As an aspiring science fiction author myself, these authors make it tough to write anything groundbreaking but I love reading their work. In my opinion, these are the most influential writers in science fiction by far.
Robert Heinlein: The winner of four Hugo awards, Robert Heinlein was a very influential and controversial author. Heinlein incorporated many of his political ideas into his writing and was a “hard” science fiction writer, meaning he concentrated on the technical aspects of science. Though he was a technical writer, he always maintained his characters and had great story lines.
Douglas Adams: Adams is best known for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy”, a very influential series in science fiction. He made science fiction funny and rather surreal in my opinion. His work is still loved by people even to this day. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” has a film adaptation that was quite popular.
Michael Crichton: Also a producer, screen writer, and thriller writer, Michael Crichton was influential in fields other than science fiction. As a science fiction writer, Crichton came out with hits such as “Jurassic Park”, “Congo”, and “The Andromeda Strain”. Crichton was a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a very technical writer because of his medical education.
Orson Scott Card: Card has set the tone for modern science fiction. The Ender’s Game saga became very popular, rivaling series such as those of “Foundation” and “Dune”. He is currently one of the most popular science fiction authors.
William Gibson: Gibson is considered the father of the sub-genre “Cyber Punk”. Like Heinlein, Gibson is a controversial author albeit very successful. His most famous works are “Johnny Mnemonic” and “The Neuromancer”.
Frank Herbert: Herbert’s masterpiece, “Dune”, is considered the best-selling novel of all-time. “Dune” was made into a saga that spans thousands of years and it is what Frank Herbert is best known for. “Dune” was made into a mini-series on the Sci-Fi channel and both the book and the television show developed a cult following.
Arthur C. Clarke: Clarke is best for his Space Odyssey series, more specifically the first novel of the series, “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Other successful works by Clarke include the Hugo and Nebula award-winning “The Fountains of Paradise” and “The Songs of Distant Earth”. Clarke had a helping hand in bringing science fiction into the mainstream.
Isaac Asimov: The Foundation and Robot series, which are intertwined terrifically, made Asimov famous. He was a rather prolific writer and is personally one of my favorite authors. Asimov is excellent at world-building and has been involved in over 500 books, whether it be writing or editing. His short story “Little Lost Robot” was adapted into the movie “I’Robot”.
H.G. Wells: In the 1800’s it was preposterous to think of time travel and aliens from distant planets, but H.G. Wells did. Wells was a true visionary for his time and his work is still popular to this day. “The War of The Worlds” was a adapted into a film in 2005 after being published in 1898. “The Invisible Man” is one of my favorite novels, which Wells originally had published in 1897. “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is also a novel by Wells that was adapted into a movie.
Jules Verne: Of French descent, Verne is thought to be one of the earliest known science fiction writers that have a huge influence to this day. He has numerous masterpieces such as “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, “Journey to The Center of The Earth”, and “Around The World in Eighty Days”, all of which have multiple movie adaptations. Verne laid the groundwork for H.G. Wells and other science fiction authors and screen writers.