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Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy books
NPR ^ | 8/11/11 | NPR

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.)


TOPICS: Books/Literature
KEYWORDS: books; npr; scifi
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To: Tanniker Smith
Really an awful list.

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.

51 posted on 08/11/2011 6:38:00 PM PDT by FredZarguna (That is, you know you can't, tune in, but it's all right. That is, I think it's not too bad.)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Amazing.

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.


52 posted on 08/11/2011 6:40:48 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s ( If you can remember the 60s....you weren't really there)
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To: Tanniker Smith

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.


53 posted on 08/11/2011 6:41:15 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: Tanniker Smith
I have read a few of those books.

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.

Thanks.

54 posted on 08/11/2011 6:41:15 PM PDT by Radix ("..Democrats are holding a meeting today to decide whether to overturn the results of the election.")
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To: Tanniker Smith

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.


55 posted on 08/11/2011 6:42:15 PM PDT by texmexis best
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To: Third Person
No Jack Vance on this list? Absurd.

I can't even guess how many times I've read the Dying Earth.

56 posted on 08/11/2011 6:42:49 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s ( If you can remember the 60s....you weren't really there)
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To: Tanniker Smith

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.


57 posted on 08/11/2011 6:43:38 PM PDT by Eepsy
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To: ChildOfThe60s

John Brunner is conspicupus in his absence.


58 posted on 08/11/2011 6:44:24 PM PDT by texmexis best
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To: JMS

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.


59 posted on 08/11/2011 6:45:44 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Robert Silverberg

Dying Inside (good for multiple reads)

The Book of Skulls


60 posted on 08/11/2011 6:50:37 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s ( If you can remember the 60s....you weren't really there)
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To: Former Proud Canadian

I’d choose Sixth Column over Farnham’s Freehold if I was adding another Heinlein to the list. Or The Door Into Summer, maybe.


61 posted on 08/11/2011 6:52:47 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: driftdiver

Forever War was amazing. Forever Peace sucked though. IMHO


62 posted on 08/11/2011 6:53:18 PM PDT by RobRoy (The US today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: FredZarguna
Correction: Donaldson's first Chronicles come in at #58. Still a disgrace.

Wicked? Wicked!?

63 posted on 08/11/2011 6:56:32 PM PDT by FredZarguna (No AE Van Vogt? No JG Ballard? But _Wicked_? OK. that's about all I can take... NPR audience...)
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To: glasseye

“I am surprised any of Heinlein’s 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.


64 posted on 08/11/2011 6:57:53 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: jocon307
Children of Men is also surprising in that several of these books are only on the list because they were well known movies -- which like PD James' title -- had little [if anything] to do with the book.
65 posted on 08/11/2011 6:58:54 PM PDT by FredZarguna (No AE Van Vogt? No JG Ballard? But _Wicked_? OK. that's about all I can take... NPR audience...)
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To: Kellis91789
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.

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.

66 posted on 08/11/2011 6:59:06 PM PDT by msgt (Press any key to continue...Press any other key to quit.)
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To: RobRoy

The quality of Joe Haldeman’s stuff was all over the place.


67 posted on 08/11/2011 6:59:51 PM PDT by FredZarguna (No AE Van Vogt? No JG Ballard? But _Wicked_? OK. that's about all I can take... NPR audience...)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Not a good list. Very heavy on NPR listener-type crap.


68 posted on 08/11/2011 6:59:50 PM PDT by pabianice (")
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To: RobRoy

The quality of Joe Haldeman’s stuff was all over the place.


69 posted on 08/11/2011 7:00:06 PM PDT by FredZarguna (No AE Van Vogt? No JG Ballard? But _Wicked_? OK. that's about all I can take... NPR audience...)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

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 bookstore’s 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 literature’s most distinctive and undervalued voices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19Vance-t.html?pagewanted=all


70 posted on 08/11/2011 7:01:47 PM PDT by Third Person
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To: Tanniker Smith

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 ?


71 posted on 08/11/2011 7:02:17 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: ChildOfThe60s
I didn't much care for The Book of Skulls, but The World Inside and Nightwings were outstanding, and his short work ["Hawksbill Station," "In Entropy's Jaws", ...] was fantastic.
72 posted on 08/11/2011 7:03:06 PM PDT by FredZarguna (No AE Van Vogt? No JG Ballard? But _Wicked_? OK. that's about all I can take... NPR audience...)
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To: FredZarguna

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....


73 posted on 08/11/2011 7:03:33 PM PDT by Eepsy
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To: JMS
Yep, David Weber’s Honor Harrington series would have been nice, as well as John Ringo's Gust Front and follow ups.

