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Beowabbit
Now mostly on Facebook (and rarely caught up even there)
50 important SF books 
12th-Nov-2006 09:21 pm
Misc: spines of old books
List from the Science Fiction Book Club; meme from hrafn.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
  7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick [This was a book? I thought it was a short story. I think I read the short story in an anthology by a different name, but I’m not 100% sure.]
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. [Tragically, Vatican II broke the future painted in this book. But Pope Benedict may end up fixing it.]
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
  27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien [I’ve started it several times.]
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
Comments 
13th-Nov-2006 02:25 am (UTC)
Well, at least everyone now has a shopping list for you for the holidays.
13th-Nov-2006 02:27 am (UTC)
"Do Androids Dream . . ." is a book; or at least the one I read was. It's possible that it started out as a novella or some other sort of shorter form, in a collection.
13th-Nov-2006 02:39 am (UTC)
Wow, I've only read 15 of those because many of them are hard science fiction and I'm less into those. If you want to borrow any Ellison, Zelazney, Bester, Dick, let us know.
13th-Nov-2006 02:53 am (UTC)
Thanks; actually, I’ve recently joined MITSFS, which is probably marginally more convenient for me to borrow books from than you guys are, but if I’m at your place at a party or something I’ll bear that in mind. I’ve read lots of Ellison and a fair amount of Dick. I haven’t enjoyed what little Zelazney I’ve read, and I don’t think I’ve read any Bester.
13th-Nov-2006 03:02 am (UTC) - because this is your journal, i can get away with it
I’ve read ... a fair amount of Dick.
13th-Nov-2006 03:17 am (UTC) - Re: because this is your journal, i can get away with it
Nobody's here is going to criticize you for being into Dick.
13th-Nov-2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Zelazny varies a lot. In fact, if you want to see some interesting variance, read Dilvish the Damned - he starts out in a very old-fashioned style and each story is slightly more modern-sounding. And by the time I got done reading it I wanted to slash him with his horse. ;)
14th-Nov-2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
Which Zelazny have you read? I think Lord of Light is vastly overrated, and he wrote some real crap, but there are also some marvels I'd love to point you to -- there's a reason he's my second-favorite author. :)
13th-Nov-2006 03:11 am (UTC)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick [This was a book? I thought it was a short story. I think I read the short story in an anthology by a different name, but I’m not 100% sure.]

It's a short novel or novella. I've certainly seen books published with that title--though now that I think of it, because it's so short they might have tacked a short story or two into the same book with it--you know Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and other stories. Also, I believe most, if not all, of Dick's work has been published in "collected works of..." volumes, so it's very possible you encountered it in such a collection.
13th-Nov-2006 03:18 am (UTC)
I can't fathom putting The Silmarillion on the list, even though I've read it twice. Better something like:
Lucifer's Hammer, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, James P. Hogan
His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman

It was nice to see Cordwainer Smith on the list.

I always thought Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was a short story, too, though I've never read it. My belief was based on the movie saying so.
(Deleted comment)
13th-Nov-2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
Having a hard time seeing either The Sword of Shannara or any of the Covenant books here. They've already got Lord of the Rings, no point including the cheap knockoffs.


Seriously! Very cheap knockoffs. :P
14th-Nov-2006 03:37 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed Lucifer’s Hammer, and yes, His Dark Materials is better than two thirds of that list. It might be too soon to know how “influential” it is, though.
13th-Nov-2006 04:11 am (UTC)
I've read more than 30 of these (not an exact count because there are some that I *think* I've read, but I might just be remembering Norman's reading them). You should read both of the Besters and Ringworld, because they really are classics (both in the sense of being good and in the sense of being influential to the genre). I love Sturgeon, though I think his short stories are better than his novels. If you haven't read him, please do so -- I think he'd be a good match for you, since he writes more about relationships than ray guns, and there's a lot of sweetness in his work. Somebody's making a compilation of every story he ever published, and well, the early ones aren't so great. But Sturgeon at his best is very good indeed!

