I am making a list of the 50 science fiction novels that every public library, large and small, should have on the shelf.
There are many “best” and “most important” lists out there, and some of them are very good, but none are exactly what I’m looking for. I’m well aware that no consensus will ever be achieved here, but having done a ton of research over the years, I’m pretty satisfied with the preliminary list that I’ve created. I thought I’d throw the question out to you guys as well to see what you come up with as well. I’ll share my own list and more details downthread some. Nitpicking expected.
The list is to be of novels that are fundamental to the genre, so please try to look beyond what you are personally enthusiastic about and consider what is important to the genre as a whole. Assume that shelf space and cost are not at issue.
Note that this list of 50 is a subset of a larger list of science fiction books that a given library ought to have, so exclusion from this list does not mean that the book will not be a recommended acquisition. The parameters of the larger list are not as strict.
The list will not be ranked 1 - 50. The only question is whether it is on or off this particular list.
The list is for science fiction only. Fantasy should not be included. Science fiction with some fantasy elements will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Simple popularity as measured by sales or circulation numbers is not enough to get a book on this list.
Maximum of 3 books by an author.
Sequels and series - Only the first book in the sequence will be listed. I can add a note on crucial sequels if needed. (I’ve made one exception to this in my own list.)
Short stories - Multi-author and “best of” anthologies are not to be included. Regular single-author short story collections may be.
Young Adult - YA science fiction may be included if it is genuinely important to the genre as a whole.
Links to other lists and previous threads are welcome, but please give us your personal input.
To save us some time and effort and to get us started, here are a few books that are on the list that I don’t think too many people would argue with.
Adams, Douglas - Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Bradbury, Ray - Fahrenheit 451
Card, Orson Scott - Ender’s Game
Herbert, Frank - Dune
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Le Guin, Ursula K. - Left Hand of Darkness
Orwell, George - Nineteen Eighty-Four
Pohl, Frederik - Gateway
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Simmons, Dan - Hyperion
Wells, H.G. - War of the Worlds
So whatcha’ got?