Because other lists suck. . .

If you hang out at asoiaf.westeros.org, you obviously have heard of the infamous Stego. William Lexner used to run the excellent www.speculativereviews.blogspot.com, but he's been on hiatus for many months now. Too bad, as the guy was probably my favorite SFF blogger. . .

In any event, Stego appears quite fond of lists. And why not, as these lists and his contributions on the forum at Westeros allowed me to discover authors such as Ian McDonald, Peter Watts, Joe Abercrombie, as well as many others. He recently came up with this list of 100 seminal SFF titles. Here's what he had to say:

I put out an SFF Reading List a few years ago with about 500 works on it. People threw rocks. It was kind of amusing. Here is a far more condensed list of what I believe to be the seminal works of SFF since Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Limited to a mere 100. The paring down was heartbreaking.

This is my first reading list in years and is certainly an opinionated result of my years of amateur scholarship.

The only thing I do promise is that there is merit in all of these works. Chances are you would fall in love with most, if not all, if you give them a chance.

- Stego's Top 100 SFF books/series of all time:

Asimov, Isaac: The Best of Isaac Asimov 1974

Asimov, Isaac: The Gods Themselves 1972

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid's Tale 1985

Bakker, R. Scott: The Prince of Nothing 2004-2007

Ballard, J.G.: High Rise 1975

Banks, Iain M.: Use of Weapons 1990

Beagle, Peter S.: A Fine and Private Place 1960

Bester, Alfred: The Stars My Destination 1956

Blish, James: Cities in Flight 1955-1962

Brackett, Leigh: The Long Tomorrow 1955

Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles 1950

Bradbury, Ray: Fahrenheit 451 1953

Brunner, John: Stand on Zanzibar 1968

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and The Margarita 1940

Card, Orson Scott: Ender's Game 1985

Clarke, Arthur C.: Rendezvous With Rama 1972

Clarke, Arthur C.: Childhood's End 1953

Clarke, Arthur C.: The Fountains of Paradise 1979

Crowley, John: Little, Big 1981

Danielewski, Mark Z.: House of Leaves 2000

Dick, Philip K.: The Man In The High Castle 1962

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best: 20 Years of The Years Best SF 2005