Since this list was compiled by a company that's in the business of selling books, I suspect that some otherwise inexplicable choices are the result of some books not being available to the club and some books being more likely to sell.
13th-Nov-2006 04:17 am (UTC)
beowabbit, if you do want to read the Bester (and I agree that the are good and influential to the genre), I'll be happy to give you my copies. Having discovered I'm more of a reader than a re-reader, my long-term project is to gradually divest myself of bookshelf holdings.
14th-Nov-2006 03:30 am (UTC)
beowabbit, if you do want to read the Bester (and I agree that the are good and influential to the genre), I'll be happy to give you my copies.
Oh, thank you; that would be lovely!
13th-Nov-2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
I second Ringworld. I read a bunch of Niven & Pournelle books in high school, but didn't get through Niven's solo works until about 2 years ago, and it was all (or mostly) so good!
14th-Nov-2006 03:39 am (UTC)
Thanks! I definitely want to read Ringworld, and it sounds like I might be getting the Bester books from treacle_well. I’ve read some Sturgeon, but I don’t remember exactly what.
13th-Nov-2006 04:59 am (UTC)
I tried to read Lord Foul's Bane, unfortunatly I hated the main character because of what he did early in the book, and stopped reading shortly after.

*adds some of those other books to my to-read list*
13th-Nov-2006 01:16 pm (UTC)
I tried to read Lord Foul's Bane, unfortunatly I hated the main character because of what he did early in the book, and stopped reading shortly after.


Yeah. I had the exact same reaction. :P
13th-Nov-2006 02:26 pm (UTC)
Sadly, hatred of the main character wasn't enough to keep me from finishing that book. He didn't get any more likeable. (In my defense, I was young (teenager) and stupid enough to feel that I must finish a book I started.)
14th-Nov-2006 03:24 am (UTC)
I know it's a classic, but Neuromancer did not hold my attention.
I really liked A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (gotta love that name), which is the first book of his Fire and Ice Trilogy. The trilogy has become a .. hexology... due to his tendency to write more than originally intended. Book four really rambles...
My faves from that list include Stanger in a Strange land and The Man in the High Castle, since I love alternative histories.
Also, I'll read anything by Ursula Le Guin.
14th-Nov-2006 03:36 am (UTC)
I know it's a classic, but Neuromancer did not hold my attention.
I don’t remember being very impressed with it either, as a piece of writing. I did find it interesting as the first of a new sub-genre.
I’ve heard really good things about A Game of Thrones; I should add it to my (very very long!) list.
[...] and The Man in the High Castle, since I love alternative histories.
Me too, and I love Dick (as bitty and lilbjorn have pointed out above :-), but I haven’t read that one. What’s its premise?
14th-Nov-2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
I liked Neuromancer. You have to take it for what it is--a kind of period piece. I think we get bored with it because the internet isn't a new concept to us anymore. But it wasn't supposed to be deep, or transcendent, it was supposed to play around with some new ideas and be entertaining.

As for Do Androids Dream, here's a quick synopsis: Earth has been mostly depopulated by a (something, we're not told). Androids were created to assist settlers off-world, but are not recognized as intelligent beings because they 'don't have emotions,' and are thus hunted down when they escape b/c the humans are afraid of them.

Several androids escape to Earth and try to make a living for themselves, assisted by a "special" (person mentally damaged by radioactivity) who befriends them, seeing that they are just about as human as he is. They hide from a bounty hunter who is trying to find and kill them--but the bounty hunter, in finding them, starts to have doubts about the morality of his profession, and begins to re-evaluate his society's definition of sentience.

I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on these two books:)
14th-Nov-2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
The Man in the High Castle:
The allies lost WWII. America is occupied by Germany in the East. They've also drained the Mediterranean, using Africans as slaves, and pretty much rule half the world. The midwest is still American, but very poor and weak. The West is occupied by Japan, and we see the caste system in San Francisco, where many Dick novels reside: Japanese rule, whites are working class, and you can guess what status the blacks have. They always get the bum deal.
This book is all about exploring a scenario; the plot seems to be going somewhere, but ultimately end in a wimper. As long as you are prepared for that, it's very fascinating for its "what if?s".
If you give a rat's ass about my opinon on books, go here:
http://billydechand.com/books.html
14th-Nov-2006 01:49 pm (UTC)
Because nobody has mentioned it yet, On the Beach is a definitive work for me. It is so creepy. If you like postapocalyptic novels, it's worth checking out.
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