"100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime"

I was hoping to see some Iian M Banks, Peter F Hamilton, Stephen Baxter or Alitair Reynolds. Glad to see The Windup Girl got a mention. But anything connected to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games is just oversell.

5 Likes

Several omissions
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Players of Null-A by A.E.Van Vogt
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, a seminal 1967 short story that undoubtedly influenced the Terminator franchise.

But for all the rest, I’m glad they included Bester, Gibson, McCaffrey, Herbert,etc.

3 Likes

Somebody should take this author and translate at least some of the works to English.
As a kid I grew up on the two trilogies.


The world built in 30’s electrical technology and partially crosspolinated by Verne is beautiful.

Some days I think I should read more sf. But then I’d have to read less of the datasheet porn or various whitepapers… Tough choices out there…

3 Likes

As enjoyable as The Cyberiad is, I don’t think it’s as good as Solaris, which tackles an essential problem of science fiction (and humanity, as we search for life).

The only other of his I’ve read was The Futurological Congress; I very highly recommend it, it would be in my top 100 but isn’t well known enough to make this kind of list.

Not sure how recent the tendency is, but agreed.

2 Likes

The Time Machine’s on there, too.


I’d have Steven Erikson on my fantasy list. Definitely ahead of Robert Jordan.

Glad there wasn’t any Terry Goodkind.

No Harry Harrison? Greg Bear?

Don’t forget the faster-than-light antimatter planet missiles…

3 Likes

Blood Music is on the list.

1 Like

Man I am blind today. I would go for Dr. Moreau or War Of the Worlds over The Time Machine.

1 Like

I don’t know Lem’s work well enough to attempt to judge that, but, whatever the novel’s comparative merits, it’s easy to suspect that Solaris made the cut because there is a movie version. (I imagine it was Soderberg’s effort that did the trick, not Tarkovsky’s. :unamused:)

Probably Do Androids Dream… made the cut for the same reason. I don’t usually hear that one referred to as being in the top tier of Dick’s novels.

3 Likes

Slaughterhouse Five is on there, at least.

After seeing YA representation with Potter and Hunger Games, I was getting mad, thinking that Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series wasn’t on there, too. Thankfully, it was there, just further on near the bottom. That series was pretty profound. Excellent prose, excellent stories. When IMO comparatively second-rate stuff like Potter gets praised and Cooper seems forgotten, I get a little upset; nice to see it represented.

3 Likes

An entirely fair point. I think I’m just chafing at all the ‘movie books’ that are on the list.

I loved The Futurological Congress as well! Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly a fun romp. If you haven’t had the chance, I’d say that Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is an interesting complement to The Futurological Congress with regards to questioning the nature of reality. I do recommend Fiasco - as it explores many of the same themes in Solaris and personally give the final nod to Fiasco. YMMV obv.

Preach it. Erikson is my go-to recommendation for folks that feel conflicted about fantasy. I bounced off Jordan hard, but I find that I revisit Erikson on a yearly basis with Chain of Dogs being my personal favorite.

I think you’re spot on with that observation. This list feels does feel a bit skewed toward titles which were adapted to movies. And I’m right there with you on feeling unamused with the Soderberg adaption.

4 Likes

Way too much juvenile fantasy. Susan Cooper, Phillip Pullman, have written great kids’ books but they are for kids.

Where’s the Ray Bradbury, the Issac Asimov?

With you on all except the Windup Girl. He’s technically a decent writer, but the whole trying to be gritty, hard, SF, while having a terrible grasp of science, combined with the crass orientalism, was enough to keep me from even making it halfway through.

No A.E Van Vogt, Frederic Pohl, Doc Smith, H. Beam Piper, Bruce Sterling, Fritz Leiber, off the top of my head, while having a huge amount of extremely formulaic fantasy, the spectrum of which could have been covered with a quarter as many books.

Lots of authors represented only by works that are far from their best:
Gaiman is represented by “American Gods,”
PKD is represented by “Androids,” which barely makes the top ten of his books.
Stephenson is represented by “Snow crash”

To be fair though, more than half of those books belong on a list like this, and more than half of the authors are represented by work that’s among their best.

Am surprised no one has mentioned Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake. It is usually considered Fantasy, mainly because it is hard to classify as anything else.

3 Likes

Windup Girl was just a fanastic story, I loved it. We have to remember this is an Amazon list focused on selling books though. Gotta be Hardcore to know Hardcore

1 Like

I agree with you in Zelazny. Ellison is handicapped if by “book” they mean “novel”; I personally might choose “Deathbird” over “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” for a single story, though it’s not an easy call. I definitely would wa t to see Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun on the list.

2 Likes

Martian Chronicles was listed, I think

1 Like

I see Marion Zimmer Bradley is on the list.

1 Like

Sigh…

1 Like

I can proudly say I’ve yet to be done with quitting Discworld after reading the color of magic first.

1 Like

I didn’t like it cause the story ending was just ummm, uh, okay… whatever. Really neat world building but the story didn’t hold up as it was going 5 different directions.

1 Like