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best 2 2007

Dunsany, Lord: The King of Elfland's Daughter 1924

Ellison, Harlan: Dangerous Visions 1967

Ennis, Garth: Preacher 1995-2000

Ford, John M.: The Last Hot Time 2001

Gaiman, Neil: American Gods 2001

Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry: Good Omens 1990

Gemmell, David: Legend 1984

Gibson, William: Neuromancer 1984

Grimwood, Ken: Replay 1987

Haldeman, Joe: The Forever War 1975

Heinlein, Robert A.: Starship Troopers 1959

Heinlein, Robert A.: Stranger In a Strange Land 1961

Heinlein, Robert A.: Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel 1958

Herbert, Frank: Dune 1965

Hoban, Russell: Riddley Walker 1980

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World 1931

Jackson, Shirley: The Haunting of Hill House 1959

Joyce, Graham: The Tooth Fairy 1998

Kay, Guy Gavriel: Tigana 1990

Keyes, Daniel: Flowers For Algernon 1966

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Dispossesed 1974

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Left Hand of Darkness 1969

Lem, Stanislaw: Solaris 1961

Lovecraft, H.P.: The Dunwich Horror and Others 1963

Lynch, Scott: The Lies of Locke Lamora 2006

MacDonald, George: The Princess and The Goblin 1872

Martin, George R.R.: A Song of Ice and Fire 1996-Present

Matheson, Richard: I Am Legend 1954

McCarthy, Cormac: The Road 2006

McDonald, Ian: River of Gods 2004

Meynard, Yves: The Book of Knights 1998

Mieville, China: Perdido Street Station 2001

Miller Jr., Walter M.: A Canticle For Leibowitz 1960

Moore, Christopher: Lamb 2002

Morgan, Richard K.: Black Man 2007

Newman, Kim: Anno Dracula 1992

Niven, Larry: Ringworld 1970

Orwell, George: 1984 1949

Pangborn, Edgar: Davy 1964

Poe, Edgar Allan: Tales of Mystery and Imagination 1837-1845

Pohl, Frederick: Gateway 1977

Pohl, Frederick and Kornbluth, C.M: The Space Merchants 1953

Powers, Tim: The Anubis Gates 1983

Powers, Tim: The Fisher King Trilogy 1992-1997

Priest, Christopher: The Glamour 1985

Robinson, Kim Stanley: The Mars Trilogy 1992-1996

Russ, Joanna: The Female Man 1975

Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein 1818

Shephard, Lucius: The Best of Lucius Shephard 2008

Shippey, Tom: The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories 1992

Silverberg, Robert: The Book of Skulls 1972

Silverberg, Robert: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One 1970

Simak, Clifford D.: City 1952

Simmons, Dan: Hyperion 1990

Smith, Cordwainer: The Rediscovery of Man 1993

Smith, Michael Marshall: Only Forward 1998

Stapeldon, Olaf: Odd John 1935

Stephenson, Neal: Snow Crash 1992

Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1886

Stewart, George R.: Earth Abides 1949

Straub, Peter: Ghost Story 1979

Sturgeon, Theodore: More Than Human 1953

Tiptree Jr., James: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever 1990

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Lord of The Rings 1954-1955

Vance, Jack: The Jack Vance Treasury 2007

Verne, Jules: Journey To The Centre of the Earth 1864

Vonnegut, Kurt: Cat's Cradle 1963

Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughter-House Five 1969

Wells, H.G.: The Time Machine 1895

Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray 1891

Wolfe, Gene: The Wizard Knight 2004

Wolfe, Gene: The Book of The New Sun 1980-1983

Wyndham, John: The Day of The Triffids 1951

Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos 1957

Zelazny, Roger: Damnation Alley 1969

Zelazny, Roger: Lord of Light 1967

For more information about any of these titles: Canada, USA, Europe. There you'll find hundreds of reviews and you can get used copies of most of these books for a handful of pennies.

Love him or hate him, these lists make me realize how many authors and novels I have yet to sample and enjoy.

More, you say? Well, you can always tackle Stego's recommended 500-something titles in this extended list. It should keep even the most avid readers occupied for a little while. . .

18 commentaires:

Myshkin said...

Glad to see "Stranger in a Strange Land" make this list. Most people seem to dislike Heinlein, and are unwilling to admit to liking any of his work other than "Starship Troopers", which is nowhere near as good as "Stranger in a Strange Land".

I can't say that I'm surprised to see Hesse's "Magister Ludi" didn't make this list. People seem to forget that Hesse's masterpiece was indeed a far future fantasy.

I also think that the inclusion of "The Master and Magarita" suggests a definition of SFF that would include the Magical Realists, and yet see no Rushdie, Saramago, Grass, or Garcia Marquez on this list.

Ok, I'm done throwing rocks now :)

Janet said...

I'm a little appalled to see how few I have read. I doubt if I've read 25 of them. But pleased to see that I've read a few of the great masterpieces.

Magister Ludi? I confess, I wouldn't have thought of putting it here either. But it's an interesting idea.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've actually read a lot of these - and some when they were first published (Asimov The Gods Themselves!) Er, now that you've a clue as to how old I must be...

Usually Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon is on a "100 best" list, but nice to see Black Man/Thirteen is there.

Anonymous said...

uhm....Steven Erikson!

ediFanoB said...

A lot of SF books on the list which I read a long time ago.

I read 15 of these books and another 3 are on my shelf.

I read those lists just for pleasure.

Adam Whitehead said...

It's an interesting list. I preferred the David Langford one I posted almost simultaneously with Stego's because he has a cut-off date. I think declaring less than three years after publication that THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA is one of the greatest, genre-defining works of all time is excessive (especially if you have that on there but not Abraham's LONG PRICE). A work needs time to mature and be reconsidered.

