Saturday, November 25, 2006

Top Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels I've Read

(From Deb, at Dispatches from Blogblivion)

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club.

Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien *
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson *
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury *
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish *
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison *
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick *
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon *
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven *
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys *
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner *
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester *
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein *
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

As you'll notice, most of the science fiction and fantasy I've read was published before 1975, or is by authors who became established before 1975.

A few other titles I'd like to see on that list:

A Case of Conscience, James Blish *
Citizen of the Galaxy, Robert Heinlein *
Waystation, Clifford Simak *



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how they define "significant". Because in that definition probably lies the reason for including Rowling but excluding L'engle, or even Cooper.

Sunday, November 26, 2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

I don't know how they drew up that list. By ballot? By editorial selection? By sales figures? I notice the first ten books on the list are in no particular order; then the next 40 are listed alphabetically by title, as if on a lower tier.

As already noted, there's a few titles I'd like to see added. Certainly I could see L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time on there; and another one or two of Heinlein's juveniles, such as Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. I'm surprised something by Poul Anderson isn't on there, though my mind draws a blank right now as I try to think of a candidate. And (personal favorite) I'd like to add Jack of Eagles by James Blish, except it was published just a year too early to make it.

I think Harry Potter makes it on the list as a cultural phenomenon: I dunno, I've seen all the movies except the latest, and loved them; but, even though I've got all the Harry Potter books, I've never been able to make myself do more than browse through a couple of them. On the other hand, I absolutely love Lord of the Rings, and have read it several times through, but I had to force myself to watch the LOTR movies. Something about them being too long, I tried to tell myself; though I think there's more to it than that.

Surprising number of books on the list that I've started but never finished. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, I almost did a strike-through on that one, suffered an allergic reaction before I got too far into it— indeed, looking on my bookshelves I see I must've thrown out my copy of that book, something I almost never do. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice, I skimmed it in segments because it happened to be shelved in the aisle where I was working a temp job as a floorwalker at University Bookstore in Madison (long story): doubt I would've finished it. On the other hand, I'd love to finish Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, it just sits there on my coffee table year after year, a victim of my perennially hectic schedule.

There are other books I'm pleased but slightly surprised to see on the list. Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys: just so alien!! I read and loved the short story time after time before I stumbled across the book-length version in the stacks at Duke University. And Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner is a special favorite of mine: imagine a book published in 1968 which makes you feel like you're websurfing through the story...

Then there are the books I'm pleased and not at all surprised to find listed, such as The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, or Ringworld by Larry Niven.

And why haven't I read Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement? I've known forever that it's an interesting book, and I've got it on my shelf. Hunh.

Sunday, November 26, 2006 3:22:00 PM  

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