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50 SF Novels That Everyone Should Read

List from here. As usual, I have bolded those I have read, italicised those I started but did it finish (in this case, series where I have not read every book), and struck through those I bounced off. Also links where I have reviewed the books (or at least some of te series) online.

Ubik, Philip K. Dick
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
The Lord of the Rings trilogy [sic], J.R.R. Tolkien
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Gormenghast series, Mervyn Peake
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
Kindred, Octavia Butler
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
(Odd not to list the entire series)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The City & The City, China Miéville
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

Zone One, Colson Whitehead
The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
The Time Quartet, Madeleine L’Engle
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
The Female Man, Joanna Russ
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson
Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Dune Chronicles, Frank Herbert
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Neuromancer, William Gibson
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Foundation series, Isaac Asimov
Discworld, Terry Pratchett
(Yes, I have read all 45 novels)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Among Others, Jo Walton
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard
Witch World, Andre Norton
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Little, Big, John Crowley

The Dragonriders of Pern series, Anne McCaffrey
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
The Castle trilogy, Diana Wynne Jones
The Giver, Lois Lowry

I confess I have not heard of Colson Whitehead or Lois Lowry, and I have not read anything by Charles Yu or Patricia Wrede; does anyone have any particular thoughts on those writers? The others on the list which I have not read are all works I plan to get around to, or at least sample, by authors with whom I am familiar.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:43 am (UTC)
Thanks I like lists, and I think this is a good meat-and-potatoes roundup of the genre. I have read 33 of them, though not all of some of the series. I think on this recommendation I would like to try 'Zone one' which is about the only one I've never heard of. I have the Charles Yu on my Kindle, just never got round to it.
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:08 am (UTC)
I've read a fair bit of Lois Lowry. I generally like her stuff; it's kind of good old-fashioned (albeit American) childhood fare. Although she's more recent I tend to categorise her stuff along with things like The Railway Children, Swallows and Amazons, that sort of thing.
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:12 am (UTC)
(I responded to the last para without actually having digested the earlier part of the post) - The Giver is good, too.
Aug. 10th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC)
Zone One is a zombie apocalypse that I know some people have spoken highly of.
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:29 am (UTC)
I'm a bit confused. Some of the books listed (like Gormenghast series, Lord of the Rings) I would consider to be fantasy/dark fantasy and not science fiction.
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
In fairness, the list describes itself as science fiction and fantasy; the "sf novels" formulation is my hasty abbreviation.
Aug. 10th, 2013 09:54 am (UTC)
I have read and enjoyed the Charles Yu. I am not sure if I would put it on a list of 50 must-reads but I would definitely recommend you read it. Fun with time-travel paradoxes and family relationships we haven't handled as well as we should.
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:11 am (UTC)
I read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles" last year and really enjoyed them. Fun children's fantasy with a twist on the usual dragons and princesses motifs.
Aug. 10th, 2013 12:26 pm (UTC)
i looove the patricia wrede books listed here, but i haven't read them since high school (lost in the great basement flood of aught two). but they were funny without being stupid, and they had some nice ideas rolling around in them.
Aug. 10th, 2013 01:11 pm (UTC)
The Drowned World is the only Ballard I have read (so far), and I liked it quite a bit. It's also very short.

For someone who doesn't really read science fiction, I've read a lot of the books on this list.
Aug. 10th, 2013 01:44 pm (UTC)
An interesting list, and I've spotted a few titles I haven't read. I'm a bit bemused by a few ommissions, though - no Arthur C. Clarke? Iain M Banks and John Wyndham would be on my must read list too. Ah well, different strokes.
Aug. 10th, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree; and I would also add Bujold, who is a bit of a gateway drug for some of my friends, and Gwyneth Jones - even if I bounce off her prose a bit, she is saying something interesting.
Aug. 10th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC)
I read Charles Yu's "Third Class Superhero" short story collection. Patchy I thought, didn't compel me to go after the novel. Obviously a talent, though.
(no subject) - bookzombie - Aug. 10th, 2013 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 11th, 2013 08:29 am (UTC)
Charles Yu
Unengaging -- yes. I can see how it would appeal to some, but it came across as a bit self satisfied to me. I was thinking maybe it was best enjoyed by geeky guys of a certain age, thinking 30-45. Should I revise down that upper limit a bit, do you think?

Then again, I really liked Neuromancer when it came out, so I'm not sure how much our (mine & nwhyte's) tastes overlap.

Yes, Lois Lowry is a standard children's read in the U.S. Any of Beagle's novels is worth reading; you can hardly go wrong, really.
Aug. 12th, 2013 01:32 pm (UTC)
People say it all the time: they’d love to get into science fiction or fantasy, but they’ve no idea where to start.

Do they really? I guess these straw people probably also say, "I'd love to get into 19th century Russian literature, but I have no idea where to start."
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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