What every well-read Science-Fiction fan should read-maybe. (very long!)

I’d add Neuromancer over other Cyberpunk…might not be the best, but the best known and most influential. (I don’t like cyberpunk, really, so I couldn’t name any others that I might add…)

I say add both BNW and 1984…1984 might be more influential, but BNW was much better written.

Ditto the suggestion of Childhood’s end. (Only Clarke book I managed to finish. ^__^;:wink:

I’d suggest dropping some of the Heinlien… The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Puppet Masters. Others kept because they’re more ‘important’, IMO (More for the overview of Heinlein than the effect on the genre, though - but ST gets kept because I have a feeling it was rather surprisingly influential, given its merely ‘standard’ quality - and I think that Forever War would lose something unless read after ST.)

As for Dick, I concur on Do Androids Dream…

I’d add:

Lem’s Solaris.

Moore’s Utopia (Not as fantastic as Gulliver or The Inferno, but a good excercise in worldbuilding.)

Carrol’s Alice books (Self-indulgent, but, dammit, they should be read by EVERYONE!)

Reading Dune without going on to Dune Messiah and Children of Dune would be like quitting LOTR after Fellowship of the Ring. Herbert said the trilogy was plotted as one long story and should be read as such.

Me too. But A) Animal Farm isn’t really “Science” Fiction (more allegory or “Speculative” Fiction) and B)It really isn’t as important. 1984 discusses totalitarinaism everywhere, Animal Farm is about the Russian Revolution.

: Actually the second and third were winners, not the first. I’m trying to avoid multi-book series (Foundation can stand alone), but enough people are recommending this so I may reconsider. Personally, I bounced off the first book after uttering the “Eight Deadly Words”


It didn’t, but it proved that that kind of fiction could sell (Sheckley’s Dimension of Miracles did it earlier). Anyway, you’re right, consider it added.


I love Pratchett, but it’s too close to fantasy.


No. Schmidt started writing in the late '60s, IIRC (Newton and the Quasi-Apple is a minor masterpiece). The Unknown is a compilation of short stories from the late, much lamented magazine “Unknown” which only published in the '40s.



nitpick: he wrote over 300 BOOKS, not novels. Much of those 400+ were science popularizations (I have a “How to use a slide rule” book by Asimov, somewhere)


Marvel: Thanks. Like I said, your thread inspired me to actually post this! So, “Thank You, too!” :slight_smile:

detop: I’ll check. I did about half of this from memory. I thought Dangerous Visions was 1970 or 71, but now that I think about it, you may be right. I’ll double check.

Terminus: Maybe Fountains…but I think a good short story collection would actually be better. Clarke’s short stories are so good. Any suggestions?

Amber, and The New Sun are too close to fantasy and I’m trying to stay away from non-standalone books. I thought Ringworld wasn’t as good/important as the other Niven stuff I’ve read, Naked Sun was (IMHO) the least of Asimov’s novels (I’ve always felt it was a mercy-Hugo). But I can be convinced

pink kitten
Got Neuromancer in there already

Steve: The Vance Planet of Adventure is a pretty good idea. It’s kind of forgotten, but Chalker cites it as a source for the Well of Souls stuff, Farmer cites it for the Lavalite World stuff, so it’s pretty influential. And since there’s that omnibus edition, it doesn’t break the “no series” rule! :smiley:

You’re right about Stapledon. Which would you recommend?

I agonized about Anderson’s Tao Zero. I may reconsider.
Miller Dammit, this list is too long already. You’re not helping! :smiley: Except for The Diamond Age (I’ll consider it, but…I’m not sure) the rest of your list gets onto the master list verbatim. (BTW: If you think I don’t like Vonnegut, you should read what Niven and Pournelle think of him. What they did to him in Inferno!)

I’m reconsidering Brave New World.

I’m having an emotional crisis though: I hated Childhood’s End. “Throw the book across the room” hated. I’m trying to convince myself it wasn’t all That important to the genre.

Regarding the Heinlein: I’m more tempted to drop Tunnel in the Sky than Puppet Masters. I like 'em both a lot, but…Puppet is such a good “Cold War” book. I refuse to drop Moon* if for no other reason that it may be my favorite! :wink:

Consider Do Androids added.

I think Lem is a good idea. I’ll put Solaris on tentatively with the caveat that if I get a lot of suggestions for other Lem, I may swap books. Moore’s Utopia-Hmmmm…maybe. The “Alice” books? They’re closer to Fantasy (again, an artifical distinction). On the other hand, you’re right-they’re great. Maybe I’ll do a “Essential Fantasy” list later.


Add me on the Canticle must read list. There was a posthumously published sequel, but I’ve heard it bites the wax tadpole, so I haven’t read it. I’m very suspicious of books finished by different authors.

I don’t know if it’s considered SF or not, but may I suggest Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange?

celestina: Never heard o’ Dark Matter (which is unusual for me!): Can you give some background on it?

Butler: I’ve read her older stuff Patternmaster and Clay’s Ark and didn’t think she was all that groundbreaking. I understand her newer stuff is better. True?
Welcome Chaos: Haven’t read it, but had it recommended a number of times…maybe.
The Snow Queen…probably should be included.
Kate Elliot: Not familiar with her. More info, please?

eunoia: pffffbt! :wink: Given that I was doing this from memory, it wasn’t a bad try. But you’re right and it’ll be corrected.

