I don't want to derail the "what are you reading now?" thread, but I made a world-building comment there and thought I'd get input from the forum on authors who are particularly good at this. I like reading science fiction and fantasy where authors have put the time in to make the world come alive, so I can also use this discussion to gather recommendations. Some of the world-building stand-outs that come to mind: 1. Tolkien, of course. 2. Steven Erikson. If you set aside all the linguistics, the Malazan books rival Tolkien in terms of breadth and depth of world creation. 3. George R. R. Martin. A rich, believable world. Hopefully he'll manage to finish his series. 4. Frank Herbert. I only read the first DUNE book, but I thought he did a great job with building his world. 5. Tad Williams. I haven't read all of his works either, but the ones I have read seem to be well thought out, and he seems to take time crafting the world. I guess I'll toss in Robert Jordan as well. Almost have to, given the scope of his Wheel of Time books. What about the rest of you?