Filling the 15th spot was harder to fill than the number one spot. Ultimately, this was the last writer to make the list and I agonized over this spot. Nearly every writer on my list is in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Niven is one of the two who is not. Niven has been one of the leaders in “hard” science fiction for forty years. His “Known Space” setting has become a terrific shared universe for the Man-Kzin Wars series and the plateau for Niven’s most famous creation, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning “Ringworld”. 1974’s “The Mote in God’s Eye”, written with Jerry Pournelle, was one of the best hard Sci-Fi novels of the 1970s. It was nominated for a Hugo as Best Novel.
Laurence van Cott Niven was born on April 30, 1938, in Los Angeles, California, and spent his childhood in Beverly Hills, "excluding two years (ages six to eight) in Washington, D.C., serving his country."
In 1956 he entered the California Institute of Technology, only to flunk out a year-and-a-half later after discovering a bookstore jammed with used science-fiction magazines.