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Sure, What the Heck...

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

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
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

The Science Fiction Book Club has some weird ideas about what counts as significant. Where's the Robert E. Howard? Where's the H.P. Lovecraft? Terry "Ditto Is My Middle Name" Brooks and J.K. Rowling are on this list, but the father of sword-and-sorcery isn't? Granted, Howard only wrote one Conan novel and it was at the end of his career, but Dangerous Visions is an anthology of short stories, surely the Ace/Bantam Conan books should count too.

I notice there isn't any Fritz Leiber, either. :P

-The Gneech

PS: Snagged from athelind.

EDIT: I realized on the way to work that the start date is 1953, so yeah, Howard and Lovecraft were too early for that. So they extended the list backward just enough to include Lord of the Rings. Pfui. That's like making a list of the most influential physicists in history, starting with Stephen Hawking.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
Not trying to be persnickety, but how did Anne Rice make the list? O.o
Nov. 15th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
Honestly, since it's the book club, my first guess is sales figures. But that's a guess.

Nov. 15th, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I've read a few more books on that list than you have. And, I've actually completed all the ones I read. I also didn't hate any of the ones I read. I've considered several others on the list. It does seem an eclectic collection. -Frisk
Nov. 15th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
Where is John Wyndham??
Nov. 15th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
LOLs at your LJ cut powers!! ^V^
Nov. 15th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)
That is an interesting list, and I have to agree that some of the choices were made by sales figures. Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time should have been there.
Nov. 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
In all fairness, 1953 - 2002 is fifty years; fifty books for fifty years. Maybe that's why LotR just made the cut...
Nov. 15th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
Who wants to be fair? I'm feeling cantankerous! *yarr, snarl*

Nov. 15th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Stop trying to be sexy to me, it's not a good idea when I'm bored at work! ;-)
Nov. 15th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)

Nov. 15th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
You haven't forgotten my opinion on snarly guys, have you? ;-)
Nov. 15th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
No, I'm just not used to you going around referring to me as 'sexy'. ;P

Nov. 15th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC)
I'm not used to you snarling!
Nov. 15th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Any such list missing all of these:

Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon the Deep" (or ANY Vinge)
"Hyperion" by Dan Simmons (or ANY Simmons)
"Red Mars" (or ANY Kim Stanley Robinson)
"The Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (or ANY Gaiman or ANY Pratchett)

...is nowhere near legitimate. There's no Bujold. There's no Connie Willis. If we assume "significant" to mean "influenced the field of literary SF and Fantasy" then there are tons of better choices than these. You do not need two Bester books on here. And if "significant" means "effected the most people" you would have to have some Michael Crichton ("Andromeda Strain" or "Jurassic Park" hello?)

This list is some suck.
Nov. 15th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, the_gneech and I were debating the merits (and lack thereof) of this list the whole way to work this morning. We came to the same conclusion.
Nov. 15th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC)
This list is goofy for a lot of reasons. Why 1953-2002 instead of 1951-2000?

I suspect they took three lists; the "Ones we've GOT to include because otherwise we're REALLY a joke!" and the "Ones that made lots of money" and "Something from authors that are REALLY popular right now!"

And including compilations (The Lord of the Rings, The Foundation Trilogy) and one volume of a series (Dune, Harry Potter and the Whatever and about half the rest) is pretty goofy. Oh - that's because MOST of the books in the rest the various series are not all that great.

Bad list.
Nov. 15th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... well, these books
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (the huge version, not the one twice as big)
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov (+3 sequels, +1 bridge to Foundation)
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey (and seven of the eleventeen sequels)
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven (+3 sequels)

are available from my library if yer at all interested. I wouldn't recommend all of them though.
Nov. 15th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
I read Stranger in a Strange Lange (not sure which version), and am of the opinion that it's the same as every other Heinlein book I've ever read. It ends halfway through the book, then keeps on going. (Not a big Heinlein fan, if you can't tell.)

I haven't read Childhood's End, but I have read Rendezvous with Rama, and didn't like it. (Someone else: Give me a plot summary. Me: Plot?) I liked 2001 a lot better.
Nov. 15th, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
Even if you don't like Brooks (and it's pretty clear you don't), The Sword of Shannara deserves to make the list because it was the first fantasy novel to hit the New York Times bestseller list (and to hit #1). That's pretty damn significant.

Nov. 16th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
Brooks the man seemed nice enough the only time I met him, and I don't dispute that he's an important figure in the fantasy market.

I do have a bias against the Shannara books for the same reason I have one against Eragon. I'm sure it's no doubt colored by the fact that the fantasy I write is the same kind of derivative junk and I'm frustrated that I can't do better.

On the other hand, that suggests to me that I could have a lucrative career writing derivative junk if I turned my mind to it. ;)

-The Gneech
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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