Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy


Top Science Fiction and Fantasy
[ss = short stories; a number (1) denotes position in a series]
** - latest additions

These are my favorite books in all literature, especially at the top level, like the top 100 - several of these authors (Clarke, Card, Le Guin, Wolfe, Bester) should have Nobel prizes for literature, they are better than half of those winners. I increased this list beyond 100 to list all those I'd recommend - just missing the cutoff is Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land; though famous, he has much better books, without "grok".

Cover of the original 1953 hardcover
which sold 210,000 copies in 2 months


1. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
2. The Claw of the Conciliator (2) by Gene Wolfe
3. Red Prophet (2) by Orson Scott Card
4. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
5. The Shadow of the Torturer (1) by Gene Wolfe
6. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
7. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
8. The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker
9. Ender's Game (1) by Orson Scott Card
10. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
11. A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg
12. Floating Worlds by Cecilia Holland
13. Seventh Son (1) by Orson Scott Card
14. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1) by Arthur C. Clarke
15. The Telling by Ursula K. le Guin
16. The Long, Loud Silence by Wilson Tucker
17. Starburst (ss) by Alfred Bester
18. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
19. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
20. Gateway (1) by Frederick Pohl


21. SF Hall of Fame, Volume 1 (ss anthology)
22. In the Ocean of Night by Gregory Benford
23. Red Mars (1) by Kim S. Robinson
24. The Space Merchants by C.M. Kornbluth & F. Pohl
25. The Persistence of Vision (ss) by John Varley
26. Island of Dr. Death & Other Stories (ss) by Gene Wolfe
27. Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
28. Jog Rummage by Grahame Wright (his only book, published posthumously)
29. SF Hall of Fame, Volume 2-B (ss anthology)
30. The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley
31. Hiero's Journey by Sterling E. Lanier
32. The Wind's Twelve Quarters (ss) by Ursula K. Le Guin
33. Missing Man by Katherine MacLean
34. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
35. Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh
36. Best of Fritz Leiber, The (ss) by Fritz Leiber
37. A Mirror For Observors by Edgar Pangborn
38. The Last Starship From Earth by John Boyd
39. The Haunted Stars by Edmund Hamilton
40. Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle
41. An Alien Heat (1) by Michael Moorcock
42. Titus Groan (1) Mervyn Peake
43. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds**
44. Green Mars (2) by Kim S. Robinson
45. A Few Last Words (ss) by James Sallis
46. Pavane by Keith Roberts
47. Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
48. The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth
49. Hyperion (1) by Dan Simmons
50. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
51. Sundog by B.N. Ball
52. To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1) by Philip José Farmer
53. Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
54. Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
55. The Unconquered Country by Geoff Ryman
56. American Gods by Neil Gaiman**
57. The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
58. Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch
59. Dragon's Egg by Robert Forward
60. The Man In the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
61. Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
62. Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin
63. Slan by A.E. Van Vogt
64. The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg
65. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
66. Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny
67. Mayflies by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
68. Macrolife by George Zebrowski
69. Startide Rising (1) by David Brin
70. Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant
71. Slow River by Nicola Griffeth**
72. Several Perceptions by Angela Carter
73. Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
74. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
75. Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
76. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
77. Neverness by David Zindell**
78. The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May
79. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin
80. Grass by Sheri S. Tupper**
81. Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon
82. The Fall of Hyperion (2) by Dan Simmons
83. Legends From the End of Time (4) (ss) by Michael Moorcock
84. Light by M. John Harrison**
85. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
86. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
87. The Godmakers by Frank Herbert
88. The Sparrow (1) by Mary Doria Russell
89. Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
90. The Martian Chronicles (ss)by Ray Bradbury
91. A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
92. Triplanetary (1) by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith
93. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
94. Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard
95. The Fellowship of the Ring (1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
96. Timescape by Gregory Benford
97. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
98. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (this became the movie "Blade Runner", a title bought from an unrelated novel)
99. San Diego Lightfoot Sue (ss) by Tom Reamy
100. Michaelmas by Algis Budrys
101. Double Star by Robert E. Heinlein
102. The Cassini Division by Ken McLeod**
103. Involution Ocean by Bruce Sterling
104. Blind Voices by Tom Reamy
105. The Best of C.M. Kornbluth (ss) by C.M. Kornbluth
106. The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy
107. Nine Princes in Amber (1) by Roger Zelazny
108. Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith
109. Good Neighbors & Other Strangers (ss) by Edgar Pangborn
110. The Compass Rose (ss) by Ursula K. le Guin
111. The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien
112. The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
113. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
114. E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet by William Kotzwinkle
115. Walkers On the Sky by David J. Lake
116. Living Way Out by Wyman Guin
117. Speaker for the Dead (2) by Orson Scott Card
118. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
119. Chronopolis (ss) by J.G. Ballard
120. Vermilion Sands (ss) by J.G. Ballard
121. The Best of Robert Silverberg (ss) by Robert Silverberg
122. Little, Big by John Crowley
123. The Voices of Time (ss) by J.G. Ballard
124. Children of God (2) by Mary Doria Russell
125. Nine Hundred Grandmothers (ss) by R.A. Lafferty
126. City by Clifford D. Simak
127. The Leeshore by Robert Reed
128. The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson
129. The City and the City by China Mieville**
130. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card
131. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon


