Here's yet another Appendix N consisting of the 20 classic sf authors who have most influenced me. As an added bonus I even explain why I like them. How about that?
His Psychotechnic/Technic stories show you can have colorful space opera that is scientifically realistic.
Three Laws of Robotics. 'Nuff said.
Barrington J. Bayley
He packs more ideas into a single book than many writers manage in a lifetime.
The queen of planetary romance.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
A red-blooded storyteller and a pioneering world builder (despite his often disagreeable attitudes) and the guy I swiped my blog's name from.
Jack L. Chalker
His Well World series are classics.
A. Bertram Chandler
He wrote some of the most convincing navy-in-space stories.
Arthur C. Clarke
Creator of Rama, the archetypal Big Dumb Object.
Alan Dean Foster
His Humanx series is great space opera and it's still going strong. (In the first game I ever GMed I let one of the players be a Tran -- and it was a fantasy game.)
Pioneer of space opera and creator of Captain Future.
His satirical Retief stories are just plain hilarious.
A grandmaster who I've ripped-off so many times it's not funny.
Aside from from being a brilliant writer and inventing the character I stole my nom de blog from, he showed the possibilities of the multiverse as a narrative device.
Another queen of the genre whose stories, although written for young adults, are an endless source of ideas.
Pohl's Gateway is a campaign all by itself.
E. E. "Doc" Smith
The father of space opera.
His Berserker stories are the only military SF I can relate too.
H. G. Wells
A pioneer of the genre who wrote great stories that also included subtle social commentaries, and father of modern table top miniature games.
A master world builder who packs more ideas into one book than most people do into an entire series.
A. E. van Vogt
One of the most influential (and weirdest) SF authors of all time. I'll blog more about him sometime.
...and others too numerous to mention.