Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Top Fifty SF books

I've seen this list posted on other blogs and you can find the original printing of it at the website for the Science Fiction Book Club. I don't vouch for the authority of this list but it does call these books the most influential SF books from 1953 to 2002, not necessarily the best. I have posted in bold the books and series on this list that I have read. I will comment on them over the next few days.

#1 The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
Ah, the series that ruined all other fantasy series for me. The only criticism I really have of the series is, other than the main characters, the world felt really empty of people. Who grew the food for all these warriors?
#2 The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Still the best space opera I have ever read. A SF series from the fifties that still feels relevent. That's a mighty achievment.
#3 Dune, Frank Herbert
Along with Lord of Rings probably responsible for too many shitty imitators.
#4 Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
I've read this book about four or five times. It gives me weird dreams. Not many books give me dreams but this one does.
#5 A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
A great book for me to recommend to kids that have read all the Harry Potter books.
#6 Neuromancer, William Gibson
Read it because it was supposed to be great. It may be the Sgt. Pepper of SF.
#7 Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
If you have to read one book about a time when humans evolve to the next plane, read this one.
#8 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
Very different than the movie but both versions play around wonderfully with the nature of reality.
#9 The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
#10 Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Read this back in middle school. I remember tearing through it.
#11 The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
#12 A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Another book that I have read four or five times. It's a masterpiece and surprisingly funny even though it's a pessimistic novel.
#13 The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
#14 Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
#15 Cities in Flight, James Blish
#16 The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
#17 Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
#18 Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
#19 The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
#20 Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
#21 Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
#22 Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Read it twice, listened to the book on tape once. Another book that is an easy out when doing teen readers advisory.
#23 The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
Read this a long time ago. I remember really enjoying the world he created. Unlike Middle Earth, it had a population.
#24 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Just flat out one of the best science fiction novels you could possible read that is based on someone's Vietnam War experiences.
#25 Gateway, Frederik Pohl
#26 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
#27 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Laugh out loud funny.
#28 I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Last man on earth, world of vampires.
#29 Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
Isn't as impressive now that she's become a Christian.
#30 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
#31 Little, Big, John Crowley
#32 Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
I love this book. People settling a planet and then setting themselves up as gods and one of them deciding that what they are doing is wrong and starting a war among the gods. What more could you want?
#33 The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
I read this early in my reading of Philip Dick. I should probably go back and read it again because it's probably better than I remember.
#34 Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
#35 More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
#36 The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
Haven't read this book but his short stories are some of the best ever.
#37 On the Beach, Nevil Shute
#38 Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Well written but left me wanting more. The sequels didn't add too much more. I think he did it on purpose.
#39 Ringworld, Larry Niven
#40 Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
#41 The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Not sure why this is on here twice. I would just put it with Lord of Rings. It has its moments.
#42 Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Another book I should read again since it was the first book I ever read by him.
#43 Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
#44 Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
#45 The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
#46 Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
The daddy of military science fiction. Answered by Haldeman in Forever War. A bit dated but still readable.
#47 Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
#48 The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
#49 Timescape, Gregory Benford
#50 To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
Introduced me to Sir Richard Francis Burton. It's the first in the series and I wouldn't read beyond the first three.

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