The SF/Fantasy Book Meme…

.: While scanning a few friends’ blogs, I found this meme at Cindi’s site. Generally I loathe blog memes, I think they are silly and too cute for their own good, but I’m sucking it up here and participating in this one, because I found myself scanning the list and making mental notes about various titles, given that I used to read a lot of SF once upon a time. Plus I like Cindi! Cindi notes that the layout of the list is a bit odd in that after the first ten titles, the list is alphabetized. ‘zup with that?? Anyway, here goes:

“Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star next to the ones you love.”

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke*
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.*
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
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
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
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin**** (my all time favorite sf novel)
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke*
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer*

There are no books on the list that I read and hated, but some of my all-time faves are there, including The Left Hand of Darkness, Stand on Zanzibar, Ringworld, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Neuromancer, and A Canticle for Leibowitz. In addition to Lord of Light, there might be one or two others I started but never finished, but it was so long ago that I can’t be sure about which titles those might be.

ADDENDUM: In his comment, Jason notes, “Leave it the SF Book Club (the SF presumably still stands for Science Fiction) to include a number of outright fantasy novels in their top list of science fiction novels.” It’s a valid point, and I agree – the list would have had more credibility if the SF Book Club had limited the criterion for inclusion to science fiction novels only. In addition to the important titles Jason suggests are missing from the list, I would add The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin, Way Station by Clifford Simak, and A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. I’m sure there are dozens of others that could be included as well.

5 Responses to “The SF/Fantasy Book Meme…”

  1. Jason Says:

    Leave it the SF Book Club (the SF presumably still stands for Science Fiction) to include a number of outright fantasy novels in their top list of science fiction novels.

    Also, how did some of the books on the list get in there ahead of any of the first Uplift novels, City by Clifford Simak is also notably missing.

    I personally loved Dhalgren but can there be more than a few dozen people on the planet that read it from cover to cover.

    No Case of Conscience by James Blish. No Dangerous Visions edited by Harlie – a true advancement in SF.

  2. Randy Says:

    Good points, Jason. I would have expected City to be there, as well as Way Station – no excuse for Simak missing from the list. BTW, Dangerous Visions is on the list (#17).

  3. Linda Says:

    Would you think poorly of me if I said I have only read 3.33 of those titles? (I’ve only read LotR:FotR, not the entire LotR). I started MoA, but couldn’t get through the first 100 pages. Sigh.

  4. Garth Danielson Says:

    Turns out I read 40 of those books. I posted a copy of the list on my blog with appropriate markups. The ones I didn’t read were 9, 14, 16, 23, 29, 31, 34, 37, 48, 49. Of the ones I read I liked some better than others. I re-read the two Bester books every 3-4 years and have for the last thirty. I discovered Cordwainer Smith in the late 70’s and have read him every few years also. I plan the same for Harry Potter.

    I can see why there are fantasy books on the list. It’s what sells, and some of those books were popular ground breakers that brought fantasy to a wide public readership.

    I was a member of the SFBC 3-4 yrears ago. I quit after a while, mostly due to poor quality books. I got all these free books and only had to buy one or two. That’s how I got a copy of the Lord of the Rings. The movies were coming out and I wanted to reread the trilogy. I didn’t think I had a set and a mailer from the SFBC came about that time. The LotR (all-in-one-volume-edition) was one of the books I selected for my introductory offer. Now that I have re-read the trilogy I probably won’t keep them. I got the first Harry Potter from the SFBC as part of my introductory offer. I sold that copy and bought several sets of different editons. Somehow I managed to get 3-4 copies of every Harry Potter book. They look nice on the shelf. Having that many copies means they don’t wear out so fast from the frequent re-reads.

    The SFBC sells a lot of fantasy, and artbooks, and comic collections, and nickknacks and other crap. Kind of like the dealers room at a science fiction convention. It not just about SF books. The SFBC just reflects what the people are reading and that’s what’s on the shelves of DreamHaven. I don’t know what the ratio is of Fanasty to Science Fiction is, but Fantasy is no junior partner. People like Diana Wynne Jones blend the two genres together quite well. She’s got magic and technology in the same book. What will they think of next. Then there’s the whole vampire genre. Bite me!!!

    I hadn’t read any fantasy for years, until Harry. Not that I was reading much sf either. Lots of mysteries and archtecture books all through the 80’s and early 90’s. Harry Potter got me reading fantasy again. I like the young adult stuff better than your high fantasy type books. Kids books are usually more fun to read. I’d recommend the Charlie Bone books by Jenny Nimmo and the Chestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones. Of the ones you hadn’t read I’d recommend the Cordwainer Smith. The Rediscovery of Man is available from Nesfa Press. It’s really quite unique, but not for everyone.

  5. Georges Giguere Says:

    Not only have I read them all, I own 47(!!) of them (missing Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, the Thomas Covenant book, which was too darn depressing for me to buy, and Crowley’s Little, Big).

    Does this make me cool, just plain old, or having way too much time on my hands??

    Georges

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