NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

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NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby soulmirror » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:25 am

More than 5,000 of you nominated.
More than 60,000 of you voted.
And now the results are in.
The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles ...

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books


#1 is ... Image

Anyone shocked or outraged by any of the inclusions or exclusions? Why?

Suggestions (and paragraph descriptions) of titles YOU would have included?

Anyone here read 'em ALL?

(How many have you read? Maybe I should be ashamed but I've only read 38 out of the 100 !!!)
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:13 am

soulmirror stirrung up trouble again, eh?

Hmmm... I can imagine the series now... "Soulmirror... Agent of T.R.O.U.B.L.E."

I've read 40 out of 100, and agree with maybe 38 of them. (Xanth grew old for me, fast; and while I have read Lord of the Rings 15 times, I was able to drag myself through The Silmarillion exactly once.)

There were a handful on there that I haven't read, and disagree with because I simply couldn't finish them. Every 5 years or so, I pick up Dune and think, "Hey, maybe this isn't as mind-numbingly boring as I remember." Nope, it is, every single time. I once made it as far as chapter 4 before giving up. I had similar reactions to Shanarra and Thomas Covenant.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:24 am

I've read 45 of the 100, myself.

The list is just a list. We can all point to ones we like or dislike, but in the end it's just subjectivity. We all have different tastes when it comes to reading and that taste changes with time and experiences. If they made it to the list, it means that a significant number of sci-fi/fantasy readers enjoyed it for one reason or another. That's all.

Either way, I think it's a good list because it spans the spectrum of the genres, from thought-provoking literary works like the Left Hand of Darkness to delicious D&D novels like Drizzt (caveat, Drizzt might be thought-provoking to you, but I enjoyed the general badassery of the stories, but don't let me get in the way of you enjoying Drizzt in a different way.) I can enjoy the various novels for different reasons and not feel bad about any of them.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby MJNL » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:43 am

Yeah, I saw that. I was confused by a few of the picks because they weren't actually sci-fi/fantasy--like Animal Farm. It's political satire for crying out loud. Just because it has talking animals doesn't mean it's fantasy. Dude.

But then again, I got really weirded out when a teenager talked about Animal Farm and Charolett's (sp?) Web as two ends of the same spectrum...
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Jess » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:54 am

I've read over half (52-55, depending on how you count series I didn't finish, and assuming I didn't forget I read something).

There are some pretty stunning omissions, but that's prone to happen when voting is involved in the process. I've seen worse lists, though.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby E.CaimanSands » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:43 am

I've read 30-something too, depending on how you count. There are quite a few amazon rainforest sized series there, and ship-sinking single volumes.

There are also quite a lot I haven't heard of. wotf012
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Alex Kane » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:52 am

I've read 17 or 18, but at least half of them are on my shelf. Hmm. I have a very bad habit of picking a more recent novel over a classic one. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Neuromancer, and The Stand are my favorites.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby izanobu » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:10 pm

On any Top X list, things will get left out. Some of my favorites are on here though (like The Princess Bride and Sunshine among many others).

If we count reading at least one book in each of the series mentioned, I've read 97 out of the 100. The three I haven't read are:
Rendezvous With Rama
The Eyre Affair
The Kingkiller Chronicles

I intend to read the Name of the Wind eventually. Not sure about those other two (I'd never even heard of the Eyre Affair...)

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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby E.CaimanSands » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:56 pm

izanobu wrote:If we count reading at least one book in each of the series mentioned, I've read 97 out of the 100. The three I haven't read are:
Rendezvous With Rama
The Eyre Affair
The Kingkiller Chronicles



Crikey, that's dedication for you.
Of those three I remember Rendezvous being very good, probably my favourite ACC. Admittedly I read it when I was about 14 so I can't swear it's as good as I remember it.

As for the other two, I haven't heard of them. wotf012
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby izanobu » Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:15 pm

Really? In the Name of the Wind? Patrick Rothfuss? It's a best-seller at the moment.

And it isn't dedication. I just love to read. A lot. When you've been reading 200-300 books a year for most of your life (and much of that in the SF/F genre), you tend to get a lot read. wotf008

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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:03 pm

E.CaimanSands wrote:
As for the other two, I haven't heard of them.


Rothfuss, besides being a former WOTF winner, is a hell-a-ciously good writer. The Kingkiller Chronicles are not only wonderful reads, but amazing in their storytelling jujitsu. I've read them a couple of times, for enjoyment and to try and figure out what he's doing. If he pulls off the third book, they'll gone down as one of the all time great trilogies.

