November 13th, 2010, 03:04 AM
Best SF novels of the last 40 years?
So I'm at Novacon, and meeting Brian Aldiss and Iain M Banks and Ken MacLeod and a host of others (it is tough sometimes! ).
It is their 40th convention: the longest continuous SF Con in the UK (I think!)
As expected, what has been asked is 'What are the Best SF novels since they started, in 1971?
Obviously we could do the general debate of 'What is Sf?' and 'What do we mean by 'best'?', but I thought I'd ask for your thoughts.
My choices (Though I bet I've forgotten something really obvious!) are:
1971 Ringworld Larry Niven (Hugo Winner)
1971 Tao Zero Poul Anderson
1985 Neuromancer William Gibson
1990 Hyperion Dan Simmons
1993 Domesday Book Connie Willis
1993 Red Mars Kim Stanley Robinson
1996 Stephen Baxter Voyage or The Time Ships (closest to Arthur C Clarke these days!)
I'm also thinking something by Peter Hamilton, Scalzi, Stross, Iain M Banks
and more recently possibly Rainbow's End, Windup Girl and/or City and the City.
But I'm digressing. I'll come back later and tell you what they thought: but for now, what do you think?
November 13th, 2010, 09:56 AM
I love these thread! I always grow my reading pile when they happen.
Ringworld, Tau Zero very good. I thought Hyperion was overrated.
Baxter good, Stross ok, Scalzi great (within old man universe).
Have not read Banks yet.
I imagine Pohl (Gateway) needs to be mentioned.
November 13th, 2010, 12:50 PM
My top ten with the pre-1970 removed:
A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
Hyperion, Dan Simmons
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Startide Rising, David Brin
Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Here are some more good ones (I think they are all post 70):
'The Forever War' - Haldeman
Integral Trees – Larry Niven
Hominids - Sawyer
The Mote in Gods Eye - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Doorways in the Sand – Zelazny
Altered Carbon – Morgan
November 13th, 2010, 02:20 PM
What was on the lists of Aldiss, Banks, et al?
post 1971 is curiously limiting.
Vermilion Sands (1971) JG Ballard
Dancers at the End of Time (1972-6) Michael Moorcock
Vurt (1993) Jeff Noon
The Scar (2002) China Mieville
The Shadow of the Torturer (1980) Gene Wolfe
Araminta Station (1983) Jack Vance
An Iain M Banks
November 13th, 2010, 03:31 PM
Live Long & Suffer
I consider The Two Faces of Tomorrow by James P. Hogan to be better than Neuromancer.
November 13th, 2010, 09:31 PM
Webmaster, Great SF&F
Narrowing to ten is--obviously--very, very difficult. The list below was obtained in part by picking representative works from great authors whose entire oeuvre is competitive in any "top-10" listing. For example, M. John Harrison has several competitive works, from The Committed Men (which may not quite make the date deadline) through Nova Swing, and much the same is true of the others.
The list is simply alphabetical by author last name.
- Auster, Paul : In the Country of Last Things
- Chapman, Stepan : The Troika
- Crowley, John : The Deep
- Harrison, M. John : The Pastel City
- Lightman, Alan : Einstein's Dreams
- Piserchia, Doris : A Billion Days of Earth
- Smith, Cordwainer : Norstrilia
- Stableford, Brian : The Realms of Tartarus
- Vance, Jack : The Face
- Wolfe, Gene : The Shadow of the Torturer
November 14th, 2010, 04:06 AM
I assumed Norstrillia was pre-1971. Agree that should be in there. Would also have included Crowley's Little Big (arguably not SF) and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Last edited by Hitmouse; November 14th, 2010 at 10:39 AM.
November 14th, 2010, 04:25 AM
Interesting thoughts all. As this is a British fan group (admittedly scarily knowledgeable!), I suspect that the 'winners' may be British and fairly populist.
Will let you know later what they thought.
