Theft – the sincerest form of internet flattery
I’m lifting this from Lynn. I am a list person. “I like lists,” she said, like a drooling nimrod.
100 Best Science Fiction/Fantasy books according to an NPR poll. They listed 237 initially that people suggested and then narrowed it to 100 through voting. I fully acknowledge that there are some of these that I didn’t care for at all but that do deserve to be on a list that is distinguishing “most influential” as opposed to “we liked the best” but I’m also confident enough in The Public that I’m pretty sure they had no such thoughts when suggesting and voting. Oh, and the mashing together of sci-fi and fantasy onto the same list? Well, I’m sure it makes for a wider selection to pull from, but it probably shouldn’t be done.
Bolding the ones I’ve read:
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien – Okay, like Lynn (and LeeAnn), I haven’t read all of the trilogy. Sorry, but it just bored the snot out of me.
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card – Not until this past year and it has become a favorite. Frankly, I think the whole Ender series as well as the companion Shadow series should be on the list. Or at least the first book in the Shadow series – I’m still working on the others.
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin – The first book, yes. Still trying to decide if I’m going to watch the shows before I read the next books. It was great but it doesn’t deserve to be in the top 10. Probably the top 100 somewhere – at least on a fantasy only list.
6. 1984, by George Orwell – I know, I know. I pretty much know the story and the terms and stuff that refer to it. It just kind of bores me whenever I try to get through it. I’ll try again.
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov – I tried, I really did.
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – Unlike some, we didn’t have to read this in high school. It was probably on a list of books to choose from but I chose other things like Great Gatsby (I even read The Scarlet Letter before we had to and enjoyed it – until we dissected it, gah). I didn’t read this until a couple of years ago.
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is phenomenal. This is probably my least liked book of his, but I still enjoyed it.
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan – Robert Jordan just does nothing for me.
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell – This was on the list in high school. I’m pretty sure I chose it at the time because it was short. I love to read and did then as well, I just didn’t like being told I had to read from X list.
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov – Most of it anyway. I tried. Asimov just isn’t my thing.
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein – Liked all but the last few chapters. After he was ensconced in his group, I lost interest.
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – Pretty boring but also pretty much the first fantasy book ever.
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King – Only made it through 2 of them. Bored silly, sorry.
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke – The movie put me to sleep, even faster than I normally go out. I can only imagine what the book would do.
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury –
I have the Whelan covers. Loved this series. Edit: I am sooo embarrassed. I’ve read these and they were good. But I was thinking of the John Carter of Mars series by ER Burroughs when I was talking about the covers. And I liked the John Carter books much better than the Bradbury – and where the hell are any Burroughs books on this list???
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess – The movie made me physically queasy and I couldn’t finish it. I can’t imagine what the book would do.
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein – Awesome
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams – So sad, so good. So doesn’t need to be on a list with science fiction. Like Lynn noted, I suppose it is fantasy… Oh, and if this made you verklempt, don’t read Plague Dogs. For the love of all things holy, just don’t. It’s far too good at what it does.
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein – Not yet, it’s on the waiting list
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings – Most of it, until I got bored. Doesn’t this series end, ever??
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley – Meh. Didn’t make it through all of them.
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White – Never had an interest. I prefer my Arthurian to be more along the lines of Le Morte d’Arthur or the roleplaying game Pendragon. Or Monty Python.
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman – Great, great book.
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman – The movie is good, too. As almost always, though, the book is better. :)
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks – I own it, does that count? Like having an apple on your desk is just as healthy as actually eating it?
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson - I tried. I liked the Mordant’s Need series much better.
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind – The first book is one the OAM likes. Never read it, myself. Actually, he said that the series should be set on fire. The first is good, but it only leads to the second, and the third…
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – So, so bleak but very good. Actually I would not have put this on a list of sci-fi/fantasy.
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson – One of my favorites in junior high. Another from the required reading list in high school. I got it through a book club to which my parents allowed me to subscribe. I’m pretty sure I still have this in that hardback edition bought for like $6. Or it may even have been among the initial “buy one and get 20 for a penny” offer. :)
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks – Meh
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard – When I was in 5th and 6th grade. Completely appalled my mother when she picked up one and flipped through it thereby ensuring that I would continue reading them.
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore – Read the first one at the insistence of a friend who was obsessed with Drizzt. It was okay but not okay enough for me to want to read the rest of the series.
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury – Obviously…
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock – An absolute favorite. Started them about the same time as Conan. I own many, many editions of them, including the Whelan covers set and an autographed (by Moorcock & Whelan – ah the joys of Ebay) leather bound edition. That this isn’t higher on the list just goes to show how short memories are and how young the pollees must have been. This – this – needs to be in the top ten. Song of Fire & Ice does not deserve to be above this. It’s good, but it’s not this good by far.
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle – We have it. I picked it up to try a couple of times but just couldn’t get into it.
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
For me, missing from this top 100 are the following that were on the extended NPR list (I can’t say, obviously, whether or not these deserve to replace ones I haven’t read but I’m pretty sure at least the first two and the last one deserve to replace some that I have read.):
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – I’ll read it over and over.
The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – If A Song of Fire and Ice makes the cut, the only reason this series doesn’t is lack of exposure.
The Majipoor Cycle by Robert Silverberg – Loved it in middle school. Haven’t read it since though. My taste may have changed.
Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison
The Vlad Taltos series by Steven K. Brust – Again, loved it in middle school. Haven’t read it since though.
The Saga of Pliocene Exile by Julian May
And these that weren’t even on the extended list (all of these deserve to be on the top 100 list):
The Horseclans series by Robert Adams – I learned a lot of vocabulary reading books like this. Some of it was vocabulary a young girl had no business knowing, I’m sure. If you are going to include things like The Road, then Horseclans needs to be here.
The Well of Souls series by Jack Chalker – My first space sci-fi experience. It seems to be a series of books that pretty much went under the radar. No one I’ve talked to about them seems to have ever heard of them.
The Talisman & Black House by Peter Straub & Stephen King – Draws you in completely. I do think Straub is a better author than King but they mesh well together.
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist
Thinking back on a lot of these, it seems that I did a whole lot of reading from 4th-9th grade. I remember reading so many of these in 6th & 7th grade. After I could drive, reading wasn’t so high on the list for a few years, I guess. :)
LeeAnn also has her list up. She got to it before I did but I didn’t see hers until this morning. She has excellent taste, a discerning wit and is probably one of the great minds of her time. And no, I’m not saying that simply because great minds think alike… I swear…