Do we know what the Big Three (Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein) thought of one another's writing? Did they have any favorite works of one another?

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    I'm not certain that this question is on-topic, but FYI Clarke and Asimov were known to be friends; see e.g. the "Clarke Asimov Treaty" (referenced here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov#Popular_science).
    – user8719
    Aug 21, 2013 at 16:19
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    At the risk of upsetting fans, where does it state these are the big three? Having read them I would suggest John Wyndham had a more profound effect on modern Science Fiction combining emotional and engaging story telling themes (love, race, gender, community, progress, class) with technology (particularly time travel, adaptation / Darwin, alien interaction, robots, other dimensions) practically inventing the modern trope of a mass extinction event (Triffids, Kraken, Web, Midwich)... and well before these 3 were out of their school uniforms. Just saying. Nov 9, 2016 at 15:50
  • That these are informally known as the Big Three, is kind of a given, my guess is that it's based on popularity of all three and that they were contemporaries who actually knew one another. This might have been a thing concocted by their publishers (think John Campbell) just like 90s rapper beefs were not entirely genuine ... ("Wessaaaai eeed!!") <3<3 Aug 9 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


Asimov vs Heinlein

Asimov and Heinlein did have some disagreements, according to this article on io9:

Primarily their conflict became a political disagreement, as Asimov revealed in his posthumous 1994 autobiography.

and later on:

Living longer than Heinlein allowed Asimov to have the last word in the debate, bashing the release of Heinlein letters Grumbles from the Grave.

However, it is also mentioned in that article that Asimov's favorite Heinlein novel was Double Star.

As for Clarke, the relationship to both Asimov and Heinlein is expressed in the "The Big Three" paragraph on Arthur C. Clarke's wikipedia page.

Clarke vs Heinlein

Clarke and Heinlein began writing to each other after The Exploration of Space was published in 1951, and first met in person the following year. They remained on cordial terms for many years, including visits in the United States and Sri Lanka. In 1984, Clarke testified before Congress against the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Later, at the home of Larry Niven in California, Heinlein attacked Clarke verbally over his views on United States foreign and space policy (especially the SDI). Although the two reconciled formally, they remained distant until Heinlein's death in 1988.

Clarke vs Asimov

Clarke and Asimov first met in New York City in 1953, and they traded friendly insults and gibes for decades. They established a verbal agreement, the "Clarke–Asimov Treaty", that when asked who was best, the two would say Clarke was the best science fiction writer and Asimov was the best science writer. In 1972, Clarke put the "treaty" on paper in his dedication to Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations.

  • It's not hard to see why Double Star would be Asimovs favorite Heinlein novel, it's one where democracy ultimately wins, despite gangster practices by the politicians of that era. One wonders what they would've made of the present trumpian era and the sharp polarization these days. It's a given that both Asimov and Clarke would've firmly opposed the republiklones, and I imagine Heinlein would've renounced the hijacking of his libertarian beliefs... Or maybe that last one is more of a hope.... Aug 9 at 22:37

In a talk at Johns Hopkins University on March 3, 1974 (unfortunately not currently available on the Internet) Isaac Asimov used Heinlein's "Solution Unsatisfactory" as an example of what science fiction should be - stories that look not just at the possibilities of future technology, but at the potential consequences of that technology.

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