Friend of the Devil: Canticle won the Hugo and Nebula(I think) for best Novel: you’re definitly not alone! :slight_smile:
I dunno about Crichton.

Some Guy: By the way; I’m correcting a silly typo here: A Treasury of Great SF vol 1 & 2 are by Boucher, not Bester. Both great authors, but a world of difference between them.

Why The Demolished Man, but not The Stars My Destination? I hadda choose one of the two for space purposes, and A) Demolished won the first Hugo. B) It’s one of the very first SF/Detective stories (I dunno if it or Caves of Steel came first, but they’re neck-and-neck, I believe and C) I like Demolished a bit better. :wink:


Stapledon… Star Maker is probably the better book, but Last and First Men is the better known, and the one that established Stapledon as an author, so, on the basis of importance to the genre, I’d go with that one.

Lem… has made a lot of contributions in different areas of the genre, from deep speculative fiction (Solaris, or my personal favourite His Master’s Voice) to edgy humourous SF(The Cyberiad, The Star Diaries) to surrealist nightmares (The Investigation, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub). Still, Solaris is possibly his most influential book, at least in the West.

(Though it’s the book, not the film, that’s important. Not that Tarkovsky’s film of Solaris is a bad film, it’s just that it’s very much Tarkovsky’s vision rather than Lem’s. I saw an interview with Lem a few years ago in which he described his clashes with Tarkovsky over the project, culminating in Lem calling Tarkovsky something which BBC2 translated as “bloody idiot” and catching the next flight baxk to Poland.)

Lem’s also well-known as an SF critic: would books about SF figure on the list? If so, Kingsley Amis’ New Maps of Hell, Brian Aldiss’ Billion Year Spree (later increased to Trillion Year Spree with the aid of David Pringle), and Lem’s Microworlds should make an appearance. Or should we just stick to books that people might actually want to read ;)?

On the contrary, I think that the character of Elijah Bailey was most fully realized in The Naked Sun.
Anyway, we can quibble over that, but I’ve suddenly come up with a much better Asimov for you: The Gods Themselves.

A couple more titles for consideration:

Cities in Flight - James Blish
More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon

I can’t name any Clarke collections offhand.

Elijah was better realized in Sun, which was the book, but neither it nor Gods was as groundbreaking or representative of Asimov as Caves IMHO. I’m sticking with Caves.


Mayaaaabe. The last part wasn’t very good, but the first one or two parts were so good that…well…maybe.

More Than Human - Theodore Sturgeon
Yup. Still need a collection of Sturgeon’s best, but consider this added.


My personal preference is for “The Stars My Destination” over “The Demolished Man.” Demolished was influential, but I think Stars is the better book, with a better antihero (and a better character arc for him) and stronger symbolism.

Also, I second the Vance “Planet of Adventure” series. His language really gives the feeling of alienness, and I like the cool remoteness of his hero.

No criticisms of the SF for this list, but if I did include them, I’d add Knight and Moskowitz to your list, and remove anything that David (smarm-king) Pringle touched.

Don’t you know that Pringle is Satan’s Own Critic?! :eek:

(I’d love to add one other, but sadly they’ve never done a collection of Spider Robinson’s Spider vs the Hax of Sol III columns. <sigh>


By the way:
Flatland-Abbot. Dunno. Opinions? It’s a great book and all, but the emphasis is on social satire more than science.

By the way:
Flatland-Abbot. Dunno. It’s a great book and all, but the emphasis is on social satire more than science. Opinions?

2001-Arthur C. Clarke
Make Room, Make Room!-Henry Harrison
Battlefield Earth-L. Ron Hubbard…it’s so BAD, it’s important that way.

Azimov’s Pebble in the Sky I like better than Caves.
Oh! Phillip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld is good, as is the Stainless Steel Rat by Harrison.

I think I’d take Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang in lieu of Welcome, Chaos, although it’s a tough call. I’d definitely go with The Doomsday Book over To Say Nothing of the Dog, as much as I adored the latter. Actually, it might be best to have both of them.

Sherri Tepper is probably not well enough known to make the list. Her early books (like the Marianne books and the True Game series) are really fantasy, anyway. If she makes the cut, I would take Grass as best/most representative.

Beggars in Spain?

Yay Stapledon! Star Maker is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to slog through, but it’s worth the effort. :smiley:

Oh, and I also consider Canticle for Leibowitz a must-read, definitely.

Great list, Fenris. You’re a fan after my own heart. I’ve read about 80% of it and plan to read the rest sometime. (Many of which are actually sitting on the shelves waiting for me!)

I’d just like to add my opinion that some of the best writing in field is in short story form, a medium that seems particularly suited to the genre.

Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction series is excellent and ubiquitous.

Harder to find but well worth it is Donald A Wollheim’s Annual World’s Best SF collection which ran from 1972 until his death in 1990.

I like Wollheim’s tastes, Dozois chooses good stuff that I tend not to like as much.

My personal favorite of the “Best Of” type series sould have to be The Great SF Stories edited by Asimov and Greenburg: The first volume started in 1938 and each volume moved forward a year. It went through um…1964 (Allegedly, NESFA has picked up the set and will be continuing with Greenburg and Silverburg) and I’ve never seen a more complete “Best of” set of anthologies. Except for Heinlein and Bradbury, they got most of the important stories, plus enough weird, quirky choices that Asimov demanded that it’s not predictible.