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.

74 posted on 08/11/2011 7:05:09 PM PDT by EN1 Sailor (I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness)
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To: Tanniker Smith

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.


75 posted on 08/11/2011 7:09:44 PM PDT by reed13
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To: FredZarguna

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.


76 posted on 08/11/2011 7:11:34 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s ( If you can remember the 60s....you weren't really there)
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To: EN1 Sailor

If John Ringo had made the list I think the NPR editorial room would have looked like a scene out of Scanners....


77 posted on 08/11/2011 7:14:40 PM PDT by Eepsy
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To: FredZarguna
I know it's NPR, but Le Guin ahead of the Silmarillion?

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.

78 posted on 08/11/2011 7:15:39 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: msgt

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.


79 posted on 08/11/2011 7:15:46 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: reed13

Is this it?

http://hermiene.net/short-stories/haunted_space_suit.html


80 posted on 08/11/2011 7:17:20 PM PDT by Eepsy
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To: freejohn

I heard of that one long ago but only now read it. HA! Thanks.


81 posted on 08/11/2011 7:19:11 PM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Kellis91789

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 :-)


82 posted on 08/11/2011 7:20:48 PM PDT by msgt (Press any key to continue...Press any other key to quit.)
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To: FredZarguna

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.


83 posted on 08/11/2011 7:22:09 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: OnlyTurkeysHaveLeftWings

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.


84 posted on 08/11/2011 7:22:32 PM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Starship Troopers the movie was based on the back cover of a novel by Robert Heinlein.


85 posted on 08/11/2011 7:23:45 PM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Eepsy

YES! FREEPERS RULE!


86 posted on 08/11/2011 7:25:12 PM PDT by reed13
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To: jocon307

Canticle is worth the read. Very good; probably my intro to “heavy” sci fi in high school.


87 posted on 08/11/2011 7:25:32 PM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Other than LoTR, I just can’t get into the Fantasy novels. I prefer the harder sci-fi stuff...


88 posted on 08/11/2011 7:26:33 PM PDT by Paradox (Obnoxious, Bumbling, Absurd, Maladroit, Assinine)
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To: EN1 Sailor

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.


89 posted on 08/11/2011 7:26:55 PM PDT by JMS
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To: ctdonath2

It actually was one that I remembered from my teenage years!

(Good Lord .. A Long Time Ago!) LOL


90 posted on 08/11/2011 7:34:09 PM PDT by freejohn ("Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." --- Mark Twain)
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To: Tanniker Smith
Cryptonomican is Scifi/Fantasy?

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.

91 posted on 08/11/2011 7:34:43 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the 2nd one...)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Only three Heinlein books in the top 100 and one in the top 20?
Ludicrous.


92 posted on 08/11/2011 7:34:43 PM PDT by Lancey Howard (Go, Phillies!)
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To: Kellis91789
I’ve read everything Heinlein ever wrote and I was shocked when I found out he’d once been a socialist.

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.

93 posted on 08/11/2011 7:36:02 PM PDT by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: jocon307
"I really need to read “A Canticle for Leibowitz” I’ve just always wanted to read it because of the great title and never have."

Wonderful story. Apocalyptic and a bit dark though...

94 posted on 08/11/2011 7:36:35 PM PDT by arkady_renko
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To: Tanniker Smith
No Laumer? No Retief, or Bolos? Meh.....
95 posted on 08/11/2011 7:39:22 PM PDT by Othniel (There is no god named Allah, and Mohammed is its false prophet.)
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To: Tanniker Smith
Anyone read "Eon" by Greg Bear?

Pretty good sci-fi...at least I thought.

96 posted on 08/11/2011 7:39:42 PM PDT by NELSON111
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To: Psycho_Bunny

That was one of the few I liked.


97 posted on 08/11/2011 7:40:42 PM PDT by TradicalRC (Zero Debt Now.)
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To: arkady_renko
Nothing by Alfred Bester?

Sad. The Stars My Destination was epic and one of my favorites.

98 posted on 08/11/2011 7:41:22 PM PDT by Noumenon (The only 'NO' a liberal understands is the one that arrives at muzzle velocity.)
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To: msgt

I looked all over fsand.com and couldn’t find the vanity publisher link you mention. Could you point it out ?


99 posted on 08/11/2011 7:42:32 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (There's a reason the mascot of the Democratic Party is a jackass.)
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To: Tanniker Smith
Wait Wicked makes the list but S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time doesn't?

B.S. Meter just pegged into the Red!

100 posted on 08/11/2011 7:42:57 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the 2nd one...)
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