Another list – 100 seminal SFF reads

Where would we be without lists? Seriously, before the internet, what did we do for lists? How did we know what a heavily biased cross-section of sub-culture thought about any given irrelevant point before Web 2.0? Anyway, it’s okay, as we have lists now. Here’s another one for you.

This arrives in a bit of a roundabout way, but it’s a good list, so worth the effort. I found it on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, who took it from Stego on the Song of Ice and Fire Forums. This is Stego that used to run the Speculative Reviews blog, but that’s been on hiatus for ages. Anyway, Stego says:

I put out an SFF Reading List a few years ago with about 500 works on it. People threw rocks. It was kind of amusing. Here is a far more condensed list of what I believe to be the seminal works of SFF since Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Limited to a mere 100. The paring down was heartbreaking.

This is my first reading list in years and is certainly an opinionated result of my years of amateur scholarship.

The only thing I do promise is that there is merit in all of these works. Chances are you would fall in love with most, if not all, if you give them a chance.

So why have I bothered to reprint all this stuff that can be found elsewhere? Two reasons. One, it’s a damn fine list and anyone would do well to have a look at any of the content and two, it’s another one of those ‘put an X by what you’ve read’ memes. Well, it is now anyway. So consider yourself tagged and share the meme, thereby sharing the quality list. Here it is, with my Xs to indicate which I’ve read (which I anticipate being a small percentage):

Asimov, Isaac: The Best of Isaac Asimov 1974

Asimov, Isaac: The Gods Themselves 1972

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid’s Tale 1985

Bakker, R. Scott: The Prince of Nothing 2004-2007

Ballard, J.G.: High Rise 1975

Banks, Iain M.: Use of Weapons 1990 X

Beagle, Peter S.: A Fine and Private Place 1960

Bester, Alfred: The Stars My Destination 1956

Blish, James: Cities in Flight 1955-1962

Brackett, Leigh: The Long Tomorrow 1955

Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles 1950

Bradbury, Ray: Fahrenheit 451 1953 X

Brunner, John: Stand on Zanzibar 1968

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and The Margarita 1940

Card, Orson Scott: Ender’s Game 1985 X

Clarke, Arthur C.: Rendezvous With Rama 1972 X

Clarke, Arthur C.: Childhood’s End 1953

Clarke, Arthur C.: The Fountains of Paradise 1979

Crowley, John: Little, Big 1981

Danielewski, Mark Z.: House of Leaves 2000

Dick, Philip K.: The Man In The High Castle 1962

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best: 20 Years of The Years Best SF 2005

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best 2 2007

Dunsany, Lord: The King of Elfland’s Daughter 1924

Ellison, Harlan: Dangerous Visions 1967

Ennis, Garth: Preacher 1995-2000 X

Ford, John M.: The Last Hot Time 2001

Gaiman, Neil: American Gods 2001 X

Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry: Good Omens 1990 X

Gemmell, David: Legend 1984

Gibson, William: Neuromancer 1984 X

Grimwood, Ken: Replay 1987

Haldeman, Joe: The Forever War 1975

Heinlein, Robert A.: Starship Troopers 1959

Heinlein, Robert A.: Stranger In a Strange Land 1961 X

Heinlein, Robert A.: Have Spacesuit — Will Travel 1958

Herbert, Frank: Dune 1965 X

Hoban, Russell: Riddley Walker 1980

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World 1931 X

Jackson, Shirley: The Haunting of Hill House 1959

Joyce, Graham: The Tooth Fairy 1998

Kay, Guy Gavriel: Tigana 1990

Keyes, Daniel: Flowers For Algernon 1966

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Dispossesed 1974

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Left Hand of Darkness 1969

Lem, Stanislaw: Solaris 1961

Lovecraft, H.P.: The Dunwich Horror and Others 1963 X

Lynch, Scott: The Lies of Locke Lamora 2006

MacDonald, George: The Princess and The Goblin 1872

Martin, George R.R.: A Song of Ice and Fire 1996-Present

Matheson, Richard: I Am Legend 1954

McCarthy, Cormac: The Road 2006

McDonald, Ian: River of Gods 2004

Meynard, Yves: The Book of Knights 1998

Mieville, China: Perdido Street Station 2001

Miller Jr., Walter M.: A Canticle For Leibowitz 1960

Moore, Christopher: Lamb 2002

Morgan, Richard K.: Black Man 2007

Newman, Kim: Anno Dracula 1992

Niven, Larry: Ringworld 1970 X

Orwell, George: 1984 1949 X

Pangborn, Edgar: Davy 1964

Poe, Edgar Allan: Tales of Mystery and Imagination 1837-1845 X

Pohl, Frederick: Gateway 1977

Pohl, Frederick and Kornbluth, C.M: The Space Merchants 1953

Powers, Tim: The Anubis Gates 1983

Powers, Tim: The Fisher King Trilogy 1992-1997

Priest, Christopher: The Glamour 1985

Robinson, Kim Stanley: The Mars Trilogy 1992-1996 X

Russ, Joanna: The Female Man 1975

Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein 1818

Shephard, Lucius: The Best of Lucius Shephard 2008

Shippey, Tom: The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories 1992

Silverberg, Robert: The Book of Skulls 1972

Silverberg, Robert: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One 1970

Simak, Clifford D.: City 1952

Simmons, Dan: Hyperion 1990

Smith, Cordwainer: The Rediscovery of Man 1993

Smith, Michael Marshall: Only Forward 1998

Stapeldon, Olaf: Odd John 1935

Stephenson, Neal: Snow Crash 1992

Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1886 X

Stewart, George R.: Earth Abides 1949

Straub, Peter: Ghost Story 1979

Sturgeon, Theodore: More Than Human 1953

Tiptree Jr., James: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever 1990

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Lord of The Rings 1954-1955 X

Vance, Jack: The Jack Vance Treasury 2007

Verne, Jules: Journey To The Centre of the Earth 1864 X

Vonnegut, Kurt: Cat’s Cradle 1963

Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughter-House Five 1969 X

Wells, H.G.: The Time Machine 1895 X

Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray 1891

Wolfe, Gene: The Wizard Knight 2004

Wolfe, Gene: The Book of The New Sun 1980-1983

Wyndham, John: The Day of The Triffids 1951 X

Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos 1957

Zelazny, Roger: Damnation Alley 1969

Zelazny, Roger: Lord of Light 1967

There, I think that was 22. Not too bad. I often wonder when I do these things how often I mess it up. It’s hard to be certain of all the books I’ve read and I might have marked one book on one list and not on the other, or maybe just missed one scanning through. Anyway, it’s all a pile of bollocks, so it doesn’t matter. It’s just an excuse to reproduce a good list.

The reason I particularly like this one is that it covers SFF from the earliest works to the most recent, plus it includes graphic novels (i.e. The Preacher – essential reading for everyone) and it doesn’t seem to follow any particular bias other than a love for quality SFF.

And if that wasn’t good enough for you, here’s Stego’s original full 500, which is actually 570. This list is awesome. Not only is the first thing on the list by someone called Wanker Abercrombie, it also includes things like Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi, Alan Moore’s Watchmen (which I can’t believe didn’t make the Top 100 cut) and Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories, among many other things. While the top 100 above is a really pared down list, with only one thing from each author, the full list is an incredible cross section of excellent SFF in all its forms. Interestingly, I score a better percentage of read stuff on the full 570 than I do on the top 100.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what you should be reading in SFF, this list should keep you busy for a while.

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