Skip to comments.Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy books
Posted on 08/11/2011 5:46:33 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith
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Where the hell is L Ron Hubbard?
Yes, I read “Expanded Universe” 30 years ago. The themes didn’t jump out at me as socialist when I was 15, and I haven’t re-read it because short stories can’t hold my interest anymore. I remember more of the characters rebelling against those world governments, as in “Methusaleh’s Children”, “Beyond This Horizon”, “Citizen of the Galaxy”, etc. Those world governments were not portrayed as perfect societies. “Door Into Summer” is pure capitalism, as is “Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. Read the pithy sayings of Lazarus Long in the middle of “Time Enough for Love” and they are pretty much all anti-government.
His FIRST novel, which was rejected back in ‘37, but was found by his biographer and published after his death was what shocked me with its socialist themes having created a utopian future. “For US the Living” I think it was called. It was more a laundry list of ideas than a well plotted novel, some of which were very libertarian, but economically pure socialism. Everybody is on the dole, nobody has any logical incentive to work, and the government just prints however much money it needs to hand out to the people.
Bujold is on the list as a single entry for all the “Vorkosigan” books. I thought her fantasy novel “Curse of Chalion” was classic, though. One of my favorite fantasy novels.
Gordon R. Dickson’s “Dorsai” series or at least a single entry for “Final Encyclopedia” belongs on the list. It’s a shame he didn’t live to finish the storyline.
I was reading that in 1978, when my DI took it (and all of my other civvie stuff).
It took me several years before I found it again and read it. Definitely worth the wait.
Ever since he told that convention that if he wanted to make a million dollars he wouldn’t be an author, he’d start a religion, then started Scientology, he lost his street cred as an author. I thought the novel “Battlefield Earth” was pretty good ... and the movie the absolute worst adaptation of a novel ever made. Or maybe the 80’s movie of “Dune” has that honor.
Marines in space taking on a vestly more advanced, and deadly, civilitzation. All 3 books were excellent!
I don’t think a book being controversial is a bad thing at all. People are still whining about what Heinlein was saying in STARSHIP TROOPERS, but who the heck reads the dreadful HANDMAID’S TALE today?
Kind of an expected list. I’ve tried to read Tolkien 3 times and while I can appreciate theeffort involved, it’s just dull. Ditto the GRRMartin—a fine writer, but I just cannot get into these stories of kings and royalty and dozens of characters at all. Robert Jordan? Give me a flippin break.
As I scroll through the list from top to bottom I see some things I appreciate but that don’t make me jump up and down, with the first, “Now THERE’S a book I like” selection being DO ANDROIDS DREAM...? I have been struggling with THE DARK TOWER and am starting to think the emperor has no clothes.
MARTIAN CHRONICLES—reread this a few weeks ago and it’s still great.
A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOVITZ is the one SF novel of the past 50-60 years I’d say is literature. The cyberpunk and post-cyber stuff on this list that I’ve read was boring.
Man, why was all this fantasy quest garbage allowed on this list?
THE TIME MACHINE is great.HYPERION, FOREVER WAR, both great. I AM LEGEND, BOOK OF THE NEW SUN and ELRIC too.
I’ve never gotten the appeal of Lois Bujold, the one I read was a soap opera in space.
Out of this 100 list, I’d say about 20 are good, maybe 10 are worthy of being on a Best list.
What else could one expect from the wusses of NPR who read all this elf garbage when they’re not worshipping trees and Obama?
Xanth? That’s a travesty.
OK My "No, and" (or maybe it's a "Yes, but") moment on this came during a similar rant I was making to the owner of my favorite SF/Famtasy specialty bookshop. Then in a "This will only embarass me if I permit it", I glance over to the New Arrivals shelf and notice she has Gordon Dickson's "Dragon on the Border" in. Score!
While Fantasy in bulk tends to the mind-numbing, in the hands of a proper SF author like Gordon Dickson, Poul Anderson, L Sprague deCamp, Elizabeth Moon, Mary Gentle (or on a slightly different note, Cordwainer Smith), fantasy is a totally different breed. It's about the author having the discipline to set the rules of the fantasiverse beforehand and then telling a story within those limits. (Sort of like how Science Fiction should be done)
And I note that none of those authors made the list - No Dragon and the George, no Merman's Children, no Incomplete Enchanter, no The Sheepfarmer's Daughter, no Grunts.
