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Monday, August 22, 2011


When you’re desperate for content - or preoccupied with preparations for Elder Daughter’s impending visit - why not get sucked in by a meme?

This one is courtesy of El Capitan of Baboon Pirates, who snarfed it up from several other worthy Blog-Writers.

This is the NPR Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Meme, in case you’re curious. (I like El Capitan’s term “skiffy” - it seems to fit.) And, as with all memes, you don’t need to be a member of Mensa to play. Just copy the list below onto your site and boldface the titles you’ve read. Add commentary if you care to.

Anyway, here we go:

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I read these bad boys back in high school. Also made the mistake of reading Bored of the Rings, the Harvard Lampoon parody, after which the Tolkien version always seemed vaguely ridiculous.

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

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
I read this back when it was just a short story. It’s one of those rare books that wasn’t ruined in the process of expanding it to novel length... and it’s still a great read. (I’ve also read the rest of the Ender series, along with the Ender’s Shadow series.)

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
All 6 Dune novels by Frank Herbert, plus one of the misbegotten Brian Herbert prequels.

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

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
Also Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, et alia.

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
I went on a Vonnegut binge when I was a college freshman... read every damn book the man wrote in the space of about one month.

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

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

22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
One of the few things by King I haven’t read.

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
Plus 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three, and 3001: Final Odyssey

25. The Stand, by Stephen King
Both the version as originally published and the expanded version that came out later.

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
A great book, and that’s no hraka.

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

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

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
Brilliant... and heartbreaking. The sequel, published many years later, fell far short of the original.

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
Still the best time travel novel ever written.

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

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
The short story is better than the novel.

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

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
Also Ringworld Engineers, all of the Known Space series, and most of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations.

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

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

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

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
The first science fiction novel I ever read, probably when I was about seven years old. Years later I read it again and finally understood it.

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

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
Also The Gripping Hand.

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

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

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 & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
Just finished Embassytown. Brilliant.

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

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

OK, campers - how many of these have you read? And why are so many excellent SF series - like David Brin’s Uplift series, John Birmingham’s Weapons of Choice series, or Greg Bear’s Eon novels - not represented? Inquiring minds want to know!


Tommy said...

Same on Vonnegut. Went a 2 month period reading every book of his I could get my hands on.

El Capitan said...

Yeah, the list of what's not included goes on & on... Stephen Baxter, Ben Bova, John Varley, H. Beam Piper, Elizabeth Moon, & Harry Harrison are just a few from scanning my bookshelves.

Denny said...

If you liked Starship Troopers, you need to read Old Man's War by Scalsi and the two sequels.

I didn't like the Dune sequels or the Ender sequels. They fell far short of the first books.

Elisson said...

@Denny - Starship Troopers was pretty good, considering it's a young adult title. I've read a lot of Heinlein - at his best, he's pretty amazing.

I'll state right up front that Dune was a genuine work of genius, most of its sequels less so. Dune Messiah sucked, while Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune were quite good. The other Herbert Dune books were... meh. OK, I guess. But the ones his son has been cranking out are a complete waste of time. Can anyone say, "milking Daddy's legacy"?

There are a lot of books on that list I need to read. Haldeman's The Forever War is one.

Claude said...

Very pleased that the list mentions Jules Verne. But "Paris au XXe Siècle", (which he wrote in 1863) is his most outstanding novel. It's a masterpiece, in style and anticipation.

My British sons (when they were teenagers) introduced me to American-English SF&F. At one point, I became such a fan of A.C.Clarke and Asimov that I wrote them a few letters. They were kind enough to answer, explaining some scientific facts which were a bit complicated for me. John.W, Campbell, the Editor of Analog, also wrote two long, detailed letters on some of his editorials. All those letters are a treasured possession. It convinced me that SF writers were not only erudite but also charming!

I'm very grateful for this list. It will give me many more entertaining hours.

David Edwards said...

I agree with Denny about the Scalzi book, I dont know why the wheel of time series is there its is terrible, I wouls add almost any of the John Ringo books and most of Eric Flints 1632 series.
S M Stirling has written some great alternative history yarns with more to come.
Going through the list I have read a lrge number of the books and agree with there inclusion.
Add a best book to movie genre

Aristomenes said...

... not to mention Peter Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

How the fuck did you manage to avoid reading Fahrenheit 451? Seriously, I'd think that have been assigned reading at some point or another.

And Banks' Culture series is very good as is his non-fiction. I highly recommend both Player Of Games (sci-fi) and The Wasp Factory ("regular" fiction).
- z

Elisson said...

Actually, z, I probably did read Fahrenheit 451 a long, long time ago. But I don't remember much about it, except for knowing that paper burns at 451°F. Certainly the book made way less of an impression on me than did The Martian Chronicles.