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16 November 2006 @ 10:12 am
SFBC significant SF novel meme  
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 * (hi, i'm a girl)
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
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 a couple on this I'm not sure about; I may have read A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA when I was about twelve, but I can't actually remember, so I've left it unmarked. Same with DO ANDROIDS DREAM..., and THE STARS MY DESTINATION. On the other hand, I've marked TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO, because I've read a lot of PJF even if I can't remember if I've read that one *specifically*. It's very possible I read THE COLOUR OF MAGIC, because in the late 80s I read a bunch of the early Discworld books and didn't like any of them, and the only one I can verifiably say I read was MOVING PICTURES, which apparently left the worst taste in my mouth, and therefore the only definable memory.

Some of them are just embarrassments for not having read; FAHRENHEIT 451 and SLAUGHTERHOUSE-5, for God's sake; how can I have not read those? Some--like THE MISTS OF AVALON--I'd read enough by the writer by the time I found that book to know there was no point in trying; I wasn't going to finish it, because I was desperately unlikely to like it. I couldn't get through THE LORD OF THE RINGS; there's not a lot of chance I'll ever read THE SILMARILLION (even if I like to say that word).

Every time I see one of these lists I think, man, I really should make some effort to read everything on this. I haven't yet done so, and possibly I should just let nwhyte do it instead (since he does that sort of thing), but I suppose that wouldn't expand *my* mind much. :)

You know what would be more interesting to me, she said, typing as she thought. What would be interesting to me would be to see the top 50 SF books as selected by the readers and writers I know (and the top 50 fantasy, for that matter), to see what I've missed from their points of view. I wonder if LibraryThing has a widget that allows for that to be discerned.
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Janne: When I Was Your Age (rookie131)janne on November 16th, 2006 10:31 am (UTC)
Hmm... Maybe one could do something with LibraryThings groups feature. Make a KitFriends group or something? While there is a watch-this-person kind of feature, it doesn't seem to do much for getting stats for a collection of people, while the groups will at least automatically give you a list of most-tagged books within the group.
sammywolsammywol on November 16th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC)
Interesting list, although I have a feeling I did this before but can't track it down. The gaps on the list make me wonder what my qualifications are for actually teaching SF but I refuse the guilt.

I agree on the Pratchett front. I failed to read several of his up until this year when I discovered "The Wee Free Men" and suddenly found a Pratchett book I liked. There must be something about abusive, drunken Scots fairies that appeals to me - perhaps it is the Scots that I know or an antidote to the Scots kids TV I end up watching a lot with DD. At least it is a Pratchett comic motif that I thought was actually funny.

Library Thing is a rare and wondrous thing and I have avoided it due to not having enough time. Maybe after Xmas.
kitmizkit on November 16th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC)
I haven't done the SFBC list before. I know I've done other versions of the fifty best lists, though. :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on November 16th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Ah, humour is so difficult, so subjective.

For the record, Pratchett is one of my favourite authors, and responsible for me marrying the person I did (we're both fans, and that's how we met, and also how we met many of our friends). However, you'll probably be happy to hear we're both great CJC fans too.
(no subject) - mizkit on November 16th, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bellinghman on November 16th, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - st_rev on November 16th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on November 16th, 2006 11:37 am (UTC)
I've read somewhere over 45 of that lot. But then, I read a lot. And seen the film of 'I Am Legend', without ever having read it.

As for 'Mists of Avalon', well, although I have a lot of MZB on my shelves, that is the one novel of hers I really regret wasting my money on. Others, however, differ, and do consider it the best she did. So, it's one of those with mixed opinions.

'To Your Scattered Bodies Go' was the first of the Riverworld sequence, wherein everyone is reborn on the banks of a single, impossibly winding river. If you remember that, you've almost certainly read 'Bodies'. (The rest of the series got horribly tangled up: it's very difficult to work with a premise quite that big.)

Should you have read all of those? Perhaps, perhaps not. There's a danger of not knowing the prevalent tropes if you haven't, but on the other hand, someone who's read everything is in danger of recycling all those tropes. Readers and writers are in slightly different spaces, and as a writer, you might be better advised to read omnivorously outside the field rather than inside.

(Oh, and I'm sure nwhyte probably has read all of them. And known all their authors.)
kitmizkit on November 16th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC)
Ah, if it's the first, then I have indeed read it. I've read several of them, but I specifically remember reading the first three in (very probably a SFBC) omnibus form. Cool.

