Friday, August 26, 2011

Book List & Bitch

The NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with the ones I have read in bold:

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To 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 (I first read this before it became trendy, thankyouverymuch.)
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
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (I've read two of these.  Do I bold some of the words?)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. 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
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 (Ah, this isn't a novel.  It's a short story.  I read it a couple of times in junior high; it was in our literature book in 6th grade.)
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 & 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 (I've read a few Drizzt novels, but nowhere near all of them.)
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 &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

So, I have 10/100, which looks pretty pathetic.  But you know what?  I've got a beef with this list.  A big 'un.  See, I read an ass ton of fantasy, and a smaller amount of science fiction.  I have read in the sci-fi/fantasy genre almost exclusively--with some side-tracks into horror--for the past decade or more.  The website io9 actually linked to the nomination/voting form when this list was being put together, and I had to shut the tab without contributing.  Why?  Because they purposely excluded a huge portion of the fantasy genre.  I don't recall offhand what the specific criteria were, but I do remember it wound up excluding damn near everything Laurell K Hamilton has ever written.  Urban fantasy was pretty much excluded altogether (I don't remember if it was a specific exclusion or merely a de facto one); you'll note that Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series is represented, but the absolutely fantastic Harry Dresden novels aren't.  That right there makes me question it.  Also, God knows I love me some Neil Gaiman, but there are twice as many of his novels as of Terry Pratchett's.  WTF? 

Then there's the other big problem with this sort of list.  They're always presented as though they grant some sort of literary cred when really?  Not so much.  Look, I've read one Margaret Atwood novel to date.  It's because I was forced to, and it made me regret literacy.  On a similar note, although I've read both 1984 and Animal Farm, I didn't willingly read either, and I honestly thought both sucked.  On the other hand, as noted above, there's quite a bit of excellent literature that just isn't on the list.  Martin's work is fantastic, of course, but what of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series.  Too pop-lit?  She tackles some very weighty themes in those novels, from being gay in a disapproving society to misappropriation of religion in order to maintain political control.  Oh, and while we're at it, what about Jennifer Roberson?  No Chronicles of the Cheysuli, no Sword Dancer series?  C'mon, how can you dis Tiger and Del?

Moreover, there are a good many authors represented on the list whose work I have read, though not necessarily what's listed there.  I strongly prefer the short works of both Isaac Asimov and Marion Zimmer Bradley (who, frankly, was most in her element as an editor; her Sword and Sorceress series is really a must-read for any woman interested in the genre).  And, while I'm a huge Stephen King fan, I don't think either The Stand or the Gunslinger novels are among his best.  (Then again, I think his unabashed horror novels are his best, and horror is like the bastard stepchild of the genre; even though it deals with the supernatural in a similar fashion to fantasy especially, it's always kinda stuck off on its own.)

I won't complain how the list skews toward the older novels; classics are classics because they stand the test of time, after all.  (Clarke's 2001 novels do, even though they're now somewhat outdated.)  I do find it somewhat bemusing how many of the contemporary novels don't really seem to belong.  I was never under the impression that The Time Traveler's Wife was ever really considered sci-fi/fantasy; to the best of my knowledge it was marketed as a mainstream literary novel.  Likewise, I recall seeing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell marketed as more of a mainstream novel as well; one which leaned toward horror, if anything.  The inclusion of a handful of very commercial novels strikes me as apropos of nothing.

I should probably put some thought into a shorter, admittedly biased, list of must-read fantasy novels/series.  (I'll leave the sci-fi to RobertaX or Tam; they're much better versed in it than I.)  This will take some thought...


peter d said...

The list did its job. Make people talk about something which really means nothing. Know what I mean? There wasn't much of anything from the authors I used to read in sci fi/fantasy. (I don't read it anymore) Mark me down for #67 and 99, and that's about it. Oh well.

Spikessib said...

Why does a fantasy list have to be shorter? I know Laurell Hamilton will be on it, but please include Tanya Huff. Oh, and Laura Anne Gilman. And I'll stop now or I'll have an entire list in your comments.

Spikessib said...

I know you'll list Laurell K. Hamilton, but please also add Tanya Huff. Oh, and Laura Anne Gilman. And I'll shut up now or I'll have a whole list in your comments.

Spikessib said...

Oops, sorry, I think I double commented. Please skip one, or both, thanks. Bad day around here.


Sabra said...

I got to the one saying to skip after I'd already approved the other two, sorry. And I'll be keeping my list short because I don't even want to pretend it's supposed to be anything close to comprehensive, and because I know I'll forget someone, kinda like I forgot Tanya Huff (how the hell did I forget Tanya Huff?).

Ruth said...

Or Patty Briggs.....Lackey was on the previous list but apparently didn't make the final cut, go figure, plus I can't figure out how Bujold only rated #59....

Megan said...

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys (Ah, this isn't a novel. It's a short story. I read it a couple of times in junior high; it was in our literature book in 6th grade.)

This is a novel. Many Junior High School literature books have excerpts of it, or a Readers Digest version, but the full novel is fantastic. It's not long, but it is well worth the read.