November 14th, 2010, 02:42 PM
Would The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy be one? For me it's one of the best sci-fi books I've read, not only because it's hilarious. I don't have much of an argument for it, but it's an incredibly popular book (and series) that's well integrated into modern culture - Many people could tell you what 42 is supposed to represent.
I'd also say Do Androids.. but I'm two/three years too late
November 14th, 2010, 04:28 PM
In no particular order... just as they come to me...
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven & Edward Lerner
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom
The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick
Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Last edited by Sparrow; November 14th, 2010 at 04:42 PM.
November 14th, 2010, 04:38 PM
Funnily enough, Dwagginz, Hitchiker was in the list. A couple of people I talked too also thought that.
OK: Over fifty authors and over 50 books suggested: the range was really too broad for a definitive list. And there was the often debated points: is it the book I enjoyed, the book that has had (or will have!) the most longevity or the book with the most influence in/out of the genre?
However the 'top three' were (in no real order!)
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
and the Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Next were (in no order)
Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks
Ringworld by Larry Niven
There was debate over the SF of Perdido, and some derision over Ringworld.
November 14th, 2010, 07:13 PM
Originally Posted by Hobbit
I would have hoped the derision over Ringworld ended in it being eliminated from the list.
An incredible concept novel, but not much of a story and some blindingly obvious science and engineering errors. I love many of his other 'Known Space' novels and while I remember Ringworld fondly it is not a book I ever recommend to people.
It's amazing Michael Crichton doesn't at least earn a honorable mention; his work was far more relevant and arguably more influential outside the genre than all the other writers combined.
November 14th, 2010, 09:03 PM
Webmaster, Great SF&F
A few random thoughts.
I agree that the Hitchhiker's Guide is worthy; given a few more than ten, it would have made my personal list. (Actually, looking back I see no mention of ten, or any other definite number, but that is what I, at least, limited myself to.) As to Norstrilia, the ISFDB shows the components of the book with earlier dates (presumably as separate short stories), but the book itself as 1975, and that is what I went by.
Other quite plausible choices mentioned by others include Ballard and possibly Dick (I have never been able to find in Dick what so many others seem to).
It was unclear (to me, anyway) that series could be included as well as individual books; on my list, I'd have made the Harrison entry be the "Viriconium" cycle, rather than a particular book from it (though it curiously morphs from sf toward fantasy as it goes), and the Vance be the "Demon Princes" saga.
As to the actual selections, I am somewhat taken aback. The Priest is a good choice, but the rest range from pretty good (but not "best of" a four-decade span) to rather ordinary. Nor would I even class the Mieville as "science fiction" at all, with overt magic and a demon from Hell in it. All in all, if that is some group's consensus view of the best science-fiction novels of the past 40 or so years, they and I are living in different realities.
November 14th, 2010, 10:48 PM
Funny, when I tried this, many of my top novels of all time turned out not to be in the last 40 years. Also, some of my favorites are part of a series, so not sure how they fit - I included them separately.
So here is my attempt at my favorites of the last 40 years in no particular order:
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus - Orson Scott Card
The Mote In God's Eye - Larry Niven/Jerry Pournell
Saturnalia - Grant Callin
A Lion On Tharthee - Grant Callin
Vorkosigan - Lois McMaster Bujold
Serrano/Suiza - Elizabeth Moon
Vatta - Elizabeth Moon
Riverworld - Philip Jose Farmer
Worldwar/Colonization - Harry Turtledove
Janisarries - Jerry Pournelle
WebMage - Kelly McCullough
Retrieval Artist - Kristine Katherine Rusch
November 14th, 2010, 11:34 PM
trolling > dissertation
Hmm...my Top 10 would have to be taken from the following longer list:
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow
Metaplanetary, by Tony Daniel
A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge
Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge
The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Falling Free, by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Uplift War, by David Brin
Marooned in Realtime, by Vernor Vinge
Neuromancer, by William Gibson
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams
Startide Rising, by David Brin
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Gateway, by Frederick Pohl
The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. LeGuin
For now, I'm gonna go with:
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
A Deepness in the Sky
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This, of course, is subject to change. For example, if I read my list again.