Of course, that's just my opinion. ;p
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby E.CaimanSands » Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:20 pm

Most of the 30+ books on that list that I've actually read are novels I read a long time ago, in my teens. For about a decade after hitting college I read relatively little of anything. Since then I've been reading again. But I mostly read short SF, and listen to podcasts. At longer lengths much of what I read is non-SF.

I'm reading non-SF right now: George Pelecanos. The Turnaround. Awesome book.
Before that I read Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. Not awesome, but interesting.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby soulmirror » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:09 pm

I like that two graphic novels are included, too.

(The article comments that it knowingly excluded YA titles like Twilight and Harry Potter ... but it includes graphic novels? Interesting to the point of perplexing, actually)

And then how many of the books have been turned into films ...

(And how many should be turned into films! I recognize that the complexities of a novel don't often fit into a film, but you'd think Great Ideas could be adapted nonetheless.)

That sci-fi / fantasy ... it gets around. wotf008
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby WriteToLive » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:43 am

I can't tell you how many of those I have read. At least half of the top 10 (I have a copy of LotR and the first book of Song of Ice and Fire.

Still, I am not shocked to see Ender's Game getting a higher nod than Dune. Goodreads already has Ender's game as the number 1 Sci Fi novel. But, I am shocked to see Hitchhiker got a higher position.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Pat R Steiner » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:26 am

I've read 59. Saw another half-dozen on my "I need to check out that book someday" list.

The thing I've noticed for me is that, besides not reading as much since I started to write my own stories, is that I won't give a novel as much time before I give up on it and set it aside. When I was a teen, I'd read anything and everything. Lately, there haven't been that many novels that grabbed me from the get-go. The last one that kept me wowed from start to end was Joe Hill's Horns. Either I've become a book snob or I'm too lazy. Or my eyesight has gotten so bad. . . .
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Alex Kane » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:46 am

Pat R Steiner wrote:I've read 59. Saw another half-dozen on my "I need to check out that book someday" list.

The thing I've noticed for me is that, besides not reading as much since I started to write my own stories, is that I won't give a novel as much time before I give up on it and set it aside. When I was a teen, I'd read anything and everything. Lately, there haven't been that many novels that grabbed me from the get-go. The last one that kept me wowed from start to end was Joe Hill's Horns. Either I've become a book snob or I'm too lazy. Or my eyesight has gotten so bad. . . .

I do this same thing. After forty or fifty pages -- or even 150 -- if I'm not totally enthralled by the book, I set it aside for later (or, less often, never). I recently set aside a bulging space opera book in favor of King's Carrie because the space opera wasn't grabbing me.

Hill's Horns is my #1 favorite novel. Just brilliant.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby MJNL » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:40 am

I do the same thing nowadays, which is kind of unfortunate. I give a book about 100 pages to really get going, then give it up as a lost cause if it's not retaining my attention by then. To be honest I wouldn’t have finished A Game of Thrones if my husband hadn’t begged me to (although I think it was around page 300 that I wanted to put it down)--too many boring POVs interspersed with the interesting ones.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby E.CaimanSands » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:09 am

The alternative is to skip great chunks rather than abandon a book. I prefer to do that unless the book strikes me as having little merit at all.

I skipped large swathes of The Heart of Darkness recently I must admit, it did seem to ramble on rather. But it was worth reading to the end, as the end was unquestionably the best part.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby izanobu » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:31 pm

I give a book 50 pages, but it is pretty rare these days that I have to put a book down (thank you Kindle and sampling, and good book review blogs!). Mostly the ones I end up not finishing are ones I've download free onto my kindle (usually free romances that end up being too terrible to continue).

Since I started writing, I read more books. I figure authors who can write books that sell know something about writing and I need to learn that something. It's the entire idea behind my library project-http://overactive.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/library-study-project/ . I haven't even made my way through all the best-sellers yet, much less the well-selling ones. I think my writing is definitely improving because of it, even from the books I haven't liked as much, because it makes me look at what the writer was doing that might have appealed to such a large audience and then I have to try to figure out how to incorporate that into my own work. I know that there are selling writers out there who apparently read almost no books (one of them taught at my Clarion, and this person wasn't one of the ones who had a lot of craft knowledge to divulge, which doesn't surprise me at all), but I don't intend to be one of them. The writers I admire read a lot and I think it shows in their work.

