Some of my other favorite writers

One of my all time favorite books is by a little known writer named Stanford Whitmore. I got a copy of his book Solo given to me by a neighbor who was cleaning out the house of another neighbor who had died. He gave me several boxes of miscellaneous books because he knew I read a lot. Most of the stuff was junk, but Solo was a gem.
It is about the self-proclaimed last individual on earth. The guy even has hand printed cards so stating. He lives his life for himself, stubbornly refusing to do anything that he does not wish to do. He is a genius jazz pianist who plays for the love of playing, refusing requests, content to play in dives or record shops, or wherever he can find an open piano. His self-centered ways make many enemies and some very concerned friends. He is discovered by a paranoid, professional jazz pianist who is always on the lookout for pianists better than him. He entices the reclusive pianist to start playing in clubs around Chicago, and soon the new guy becomes famous, for both his playing and his eccentricities. A local music business baron who was once turned down for a performance by the recluse takes an interest in the man's new-found fame and sets out to break his will. The ending once again proves the man's soul is his own.

I searched for years for more information about Stanford Whitmore, but could find no more than an obscure reference in a book of literary criticisms about Solo. One day I happened to catch the tail end of a movie about baseball player Ron LeFlore, starring Levar Burton, when I noticed Whitmore's name in the credits as screenwriter. I looked in a listing of members of the screenwriter's guild, and there he was. I sent a letter to the guild and they forwarded it on to Whitmore. He responded to my praise saying he lived only a few miles from where I had once lived, and that once, Michael Caine, the actor had told him that he too had been very much influenced by Solo. Unfortunately, Whitmore abandoned novels to become a fulltime screenwriter. Although he did write numerous screenplays, including Tora, Tora, Tora and Your Cheating Heart, the world of novels lost a great writer. If you ever see Solo in a used book store, grab it. You will not be disappointed.

Another favorite author is H. Beam Piper , known mostly for his 'Fuzzy' books about an alien race of teddy-bear like creatures. Piper wrote a number of other great science fiction books and had a real flair for realism and practical aspects of life on the alien frontier. One of my favorites started out as a short story called The Gunpowder Gods, and was later rewritten as a full length book called Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen. Piper supposedly committed suicide under mysterious circumstances after a rather nasty divorce and depression. Questions still exist about what really happened. He was a very knowledgeable man about arms and armaments and had a nice collection of medieval weaponry. His death at the height of his ability was a terrible loss to the art of science fiction writing. Much of his stuff is still available, so check him out.

Edgar Rice Burroughs is justifiably one of the most popular writers of all times. His books about Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and Carson Napier of Venus will remain classics for all times. Don't forget to check out some of his other books like The Mad King, and The Rider. These historical fiction novels are often very funny, and like all Burroughs books, very exciting.

Another favorite is Tom Clancy , one of the most successful of modern writers. Still, his best book was his first, The Hunt for Red October. A classic cold war novel, it was riveting to the end. All great writers seem to exude a style all their own, and Clancy perfected the technique of rapidly shifting points of view while still maintaining a continuity to his plot. And Clancy may have done something few other writers can claim to have done, that is, to have changed history with his writing. His depiction of a US military with its advanced technology and competent leadership able to defeat the Soviet Union may have led the Soviets down the path to their historic self-destruction. He virtually created the concept of the techno-thriller and no one else has done it so well.

James Hogan is a favorite. Like Clancy, he makes technology seem real. His Minervan trilogy is a fabulous explanation for the rise of mankind from our apelike ancestors, having us evolve not on Earth but seperately as apes transported millions of years ago to a planet that later broke up and formed the asteroid belt. His other books are also quite excellent. Check him out.

Robert A. Heinlein is a favorite. One of the most influential of science fiction writers, Heinlein wrote a ton of books over a long career. He had a caring and decency about his characters and stories that is seldom seen in other writers. He still can't be beat.

Other favorites too numerous to go into detail about are Mickey Spillane, J.R.R. Tolkien , Poul Anderson, Larry Niven , Olaf Stapledon, Robert Lynn Asprin (another link), John D. McDonald , Alan Dean Foster , Ted Mark, and others. Check them all out.

As time goes by I will try to update this page with other writers as I think of them and provide links to other pages about them. If anyone knows of links to some of these writers, please email them to me.
Don Benish,

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