I’ve done it. I’ve finished the list. I am now officially a science fiction expert! Here’s how things ended up.
Best of the Most Prolific
Favorite Asimov: The Gods Themselves
Favorite Clarke: The City and the Stars
Favorite Dick: UBIK, though you REALLY should check out VALIS too.
Favorite Heinlein: The Door into Summer
Favorite Stephenson: Silly: Zodiac (it’s not on the list, I know. Read it anyway). Serious: probably Anathem? Honestly, it’s really, really hard to choose.
Favorite Vonnegut: The Sirens of Titan. But I still can’t actually bring myself to recommend it unless you just really are in the mood to fall into a pit of despair.
My Top 17
(above authors excluded)
I don’t think I could possibly order these, so I’m going to sort them by date of publication.
- Brave New World
- Earth Abides
- The Demolished Man
- Mission of Gravity
- Space Merchants
- A Canticle for Leibowitz
- A Clockwork Orange
- Roadside Picnic
- The Cyberiad
- The Book of the New Sun Tetralogy
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- A Fire Upon the Deep
- The Time Traveler’s Wife
Most Alien Aliens: either Roadside Picnic or Solaris
Most Interesting Time Travel Mechanism: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Best Soft-Fi: tie between Way Station, the Chrysalids, and Day of the Triffids
Most Disappointing: The Reality Dysfunction. It comes SO CLOSE to being utterly amazing.
Just The Worst: tie between Battlefield Earth (the only one I did not finish!) and Dhalgren
Books not on the list that darn well ought to be
- Nancy Kress, “Beggars in Spain” – what happens to the world when we genetically engineer people to not need sleep?
- Octavia Butler, The Xengogenesis Trilogy (Dawn/Adulthood Rites/Imago) – An entirely different take on “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”
- Charles Stross, “The Atrocity Archives” – cyberpunk spy thriller Mythos comedy. Why the heck haven’t you read this yet.
- China Mieville, “Embassytown” – for best use of exolinguistics I’ve ever encountered.
- Edwin A Abbott, “Flatland” – how this was not included in the original list is beyond me, it is a legit classic.