Sci-Fi's Greatest Hits


The Sci-Fi Book Club trots out its "The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years." All the usual suspects are represented.

But how could anything Michael Moorcock wrote top his work with Hawkwind?

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  1. What about ?
    1. Weapon shops of Isher – A.E. Van Vogt
    2. Darwinia – Robert Charles Wilson
    3. Nightwings – Robert Silverberg
    4. The fountains of Paradise – Arthur C. Clarke
    5. A deepness in the sky – Vernor Vinge
    6. The Gods themselves – Asimov
    7. A Scanner Darkly – P.K. Dick

    And get everything by J. “Luddite” Tolkien off that list.

  2. Not to mention “City” or “Way Station” by Clifford Simak.

    I agree about Moorcock, though. “In Search of Space” is one of my favorite late-night albums.

  3. “Most significant,” eh? I guess that’s their weasel-word way of including both good books that no one reads and bad books that sold bazillions of copies, along with the stuff that’s popular with critics and fans alike.

    I’ve read 26 of the 50. Sometimes I regretted reading them, but I read them nonetheless.

  4. Actually the Rama series is quite good. Throughout the series, Clarke brings out some of the more interesting parts of human nature.

    Of course, that’s my opinion…

  5. Floyd: RwR “fluffy”? Sure you’re not thinking of the sequels, which were all utter crap and a stain on the good name of Clarke?

    As for me, I’m glad to see Harlan Ellison on the list (more than once!), but what’s the deal with putting Harry Potter on there? In what way was HP a “significant” work of literature except for putting money in Rowling’s pocket? Maybe they’d resort to the claim that it got children to read instead of watch TV.

  6. Ok… Maybe I’m the only one that liked the Rama series… Of course, the Dune series was better.

  7. A lot of it seems skewed towards books that have won awards rather than the author’s best or most widely read work. I’d pick VALIS or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep over The Man in the High Castle any day, and I think, if you count Blade Runner, you could probably make the case that DADoES was far more influential.

  8. Dear Pseudoephedrine,

    Allow me to be the first to point out to you that DADoES is #8 on the list.


  9. NERDS! πŸ˜‰

  10. H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” is not on this list. Philistines.

  11. I slogged through Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune and started God King (?) of Dune about 20 years ago. Then I realized they were all about the same. Does that qualify me as a geek? Oh, yeah…let’s not forget “Gor”.

  12. Wait. The list is just for the last 50 years, making Lovecraft too early for it. Never mind.

  13. Kenny, “Stand on Zanzibar” is on the list at #44. I do agree, though, that “Hyperion” should definitely be on the list — in place of “The Sword of Shannara”, and/or “Thomas Covenant”, if nothing else.

  14. Concur with Kenny:

    The Hyperion series is a huge omission. I nominate Shannara to be removed and replaced, and that Hyperion be moved up higher on the list than Shannara’s #48….

  15. Nice to see my favorite obscurities like “Rogue Moon” on the list, but hell, it’s just a short story. So is Ender’s Game. I thought this was a list of great BOOKS. I read those stories in anthologies. There’s an anthology on the list too.

  16. Disappointed that ‘Eon’ by Greg Bear didn’t make it… lot of interesting concepts in that book.

  17. Silmarillion was an post-mortem work compiled by Christopher Tolkein. While I enjoyed it very much, I can’t see it in the top 50.

    I’m glad to see someone mention Poul Anderson (it’s a tragedy none of his works were nominated), but I have to chip in with: what about Gordon Dickson or (especially!) Jack Vance? If nothing else, Vance’s Dying Earth series had a bigger influence on fantasy than anything by Stephen Donaldson or Terry “ripoff” Brooks.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Harry Turtledove. Or Jerry Pournelle.

  18. Haven’t read ALL of the entries (let’s see…34 of them…) but don’t find much to quarrel about (granted, Ender’s Game was better as a story than the later book version) except for The Silmarillion.

    I was especially happy to see “The Lord of Light” and “Snowcrash” represented, both of which would make my top ten list of not only sci-fi but ALL literature.

    I guess I’ll have to read “Rogue Moon” now!

  19. oops, looks like i missed it πŸ˜€ in that case i’ll second vance’s dying earth and first fritz leiber’s big time!

  20. I only read 12 of them. Do I have to turn in my nerd card?

  21. Fyodor> Whoops, thanks. I guess when I rolled my eyes at Childhood’s End, I skipped right over it.

  22. Heinlein in some ways foreshadowed the neolibertarians, maybe. But he also got some good ideas across, and knew how to write a story.

    “Anyone who reads these books is a fascist corporate imperialist”? How do you know Heinlein was a neolibertarian warmonger if you haven’t read any of his work yourself? Sounds kinda like “All Cretans are liars.”

  23. Orphans of the Sky, by Heinlein, is a novella, but is the progenitor of many stories about generation ships.

    also Blood Music, by Greg Bear. i guess that was orginally a novella.

    I didn’t see The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Heinlein, which makes albo sad.

    But otherwise, spot on, as the brits say.

  24. Does anyone really think The Sword of ShaNaNa is “significant” as anything but a commercial property?

    I suppose it’s significant in that it proved a really bad Tolkien ripoff could be a bestseller, paving the way for oodles of awful books. But if that’s the standard at work, why doesn’t the list include any crappy Star Trek tie-ins?

  25. I’ve only read 6 1/3, but I have several Hawkwind records!!

    Criticism is a game, and like all games, it can be fun if we take it seriously enough to care about it but not so seriously that we forget it’s just a game.

  26. I must be illiterate – only read 5. Am I missing an important part of life?

  27. The list is for the past 50 years, so City, Orphans of the Sky, and Weapon Shops of Isher aren’t going to be on the list (although the list compilers cheated by including the omnibus version of Foundation). Also, Ender’s Game and Rogue Moon were orignally short stories, but they were both expanded to novel length. As for omissions, I’m disappointed they left off Greg Bear, David Brin, Poul Anderson, J.G. Ballard, and Robert Silverberg. I’ve read about 40 of these books, so I guess that makes me king of the nerds.

  28. Heinlein is a neolibertarian warmonger. Just ask any Rothbardite, he is worse than Hitler. Anyone who reads these books is a fascist corporate imperialist.

  29. Bob would have really enjoyed hearing you say that.

    “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” ruled.

  30. missed Hyperion by Dan Simmons πŸ˜€ oh and Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner!

  31. A Wizard of Earthsea? Rendezvous with Rama? Surely there must be books not on the list with more to say than those two, which are as light and fluffy as can be.

  32. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/25/2004 04:57:42
    Both dreams and people crash down.

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