Sunday, August 14, 2011

NPR's Top 100 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books

A trend has been circulating the sci-fi/fantasy blogosphere regarding NPR's new list of the top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books, and I figured I'd follow suite and put in my brief two cents.  I think, for the most part, its a pretty accurate representation of the genre(s).  I've read around half of the books listed (as you'll see below), and half a dozen more are literally sitting on my shelf at home, waiting to reach to top of my "to-read" list.  Not to mention the other score or so that I've always meant to read but haven't gotten around to it.  Anyway, I'm glad to see Neil Gaiman well-repsresented (I think he might be one of the most important sci-fi/fantasy minds of our time), and some newer authors as well (Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss).  I'm actually surprised that Perdido is China Mieville's only contribution; he's one of the newer voices in the genre that, I think, has quite a lot to offer.  Fantasy is undergoing a fairly serious change of direction, and I think people like Mieville and Gaiman are at the head of that revolution.

Anyway, in the end its just another list.  And like I said, its a good representation of the genre.  A better representation than other lists I've seen?  No, not really.  But not much worse, either.  

And because I'm a sucker for lists :-), I'll provide the following interpretation of said list:

Bolded - books and series I've read before
Bolded books in red - are series that I've started but haven't finished yet

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide the the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert
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
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
20. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
22. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
23. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
24. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
26. The Stand by Stephen King
27. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
28. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
29. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman
31. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
32. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
36. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
38. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys
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
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
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 and Jerry Pournelle
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 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


  1. I think your blog is going to inspire me to start reading/writing fantasy again.

    I have read very few on this list, but there's a few on here you haven't read that I want to strongly recommend:

    --The Left Hand of Darkness. Probably the best Sci-Fi book I have ever read.
    --The Farseer Trilogy. A great trilogy. She's written a few other trilogies in that same world, and frankly, I think they get better and better. She's working on another trilogy in that world now, and I can't wait for her to finish it. (My favorite is the second trilogy, The Liveship Traders) Her Second Son trilogy fell flat though, as far as I am concerned.
    --Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel. SO SO awesome. About halfway through the book I was convinced the mythology she'd created was real.
    --The Riftwar Saga. Not genius by any means, but a favorite as a kid and when I reread them last year, I still like them a lot.

    Some series that should be on the list:
    The Chronicles of Prydain (Llyod Alexander)
    The Dark Is Rising (Susan Cooper)
    A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
    Maybe these books aren't really the best ones ever (though, I think they might be) but they were formative ones for me growing up, and so are ones I think of as "classic" and "the best."

    Also...I am going to steal this post.

  2. Skoticus! Thanks for the recommendations! Left Hand of Darkness and Farseer have always occupied varying spots on my list, but I'll have to bump them up further. And I hadn't heard of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, really, until this list and your recommendation, so I'm DEFINITELY going to have to look into that asap.

    I definitely agree about The Dark is Rising (one of my favorite series when I was younger...and now) deserving a spot on the list. However, while I enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, and I do think its a pretty formative work for the genre, I'm not entirely convinced it belongs on the list. I've never read Prydain--I'll have to pick that one up as well.

    And definitely feel free to steal this post, as well as feel inspired to read/write more sci-fi/fantasy! I'm all about that. :-)

  3. I've got Jonathan Strange, if you want to borrow it. I could bring it to training next week if you want.
    Prydain is children's fantasy, 5 books, all very brief. And, BYU Library just acquired Lloyd Alexander's office, so you can see a recreation of the place where those great books were written!

    And I agree about the Wrinkle in Time. Even as I kid I realized it was a bit too didactic. Good, but probably not Top 100. Maybe Top 200, though.