In order to offset the inferiority complex generated by other “best” lists that I had little or no experience with, consider please NPR’s new list of 100 Fantasy and SciFi novels. What’s your count? How far down before you hit one you’ve not read? What do you think of the quality of the list? I’ll compile my response and add it in the comments.
As someone who does not like Science Fiction or Fantasy, I was surprised that I had read 14 books on the list, Though I was surprised to find some of them classified as such. Animal Farm? Also, I was surprised that the Harry Potter series is not on there.
I’ve read the titles that would keep me on the cusp and not really qualify me as a serious Fantasy/SciFi person. Should I decide to decisively plunge into these worlds in earnest, ?s this a good guide to use to get oriented whenever I pass the Fan/SF stacks at both the library and the bookstore?
I think it was Harlan Ellison (not on the list, possibly because he’s essentially a short story writer) who coined the term “speculative fiction.”
I was surprised to find that I have read seven of the top 10 and 13 of the top 20 — most of my sci-fi reading, or maybe even ALL of it, was done before I reached age 22 or so. I was happy to see that Hitchhiker’s ranked so highly. Definitely a big influence on my high school self. I still never go anywhere without my towel.
The HP series is without question a striking omission. There are books on the list I’ve read that are not as good as Rowling’s work.
I definitely cut my adolescent teeth on genre fiction. In fact, I’ve been rereading a few of the books that I fell in love with in middle school. I understand what appealed to me about them then, but they don’t have the same impact now (a telling attribute of HP: it speaks to me as an adult, where P. Anthony, not so much).
Jeff, you’re better read in the top 10 and 20 than I am by a book or three. I remember clearly the kid on my bus that handed me the Guide and told me I needed to read it. He was, of course, correct.
Overall, I’ve read completely 26 of the entries, read some portion of another 5, own and have on my to-read shelf 7 more, and have seen movies based on 5 of the remainder (each of these lists is exclusive).
Marc, the list is an interesting place to start the conversation about what to read, but I wouldn’t attend to the ranking. I think some of the books further down the list would appeal more than some further up.
Some of the books are regulars on high school reading lists, so I will ignore those. Of the balance, these I would unashamedly recommend to adults:
Tolkien (duh, right?)
The Martian Chronicles
Nueromancer (though I liked his Pattern Recognition more)
The Dark Tower (though the first couple of books can be slow in spots)
The Time Machine
Contact (much better than the movie, though I liked it)
Rendezvous with Rama
To me, those are the top tier. There are several others on the list I love, but some of those fall into the Sub Prime category we have discussed before, and others just require a greater love of genre fiction to appreciate.
Oh, and one further note. The library is a fine option, but as a second choice, borrow from me rather than go to the bookstore. I’ve got better than a third of the list here.
I was astonished to find that I had read 26 of them. Mr. Norrell & Jonathan Strange is one of my favorite books ever. There’s supposed to be a movie coming out.
Norrell and Strange is one I started on audiobook. Oddly, I think it’s probably better in paint. Something about the pacing, I suspect.
A former GHP student posted this:
Fun. I just started Game of Thrones, figuring I didn’t need to be one of those people who were desperately trying to read all seven HP books because they suddenly realized they’d been snobbish jerks. Of course, the author writes so slowly that I think I’m good on this one.
Since this post, I’ve been deliberately tic’ing books off this list. Thus far…
Forever War (Vietnam commentary, anyone?)
Fahrenheit 451 (had seen the play, but not read previously)
Nine Princes in Amber
The Princess Bride (currently reading)
Most of these I would recommend. Princess Bride is fantastic.