I do read fairly voraciously in genre, or did; I don't read as much anymore since I've been writing (it's very sad), but I didn't get a lot of the classic SF in when I was a kid. I'd like to remedy that, but not, apparently, enough to actually *do* so. :)

You're probably quite right about nwhyte. :)
(no subject) - dqg_neal on November 16th, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
dressagegrrrldressagegrrrl on November 16th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Hi, totally a lurker here, but you've managed to bring me out of the woodwork with this meme.

Just going by what you've asterisked, I'd recommend Ender's Game. It's one of two books (the other being Steven Gould's Helm [although my husband says his book Jumper is better]) that I just LOVE lending to my friends who are uninitiated in SF/Fantasy because they are so good that they suck even the most lackadaisical readers into them. Obviously, I'm not saying you're a lackadaisical reader. I'm just pointing out they're that good.

'Kay, bye.
kitmizkit on November 16th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC)
Hi! :) I've had about nine hundred people tell me to read ENDER'S GAME, yeah (although one twelve year old boy in the bookstore a couple of years ago curled a lip and opined that some other OSC--can't remember which one right now--was the *vastly* superior book). Maybe I should ask for it for Christmas. :)
(no subject) - bellinghman on November 16th, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - karistan on November 16th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dressagegrrrl on November 16th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - skeagsidhe on November 16th, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janne on November 16th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dressagegrrrl on November 16th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mizkit on November 16th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dressagegrrrl on November 16th, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
hegemony hedgehogagrimony on November 16th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
I see lists like this and it becomes incredibly apparent to me that I really have no interest in reading most of significant SF novels. :) Which isn't to say that the books don't have merit or that I wouldn't enjoy them if I picked them up, but... yeah. Just no interest.
dqg_nealdqg_neal on November 16th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
I remember having to read Slaughter House-5 for school, and it was one of the best things they could do.

Of course read Stranger in a Strange Land for highschool and got into a long argument with the teacher because he didn't like my opinion of the book.

Neuromancer, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Postman (which isn't on this list) and The First of the Foundation Trilogy were ones I had to read for a science fiction class in college. Neuromancer being the only one I cared for out of the class. The teacher had declared them as definitive works and we were of course supposed to go into such detail on the things... made me wonder where the ideas of what was good science fiction came. Foundation being an okay series, but not one of Asmiov's best.

Just like, why is Starship Troopers on the list... a pretty good read, but other than the fact it is now popularly known more due to the movie, he wrote a stream of books much of which could easily be considered better.

muneravenmuneraven on November 16th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
At the risk of being crabby . . .
Why are all but six of the writers male?
Why are almost all of them White?
Why are almost all of them OLD?
And all the books are written by native English speakers.
Brooks and Pratchett over WILLIS? Hell, over Tepper?

Martin, Hobb, and Gaiman not on the list. Too new I suppose. And Hobb would have to go get a penis to have any shot at getting on the list anyhow, since the woman have dared to take up more than 10% of the list already.

*sigh* I gotta go to Wiscon this year. I need a feminist fix.

Harold Zablehzatz on November 16th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)
Probably the best way to get more female representation in lists like this is to have more women writing science fiction and fantasy works. Now, if we only knew of any female genre authors that we could talk to and support... :-)
Re: At the risk of being crabby . . . - mizkit on November 16th, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: At the risk of being crabby . . . - knappenp on November 16th, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: At the risk of being crabby . . . - dressagegrrrl on November 17th, 2006 01:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: At the risk of being crabby . . . - mizkit on November 17th, 2006 07:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
dressagegrrrldressagegrrrl on November 16th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
You know, speaking of women SF/Fantasy authors, I think Elizabeth Moon should have made it on the list. What about her trilogy The Deed of Paksennarion? I thought that was one of the best series that I've ever read.

I was happy that Ursula K. LeGuin made it on, too. :)
wyvernfriendwyvernfriend on November 16th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
As I was ticking off an earlier version of that I was thinking I should probably read a few more and then I realised how SF heavy it was, I've probably read most of the fantasy, *quick check* yup, most of them and those I haven't read are somewhere in the house/shed in a tbr box.

Would rather read Thunderbird Falls! But I'm being good, seeing as how Urban Shaman kept me from sleep sunday night until I finished it, damn you! I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be read this weekend.
darilliandarillian on November 17th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
Edgar Rice Burroughs
One of my fave series has always been ERB John Carter of Mars series. First five are best, but all are good. Just wouldn't recommend reading them one after the other.

I think he may have been pre-1953 though.
Re: Edgar Rice Burroughs - wyvernfriend on November 18th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)