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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby E.CaimanSands » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:03 pm

I think you're right, Annie, that reading a lot is only likely to improve your writing. I probably don't read enough, I don't read like I did when I was a kid, there's too many distractions these days like this forum, grrr! wotf016

Having said that though, I think the most important time to read is during childhood. And even more than that, learn a bit of poetry as a kid. Until I was 10 I had hardly any schooling, I largely taught myself to read and that was about all I could do. That lack of primary education probably didn't help my maths, but maybe it's helped me be a better writer! wotf007
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Alex Kane » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:11 pm

I dunno that the reading you did as a child is necessary better, somehow, than the reading you do today, but I will agree that the stories I grew up reading have probably influenced me the most at the raw story level. Between the ages of, I dunno, 8 and 18, I read everything from Star Wars tie-ins to Arthur C. Clarke to Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club to Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and several of the Dune and Harry Potter books. The stuff I try to read nowadays is either classic SF/horror that I missed out on growing up or contemporary works by newer writers, and I think that these works have a lot more impact on how I tell a story, on a sentence-by-sentence basis as well as other fundamental craft issues.

Annie's definitely right, though, that every book has *something* to teach you: Even the worst ones can teach you, by showing you how not to write.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby soulmirror » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:24 pm

My concern (logical or not) is sometimes that by reading badly written prose, somehow its voice will seep into mine. I keep thinking I should read The Da Vinci Code just because it was a huge hit and because i liked the movie ... but I've picked it up several times and had to put it down. Don't wanna be tainted. Don't want it to poison my wannabe well water. And yet: whatever it is, it sold millions of copies, thrilled millions of readers. Who am I to doubt?

And that's obviously badly written. What damage might the subtle-written badness do?

------> What famous, giants-of-the-genre authors ... are accepted to have been basically poor craftsmen with words (however well-loved their stories) ??? Suggestions ???
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Alex Kane » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:39 pm

soulmirror wrote:My concern (logical or not) is sometimes that by reading badly written prose, somehow its voice will seep into mine. I keep thinking I should read The Da Vinci Code just because it was a huge hit and because i liked the movie ... but I've picked it up several times and had to put it down. Don't wanna be tainted. Don't want it to poison my wannabe well water. And yet: whatever it is, it sold millions of copies, thrilled millions of readers. Who am I to doubt?

And that's obviously badly written. What damage might the subtle-written badness do?

------> What famous, giants-of-the-genre authors ... are accepted to have been basically poor craftsmen with words (however well-loved their stories) ??? Suggestions ???

Arthur C. Clarke's writing is highly criticized, but I think the scope of his ideas and his storytelling ability trump any faults his prose might be said to have. Personally, I think he's a genius, a pioneer, and a fabulous writer.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby izanobu » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:40 pm

My feeling on the matter is that when you are selling millions of copies of each book you write, THEN you can worry about "bad" books infecting your writing. Until then, probably any book selling millions of copies (or even hundreds of thousands) has something to teach you that is far more valuable than any detriment to your writing.

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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:08 pm

izanobu wrote:My feeling on the matter is that when you are selling millions of copies of each book you write, THEN you can worry about "bad" books infecting your writing. Until then, probably any book selling millions of copies (or even hundreds of thousands) has something to teach you that is far more valuable than any detriment to your writing.


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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby Alex Kane » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:19 pm

Yeah, I don't think bad writing can do anything negative to your own natural authorial voice, so long as you're staying true to yourself and still reading a healthy dosage of good books as well.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:35 am

soulmirror wrote:My concern (logical or not) is sometimes that by reading badly written prose, somehow its voice will seep into mine. I keep thinking I should read The Da Vinci Code just because it was a huge hit and because i liked the movie ... but I've picked it up several times and had to put it down. Don't wanna be tainted.


I think it's presumptuous to assume that any bestseller is somehow beneath us neo-pros. Storytelling trumps prose every day and Dan Brown is a good storyteller. Instead of getting stuck on tricks with words, trying reading it for the structure and how he builds the suspense. As you said, millions of people can't be wrong.
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby soulmirror » Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:46 am

Okay ... but I'm warning you, if I read much Dan Brown and then proceed to sell millions of copies of my books ... I'll know who to blame! wotf006
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby MJNL » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:28 am

Lol. wotf019
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Re: NPR's "Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books" of all time

Postby vanaaron » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:43 am

Scott, I can't comment specifically on The Da Vinci Code, as it's one of the books I deliberately haven't read, so as to avoid having to argue with people who like it (Twilight is in the same category). But in general, you can learn a lot by reading bad fiction. Seeing mistakes that other authors make and learning how to avoid them is often easier than trying to imitate all the things a skillful author does well in writing a good story.


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