Top 50 Sci-Fi Books

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by The Master™, May 11, 2012.

  1. kennychaffin

    kennychaffin Man of Ways and Means

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    Just for comparison purposes, here is my top 10 SF books:

    Top 10 SF:
    In no particular order after the first two.

    Dhalgren - Samueal R. Delany
    Foundation Trilogy - Issac Asimov
    Dune - Frank Herbert
    City - Clifford D. Simak
    Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
    The Road - Cormac McCarthy
    Ringworld - Larry Niven
    The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
    Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin
    The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood
     
  2. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    With the exception of The Road, and possibly The Handmaid's Tale, kenny, that list of yours would be fairly typical of a list 20-30 years ago.

    And see: Dhalgren! Just goes to show...

    Perhaps I should give it another read.... ;)

    Mark
     
  3. kennychaffin

    kennychaffin Man of Ways and Means

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    Ha! Well, the good ones never get old. :p
     
  4. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    LOL.

    But it does suggest that for a book to be regarded as a classic it needs to have been around (and read) for a while.

    I'm not sure those last three would be on my list in 30 years time....

    Mark
     
  5. kennychaffin

    kennychaffin Man of Ways and Means

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    Well, yeah, inherent in the definition of "A Classic" is a book that stands the test of time (e.g. is still relevant to readers over time).
     
  6. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Yeah, classic means OLD. Nothing less than 10 years old should be called "classic".

    psik
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  7. Quark Cognition

    Quark Cognition Registered User

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    Although I've read more than 350 science fiction novels, I never do well on the "top" lists. These are the only ones I've read on this particular list:

    33. SF Masterworks: Rendezvous With Rama
    32. Zones Of Thought: A Fire Upon The Deep
    30. SF Masterworks: Ubik
    29. Fahrenheit 451
    19. Ender's Game
    17. Foundation
    11. Ringworld
    9. Childhood's End
    8. The Man In The High Castle
    4. Neuromancer
    1. Dune

    Neuromancer was the only one listed above that I disliked. I have no idea why so many people love Neuromancer; it was not written well. I only read it because one of my cousins insisted it was good.

    Ubik was the first novel I read by Philip K. Dick. It was recommended to me by the same cousin that recommended Neuromancer. I don't understand how someone can simultaneously like Ubik and Neuromancer; the latter makes no sense and the former is pure genius.

    Rendezvous with Rama was for a long time one of my favorite science fiction novels. After having read the Orbitsville trilogy, though, my opinion has changed. Rama is not all that great when compared to Orbitsville, mainly due to the superior characterization. However, the sequels to Rama did improve upon characterization.
     
  8. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Damn straight! And there are SO MANY websites that quote the first line from that book. DUH?

    http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/12/some-days-bears-on-top.asp
    http://butdoesitfloat.com/The-sky-above-the-port-was-the-color-of-television-tuned-to-a-dead
    http://www.metafilter.com/93348/Its...a-little-girl-petting-an-imaginary-tiger-sigh

    Google says 500,000 results.

    WTF!

    psik
     
  9. Hitmouse

    Hitmouse Registered User

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  10. kennychaffin

    kennychaffin Man of Ways and Means

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    Agreed. Though it is a bit anachronistic in the analog TV reference. And not nearly as good as the opening line of Varley's Steel Beach. ;)
     
  11. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I am not OBJECTING to it as an opening line I just don't see what is so great about it that it deserves so many hits on the net and the entire book isn't that good anyway. Gibbson admitted that he didn't know squat about computers when he wrote it and it shows.

    psik
     
  12. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Hard to take seriously.

    A list that includes M. John Harrison's Centauri Device, the author's own least-favorite work, and omits Signs of Life, Light, and Nova Swing (not to mention The Committed Men) is hard to take seriously.

    So is the lack of anything by Jack Vance or Brian Stableford or Cordwainer Smith.

    There are also quite a few books there by popular authors that don't belong on any "Best" list, though "Top" is a category a deal more flexible. But if it is, as stated, "Books You Must Read", Holy moly, what a joke.
     
  13. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    I feel a little like KatG saying this, but apparently they are focusing on catagory s.f., and so no Brave New World or 1984 or War of the Newts, etc. (Cat's Cradle is sorta, kinda an exception. Maybe.)

    That aside, it interests me that from this list you could claim that relatively little noteworthy s.f. has been published since about 1990. The last three entries seem like a stab at correcting that, but their positioning makes them look very much like a stab at balancing the list.

    I know most of these by reputation and while I'd argue that Ender's Game is not as good as its reputation, it has an enormous reputation and has been an influence on subsequent writers as well as drawing in scads of young readers to s.f. Ditto Neuromancer: whatever its quality as s.f., it had a huge impact on readers who did not normally read s.f. and so brought readers into the genre. And the list includes a few titles that probably deserve discussion -- Pavane, Inverted World -- but would ordinarily be overlooked by most listers.

    It's an interesting list and I bet we've all seen far worse.


    Randy M.
     
  14. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    Wow, I just noticed they picked Brin's Sundiver instead of Startide Rising. I have never met anyone who preferred Sundiver - it is universally considered his weak first novel and the debate is usually whether you should bother to read it or not before starting the award-winning Startide Rising. That is a big slip up.
     
  15. Mostlyharmless

    Mostlyharmless Registered User

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    I prefer Sundiver. Of course it helps to know enough optics to be able to guess how a one eyed individual might be able to estimate distance and how that might relate to holograms.
     
  16. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm always quite amused by the outrage such lists generate: whilst there are books I'd choose to replace some of those chosen, and some authors I'd put higher/lower on the list, can't say I'm personally passionate enough about it to throw my things up in the air, metaphorically speaking.

    We're not sure of the reasons for the choices: personal preference, popularity, award winning status, reputation, influence on the genre or whatever: which is why I tend to see these things as a list. Ultimately they're a list based on some sort of choice.

    Yes: I prefer Startide Rising to Sundiver, but Sundiver is an introduction to the author. Cat's Cradle I've read but wasn't too impressed with it. Others love it, same as Slaughterhouse-Five.

    Pavane was OK, but in my opinion not fantastic. Just because I say so, doesn't make it so.

    They're a list for discussion, not definitive, IMO. As Randy said, not the best but not the worst.

    Mark
     
  17. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    And yes, I knew when I posted that that several people would post their preference for Sundiver, just like it has taken every ounce of control I have to not defend Neuromancer for the 100th time to the same people using the same arguments. :D
     
  18. heretics fork

    heretics fork Curmudgeon

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    I enjoyed Cat's Cradle sir, therefore I demand satisfaction.

    *searches for slappin' glove*
     
  19. Hobbit

    Hobbit Administrator Staff Member

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    LOL. Apologies, heretic: see what I mean?

    Totally accept that others may like what I do not, and vice versa: our tastes sometimes will therefore differ.

    But I'm sure we can agree to disagree, on this at least. Clearly you have the better (though clearly misguided) taste. ;)

    Perhaps, instead, we can have a think about what has been published since the 1990's that's worthy of inclusion. Randy feels that the list is rather thin on such books.

    Mark
     
  20. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    On Basilisk Station. Definitely. It's not a great book as such, but I think it needs to be on there. I'd also commit heresy (pun intended) and go for the first Horus Heresy book by Dan Abnett (Horus Rising? I've forgotten the name) as that series has seen a *lot* of success and praise.