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Another list of books

via treacle_well and womzilla

The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002 according to Science Fiction Book Club.

I've read or started most of these. Am interested to hear whether you think I should read any of the rest.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (An all time favorite)

2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov (Read as a teenager. Didn't like. Read the first one again as an adult and liked it better, but didn't love it.)
3. Dune, Frank Herbert (Read as a teenager, loved. Read again as an adult after watching the hideous SciFi Channel attempt at it. Still loved.)
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (I used to think I had read this, but now I think I only glanced in my father's copy because I can't remember anything about it. Have no intention of reading, as Heinlein is bad for my tooth enamel.)
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin (Read as a teenager. Liked a lot, but have liked her other stuff better. She's one of my all-time favorite authors.)
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson (Read when it came out. Liked the style but thought it was kind of thin on plot.)
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke (Read a million times as a child. Haven't read since. Kind of afraid to spoil my good memories of it.)
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick (Read very recently. I generally come away from encounters with Philip K. Dick thinking "I like visiting the state of consciousness his brain generated, but boy would I hate living there." Liked a bit better than the movie Blade Runner.)
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley (Read when it came out. Got completely sucked into it and did nothing but read it (in between dragging myself to work) for a whole week. Doubt I'd like it now, so won't be reading it again.)
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (Read as a teenager, didn't like much. Re-read it recently after reading his writing book, Zen in the Art of Writing. Liked it a lot better having a better understanding of how he approached writing.)
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe (Read this trilogy when it came out. Didn't really get it. Maybe will try again.)
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. (Read as a teenager. Liked a lot. Read again a few years ago. Liked a lot again.)
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 (Have tried Terry Pratchett a few times over the years, most recently with Weird Sisters. He just doesn't do it for me.)
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester (Read recently. Loved.)
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany (Started as a teenager, need to give it another try.)
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey (Read a bunch of McCaffrey as a teenager, liked it then, but figure I probably wouldn't like it as well now.)
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (Read some Card in the past few years. Liked the short story better than the novel. I have really liked the Card novels I've read despite the sometimes disturbing subject matter, but I've become uncomfortable with reading him because of his politics and general negative views of him in the fannish community, so I probably won't read any more.)
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson (Read this as a teenager, liked it, and slogged my way through a bunch of the sequels, which was NOT worth it. I credit Donaldson for finally teaching me that it's quite OK for me to put a book or series down if I don't like it.)
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman (Read recently, thought it was OK but not great.)
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl (Read recently, enh.)
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling (Read soon after it came out because of the Alan Rickman connection. Liked it OK. Have liked the sequels more, but am not a raving fan.)
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (Read as a teenager, thought it was OK but not great. But about ten years ago someone lent me tapes of the radio show, which I LOVE.)
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice (I read Vampire Lestat when it came out, liked it, and then read this one. Didn't like it as much as Lestat but thought it was good enough that I read Queen of the Damned when it came out. Hated that and stopped reading her stuff. Except for the A. N. Roquelaure smut.)
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (Read as a teenager. Liked it a lot. Should re-read.)
31. Little, Big, John Crowley (Read this year. Loved.)
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny (Read a few years ago. Enh.)
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick (Read a few years ago. Liked. See comments on "Electric Sheep.")
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement (Haven't read this, but have read a couple of other Clement stories and liked them a lot.)
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute (First tried to read this when I was about nine. Wasn't able to finish it. May read sometime.)
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke (Read as a teenager or young adult. Disliked. This is one reason I'm afraid to re-read Childhood's End)
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven (Read as a teenager. Was bored.)
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (Read about ten years ago. Enh.)
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien (My love for LOTR so far doesn't extend to wanting to read this backstory.)
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut (Read as a teenager. Loved. Re-read recently and although I still think it's good, it pushed a bunch of my buttons and I really didn't enjoy it.)
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (Read when it came out. Loved.)
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (Read a few years ago. Loved.)
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester (Read a few years ago. Loved.)
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks (Tried to read as a teenager. Despised with the burning heat of a thousand suns.)
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford (Read a few years ago. Liked some of the ideas, thought all the characters were really annoying.)
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer (Tried a few years ago, got bored.)

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
supergee
Nov. 13th, 2006 01:56 pm (UTC)
More than Human may have aged very badly, but I think it's worth a try.
debxena
Nov. 13th, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
Seconded. It's definitely still well worth the read, if you can get into it.
vito_excalibur
Nov. 13th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
I am surprisingly with you on all of these. Of the ones you haven't read, either I haven't read them either or I've read them & can confirm it's not worth it.

Exceptions are MZB (I've reread as an adult & still think it's a hell of a story), Caves of Steel (won't change your life or anything, but good), Terry Pratchett (chalk me up as one of those who simply does not get not enjoying him - though I think Colour of Magic is actually far from his best), and On The Beach. It's, um, amazing. I won't be reading it again, though, because I'm not quite recovered yet from the nightmare I had after reading it thirteen years ago.
deeleigh
Nov. 13th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
Wow. I've read more than half of them. I used to like Heinlein back in high school. His female characters are cardboard sexual fantasies, but I think I was fasinated by his taboo-busting.
kmd
Nov. 13th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
Aiyeee! No Octavia Butler?