Series with titles making the list
Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker (aka Hatrack River) consists of: (1) Seventh Son (2) Red Prophet (3) Prentice Alvin (4) Alvin, Journeyman
Orson Scott Card's Ender's Series consists of: (1) Ender's Game (2) Speaker for the Dead (3) Xenocide

Gene Wolfe's Urth of the New Sun consists of: (1) The Shadow of the Torturer (2) The Claw of the Conciliator (3) The Sword of the Lictor (4) The Citadel of the Autarch

Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time consists of: (1) An Alien Heat (2) The Hollow Lands (3) The End of All Songs (4) Dancers at the End of Time (ss)

Dan Simmon's Hyperion consists of: (1) Hyperion (2) The Fall of Hyperion

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy is (1) Red Mars (2) Green Mars (3) Blue Mars

Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy is (1) Titus Groan (2) Gormenghast (3) Titus Alone [PBS made an excellent mini-series of this, a 10-yr project of the producer's]

[I thought both Frank Herbert's Dune series, and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy to be overrated, each is long and boring in comparison to the series above, each goes downhill after the beginning. Filmed versions are much better: Peter Jackson's Rings Trilogy, and the SF Channel's Dune mini-series are both excellent, more rewarding than the reading.]

Arthur C. Clarke was the greatest visionary - he wrote "2001" for Stanley Kubrick because he couldn't film "Childhood's End" with limited film technology of the time; he also co-created radar during WW2, and was the first to predict global telecom satellites.

Gene Wolfe is perhaps the best writer stylistically (a true "writer's writer"), Ursula K. Le Guin probably the best overall and most humane novelist, Orson Scott Card (a former Shakespearean) is the best storyteller, and Alfred Bester was the most innovative, but alas, he wrote the least.

Philip K. Dick's nightmarish vision of a bleak, violent police state future has unfortunately been the most prophetic. His stories became the films "Blade Runner" and "Minority Report", and recently, "Adjustment Bureau", with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, perhaps the most like Dick of all the films as it plays with normal material reality.

Anthony Burgess' now classic "A Clockwork Orange", was autobiographical, an exorcism of a true event that happened to him and his wife. Later editions have a much-needed language glossary appendix, for all you malchicks and devotchkas, viddy it well, it's real horrorshow. The entire book is told through the mind of Alex, so all the syntax mirrors his dialogue, trying to read I got a pain in me gulliver.

6 comments:

askcherlock May 15, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

Your lists are so impressive. I used to read a book a week, but like some, blogging has intervened. When I saw the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath on your list I was thrilled. It had such a strong impact on me.

If you like Truman Capote you may enjoy reading Conversations with Capote. I read it years ago, underlined many of his candid quips and bring the book out now and then to revisit an old friend.

Albee was just superb and I don't think any play can match Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The film was excellent too, and that is a rarity. Such brilliant acting.

Thanks for this blog. It is an insight to your intellect and I so enjoyed reading it.

Jose Sinclair May 19, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

thanks a lot! I've been logging my books read since age 12 - first in hand-written lists, then a typewriter, now an Access database! so my book lists have evolved with the technology of the last half century.. too funny isn't it, now that hardly anyone reads printed material in this era.

Unfortunately, due to blogging I'm reading much less myself, but have a library of about 1000 unread books that will be my next 1000 - guess I'm optimistic! the first 1000 took 40 yrs! lol..

Hope to see you at the film blogs next! - Jose

Farrukh Iftikhar Siddiqui May 28, 2009 at 5:43 AM  

Great job done by you. Amazing. keep it up. MIND BLOWING.

JasOnizeRs June 30, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

Nice Post great.,KeEp it Up.GOOD DAY!!

ellen russell April 25, 2011 at 2:20 PM  

This is a polite invitation to join Sterling Lanier's new FB page created by his family. Thank you- what a great site !!

Jose Sinclair May 2, 2011 at 10:45 AM  

Thanks a lot for the info on the Sterling Lanier site.. he was a great writer with a vivid imagination and the gift of sparkling, colorful prose.. he was also 'ahead of his time'.. hopefully they'll eventually make a faithful film of HIERO'S JOURNEY..
.. Lawrence..

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