Gregory Benford has republished (with my permission) our exchange from 2000 on greatness in science fiction, what works might stand the test of time, and similar issues. As Greg notes, we are presenting the discussion as it happened, not updating our views. Still, the issues remain topical and what we wrote back then may have its ongoing merit and interest. Check it out!
Note: I wrote several media tie-in novels myself, not all that long after my contribution to this discussion was first published. As a result of that experience, I'd now be less snarky about media tie-in work. That said, I worked hard in my Terminator books in an attempt to achieve an equivalent of the movies' "knowingness and high production values". I don't always see this in media tie-in work, but I have a much better understanding of the exigencies of that kind of writing, especially of what can be involved in producing novelisations. Successful tie-in writers are highly skilled people. It remains the case that they are unlikely to produce work comparable to that of Milton, Shelley, or Shakespeare.