A Facebook friend asked me about short story writers. This needs a blog post.
Lovecraft - Sure, he's not the best of the "eldritch" school, but his work is classic for a reason. It's creepy and unsettling, even today, although the near-blatant racism is rather jarring.
Samuel Clemens - It's sort of unfair that someone should be this darned good at a brand new art form. I mean, really, there have been great short stories since Clemens, but they're all held up to him.
Washington Irving - Well, Clemens, or Irving. He's the man.
Stephen King - Yes, yes, he could publish his grocery list and it would sell a million copies, but hear me out. The Long Walk. Survivor Type. The Night Shift. These are great stories, and that's not even talking about his best story ever - The Last Run on the Letter. If you get the chance to read it, read it. It's excellent.
Ray Bradbury - With a singular style caught somewhere between poetry and prose, Bradbury is singular and amazing.
Flannery O'Connor - If anyone ever inherited the mantle of Sam Clemens, it's O'Connor. From outright humour to biting social commentary and deep character studies, she does it all, and she does it all really, really well.
Philip K. Dick - Until he gets into his later , bizarre period, Dick is an amazing writer. I mean, he's so dark that he makes Kafka look like a circus clown, but it's worth it.
Arthur C. Clarke - Goodness, but this man can write.
There's more, of course, but these are the ones I can think of on a 90+ humid Saturday afternoon.