Posted by: kshayes513 | August 20, 2011

The Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books – NPR poll

In case you missed all the discussions on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet, NPR has just published one of its reader polls, this time on the  The Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Books.

The list can be found here on NPR’s web site.  Well worth a look, if only to see what the current generation thinks is worthwhile, and perhaps most important, to discover what goodies you might have overlooked.

Reading the list, you’ll run through the same emotions as did many of the hundreds of readers who posted comments. “Oh, good, my favorite!” “What! I can’t believe that made it onto the list!” “Why did this get left out?” “Why did so-and-so get five books, and my favorite only got one or none?” “Why did they pick that book by this author, instead of the other one?” “Too many new books” “Too many old books” “Where’s Harry Potter/A Wrinkle in Time/Narnia? [for the record, this list specifically excluded books published for children, regardless of how many adults love them!]”

I was pleased but not even a little bit surprised by the title at the very top of the list, nor should anyone be surprised who has been paying attention to lists of this kind for the past decade or so.  As I read on, somewhere in the first 25 or 30 titles I began feeling that I was reading an assigned summer reading list, and suspected that people were voting for these more because they were “important” classics, rather than actual favorites of the voters (does anyone still read Orwell’s Animal Farm? Even in High School English?).  And like many, I wondered why some authors’ book series were listed and voted on individually (books from Discworld and Pern) while others got entire series treated as one book (The Wheel of Time, The Dark Tower and a couple more).

But overall, I found it to be an excellent mix of Golden Age classics and established new writers, a good thumbnail portrait of speculative fiction for the last hundred years.

When you’re done gloating and arguing over this list–and, I hope, marking down a few more good reads you’ve missed so far–take a look at the other list: the first one, the one that I and over 60,000 others voted on. It’s a much longer list, and has a lot of goodies on it that will give you many, many more reading choices. NPR has kindly left it up on their site, you can find it and print it out, here.

Now try to choose just TEN from that original voting list. That’s what we all had to do in order to vote. Just ten out of hundreds!

For the record, my picks, as well as I can remember several weeks after voting. (The last 4 were also contending in my mind with favorites by Bujold, Gaiman and Willis, but I think I ended up picking these in the end, with much anguish over having to leave off the others!)

  1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Acts Of Caine Series, by Matthew Woodring Stover
  3. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  4. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  5. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
  6. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
  7. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  8. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
  9. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
  10. The City And The City, by China Mieville

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