Skip to comments.Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy books
Posted on 08/11/2011 5:46:33 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith
More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles.
A quick word about what's here, and what's not: Our panel of experts reviewed hundreds of the most popular nominations and tossed out those that didn't fit the survey's criteria (after we assure you much passionate, thoughtful, gleefully nerdy discussion). You'll notice there are no young adult or horror books on this list, but sit tight, dear reader, we're saving those genres for summers yet to come.
So, at last, here are your favorite science-fiction and fantasy novels. (And a printable version, to take with you to the bookstore.)
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy ahead of Dune and Foundation?
Nothing by Cherryh? Nothing by Vinge? No part of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant?
A Star Wars novel in the best 100 SF/Fantasy of all time? Seriously?
A Clockwork Orange? [A great book, yes. SF/Fantasy, no.] Same comment for 1984, Animal Farm, Brace New World...
Handmaid's Tale?. Literally: WHAT. THE. F...?
I know it's NPR, but Le Guin ahead of the Silmarillion?
I could go on for hours with this. This is a disgrace.
Nothing by L. Sprague de Camp. One of the greatest fantasy writers ever. The Compleat Enchanter, wonderful. Must be read many times.
And no John Brunner? The Shockwave Rider? Extremely prophetic.
Oh, I forgot one that is really good.
Again I wouldn’t classify this as sci fi, but it is certainly dystopian like 1984 and as we all know nobody does dystopia better than the Brits.
“The Children of Men” by PD James.
Another great read, takes you completely out of yourself, into another world. I’d have a few quibbles with the author about this and that, but I would re-read this book and I don’t say that about too many that are not murder mystery brain candy.
I do not particularly care for “Lord of the Rings” being classified as Sci-Fi. I read all of the original 4, and thought it sucked.
Some of the others as well do not qualify as “Sci-Fi” in my mind, but it is not my list to determine. Fantasy & Sci-Fi are related, but I would not create a survey that equated them as close to the same sort of thing. They are not.
Fun source though.
Appreciate the thread.
I would have place “Lucifer’s Hammer” much higher on the list. Great book.
I am happy to see “the Foundation Series”. Very memorable story, well told.
I can't even guess how many times I've read the Dying Earth.
I’ve read 62.5 of these, “Wicked” being an unfinishable pile of flying monkey poo. I haven’t read any Brandon Sanderson. Is he as good as this list implies?
I must say I’m disappointed at the omission of Norstrilia- Cordwainer Smith is not as well known as his talent deserved.
John Brunner is conspicupus in his absence.
I agree Honor Harrington is a big omission but the Conan series is on the list.
I was happy to see Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson on the list as I didn’t think that was well known.
I would recommend the series by Daniel Keys Moran that includes Emerald Eyes, The Long Run, and Last Dancer. Tough to find as they’ve been out of print for twenty years.
Dying Inside (good for multiple reads)
The Book of Skulls
I’d choose Sixth Column over Farnham’s Freehold if I was adding another Heinlein to the list. Or The Door Into Summer, maybe.
Forever War was amazing. Forever Peace sucked though. IMHO
“I am surprised any of Heinleins books made an NPR list, he did not care much for pansy socialist types.”
Did you know he actually ran for political office as a socialist ? He was also a staffer when Upton Sinclair ran for governor of CA on a socialist platform (although he ran on the Dem ticket) in 1934.
I’ve read everything Heinlein ever wrote and I was shocked when I found out he’d once been a socialist.
I'm friends with DKM on facebook and Google+, big lib but great writer. All of his books are available as ebooks at fsand.com (his site), and he's released the first book of AI Wars - The Big Boost - another great one.
The quality of Joe Haldeman’s stuff was all over the place.
Not a good list. Very heavy on NPR listener-type crap.
The quality of Joe Haldeman’s stuff was all over the place.
