Peter Watts — author of Blindsight, the so-called Rifters Trilogy, and an obscure video-game tie-in — is an ex-marine-biologist and convicted felon who seems especially popular among people who don't know him. At least, his awards generally hail from overseas except for a Hugo (won thanks to fan outrage over an altercation with Homeland Security) and a Jackson (won thanks to fan sympathy over nearly dying from flesh-eating disease). Blindsight somehow ended up as a core text for university courses ranging from Philosophy to Neuropsychology, despite an unhealthy focus on space vampires. Watts's work is available in 18 languages.

Photo by Dan Brooks.