 Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Television producer, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: April 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Swansea

Russell T Davies is a Welsh television producer and screenwriter who contributed immensely to the success of the popular science fiction television show Doctor Who. When Davies was working for the show, Doctor Who received five successive National Television Awards starting from 2005. He has also won prestigious awards, such as the British Academy Craft Award and the Cymru Award.

 42 Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 19, 1975
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.

Best known for works such as the Mistborn trilogy and The Emperor's Soul, sci-fi and epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson had initially studied biochemistry and then switched to literature. He has also worked as a missionary in South Korea and now teaches creative writing at his alma, Brigham Young University.

 43 Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Independence, Missouri, USA

Hugo Award-nominated author Jim Butcher soared to fame with his bestselling urban fantasy series The Dresden Files and Codex Alera. He is an avid gamer, too, and often uses his pseudonym Longshot for a lot of his online writings. The Dresden Files was later adapted for TV audiences.

 44 George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 20, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
George R. R. Martin wrote the epic fantasy series of novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which inspired the iconic Emmy-winning HBO series Game of Thrones. Also known as the "American Tolkien," he was featured on TIME 100. He has earned the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, too.

 45 Junot Díaz

Junot Díaz
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 31, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Junot Díaz is a Dominican-American writer who works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a creative writing professor. He is also known for his association with the quarterly political and literary magazine Boston Review, where he works as a fiction editor. In 2017, he was made an inductee of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

 46 Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking
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Famous As: Theoretical Physicist - First to set out a theory of cosmology
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who despite being afflicted motor neurone disease that severely limited his physical abilities, was able to build a phenomenally successful career. He was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking was ranked 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, in 2002.

 47 Martin Amis

Martin Amis
3
Famous As: Novelist, Science fiction writer, Short story writer, University teacher, Memoirist, Writer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: August 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cardiff

Martin Amis is a British novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, and essayist whose memoir, Experience, earned him the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 2000. Martin Amis' works have influenced several other British novelists like Zadie Smith and Will Self. In 2008, he was mentioned in The Times' list of 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

 48 Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York,United States
Died: September 6, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle soared to fame with her Newbery Medal-winning bestselling young adult novel A Wrinkle in Time, which was made into a Disney film later. Born to a writer father and a pianist mother, L’Engle had penned her first story at age 5 and had also tried her luck in theater.

 49 Will Self

Will Self
3
Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Novelist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: September 26, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Westminster

Will Self is an English author, political commentator, journalist, and broadcaster. Apart from writing novels and short stories, Self also contributes to major publications like The New York Times, Harper's, The Guardian, and the London Review of Books. Over the years he has also contributed as a columnist for publications like The Times, Observer, and the Evening Standard. 

 50 Jack Vance

Jack Vance
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 28, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: May 26, 2013

Jack Vance initially dabbled in a variety of subjects, such as mining engineering, physics, and journalism. The Hugo- and Nebula-winning science-fiction and fantasy author, known for works such as The Man in the Cage, later went blind but wrote with the help of a software. He was also an amateur sailor.