Discussion:
Twenty Tired Old SF Books All True SF Fans Already Have on Their Shelves
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Quadibloc
2017-03-04 06:28:58 UTC
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...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.

In at least two cases, I've included novellas, which one might have on one's
shelf as part of a collection with other works as well. I've also included a
trilogy - and a tetralogy - instead of one of the books in either.

The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells

Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon

1984 - George Orwell

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury

Dune - Frank Herbert

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
If This Goes On... - Robert A. Heinlein

The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov

Against the Fall of Night - Arthur C. Clarke
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke

City - Clifford D. Simak

Cities in Flight - James Blish

Make Room, Make Room! - Harry Harrison

Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller

The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham

While the stories on _this_ list are stories of great merit, or they would not
have become so well-recognized as they are, that this list may be influenced by
familiarity and recognition in addition to merit is a charge I admit I could not
fully defend against.

John Savard
Quadibloc
2017-03-04 06:49:12 UTC
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And here are a few more that didn't quite make the cut...

Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
Macroscope - Piers Anthony
A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge

Also, of course, Wells, Asimov, and Clarke could have easily had additional
entries added - and I left Verne out as this list was from an English-language
perspective, and in general the English-language translations of his works were
abysmal until recently.

Some of the greatest SF, of course, is not in the form of novels but short
stories.

The Shadow Out of Time by H. P. Lovecraft qualifies as science fiction, but I
couldn't claim with a straight face that it was important and influential to
that genre, however important and influential Lovecraft's oeuvre may have been
to the horror genre.

John Savard
William Hyde
2017-03-04 20:50:58 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
And here are a few more that didn't quite make the cut...
Tau Zero - Poul Anderson
Macroscope - Piers Anthony
A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge
I've read, and own all of the books in your first post, and these three as well. I enjoyed them all, to various degrees, but would not agree that they are all of "great merit".

"If this goes on.." in particular, is not reprinted because it is of great merit, but because it is a Heinlein and a key part of his future history. Had it been written by Charles Tanner or Nat Schachner, Jr. as a standalone novel it would likely be long forgotten.
Post by Quadibloc
Also, of course, Wells, Asimov, and Clarke could have easily had additional
entries added
Or Heinlein could have had one or two different titles from the, to me, unsatisfactory pair you chose. "Double Star", or "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", for example.

William Hyde
Quadibloc
2017-03-05 11:27:06 UTC
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Post by William Hyde
I've read, and own all of the books in your first post, and these three as
well. I enjoyed them all, to various degrees, but would not agree that they
are all of "great merit".
"If this goes on.." in particular, is not reprinted because it is of great
merit, but because it is a Heinlein and a key part of his future history. Had
it been written by Charles Tanner or Nat Schachner, Jr. as a standalone novel
it would likely be long forgotten.
I'll have to admit I'm a sucker for dystopias that seem to promote the value of
freedom. Thus, I might have been tempted to also include Zamyatin's _We_, and
even _This Perfect Day_ by Ira Levin.
Post by William Hyde
Or Heinlein could have had one or two different titles from the, to me,
unsatisfactory pair you chose. "Double Star", or "The Moon is a Harsh
Mistress", for example.
Yes, TMiaHM shows up on many lists. I've read "Double Star", and I would not be
tempted to include it on a short list of all-time science fiction greats, even
if it is by some measures one of Heinlein's best. "Beyond this Horizon", another
early Heinlein novel, is also one I failed to consider.

This list was a hasty attempt to create an alternative list to the one presented recently here which was... a "non-alternative" list, one which tends to the clichéd, one that includes the obvious popular titles.

Other omissions...

Gateway, by Frederic Pohl
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip José Farmer

Books I enjoyed, but which I didn't see as major or widely acclaimed, even if
they are on some of the lists I saw as I researched the matter so that I could
make a list of 20 titles... only rattling of about 15 or so from memory.

In any case, I welcome comments that give an insight into the difference between
the truly best books, and those that are simply the most well-known.

Also, I did include a story collection - The Martian Chronicles - for Bradbury,
having dropped The Illustrated Man. Generally, I avoided those, or I would have
given strong consideration to No Different Flesh from Zenna Henderson.

The Pern series, on the other hand, was excluded from the start - technically
SF, it was still aimed at the tastes of a fantasy reader. Even _more_ firmly
excluded, however much I (and others) have enjoyed them were A Princess of Mars
and The Master-Mind of Mars from Burroughs, as this was a list of works with
some pretensions to being serious SF.

