Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Top 100 Science Fiction And Fantasy Books

National Socialist Radio listeners have participated in a project to compile The Top 100 Science Fiction And Fantasy Books. 
Denny and a lot of other bloggers have participated in a meme where you copy the NSR list, highlight the ones you've read, and provide any commentary that would encourage others to read some of the titles that you've enjoyed. 
I'm not a huge fan of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, mostly because any time the hero gets in trouble, the authors can instantly save him with a time warp, an enchanted spatula, an unexpected invasion of liberators from the planet Nekthar, or a magical stimulus package.  But I was surprised at how many of these I've read. 
Enjoy ! 

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is the ultimate fantasy trilogy.  A friend of The Whited Mama, Mrs. Merritt, recommended it to me when I was in the 8th grade.  Mrs. Merritt had read the series 3 or 4 times.  I devoured these puppies.  You've never known true joy until those hobbits get rid of that dang ring. 

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

You will laugh until you cry.  I almost ruptured a gut during the sequence where Marvin The Paranoid Android gets left behind in the space time continuum and has to park cars at The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe for billions of years until he can rejoin his buddies in "the present".  Please don't judge this thing by the movie adaptation.  This is brilliant stuff.  I wish it could have been number 42 on this list, though. 

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

The first book in the series is pure, undiluted greatness.  Herbert creates an entire culture that the reader can totally buy into - grammar, traditions, religion, coming-of-age rituals, laws, diet, clothing, the works.  The second is good.  The third is blah.  All the other stuff after that is dull.  I bet if you read the first one, you'll still try to read the all the rest, kinda like a crack addict trying to get that old feeling back. 

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984, by George Orwell

Yes, Big Brother is watching you.  And he's not happy that you're reading anything on this site. 

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

The best anti-censorship book EVER.  Read it, and you'll never forget the temperature at which paper spontaneously ignites.  Bradbury's best? 

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

I didn't read all of this.  Therefore it is only half-highlighted.  I usually liked Asimov's non-fiction essays more than his novels.   

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

"And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins."

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

Hilarious.  Joyous.  Wonderful storytelling.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  And they didn't screw up the movie.  Inconceivable.  I don't think that means what you think it means.  And I am not left-handed.  Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.     

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

As Timothy The Tax Cheat Geithner will tell you, "some are more equal than others".  Animal Farm - we're living on it. 

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

Watchmen is a graphic novel.  For people over 60, that's what they're now calling lengthy comic books.  I liked it ok, but didn't think it was worth inclusion in Time magazine's Top 100 Novels list.  Because of this graphic novel, all references that I make to "Ozymandias" are misunderstood.   

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

I think I finished it. 

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

I grokked it in a big way.  One of the best libertarian novels ever written. 

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein isn't about being afraid of a monster.  It's about how horrible it would be to live as a monster. 

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

Even if you haven't read PKD's books, you're probably familiary with some of the movies they spawned - Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report.  This theme seems to have driven Philip K. Dick stark raving mad....  How do we know that we really experienced something in the past?  How do we know that we weren't all created 15 minutes ago, with common non-contradictory memories?  This guy makes my head hurt. 

22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood has a typing fit where she imagines a religious fundamentalist takeover of the U.S. after nuclear war makes most of the women sterile and races are segregated again, and nobody can wear makeup and women can't drive cars.  Kind of a left-wing rape fantasy. 

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

I think I own all the volumes of this, but I'm saving them for my old age. 

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

I read this in the North Sunflower Academy library when I was too young to understand it.  I need to revisit this one.  Every time Barack Obama discovers that some Socialist/Keynesian policy will not work, it reminds me of the chimps crowding around the metal tower and discovering how to use tools. 

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

This is a big fat story that you can get lost in, with a good vs. evil plot.  King has a great time destroying the world and populating it with dozens of memorable characters: Trashcan Man, Mother Abigail, The Walking Dude, and that washed-up, one-hit-wonder, rock singer.  This is one of my favorites.  Buy the really long uncut version. 

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

If bookstores still exist 50 years from now, Ray Bradbury will probably be shelved in the Literature section, not Sci-Fi. 

28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

My friend Roger and I were discussing this one last night.  If you take away someone's free will with drugs, is he still a human? 

