Thursday, August 11, 2011

Off Topic: NPR's list of top Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books/Series

I posted earlier about a poll NPR was doing to find out what people thought were the all time best science fiction and fantasy works.

As any self respecting nerd, I have counted how many of these books I have read. My score is only 31! I need to get reading! I can personally recommend several of the books that made it on the list though, including the following:

A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

It's also interesting to note how many books on the list I actively disliked! That Goodkind guy's shitty series was on there, as was some others that I thought were fairly mediocre. To each his own, I guess!

What's your score?


  1. I think it's hard to recommend things from that list, because some of the things are sort of questionable when it comes to their classification as sci-fi or fantasy, and it really depends on what kind of recommendation you're wanting to give. There are a lot of classics and cornerstones of the genres on that list (Tolkien, Asimov, Verne, White) and a lot of very contemporary works (including series that aren't even done).

    I wouldn't know how to compare and contrast some of the books on their absolute merit. Some of the older works are really significant in terms of their influence on their genres, and without them modern literature could be very different. But, some of those books might not appeal to a modern audience used to a more 21st century approach to writing. Some people have a tendency to downgrade a book's quality based on how well the writing has aged. I don't think that's quite fair, since how are authors supposed to predict what kind of writing will be in vogue many decades in the future?

    For example, can I recommend LotR over Anathem? No, because they're such profoundly different stories. I guess that's the problem with voter-determined lists like this one. Looking at the full list of nominees, I'm a little surprised at which books made the final cut and which didn't.

    (My score is either 44 or 37, depending on whether it counts if I have not read the entirety of a series included on the list)

  2. Poor MWS is gonna cry himself to sleep now! He was at the top of the list of noms, so I figured he'd have a pretty good chance!

    Due to the list being a popularity contest, it has some real stinkers on it, which is pretty hilarious! The Shannara trilogy, for example, is just a carbon copy of LotR with the character names changed, pretty much. Sword of Truth starts out as a Star Wars/Generic Hero Story rip off and becomes Ayn Randian propoganda. Kushiel's Legacy series is just bondage porn/intrigue(read it at Bret's suggestion not too surprisingly.)

    I'm kinda insulted that any comic book is on this list, let alone WATCHMEN, which while really influential in the comic book industry, has almost no relevance to speculative fiction novels... the topic of the entire poll!

    Something I've come away from this list with is a new admiration for Neil Gaiman's ability to self-promote. The man befriends everyone in the industry and is really good at getting his face and name 'out there', so he's on this list FOUR times. HG Wells made it twice, Stephen King made it twice, Tolkien made it twice(somehow the hobbit missed the list!) Then again, this might just be proof of how 'hip' the polled are. A great number of these books/shortstories/comics have been made into movies, and that makes me really have to wonder how many people have read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" or just really like Bladerunner.

    I end this comment with the greatest LOL moment of the entire list:

    73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

  3. haha yeah MWS posted about the nominations at least once on his blog, and I don't think he posted anything for the actual voting. fail!


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