John Savard
Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
2017-03-04 14:52:18 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
There's four I'm pretty sure I don't have on my shelves, and three or
four others I'm not sure I have.
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.livejournal.com
The Starmaker
2017-03-04 20:16:41 UTC
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Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
There's four I'm pretty sure I don't have on my shelves, and three or
four others I'm not sure I have.
--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
http://seawasp.livejournal.com
not only that i don't have any on my shelve...i don't even have a
shelve.
Quadibloc
2017-03-05 11:15:37 UTC
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Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
There's four I'm pretty sure I don't have on my shelves, and three or
four others I'm not sure I have.
I'll admit that the title should have just said "probably".

John Savard
Carl Fink
2017-03-04 15:12:12 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
Wow, I've at least started 100% of those.
--
Carl Fink ***@nitpicking.com

Read my blog at blog.nitpicking.com. Reviews! Observations!
Stupid mistakes you can correct!
Ahasuerus
2017-03-04 15:47:38 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
[snip]
Post by Quadibloc
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller
It *could* be interesting. Then again, maybe not...
Kevrob
2017-03-04 23:59:35 UTC
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Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
[snip]
Post by Quadibloc
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller
It *could* be interesting. Then again, maybe not...
Brother Willy teaching Brother Biff....?

Kevin R
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2017-03-04 17:30:01 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
I own all of these and have read nineteen of them.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
The Starmaker
2017-03-04 20:17:46 UTC
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Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
I own all of these and have read nineteen of them.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
i haven't read any of them except a couple on top in the comic book
version...
The Starmaker
2017-03-04 20:15:23 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
In at least two cases, I've included novellas, which one might have on one's
shelf as part of a collection with other works as well. I've also included a
trilogy - and a tetralogy - instead of one of the books in either.
The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
I saw War of the Worlds on tv, how did they know the aliens were from
Mars???
Post by Quadibloc
Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
1984 - George Orwell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Dune - Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
If This Goes On... - Robert A. Heinlein
The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
Against the Fall of Night - Arthur C. Clarke
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
City - Clifford D. Simak
Cities in Flight - James Blish
Make Room, Make Room! - Harry Harrison
Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
While the stories on _this_ list are stories of great merit, or they would not
have become so well-recognized as they are, that this list may be influenced by
familiarity and recognition in addition to merit is a charge I admit I could not
fully defend against.
John Savard
Quadibloc
2017-03-05 11:14:48 UTC
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Post by The Starmaker
I saw War of the Worlds on tv, how did they know the aliens were from
Mars???
I don't know how they knew in the movie.

In the book, before the Martians landed, an astronomer watching Mars had seen
mysterious explosions on Mars - the Martians launching their spaceships at Earth.

John Savard
Lynn McGuire
2017-03-07 20:13:35 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
In at least two cases, I've included novellas, which one might have on one's
shelf as part of a collection with other works as well. I've also included a
trilogy - and a tetralogy - instead of one of the books in either.
The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
1984 - George Orwell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Dune - Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
If This Goes On... - Robert A. Heinlein
The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
Against the Fall of Night - Arthur C. Clarke
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
City - Clifford D. Simak
Cities in Flight - James Blish
Make Room, Make Room! - Harry Harrison
Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
While the stories on _this_ list are stories of great merit, or they would not
have become so well-recognized as they are, that this list may be influenced by
familiarity and recognition in addition to merit is a charge I admit I could not
fully defend against.
John Savard
I own and have read all but two of these. The Stapledon is new to men. I rejected the Day of the Triffids as I just did not like it.

I would prefer _Citizen of the Galaxy_ rather than either of the Heinleins.

Lynn
Lynn McGuire
2017-03-07 20:16:16 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
...so they don't need to be told they _should_ have them on their shelves.
In at least two cases, I've included novellas, which one might have on one's
shelf as part of a collection with other works as well. I've also included a
trilogy - and a tetralogy - instead of one of the books in either.
The Time Machine - H. G. Wells
The War of the Worlds - H. G. Wells
Last and First Men - Olaf Stapledon
1984 - George Orwell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Dune - Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
If This Goes On... - Robert A. Heinlein
The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
Against the Fall of Night - Arthur C. Clarke
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
City - Clifford D. Simak
Cities in Flight - James Blish
Make Room, Make Room! - Harry Harrison
Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
A Canticle for Liebowitz - Arthur M. Miller
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
While the stories on _this_ list are stories of great merit, or they would not
have become so well-recognized as they are, that this list may be influenced by
familiarity and recognition in addition to merit is a charge I admit I could not
fully defend against.
John Savard
And I have a new copy of _City_ in my SBR since the last one proablu disappeared in the Great Flood of '89.

Lynn

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