I really like Orson Scott Card, except that he seems to have gone full-bore into formula writing now. His politics are, to me, no worse than some and the negative feelings about him in the fannish community strike me as fairly ironic bigotry.

JRRT rocks, natch, and for me that includes the Silmarillion.

Vonnegut punches my buttons now, too, as does Bradbury.

LeGuin is fantabulous. The best, IMHO.
tedesson
Nov. 14th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
No kidding. No Octavia Butler?

I'd also recommend _Life_ by Gwyneth Jones. And the Behemoth series by Peter Watts.
abostick59
Nov. 13th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
Even leaving aside the question of whether Best N lists are good thing in the first place, and appreciating the distinction between "Best" and "Most Significant,"[1] it is *fascinating* to think about what got left off the list.

Pohl's Gateway is in, but Pohl & Kornbluth's The Space Merchants is out? Where is Poul Anderson? Where is tomsdisch (Tom Disch)? Joanna Russ? Suzy Charnas? John Varley? Kim Stanley Robinson? James Tiptree, Jr.? Ian M. Banks? cofeeem (Emma Bull)? Charles de Lint? Tim Powers? Peter Beagle? Brian Aldiss? Ken MacLeod? Kate Wilhelm? ...

And, just to be snarky, the only thing I find significant about The Children of the Atom is the amount of space taken up in my basement by unsold copies, due to the strange currents of small-press publishing.

[1]The Sword of Shannara has absolutely no business being on a Best-of list; but a very compelling case can be made for it's significance as a literary trendsetter. If so, though, Katherine Kurtz's Dernyi books belong on the list too.
wild_irises
Nov. 13th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
Cities in Flight is a little dated, but a lovely book. Dangerous Visions is certainly worth cherry-picking, if not reading from cover to cover. Mission of Gravity is arguably the best SF book ever with no humans in it, and that in itself makes it worth time and attention. I personally don't care how dated More than Human is; the points it makes are not dated at all.

That's my worth-a-try list.
marykaykare
Nov. 13th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
I say yes on both Ellisons and on the Cordwainer Smith. I loved Dhalgren but it's a highly individualized thing.

MKK
epi_lj
Nov. 13th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
Entirely unsurprisingly, I have not read any of the ones you haven't read.
pir_anha
Nov. 13th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Another list of books
anything by sturgeon is well worth reading in my world.
dangerous visions, yes.
on the beach, yes (nightmares, yes).
mission of gravity, yes.
ellison stories, while not quite like sturgeon in my world, also worth reading.
cities in flight is still on my shelves after the initial weedout, but i don't remember enough about it now.

completely with you on pratchett. the only one of his i didn't put down a couple chapters in is good omens which is co-written with neil gaiman. maybe you'd like that one as well.

WTF is terry brooks doing on this list? how in the world is that piece of crap book significant? i mean, there are others i don't quite agree on, but they're not crap. this one is.
firecat
Nov. 14th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
Re: Another list of books
Thanks!

I read Good Omens and mostly had the same problem with it that I have had with other Terry Pratchett.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks Terry Brooks is crap.
shryve
Nov. 14th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Julian May
Julian May

I Loved her Pliocene Exile and Galactic Milieu series!!!

William
rhetoretician
Nov. 15th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
Possibly you might add...
Actually I like the choices you've made so far. I understand the business about Heinlein and tooth enamel, but I'd recommend giving Stranger another shot. It's a classic and if you don't look for three-dimensional character development, it can be enlightening.

I'd recommend that anyone, anywhere, look at Greg Egan's Diaspora and John Varley's The Persistence of Vision.

~Ken
gregbo
Nov. 18th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
Didn't you post a list like this some time ago. I Am Legend was on it. That book inspired the Charlton Heston movie The Omega Man.

Agree 100% w/the Shannara series. I didn't even make it past the second book.
firecat
Nov. 19th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
I post these sorts of lists a lot. Here's one:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/firecat/268464.html

Do you like I Am Legend and The Omega Man?
gregbo
Nov. 19th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC)
I don't remember if I've read I Am Legend, but I like The Omega Man very much.
apocalypse_of_g
Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
Philip K. Dick's VALIS really should be on this list--better than the others listed. I also really enjoyed his Time out of Joint.
hobbitbabe
Feb. 16th, 2007 01:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for taking the trouble to point me back to this entry. This is the kind of commentary I was looking for, and maybe will go back and add some of it to my own list.

[Harry Potter]Read soon after it came out because of the Alan Rickman connection

This one is puzzling me. That's the guy who is Snape in the movies, right? Was he connected before that? I read the first Harry Potter book in about 1998. Maybe it didn't come out right away in the USA?
firecat
Feb. 16th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
Yay!

Yes, he plays Snape. Actually, now that I think about it, I was wrong that I read it "soon after it came out." I read it shortly before I went to see the movie, and of course that was a few years after it came out.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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