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

Imagine a semi-fascist society where everyone lives to serve the state, and the state assigns them their careers, and some of them are sent off to fight giant bugs.  Good stuff.  Bad movie.  It's so bad that you'll watch it over and over.  "It's an ugly planet !  A BUG planet !" 

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

I've not thought about this before, but this one belongs on the list for the same reason as Frankenstein.  Frankenstein is about how horrible it would be to live as a monster.  Watership is about how horrible it would be to live as prey. 

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

Haven't read it, but it's on my Bucket List. 

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

Read it a long, long time ago.  Those underground Morlock things gave me bad dreams.   

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

Read it after I went on the ride at Disneyland, sometime in the 4th or 5th grade. 

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

Read it in Jr. High School and thought it was ok.  Tried it again a few years ago, and it wasn't ok. 

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

If we ever make contact with other planets, this is what The Feds will use to justify more spending.   

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Phenomenally dull stuff.  Like George Lucas discovered in doing Star Wars Episodes 1,2, and 3, there are times when you should produce something great and then leave it alone.

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

Pure, undiluted greatness.  I love, love, love this book.  Love it, love it, love it.  I will give you a dollar if you read this book.   

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

This is one of the darkest things I've ever read, and I'm a fan of darkness.  Post-apocalyptic meldown.  Two people trying to get from Point A to Point B.  You never get the names of the two main characters, the man and the boy.  This might be McCarthy's best novel, in spite of serious competition. 

64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

If you like Zombie combat, this is your book. 

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

Greatness.  Nothing but Bradbury short stories, tied together with a guy who is tattooed all over.  If I remember correctly, you don't have to read them in order, which makes for convenient bathroom reading.  (You know, for when you just need something to keep you occupied for five minutes.) 

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

I think Lewis's theological parables (Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce) are better than these.  I don't think I ever finished the 2nd one. 

That's the list.  I hope it was helpful.  I'm going to try to read the Vonnegut stuff.   

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tad Williams- pick any book.

Simon Cooke said...

Is there a prize for having read them all? There are only a couple on that list I've not read - maybe this is sad?

On the libertarian front, Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is seriously libertarian in its outlook (although not a patch on
Heinlein)

Enjoy!

TheNakedObserver said...

A little disappointed that you apparently haven't read "Ender's Game" (and subsequently, several of the novels that come thereafter). The story has quite a lot to say about responsibility, freedom, and the role the government should play in the lives of citizens. It's seriously worth the read.

CenTexTim said...

Go here for a very cool chart created by NPR that will help you select which SF&F books that will appeal to you (you may have to click it a time or two to enlarge it).

Every once in a while NPR comes up with something that almost justifies their subsidized existence.

Nick said...

My read list is almost the same as yours.

After God Emperor, the Dune series went downhill fast. I couldn't finish Chapterhouse.

I can't believe Michael Moorcock didn't make the list for his Elric series.

Cedric Katesby said...

I've read just over half of them.

If you enjoy Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (and who doesn't) then their collaborative effort "Good Omens" is a must read.

Anonymous said...

Handmaids Tale was the worst movie I ever saw. It was the first movie I ever walked out on. The only others deserving that honor were Get Carter and Oceans 13.

Nick said...

Oh, there's Elric at #90. Thats a low rating for an excellent series of books. You could read all of them in one week. But dont waste your time on Elric at the End of Time.

The Chronicles of Corum are a bit difficult to follow.

Nick said...

You should read God Emperor of Dune again. It is a solidly libertarian book.

Emperor Leto subjugates the entire universe under an all powerful regime. The former powerful interests have all been subdued by his army, the Fish Speakers. Many of them try secret plots to break Leto's grip, but he sees all. In fact, many of these "revolutions" are his idea.

Leto's oppression has a purpose - to restore human independence and liberty in what he calls The Golden Path. He hopes to teach humanity a lesson they will remember in their bones - sheltered safety is tantamount to death.

He breeds the Atreides line to be immune from his prescience, and arranges for his own death to set mankind on this path. The ultimate benevolent dictator.

Oto said...

Looks like there's a lot of really great books on this list. I've read a few of them myself and was not disappointed...Ender's Game for instance. I had no idea it would be one of my favorite books until after I'd read it.

Dr Ralph said...

A fun list! Here's my take on it. Thanks for turning me on to this. Interesting comments, and I'm reminded of somethings I should (re)read.

