Neal Stephenson would be a good one.
Kim Stanley Robinson - his Mars series is particularly relevant today.
John Scalzi would be screamingly hilarious. Maybe he can lead everyone in a sing-along of "Redshirts."
Max, actually I am quite surprised at easily distracted you are, but we don't need to get into it here. I do rather like the idea of hunting down our science fiction in his or her lair though. My vote - FWIW - is WIlliam Gibson. I met him and Bruce Sterling at a book signing at MIT several years ago and he's cool. Actually they both are.
Hi Rich -- I used to exchange emails with Jerry way-back-when (circa the late 1990s) although I'm sure he won't remember me now.
In fact I have a framed photo on my office wall that was given to me by Jerry's son, Alex
My favorite sci-fi book ever remains John Wyndhams's Day of the Triffids. the BBC did do a series on it back in the 80's, but it was thoroughly rubbish and the "special effects" were super lame. I wish someone would remake that one properly.
As for traveling through time... my favorite episode of star trek was the "Stone knives and bear skins" episode (Star Trek Classic episode The City on the Edge of Forever)- that has some good ideas about what would be useful and what wouldn't!
And, in terms of Zombies, I really liked I am legend, though it ended a bit weakly in the movie
Without a doubt...Greg Bear. Runs or has run with many Grand Masters of Sci-Fi including Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov. He wrote a Foundation book for goodness sake...how many get chosen to do that?
Has written Halo, Star Trek AND Star Wars books and wrote one of the absolute hands down BEST hard sci-fi books of all time...EON (The Way is mind blowing!!!) Nebula award winner...nominated numerous times for Clark, Hugo and other prestigious awards...this guy ROCKS sci-fi. If you haven't picked up a Greg Bear book...run to your local laptop and hammer Amazon for one or forty.
Could easily see him being designated a Grand Master someday.
Although I won't be able to attend, I would vote for Jack Chalker or Orson Scott Card.
Actually, since I am an old coot, I really would prefer Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clark. Impossible, I know, unless one of the time travel experts could get them there.
BTW, I am currently reading Winter's Tale at your recommendation.
Chalker would also require a time machine. Card is the only living one in the bunch.
Chalker was great. Well of Souls series and Four Lords of the Diamond would be great movie material...maybe somebody Hollywood-ish will "discover" his work someday.
Card would be an excellent choice for presenting...but I still stand by Greg Bear.
Hadn't heard about Jack Chalker.
Another requiring a time machine would be Ray Bradbury. I'm seeing so many names here that I have forgotten that I read in the distant past.
I think the Well of Souls would require a full season on TV. With the special effects available today it could be fantastic
Peter Hamilton. I've been reading scifi for 52 years and have read all of the greats and agree with most of the comments so far. But I was surprised to see no one has mentioned the best grand saga ever, "The Reality Dysfunction". This 5 or 6 (?) Volume series SO deserves a movie series like Star Wars or The Lord of the Ring to do it justice. You MUST read - just be sure to read them in order. My brother and I have been exchanging favorite books for years, but he gave me the series back explaining that he "just couldn't get into it". Later I found out he had started with the third volume...
My current favorite hard sci-fi author is Dan Simmons. His Hyperion and Endymion novels are fantastic, best I have ever read. He also wrote a "horror" book, "Children of the Night", which adds a modern spin on the Vlad the Impaler/vampire legend.
I find it sad that a list of most popular Sci-Fi writers does not include someone from India. My favorite writer is "Desi Babu" from India, who has written some amazing Sci-Fi stories. Check out this one, called "The Useless Dust" to read an
India flavored Sci Fi story:
Does screen writer count? My favorite story author is Joe Straczinsky (Babylon 5).
Also would like to see Vernor Vinge +/- Orson Scott Card. As well as Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, David Brin, Timothy Zahn, or James Hogan. Also Harry Turtledove whose famous for alternate histories.
"A Fire Upon The Deep" by Vernor Vinge left my mind racing with all sorts of ideas.
Strange to relate -- some scientists are now postulating that the equivalents of some of the strange effects he talked about may be real...
One of my favorite sci-fi novels of all time is "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller, Jr. Havig him speak may run ino the same problem as with Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov, also two favorites. Or Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear, David Brin, Frank Herbert...