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the sf books meme

This is the Science Fiction Book Club's list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy novels published between 1953 and 2002. (I was born in 1952, so this really covers me) Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished (you won't find much of that here - I only learned to learn do it in the last 15 years or so) and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.



**1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
I don't even need to tell you about this - if you're here, you already know.

2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
not the Asimov I love, but good

3. Dune, Frank Herbert
I was torn about the asterisk here - I am inordinately fond of the first book, but I have issues...

4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
I have this thing about Heinlein. I read all the early ones, could not put them down, and yet hated the way he treated all his female characters. (That is, he often made them good characters, strong and independant, and *still* had them cave for the men at the end - as though it was more fun to screw up the lives of smart women) This one - I really liked it, all the way to the last chapter. That last page spoiled the entire thing for me.

5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Can I give this a half-terisk? I loved the series when I first read it, but when I re-read it recently, I discovered that none of the favorite parts that were stuck with me over the years are actually in the book. And considering how much I love her wordsmithing, I even found that flat and dull. (*too many* geographical lists of islands that we know nothing about and never will - read like the begats for gods sake)

6. Neuromancer, William Gibson

7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
I hate the ending of this *so much* it's on my very short list of books I would un-read if I could.

8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Why no asterisk? I dunno... I do love it, but - I'm a tough grader.

*10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Not my very favorite of his books, but I liked all the ones I read

*11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
There were parts of this that made me so uncomfortable I could hardly read it, and yet it never occured to me to stop...

**12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
and the Michael Bishop sequel, The White Otters of Cildhood

13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
and I can sing the entire story filk:
In the future when the towns are Caves of Steel
Down from Boston, Massachusetts to Mobile
There's a cop, Elijah Bailey
Who's the hero of our tale, he
Has a spacer robot partner named Daneel....

14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras

**15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
oh. yes.

16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Jim loves them, and often reads them to me when he's reading them. I like them when I'm reading them, but I've never made it through one. I should remedy that.

17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Uneven, but it would have been worth it just to read The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice

18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
It's likely I did read this, since I read most of his stuff - I just don't remember it

19. *The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
I love Bester!

20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Oh what an impact this book had on me. I love all the early Delany - so much that when I was married to my first husband and found this, newly released, in the bookstore, I bought it on the spot, leaving me with no money to get home. I began reading it while walking home, and hated it almost from the first page.

21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
I've read them all, I think, and I liked them.

22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Chris loves Card and always tries to get me to read him. His politics of religion annoy me so much, I can't.

23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson

24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
I liked this, but it scarred me with the phrase "turgid purple organs." The concept was very moving, though I like it better as Voices From A Distant Star

25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl

26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
Ok, I've read them now. And just when I was starting to admit that as a series they were better than I had expected, I pretty much loathe book 6. I still think the first book is very weak and I can't understand how the hoopla originally got started.

27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I still like the original radio plays the best.

28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
I've never read this, and I hate it anyway. It's just not my genera. It's a genera that, in general, squicks me.

30. *The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
but I still like Lathe of Heaven better

**31. Little, Big, John Crowley
wow

32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
Jack of Shadows is my Zelazny, though

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
Anything by Cordwainer Smith. Everything by Cordwainer Smith. Scanners Live In Vain. Must climb bookshelf, now...

*37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Not my favorite Shute, but a longtime favorite. I think the era I grew up in made this do it for me. And, I have this thing about submarines, which you might already know...

38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke

*39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
Another book Jim and I bonded over.

40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

**41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
The day this was released, Jim left work early so that he could have it in his hand when he picked me up from work. I've never managed to become as at ease with it as with LoTR, but that leaves it at number 2 on my list

42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
though God Bless You Mr Rosewater was my favorite

43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
This will be on Jim's list, I think. I wonder why I never read it?

*45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
bester! bester! bester!

46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

**47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
I know the writing could have been better. I don't care - I was a kid and I loved it

48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
One of the very first books to make me crazy without reading anything but the covers in the store

49. Timescape, Gregory Benford

50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
maybe not my favorite Farmer - but certainly nudging the top.



I'm pretty old school, so I was surprised how many of my own formative/ favorites made the list, though with a few glaring exceptions: Way Station by Clifford D. Simak; The Broken Sword and/or The High Crusade by Poul Anderson; The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge; Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz... and to keep myself from making a list longer than the original - pretty much all the original Ballentine adult fantasy series (except the James Branch Cabell - I just never got it.)
Tags: books, reading
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  • 11 comments

  • sleep talk

    Just before he woke up, jim leaned over and said, "Thank you for helping me with the pork atoms."

  • protons

    Is there a superperson who got their powers from protons? I am getting a second chance at having an origin. I am about to start proton…

  • (no subject)

    Jim came in to check on me while I was napping. I don't know what I was dreaming about, but I asked him why he had ordered the double booked full…