Anonymous said...

I have read about half the books on the list. I see several of Heinlein's there (have read them all). But more should have been included.

An author I see noted by his absence is Spider Robinson. As a lover of bad puns (is there any other kind?) I especially love his Callihan's Crosstime Saloon series. And the joint venture with his wife Jenny, the Starseed/Stardance series. Plus the postmortem-Heinlein book "Variable Star".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't see Clarke's "Childhood's End" on the list.

So many books, so little lifetime. . . .
B Woodman
III-per

Dr Ralph said...

BTW - a little surprising A. E. Van Vogt didn't make the top 100. While Damon Knight had no use for him (called him a pygmy), his defenders included Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison.

Nick said...

Speaking of Van Vogt, I don't see L. Ron Hubbard's name on the list.

:)

Dr Ralph said...

Nick - re: L. Ron, well played, sir, especially with the Van Vogt reference.

BTW - Van Vogt was the source of the "an armed society is a polite society," quote. I'd think the WS's target audience would have been all over that.

Nick said...

I didn't know it was Van Vogt who first said that quote, Doc. I always thought it was Heinlein.

You can see Robert Heinlein's circular house on Google Maps near the corner of Shake Mill Road and Bonny Doon Road in Santa Cruz, CA.

I always wondered how Hubbard was regarded by his contemporaries. Wikipedia says he interacted with Asimov, Heinlein, and Van Vogt. But Hubbard was notorious for inflating his own accomplishments. I wouldn't be surprised if he was once seen standing in the same room with Asimov, Heinlein, and Van Vogt.

I enjoyed Battlefield Earth. Let's see: aliens conquer and pillage Earth for its natural resources. One of the enemy leaders enslaves the inferior Man Animals. The Man Animals stage a revolt and destroy their enemies. Then they must stop another enemy from "foreclosing" on the defeated enemy's debt.

I'm not quite sure what political philosophy that story follows. Maybe in the utopian and dystopian worlds of science fiction and fantasy, there is a nexus of social philosophies that seem to resonate with everyone. As Hitchens explains very well, both the Right and the Left lay claim to Orwell. And no one would confuse Orwell with a moderate or independent. So perhaps political polarization is a circle instead of a line.

Dr Ralph said...

Nick - I stand corrected: Heinlein *is* the source of the "armed" quote. I was thinking of Van Vogt's "Weapon Shops of Isher," and got the two crossed. My bad.

"Weapon Shops of Isher" is another novel that ought to resonate with the Libertarian crowd: the weapons are, by some techo-magic, *only* capable of being used in self-defense. Interesting concept. Check out the synopsis on Wikipedia.

I probably read it in my teens.

Anonymous said...

The Road - the scene near the end with the pregnant woman gave me nightmares for weeks.

World War Z was a great read. Very light and fast paced. If the upcoming movie stays true to the book, it should be pretty awesome.

stan mann said...

I've read about 60% of the titles, but many of them are multi-volume works, so maybe 75% of the actual books listed, of which perhaps half were worthy of inclusion. While some seem thoughtfully chosen (LeGuin, W.Miller,)This is a pretty lightweight selection, maybe 40% good stuff, full of the authors who got SF relegated to the childrens' sections of bookshops - bores (Donaldson),2nd-raters (Bradley)and makeweights - "Watership Down"? Hah!
While over-representing some writers, it misses some of their best work too, e.g. Neal Stephenson's "Baroque" trilogy, prequel to "Cryptonomicon" and Iain M. Bank's non-culture novels.
IMHO, Alfred Bester (author of "Tiger,Tiger", "The Demolished Man" and even Green Lantern's oath, in his DC days! ), Theodore Sturgeon ("More Than Human"), William Tenn ("Of Men And Monsters"), Fritz Leiber (the Fafhrd/Grey Mouser "Swords" series), and the great Jack Vance (author of more than 80 books including the "Dying Earth", "Demon Princes" and "Lyonesse" cycles as well as many one-offs - "Emphyrio", "Showboat World", etc, etc ) are all glaring omissions. There is another tier too, who have all produced at least one top-notcher - Harry Harrison, Clifford Simak, Fred Pohl, Poul Anderson, Bob Shaw.

Anonymous said...

What about The Illuminatus Trilogy.