July 23, 2010

100 SF books everyone should read...

Kelly points out a list, at Bookstove.com, of 100 Science Fiction Novels Everyone Should Read. They don't give any commentary on these books at all. They just say, "hey, you should read these." As with all such lists, it is highly subjective. There are books on this one I'd probably leave off, and books I've read that I think should be here. What are your thoughts?

Taking a cue from Kelly, I've emboldenated the ones I've read, and added commentary here and there.

1. The Postman – David Brin
2. The Uplift War – David Brin Of course, this is the third book of a trilogy, so if you want to pick up some Brin, I wouldn't start with this one.
3. Neuromancer – William Gibson Big fan of Gibson. Highly recommended.
4. Foundation – Isaac Asimov
5. Foundation and Empire – Isaac Asimov
6. Second Foundation – Isaac Asimov ...and the multitudinous sequels and prequels - I have seven Foundation Series novels.
7. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
8. The Long Tomorrow – Leigh Brackett
9. Rogue Moon – Algis Budrys
10. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
11. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury I'm pretty sure I've read this one, but I don't really remember it at all.
12. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
13. Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke My grade ten english teacher passed copies of this book out to the class, and told us to read it for an upcoming assignment. He never mentioned it again.
14. The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
16. Armor – John Steakley
17. Imperial Stars – E. E. Smith On this list? Perhaps as an example of Golden Age Science Fiction pulp novels, but important? Good? No, I wouldn't say so.
18. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley I've tried to read this several times, but have bounced off (as Kelly puts it) the antiquated writing style.
19. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
20. Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card
21. Dune – Frank Herbert
22. The Dosadi Experiment – Frank Herbert I'm a fan of Herbert, but I think Dune is probably representative enough for this list. Not sure why such an obscure example of his work appears here.
23. Journey Beyond Tomorrow – Robert Sheckley
24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
25. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
26. Valis – Philip K. Dick
27. A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
28. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick Hard to believe I've never read any P.K. Dick. I should do something about that. Having said that, is his work really important enough to rate five inclusions on this list?
29. 1984 – George Orwell
30. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
31. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
32. The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
33. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
34. The Island of Doctor Moreau – H. G. Wells
35. The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells
36. A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
37. Alas, Babylon – Pat Frank
38. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
39. A Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne
40. From the Earth to the Moon – Jules Verne
41. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
42. Old Man’s War – John Scalzi Again, not sure why this one's here. I mean, it was a pretty good book, but I wouldn't call it excellent, literary, or important.
43. Nova Express – William S. Burroughs
44. Ringworld – Larry Niven I've read just about everything Niven's written. Yep, a fan.
45. The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell
46. The Unreasoning Mask – Philip Jose Farmer
47. To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer
48. Eon – Greg Bear
49. Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
50. The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton
51. Lightning – Dean Koontz
52. The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison
53. The Fifth Head of Cerebus – Gene Wolfe
54. Nightside of the Long Sun – Gene Wolfe
55. A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs
56. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
57. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson Another author I really have to read.
58. The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester
59. Solaris – Stanislaw Lem
60. Doomsday Book – Connie Wills And another.
61. Beserker – Fred Saberhagen
62. Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
63. The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. LeGuin
64. The Dispossessed – Ursula K. LeGuin
65. Babel-17 – Samuel R. Delany
66. Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany
67. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
68. The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
69. Star King – Jack Vance
70. The Killing Machine – Jack Vance
71. Trullion: Alastor 2262 – Jack Vance
72. Hyperion – Dan Simmons
73. Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
74. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein
75. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
76. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
77. More Than Human – Theodore Sturgeon
78. A Time of Changes – Robert Silverberg
79. Gateway – Frederick Pohl
80. Man Plus - Frederick Pohl
81. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham Lots of people seem to have studied this book in high school. I didn't.
82. Mission of Gravity – Hal Clement
83. The Execution Channel – Ken Macleod
84. Last and First Men – W. Olaf Stapledon
85. Slan – A. E. van Vogt
86. Out of the Silent Planet – C. S. Lewis Here's a classic I should check out.
87. They Shall Have Stars – James Blish
88. Marooned in Realtime – Vernor Vinge
89. A Fire Upon the Deep – Vernor Vinge
90. The People Maker – Damon Knight
91. The Giver – Lois Lowry
92. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
93. Contact – Carl Sagan Saw the movie, but haven't read ths book.
94. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
95. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
96. Battlefield Earth – L. Ron Hubbard Yeah, I really did. Take my advice: don't.
97. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
98. Little Brother – Cory Doctorow I've read other Doctorow, but this one's pretty new.
99. Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
100. Planet of the Apes – Pierre Boulle There was a book?

Well, looks like I've read 40% of these titles. I was doing really well on the top half of the list, but fell off a bit on the bottom half. Author's I think probably should have made this list:

Cordwainer Smith
Roger Zelazny

What do you think?


Beth said...

Cool list! I've read quite a few Asimov and Bradbury books. I think Fantastic Voyage (Asimov) would have been a good inclusion.

Happy to see one of my all-time favorites, The Andromeda Strain. That's the book that led me into Microbiology.

Also loved the inclusion of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Those were some of the favorites from my youth. Oh, and Dune.

Puzzled by the inclusion of Dean Koontz.

Of the ones that I've read that you haven't, I'd recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes; the H.G. Wells you haven't read; definitely A Clockwork Orange; Flowers For Algernon; anything by Dan Simmons--I think he's a very good writer, but not all of his stuff is SF.

That was a fun list that reminded me of some of my favorites. Thanks for sharing it!

Wil said...

Regarding Philip K. Dick, "is his work really important enough to rate five inclusions on this list?"'


I've read slightly more of the list than you - about half. While I am fond of John Scalzi, his books are good reads but not seminal material.

There are authors and books I wish had been included and others excluded, but then, as you say, the choices are very personal.

fdtate said...

I've probably read about the same percentage of the books on this list as you, albeit different ones. I like sci-fi, but I'm not a fanatic about it. Have read a lot of the masters -- Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, etc. -- much more than are listed here.

Run, don't walk, to the nearest library or other book depository and pick up some Philip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the basis for the movie Blade Runner (if that provides some motivation).

Anonymous said...

The books I have read from this list match the ones you have read pretty closely.

I definitely recommend Phillip K. Dick, although perhaps not the specific ones listed. He wrote a lot of stuff, often rapidly - aided by amphetamines and a need for cash income. "A Scanner Darkly" is depressing, about the impact of drug addiction, so I would not start with that. "Our Friends from Frolix 8" was good, also "Ubik".

I also recommend you pick up the books by Vernor Vinge, who is my favorite author and a multiple Hugo winner.