Otherwise, very solid.

And Stego is infamously critical of Steven Erikson. I'm waiting with bated breath for his assesment of the later books in the series, which I know he was talked into reading by Scott Bakker.

Anonymous said...

Bakker and Martin but no Erikson? That's strange (because he's at least as good as those two, imho).

Mike said...

I would also recommend Kenneth Bulmer's "Dray Prescot on Kregen" series. IMHO, it's the best planetary adventure series out there. An absolute shame the series is out of print these days.

It's also sad that planetary adventure series get no real respect these days.

GoodOldSatan said...

I've only read about 35 of these -- and some of those don't belong (but am glad to have a list of potentials).
Skipping Jordan adds credibility.
Skipping Erikson does not.
While I know it's harder to trim the list than to build it, I'd make room for:
Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
McDevitt's "A Talent for War"
Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy and
Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" series

Ryan said...

I'm surprised to see Locke Lamora on there as well - I loved the book a lot, but I don't entirely understand how it measures up to some of these. I do expect that, if the series continues successfully, it will have some kind of an impact on the genre, but its inclusion makes leaving off - like Adam said - Abraham especially - seem strange. And even if you aren't a huge fan of Erikson, which I don't entirely understand, missing Cook seems like a mistake, as that has had a pretty direct influence on a lot of the darker fantasy we are getting now.

William Lexner said...

Just to explain myself, this is my recommended reading list.


If you read these 100 books you will have a basic understanding, Frankenstein until today, of SFF.

These are eminently readable books.


Steven Erikson, as well as being an incredibly nice fellow, is a talented writer in many respects. That said, the Malazan books are perhaps the best Dungeons and Dragons books ever written, and little more.

Anonymous said...

I'll take those "Best Dungeons and Dragons books ever written" over anything on that list. Besides, Dungeons and Dragons type books imo are a main part of the Fantasy reading experience. Great work on the list though, that takes a lot of work to compile.

Janet said...

That said, the Malazan books are perhaps the best Dungeons and Dragons books ever written, and little more.

Well said. I read The Gardens of the Moon recently and that was precisely my reaction. Lots of characters, lots of plot, intricate world-building, and all the depth of a board game. I had to force my way through the first half of it before it grabbed me at all. If I hadn't paid money for it, I probably would have given up. Yet the man has real talent. The canvas was too vast to allow for any depth, and shallow just doesn't do it for me.

KP said...

Always like to read these lists and compare with my own.

I have read quite a few of those on the list and agree with most. Erikson should definitely be there and I liked Abraham and Abercrombie better than Lynch.

Janet - I would not base Erikson's work on Gardens, read Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice and then decide...

Others missing (IMHO) - David Gemmell, Peter F. Hamilton, Robert E. Howard, CJ Cherryh.

Tristan said...

I love lists like this,because they do expose me to many works I would otherwise miss. As far as omissions or controversial adds, I could care less. This is a my favorite list,put forth with no real criteria other than he really liked the work and feels he is qualified to make a 100 best list. I have been to his blog, and while I am impressed with the depth of his knowledge of the genre, I take his opinion with a grain of salt, at the very least due to the eye-rolling level of hyperbole in his critiques. Anyway, I look forward to getting to this list and maybe even going into the 500 list.

Shane said...

The Malazan books have no depth? Maybe I'm reading a different series.

Dream Girlzzz said...

Man, that's quite a list. With many oldies I'll have to track down for sure.

Thanks for posting this!

William Lexner said...

Hey! Eye-rolling hyperbole is a LOT of fun!


If this makes any of you read some of the wonderful books on that list, then this was a worthwhile endeavor.

And if I exposed this exposed you to something like Ken Grimwood's Replay or Graham Joyce's Tooth Fairy, well.. you can buy me a beer at some future Worldcon.