Saturday, May 29, 2010

SF Top 36

UPDATES: below

I compiled this list of science fiction favorites in 1995:

1. Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
2. Dune, Frank Herbert
3. Childhood's End, Arthur Clarke
4. 2001, Arthur Clarke
5. Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
6. Citizen of the Galaxy, Robert Heinlein
7. Glory Road, Robert Heinlein
8. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
9. Mindbridge, John Halderman
10. Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle
11. The Gods Themselves, Issac Asimov
12. Starship Trooper, Robert Heinlein


1. Nightfall, Issac Asimov
2. The Star, Arthur Clarke
3. By His Bootstraps, Robert Heinlein
4. All Us Zombies, Robert Heinlein
5. First Contact, Murray Leinster
6. Light of Other Days, Bob Shaw
7. Revival Meeting, Dannie Plachta
8. The Rocket of 1955, C. M. Kornbluth
9. There is a Tide, Larry Niven
10. Air Raid, John Varley
11. Life Line, Robert Heinlein
12. Neutron Star, Larry Niven


1. Persistance of Vision, John Varley
2. If this Goes On, Robert Heinlein
3. Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott
4. The Moon Moth, Jack Vance
5. The Last Castle, Jack Vance
6. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
7. Farewell to the Master, Harry Bates
8. The Midas Plague, Frederik Pohl
9. In Hiding, Wilmar H. Shiras
10. E for Effort, T.L. Sherred
11. The Weapons Shop, A.E. Van Vogt
12. An Ornament to His Profession, Charles L. Harness
I've read little SF since then, and can remember liking only one: Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. Outside of that, how well does this 15 year-old ranking stand up?

MORE (June 7th):

In comments, Geoffrey Britain urged reading David Weber's On Basilisk Station. He was right. I'm on page 146, and already rank it as number 6.5 in SF novels. I've already ordered the next four in the series. Another update when I finish this one.

STILL MORE (June 9th):

Finished last night. I'm sticking with 6.5--which is excellent.


Anonymous said...

Add "Stranger in a Strange Land" to it and I'll love it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

There's a lot of overlap with this series, so I'm guessing Ben Bova and Robert Silverberg agree with you. That's pretty good company.

Geoffrey Britain said...

Any list that omits David Weber's Honor Harrington novels is incomplete. Judge for yourself;
On Basilisk Station

OBloodyHell said...

> 4. All Us Zombies, Robert Heinlein

Ummm, that's "All You Zombies".


Geoffrey, I like Weber when he's colluding with someone (S.M Stirling, for example) but it seems like every single solo novel of his I start I wind up putting down after 30-50 pages an never picking back up (very unusual for me).

I haven't read the HH books, so they may be an exception, I can't say. But somehow he manages to bore me when he's writing by himself. Nothing I can say I dislike -- just boredom.

On the overall topic, I've read so much that it would be almost impossible for me to narrow it down to such a small selection. But I concur with many, if not all, of the items on this list being worthy of consideration.

I always like RAH's "Gulf", mayself, for the short/novella category

You also need a "series" list ("future histories" excluded) -- S.M. Stirlings' Nantucket ("Island In The Sea Of Time", etc) and/or Draka series, David Gerrolds' unfinished War Against the Chtorr, and EE "Doc" Smith's Lensman and/or Skylark series come to mind as candidates here, as does (Geoffrey will be pleased) The Stirling/Weber collusion "The General".

hinkclan said...

Robert Heinlein should be required reading for every high school student.

His views on what makes a free citizen and a useful adult have guided my life since I read him in 7th grade.

"Starship Troopers" made me join the US Army Paratroopers, best thing I ever did. Taught me more about myself than anything I've ever done.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Hinkclan - we've got an 8th-grader who we have been trying to find a reading niche for (he's a nephew we inherited last year - that didn't happen with the two we brought up from birth). He's also a default liberal, on account of needing to be coolest and retro, and because his parents have tended to be spongers. Thanks for the thought. Maybe we'll get two birds with one stone here.

Carl said...

GB, I haven't read Weber, so I ordered the book you mentioned (I'm heading out of town tomorrow, so can't start yet--it's not available as a B&N eBook).

hinkclan & AVI: In 5th Grade, I protested book report assignments by refusing to read. My teacher assigned me Heinlein's "If This Goes On." It turned me into a reader for life--and, for all I know, launched the though that 15 years later made me a conservative.

Anonymous said...

If you add a "series" section, be sure to include the Stainless Steel Rat series.

Hatless in Hattiesburg said...

i'm not near the sci-fi fan i sued to be, but i'm curious as to why you rated "speaker for the dead" over "ender's game".

sequels are seldom better than the first story - as anybody who has read any sequel to "dune" should know :)

Carl said...

H_in_H: Speaker for the Dead is the exception to that rule. While Ender's Game is good, it was not yet the product of a mature writer, and the target audience is a bit young. It's similar to Heinlein's "juveniles" (some of which are on my list). Speaker represents a more confident writer, and the book tackles "the human condition" in a way that Ender's Game doesn't even try. The sequel-to-the-sequel, Xenocide, is nowhere near as good, nor are the follow-ons to that book.

Hatless in Hattiesburg said...

good point, thanks.