I can't really say who my favorite sci fi author is, but I really enjoyed all of Robert Charles Wilson's books last year. His books are good sci fi, but they are also very good character stories which is why I kept reading them.
Brilliant - I love both these authors - but then I have a huge weak spot for hardcore military sci-fi lol. And just a note for the technologically inclined like the poster earlier who mentioned the Kindle - Baen is a great supporter of e-books and as you say offers dozens of earlier books for free - Love the guys at Baen.
I'd have to say Iain M Banks is my favourite, but Stephen Baxter, William Gibson and Heinlein are also huge. Charles Stross is a new to me but I've enjoyed the two I read. I've never been much into the "classics" - Clarke, Asimov - I guess I've just been putting them off!
But seriously, I challenge anyone to find a vision of the future as utopian and yet rational as Banks' The Culture. For me, he's one of the few authours to bring strong, believable characters to sci-fi.
Thinking about it, I guess I have to say Ursula K. Le Guin. "The Dispossessed" "The Lathe of Heaven" "The Left Hand of Darkness", and then her fantasy books as well. Plus I've always liked her attitude. Even if I don't agree with everything she says, she forcefully and intelligently makes her point, and has always seemed pretty kick-ass on that front.
Hehe, Heinlein came up with that acronym long before it came to be used by economists. Heinlein started writing in the 40s already, and was around for a verrrry looooong time. Good to see young people are still enjoying his books :-) BTW, he also invented the waterbed, lol!
Heinlein is my first and favorite, and I think I've read everything he's written. I was on a Neal Stephenson and Larry Niven kick for awhile. I also enjoy Asimov, Orwell, Huxley, Sagan (if only he'd written more sci-fi!), Orson Scott Card ("Ender's Game" and "Pastwatch"), Vonnegut, Frank Herbert, and too many others to name.
So far my favorite sf author is Jacek Dukaj, he's a Polish author so you probably haven't heard of him.
One of his stories, the Cathedral, inspired a CGI animated short that was nominated for an Oscar. Look it up on Youtube, it's 6 minutes worth of awesome.
Oh, and I read Pullman's HDM trilogy and loved it.
And I've read a load of stuff by Neil Gaiman, I guess you can call me his fan.
Other than that, I'm a bit behind on sci-fi... You guys could recommend me a good read.