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Oh noes! SF novels I have read

From vampry via mireille719. The most significant SF/F novels from 1953-2006 according to Time. Bold the ones you have read, strikethrough 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
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* (novella is better)
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 (isn't this a novella?)
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


All of these are on the shelves in the house. If you want a strong education in SF&F, all you need do is camp out in our home for a year and read.

An odd list in some ways. I mean, why is LeGuin on there twice and Vernor Vinge not at all? But it covers most of the ground.

I've read some PKD (Valis, The transmigration of Timothy Archer), but not the ones they mention. I've read short stories by authors like Clarke, Moorcock, and Delany. It is my contention that SF is often at its strongest in shorter forms. For instance, the original novellas of "Ender's Game", "Baby is Three", "Rogue Moon", and the Lester Del Rey classic "Nerves" are all better than the novel versions. The short SF novels of Larry Niven are more fun & memorable than the four-digit-page-count lummoxes of Peter Hamilton. (I mean, I could probably recount the entire story of Protector to you in some embarrassing detail, but I can't remember a single damn thing that happened in that entire Hamilton novel I read last year. Uh, something about souls really existing?)

By skipping short stories, you also skip over some fantastic authors who wrote in the era of short stories. Like C. M. Kornbluth.
IMHO, the only reason PKD made #8 is because Bladerunner became such a cult classic. If Harrison Ford had been busy with a carpentry job that month, I don't know if DADoES would be on the list. I read it. I liked the movie better, but then again I adored the movie. Happysigh.
The few you struckthrough really cracked me up. I am neutral on Starship Troopers, and never finished the other two. I remember a time when everyone with whom I could hold a decent conversation was lugging around that ten pounds of Terry Brooks novel like they needed it to get back into the house. Made me feel so very left out that I choked through a couple of chapters and chucked it. I'm really glad to know you felt equally enchanted by it, since I tend to think of you and Megalo as the wellspring of all knowledge sci-fi/fantasy wise.
The husband and I fight every time we try to talk about Starship Troopers. I maintain it's a poorly-written political science essay with sporadic outbreaks of "oh, whoops, was I supposed to be writing a novel?" plot. But then, I'm not sympathetic to Heinlein to begin with. Haldeman's reply, in The forever war, is way more to my taste.

Terry Brooks, feh. Throw it across the room, please.
It is with a deep sense of shame I admit to having read only seven of those. And I consider myself a scif/fantasy fan. Though in my defense I have read other authors not on this list. And I've read almost every McCaffery book out there. And I have read a ton of short stories.
Shame??? NO way! Instead you should say, "Wow, there's a lot of great SF&F out there for me to read! Library, here I come!"

See? This way you get to be all psyched.
Scarily I've read/got most of them.

Major adorations to "The Demolished Man".

You have a point re: short stories. PKD's ones are great - I have that lovely 3 volume set of them. And Ray Bradbury - wrote some absolutely cracking shorts. Not to mention the God Vonnegut of course!

Hmmm I do have issues with that top 50. No Tanith Lee; No David Gemmell? I probably wouldn't have picked THAT particular Marion Zimmer Bradley novel either - I'd have gone for a Darkover one.
Have you ever heard of Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras? 'Cause I haven't, which is weird given the famosity of the rest of the list. Will have to ask the hubby about it.
Aha! Five seconds with Google tells me all. It's a novel-expansion of the SF Hall of Fame short story "In Hiding". Which I know quite well, but find pandering in the "fans are slans" category.
You might have much fun with the works of Cordwainer Smith. He was an East Asian scholar, and his writing is heavily influenced by the styles of Chinese stories.

Also, Alfred Bester. "Fondly Fahrenheit" is... brilliant. (Many adjectives came to mind there, and I settled on "brilliant" instead of "fucking disturbing".)
*gasp* There's no Bujold on there! She's won the Hugo five times, how is she not on there?

I actually haven't read that many of them. I am bad, bad geek.
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Is she? I thought Bujold was tied with someone -- but maybe someone's beaten her out since then.
Ms Willis has nine Hugos. Her most recent and record-setting win was for the novella Inside Job. Which I haven't read yet, but now that I know it's online, I have no excuse!
Whoa! That's a hell of a lot of Hugos. I think Lois has five, four in the novel category and one in the novella.
Despite their being listed as 1953-2006, the list seems slanted toward older stuff to me. I say this because I've read a lot of it, and I rarely buy any SF/F written in the past 20 years.
It did seem that way. I'm always sort of wary of these sorts of lists -- it's so subjective and arbitrary. It's a pretty cool reading list though.
I have issue with calling the list SF to begin with. I'm assuming when it says SF, it means science fiction, right? Well, half those books aren't science fiction. The list is more like SF/Fantasy/Steampunk.

*grumbles*

Yes, I guess I'm being a bit anal about it.
Well, I think the list was explicitly SF & fantasy, so having a lot of fantasy on it is okay. Maybe it's time to stop lumping the two together so much? Though there is huge crossover between the genres in writers & readers both.
This was interesting. I have read all but one of these-Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras--I've been reading SF since the summer I turned 10 and found Journey to Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs, that's 38 years. I've had forays into other genres but I keep coming back to F&SF. I'm not sure I agree that these are the 50 most significant--there's tons of stuff out there that I liked a heck of a lot more. Some of this was nearly impossible to wade through, others were so great, I read them over and over. I've read everything Roger Zelazny wrote and I just don't like him, for example. Reading his stuff gives me the feeling of having the flu coming on for some reason. Heinlein is too preachy, though I have a sneaking admiration for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress--don't ask me why. Puppet Masters was brilliant and scared the pants off me when I first read it. I liked Ender's Game, but I preferred the short story in many ways. I know Tolkien is practically worshiped for his stuff, but it's boring, even if it did establish the genre. We had stacks of Weird Tales Magazines and others of that ilk laying around the house when I was growing up. The paper was powdery with age, but some of those stories...Wow! I've been blessed coming from a family that reads everything from Romance to History, SF to Horror, fiction and non-fiction. One of my earliest memories is my older sister telling me she could hardly wait till I was old enough to read because there were some great things out there and she'd save them for me. She did.