Excerpt from “The Genre Artist”, an excellent Vance profile in the NY Times Mag, July 2009:
“Jack Vance, described by his peers as a major genius and the greatest living writer of science fiction and fantasy, has been hidden in plain sight for as long as he has been publishing six decades and counting. Yes, he has won Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards and has been named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and he received an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America, but such honors only help to camouflage him as just another accomplished genre writer. So do the covers of his books, which feature the usual spacecraft, monsters and euphonious place names: Lyonesse, Alastor, Durdane. If you had never read Vance and were browsing a bookstores shelf, you might have no particular reason to choose one of his books instead of one next to it by A. E. van Vogt, say, or John Varley. And if you chose one of these alternatives, you would go on your way to the usual thrills with no idea that you had just missed out on encountering one of American literatures most distinctive and undervalued voices.
I can’t believe the first real space opera is not on the list: EE Doc Smith’s “Skylark” and “Lensman” series.
And “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” doesn’t qualify as some of the best SF of all time ?
It’s pretty easy to spot which entries are on the list solely due to typical NPR listeners picking out the few titles they actually recognized....
I couldn't stand LOTR, but I've read all 14 (or so) books in Asimov's Galactic Empire series and all of the Dune books and the subsequent off shoots.
Hey while I’ve got everyone SCIFI/Fantasy here - does anyone remember a short story about an astronaut in a space suit that suddenly thinks he’s have a malfunction or alien infection that once he gets back into the ship finds out it was only the ship’s cat that found it’s way into the suit?
It was in a short story collection I found in the 80’s that I can’t find anymore and I’ve been dying to give it to my kids to read.
Any directional pointers appreciated.
It’s been several decades since I read The Book of Skulls. Might be interesting to go back and see how it would seem to me now.
I have read Dying Inside several times over a long time, and still found it good. Whereas I loaned it to my daughter and she found it uninteresting.
If John Ringo had made the list I think the NPR editorial room would have looked like a scene out of Scanners....
It's not a critics' list, it's a readers' list.
Seriously, how many people have even read (or should I say "attempted to read") The Silmarillion?
If you haven't read it, you aren't likely to put it in your top five picks.
And I don't know how how humor and hard sci-fi were on the list, but if you focus the humor votes onto one book, Hitchhikers would be it.
I exchanged a few e-mails with DKM about fifteen years ago, and I’ve visited his blog a few times. He does come off as very liberal.
Thanks for the heads up on “AI War” but I refuse to read a novel electronically. I need a real book.
I heard of that one long ago but only now read it. HA! Thanks.
He has links to a vanity publisher where you can order a print copy. I like real books too, but I like having my library on my phone too, and ebooks, especially Baen’s earcs (advance reader copy) are available almost a year before the print books, and I just can’t wait :-)
I liked his “Tool of the Trade” a lot. Soviet sleeper in the US working as a psychology professor for twenty years inadvertently discovers an audible tone that will put most people into a hypnotic state and do whatever he tells them.
I re-read I, Robot of late. It has not aged well.
Watchmen will age well because it was written as retro-history to begin with.
Starship Troopers the movie was based on the back cover of a novel by Robert Heinlein.
YES! FREEPERS RULE!
Canticle is worth the read. Very good; probably my intro to “heavy” sci fi in high school.
Other than LoTR, I just can’t get into the Fantasy novels. I prefer the harder sci-fi stuff...
John Ringo’s series - definitely and I would have liked to see the John Carter series by Edgar Rice Burroughs as well. Not sure if everyone would agree but it was one of my early favorites.
It actually was one that I remembered from my teenage years!
(Good Lord .. A Long Time Ago!) LOL
Awesome Book but I always thought SCIFI was about the "possible future" and Fantasy was about the "impossible past". Crypto is a Historical Novel with a present day plot line as well using technology that is nothing out of the ordinary.
Only three Heinlein books in the top 100 and one in the top 20?
I wasn't. His understanding of freedom comes from having once believed in the other side's values and then thought about that belief system. Someone who has never been a socialist would not have as deep an understanding of its flaws as a convert.
Wonderful story. Apocalyptic and a bit dark though...
Pretty good sci-fi...at least I thought.
That was one of the few I liked.
Sad. The Stars My Destination was epic and one of my favorites.
I looked all over fsand.com and couldn’t find the vanity publisher link you mention. Could you point it out ?
B.S. Meter just pegged into the Red!
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