It's his birthday, you know...
His books were the pillars of my personal temple of knowledge. He was able, within 3 or 4 novels, show me a way to live and believe that was entirely apart from that which was general espoused.
To this very day I remember his "professional witnesses" characters and their concise honesty. It was that kind of thinking that molded my own in a very spastic youthful time. I owe a great deal to the man...
His books led me to so many other authors - Asimov, Asprin, Clarke, etc. But they led me to C.J. Cherryh and her words could be considered the roof of my temple. A highly decorated, intricate tapestry over all.
I own a copy of this print - it is a prized possession remembering a really superb series of stories, The Morgaine Cycle. [Therein be spoilers...] It is the work of an amazing artist, Michael Whelan. He has painted the covers of dozens of great books and odds are that one of your own favorites belongs to him.
Michael Whelan's site
Other book covers
I suspect that the reason I so enjoy the series is because of the main character's fatalistic view of things. She will also do whatever it takes to meet the objective. She is an amazingly strong female character in a field wherein too many are in need of rescue.
Relatedly, I think CJ's contributions to the Thieves World series to have stood out from the rest. Which is saying a lot because the contributors there are all stellar authors. A part of me wishes she'd have taken on that entire world because she could have rendered it so satisfyingly. It is a selfish wish, entirely.
Words...book after book from age 10 forward that stacked up to mold who I am today. No classroom, no teacher, ever did as much for me as I did for myself. I salute the man who began it all...I sincerely hope there was something After for him. How he would have been surprised by it...