Book Bragging Rights (SciFi edition)

Andrew Stephens, Wednesday the 4th of March, 2009

Yesterdays list of the 100 best books was judged by some to be a little unfair to the more nerdy side of the spectrum This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format.. To make up for it, here is the same thing done with this list of the 100 top SciFi novels.

As before, the ones in light grey I have actually read. My score is a little better on the this list, a sure sign of a misspent youth.

  1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
    It is disturbing to me how many people love this book given its rather icky undertones.
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
    Wide in scope and foresight. Deserves its mainstream success. Didn't deserve the film adaption.
  3. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951)
    The idea that sociology could be used to predict future trends seems quaint.
  4. Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
    Excellent
  5. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
  6. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein (1961)
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1954)
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke (1968)
    The best film tie-in novel ever written, probably Clarke's best book
  9. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)
    More a collection of logic puzzles than stories, like Sherlock Holmes stories stripped back to the basics with added robots. Not terrible.
  10. Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
    Good but not as great as some people would have it. Even the famous first line has dated badly.
  11. Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein (1959)
    I love the movie, but I hear it is nothing like the book
  12. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick (1968)
  13. Ringworld by Larry Niven (1970)
    The first of the “Humans explore big structure of unknown function” novels on this list. A lot of people really like Ringworld, I thought it was just OK.
  14. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  15. Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C Clarke (1973)
    The next “Humans explore big structure of unknown function” novel. Good but avoid the sequels.
  16. The Time Machine by H G Wells (1895)
  17. Hyperion by Dan Simmons (1989)
    On my list to read
  18. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells (1898)
    “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said. But stiiill THEY COME!”. Any book with its own prog-rock concept album must be a classic.
  19. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein (1966)
  20. Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke (1954)
    Very cool first act, can't really remember the rest
  21. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)
    Some authors spend years honing their craft before hitting it big. Bradbury got famous before he got good, this is from the period when he was one but not yet the other.
  22. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)
  23. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992)
  24. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
  25. The Mote in God's Eye by Niven & Pournelle (1975)
    One of my favorite books of all time, with really cool aliens to meet
  26. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin (1969)
    A religious parable, a political thriller, an adventure story, a parody of the cold war, and an observation on how the two sexes affect society. There is a lot squeezed into a fairly thin book.
  27. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (1986)
  28. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (1962)
  29. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)
    Crichton's least irritating book, OK if you ignore the ramblings about chaos theory and enjoy dino-initiated muching.
  30. Gateway by Frederik Pohl (1977)
  31. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (1954)
  32. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (1956)
  33. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1962)
  34. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (1967)
  35. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)
  36. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (1961)
  37. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
  38. Contact by Carl Sagan (1985)
    A little too long, but thoughtful and profound. Impossible to read without hearing the author's voice narrating in your mind.
  39. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999)
    Educational!
  40. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (1972)
  41. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (1969)
  42. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (1951)
    Surprisingly gritty for a walking-plants-attack-mankind story
  43. Time Enough For Love by Robert A Heinlein (1973)
  44. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
  45. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)
    One of the saddest stories I have ever read
  46. UBIK by Philip K Dick (1969)
  47. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)
    An interesting attempt to examine lots of political viewpoints. The bit where the space elevator falls from the sky is the only part that sticks in my mind.
  48. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (1991)
    Oh look, cute puppies!
  49. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
  50. The End Of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (1955)
  51. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller (1959)
  52. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)
  53. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (1995)
  54. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (1959)
  55. Player Of Games by Iain M Banks (1988)
  56. Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard (1982)
    I sat through the first half hour of the movie, does that count?
  57. The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin (1974)
  58. Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card (1999)
    It seemed like a quick way of producing a novel without having to come up with a new plot, but this retelling of Ender's Game from another characters point of view actually improves on the original.
  59. Startide Rising by David Brin (1983)
    Humanity outsmarts “superior” aliens with the help of intelligent dolphins. Very good but let down by sequels
  60. Eon by Greg Bear (1985)
    Humans explore a big structure (big on the inside at least) of unknown function
  61. Lucifer's Hammer by Niven & Pournelle (1977)
  62. The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton (1996)
    The plot spirals out beyond any hope of a satisfying resolution (the TITLE of the last book is Deus ex Machina, not a good sign) but lightning wielding reanimated dead cover a multitude of sins.
  63. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer (1971)
  64. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1953)
    Good story told well, let down only by the terrible female characters that must have seemed terribly stereotyped even in the 50s.
  65. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
  66. The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe (1980)
    For years this has been treated as a masterpiece by those not in the know but I can now exclusively reveal that it is tedious mush. It is never a good sign when the best part of the novel is the hero sitting down to read a much more interesting story in a book.
  67. The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke (1956)
  68. The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison (1961)
    Yikes, I had no idea this was so old.
  69. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick (1977)
  70. The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K Dick (1964)
  71. The Door Into Summer by Robert A Heinlein (1956)
  72. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)
  73. Citizen Of the Galaxy by Robert A Heinlein (1957)
  74. Out of the Silent Planet by C S Lewis (1938)
    Not exactly subtle but not too bad. Followed by significantly less subtle and significantly more terrible sequels
  75. Have Space-Suit - Will Travel by Robert A Heinlein (1958)
  76. The Puppet Masters by Robert A Heinlein (1951)
  77. Way Station by Clifford Simak (1963)
  78. Ilium by Dan Simmons (2003)
  79. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin (1971)
  80. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)
    Another grim story from John Wyndham, did this guy ever smile?
  81. The Invisible Man by H G Wells (1897)
  82. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)
  83. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds (2000)
  84. Sphere by Michael Crichton (1987)
  85. Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks (1990)
    Some books have a denouncement that shows the preceding plot in a new, disturbing light. This book has a denouncement that shows the cover art in a new, disturbing light
  86. The Many-Colored Land by Julian May (1981)
  87. Flatland by Edwin A Abbott (1884)
  88. Burning Chrome by William Gibson (1986)
  89. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner (1969)
  90. Grey Lensman by E E 'Doc' Smith (1951)
  91. Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (1972)
  92. The Postman by David Brin (1985)
  93. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
  94. The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke (1979)
    People seem to be taking the whole space elevator idea seriously these days.
  95. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (1953)
  96. A Connecticut Yankee in KA's Court by Mark Twain (1889)
  97. VALIS by Philip K Dick (1981)
  98. Cities in Flight by James Blish (1955)
  99. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (1974)
  100. City by Clifford Simak (1952)

Any books that should be replaced on this list?