Sunday, November 04, 2007

Top 50 Science Fiction/Fantasy - 2007!

Nothing quite so restorative as a nice long list, and there’s been some demand, so we here at Stevereads unveil the latest version of our world-famous ‘Top 50 Science Fiction/Fantasy Novels of All Time.’ (a note to completists: this list supercedes all previous lists, by virtue of the fact that we here at Stevereads just keep getting smarter)

50. Norstrilia – Cordwainer Smith
49. The Pastel City – M. John Harrison
48. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
47. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
46. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
45. Fire Upon the Deep – Vernor Vinge
44. Dying Inside – Robert Silverberg
43. The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester
42. Gormenghast – Merwyn Peake
41. The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
40. The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula LeGuin
39. Up the Walls of the World – James Tiptree
38. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
37. Dune - Frank Herbert
36. Dracula – Bram Stoker
35. Silverlock – John Myers Myers
34. The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
33. The King of Elfland’s Daughter – Lord Dunsany
32. Neuromancer – William Gibson
31. The Orphan – Robert Stallman
30. Them Bones – Howard Waldrop
29. War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
28. Under the City of Angels – Jerry E. Brown
27. The Worm Ouroboros – E. R. Eddison
26. Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs
25. The Once and Future King – T. H. White
24. Elric of Melnibone – Michael Moorcock
23. Dhalgren – Samuel Delaney
22. Anno Dracula – Kim Newman
21. Perdido Street Station – China Mieville
20. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
19. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
18. The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
17. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
16. Slan – A. E. Van Gogt
15. Soldier, Ask Not – Gordon Dickson
14. The Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
13. Glory – Alfred Coppel
12. A Million Open Doors – John Barnes
11. Doorways in the Sand – Roger Zelazney
10. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang – Kate Wilhelm
9. The Winter Queen – Joan Vinge
8. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
7. Hyperion – Robert Simmons
6. A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs
5. Trio for Lute – R.A. MacAvoy
4. The Dragon Waiting – Robert Ford
3. Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter Miller
2. The Book of Merlyn – T.H. White
1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

As in previous versions of this list, there are some visible omissions. The journeyman work of such plodders as Asimov and Clarke continue to be absent, of course. Likewise we faced a problem with great writers – like Fritz Leiber, for instance – whose talents were almost always channeled into short stories (a top 50 short story list is in the offing). Another problem is of more recent vintage: fantasy authors don’t seem to write single, stand-alone novels anymore – most of the more talented writers are enmeshed in multi-volume open-ended mega-series that have no place on a list of this kind. So first-rate writers like Steve Erickson and R. Scott Baker find no mention here (a series list is another possibility).

But still! Even given unavoidable limitations, this list remains the single most definitive one in existence – which is surely what you’d expect here at Stevereads.


brian said...

Great list Steve. I've even read quite a few of these. I have to ask though. Where is Dune?

Elmo said...

Ditto. Whattya, hate sand in your old age? Also, your last list included Dragonriders of Pern and The Many Colored Land. Fine omissions, not that you asked.

Kevin Caron said...

Wow - nice list! Definitely worth saving, since I've only read 6 of the 50 - this will give me a 'what to read next' list for some time to come. Not back to back, mind you - I like to read a sci-fi/fantasy book about once every four or five books.

More lists!

Gianni said...

Maybe he's keeping Dune for the series list, although it does seem like quite the omission. No Robert Jordan, either. Not so much a big deal HE'S not there. I just want to know if Steve included The Last Unicorn just because of the author's name.

steve said...

we here at Stevereads have NO idea what you're all talking about ... of course 'Dune' is - and always has been - on this list. You should all just learn to read better, we guess.

Sam said...

'Dune' is there at #37, fanboys. Surely you weren't SKIMMING parts of the list...

Beepy said...

13 for me. Damn good considering how remarkably young I am. In addition to having read a respectable number, one of them was "Watchmen" (Kevin). Gosh, I'm impressed with myself.

Great list, Steve. I'm glad to see "Where Late the Sweet Bird Sang" there. What an amazing book. I keep reading Kate Wilhelm's books hoping lightning will strike twice but no such luck.

Kevin Caron said...

For those keeping score - "Dune" is on the list - now.

And "The Island of the Mighty" isn't - any longer.

You can't fool us if you write a list good enough to "clip 'n' save"!

JEaton said...

I'm particularly ticked by the inclusion of "infallibility" among the post labels.

I've read 10 out of 50 which strikes me as not too bad for someone who, according to our gracious host, "hates science fiction." (Hee!)

Jeff E.

Locke Peterseim said...

19, but then I've had an extra decade or so to read what Steve tells me to.

A question, though (because Steve LOVES questions about his list, because every little thing about this list is carefully thought out and justified and as we all know, there is NOTHING Steve loves more than explaining his reasoning): Why give Once and Future King AND Book of Merlyn their own seperate listings? Sure, they are technically separate books, but really only due to publishing dictum, not author's intent (unlike, say, The Hobbit and LOTR, which, while connected and part of the same larger story, are two very different, separate literary efforts). On a list where space (certainly NO pun intended) is so tight (so tight, in fact, that... cough... Dune got accidentally left off at first, or at least it did in some sort of parallel universe where Steve IS fallible), why not list OAFK and Merlyn together as one listing? My guess is Steve did them separately solely to emphasis how much better and more important he feels Merlyn is than OAFK...

steve said...

Got it in one! I know your abiding love for 'The Once and Future King,' and I love it too, but for me 'Book of Merlyn' is so different, so much wiser and sadder, so much more theoretical, that it's always stood in my mind as a completely separate book. I just can't bring myself to lump it in with the other.

Imani said...

Well. I've read two.