Where have NPR listeners been for the past 50 years? It's like these NPR SF fans live in a world of their own ... (OK think I'm losing the point again, all SF fans do this)
Where is L.Ron Hubbard? Well, from an historical perspective, I guess he ought to be on this list. (But so should many better authors.) Writing-wise I find him very dated. JMO.
I love both her series, but Vorkosigan is not as good an example of SF as Chalion is of Fantasy.
IMHO, “Scanners Live in Vain” is one of the finest SF short stories ever written. Anyone on this thread who posesses $20 and no exposure to Cordwainer Smith owes it to themselves to purchase a copy of “The Rediscovery of Man”.
Thank you for posting this list.
This is one of the things I love about FR. Unexpected, welcomed info.
There are a few books on that list I haven’t read yet. Gotta fire up my Kindle.
Left Hand of Darkness and The Handmaid’s Tale are there due to all the women who came to vote for Wicked and Outlander and stayed to vote their college reading list...
More on Isaac Asimov
Both are good fantasy.
She is a very strong female character, but it’s survival that leads her to be that person, not rebellion. Plus she kind of reminds me of me...I’m not the ‘typical’ female either. LOL!
I just recently re-read Midnight and Exiles and have the other Well World on the Nook if I can ever wrest it away from my wife.
I enjoyed those books as much now as I did when I first read them 30 years ago. I liked the 4 lords books also from Chalker.
As a more general comment on this list, there's some real crap on there.
Wicked??? Are you kidding me?
The Mars Trilogy from KSR????? Those books are a great concept that absolutely fails in execution. Pure snooze inducing garbage. It took me MONTHS to get through them and I burn A book a week normally and often one a day if i'm sick, snowed in or on vacation. I hated those books.
Dan Simmons Hyperion books definitely belong on the list as do all the Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke books listed.
I really love the Robin Hobb books despite, in general, not enjoying female authors as much. I like the cold hard edges you get from Niven. As an aside, I recently read Fallen Angels from Niven as listed up thread and consider it one of his much weaker works.
As others have stated, the Hammer's Slammers books are notably absent as is John Ringo but I'm not surprised that some NPR tofu eater wouldn't enjoy The Last Centurion or when the Slammers annihilate whatever is in their path :)
Jack Campbell wrote a series of JAG in Space novels under his real name, John Hemry. Completely awesome, but out of print. Just saw on Amazon that they’re being republished in the spring- they are well worth seeking out.
Did you know he actually ran for political office as a socialist ? He was also a staffer when Upton Sinclair ran for governor of CA on a socialist platform (although he ran on the Dem ticket) in 1934.
Ive read everything Heinlein ever wrote and I was shocked when I found out hed once been a socialist.
That political activism phase of Heinlein's life also resulted in his writing the non-fiction political activism "how to" book "Take Back Your Government". If adapted to modern technology, the methods he outlined would still be applicable today.
What surprised me was that I don’t think I read much science fiction but I’ve read a lot of the top 20 here.
But the bottom line is that the list does very well demonstrate that art is subjective.
I prefer Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Chronicles”. How about a few “steampunk” novels next time?
I loved that book. Ish and Em.
Nobody writes like Jack Vance. I’m reading the Demon Princes again right now. He was good friends with Herbert, and was actually with him in mexico when the first kernels of Dune were being formulated, but he never read it! Pretty funny stuff. He doesnt read sci-fi/fantasy, just doesn’t care for it.
For my money the best two writers right now are Gene Wolfe and Jack Vance, and Vance is retired, he’s in his mid-90s.
Freegards from the IPPC
Some of the books i would vote for in a top 20 (let alone a top 100) list that weren't included in the NPR list:
The Golden Age trilogy by John C Wright (of note for Freepers - the author is reputed to be very conservative and it does have a strong conservative current throughout, but that's not why i include this work in my top 20).
Solaris by Lem Stanislaw
Destination Void by Frank Herbert (this doesn't receive high ratings from most readers but i found it fascinating as an exploration of consciousness)
The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert (book 2 in the Whipping Star binary)
Hellstrom's Hive by Frank Herbert (yes i'm a huge Herbert fan)
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (book 2 of the Gormenghast trilogy...way too dark for my taste, but i can't deny it's a monumental work in this field)
Hart's Hope / Wyrms by Orson Scott Card (two very good early Card books that are dark but not as dark as Gormenghast)
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (i rank this right up there with his original Foundation novels)
My guess is it will be included in a list geared toward books aimed at younger readers. On the NPR page it states that "you'll notice there are no young adult or horror books on this list, but sit tight, dear reader, we're saving those genres for summers yet to come"....which is also why the Harry Potter series wasn't listed.
Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars books are high on fantasy elements, but are they sci-fi?
If you think about it, why are "Dune" and "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" in the same list? They are totally different types of books. The list can be split up many, many ways.
Yea, but, IIRC, his discussion of sex and gender in "Stranger in A Strange Land" get him on any liberals list.
Once upon a time, in the earliest days of interplanetary exploration, an unarmed human vessel was set upon by a warship from the planet Kzin. But the Kzinti learned the hard way that the reason humanity had given up war was that they were so very, very good at it.
You are expecting spore rings miles in diameter to be loosed into the atmosphere to eat pollution, are you ?
All I remember from that Dekology was the government corruption in the US and internationally and that the invaders were instigating it all. It was a fun read, but I would put it on a Top 100 list.
The Lost Fleet ? Are you kidding ? His math and physics calcs are so bad I cringe. Very distracting. I’ve enjoyed the books, but I hate being torn out of the story by such incompetent science. It wouldn’t make my Top 500 list.
Well, I still prefer paper books for a lot of reasons, but it appears more and more authors are trying to use the eBook delivery method to keep more of the money for themselves. I like the way Baen is doing things with the Honor Harrington books — the hardcover books have been including a CD of the books in PDF and HTML formats.
The fsand.com site someone pointed me to earlier is a case in point. You are buying directly from the author (although there is a wierd multi-level marketing angle to it.) I don’t notice the eBook prices are any cheaper though. Still $7.99 for an eBook, which is what a paperback would be at retail.
Days of Atonement from Walter Jon Williams, Sea and Summer and Brain Child by George Turner are some of my faves.
No doubt, but it's fun to imagine. Exploding liberal heads is always a pleasant thought.
Haven’t read the list yet, but I am thinking that Tales from the Dying Earth, Ringworld, Mote in Gods Eye, and hopefully a Silverberg book or two—maybe Majipoor Chronicles—will show up.
Halfway through Xenocide I tossed it aside and vowed never to read another Card novel. The less said about that book the better.
I love John Ringo and only recently discovered that there were more than five books in Mars/John Carter series. I stumbled upon them when I was searching for free e-books. Haven't read them yet, but now I have to re-read the first five to catch up. Oh, the humanity !! Somebody force me to read a good book, please !!!
George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran series is also very good.
That's right about where I quit too. I could only stay interested in philote twining and the Gangean experiments for just so long. I had many friends who told me Xonocide sucked, but I just had to find out for myself - they were right.
I'd also recommend the original short story, which I liked better than the book, with all its added on politics and such.
In fact, if you prefer the science fiction side of the genre, you might try what I've finally found to be the case: they're still producing a lot more fine science fiction across the pond in the UK. Some of this makes its way to bookshops in the US, but not all, and the titles that do get published over here generally come out six months to a year after the UK release. That's also a consideration if you're a collector of HB 1st Editions - for UK authors, the 1st is almost always the UK edition.
UK editions can be ordered from www.amazon.co.uk. It's a little more expensive with shipping as opposed to waiting for the US edition, but with some authors the US edition never appears or appears only in paperback some years later.
Check out Alastair Reynolds for outstanding space opera set thousands of years in the future (start with the first, the excellent Revelation Space); ditto Paul McAuley and Ian McLeod. All three are eventually published stateside. Not so often making it to our shores but worth checking out: Adam Roberts, John Meaney, and Roger Levy. Some of these last also waste their time on fantasy.
And if you must do fantasy, you might check out Justina Robson, Steph Swainston and, of course, China Mieville.
And my personal favorite: Neal Asher, a prolific SciFi writer tilted toward the military SciFi end of the spectrum - and a writer with a distinctly libertarian bent, you'll learn if you read his blog: http://theskinner.blogspot.com/ A quote from a post a few weeks ago after the shuttle's last landing ...
Well, the last ever US shuttle mission is drawing to an end. I wonder how long itll be before the space station is abandoned whilst politicians on Earth concentrate on such critical occupations like bombing Arabs, wasting money on windmills, buying off large numbers of those who vote for them by employing them in pointless bureaucracies, taxing businesses to extinction whilst pocketing huge salaries and expense claims and growing increasingly disconnected from reality by their perception of how important they are.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Hyperion qn Brave new World
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
One of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
One of the funniest books I’ve ever read.
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