Typing Faster

January 19, 2010

Changing It Up A Bit: The 100 Greatest Sci Fi and Fantasy Novels of All Time

Filed under: Novels — petertypingfaster @ 7:01 pm

No film or TV today. Instead we’re going back to the printed word. Specifically to an interesting list put together by Alex Carnevale.

I’m a sci fi nut, so whenever I see a list of great sci fi books I’m compelled to check it out. Usually there a few names that keep popping up. Herbert, Heinlein, Clarke, etc. This list surprised me, because while those names were on it, there were a lot of names that I just haven’t read much of. Definitely looking forward to checking some of these titles out when I get the chance. Here’s the list.

100. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin
99. Sorcerer’s Son by Phyllis Eisenstein
98. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
97. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
95. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
94. The Company by K.J. Parker
93. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe
92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
91. Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
90. Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch
89. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
88. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
87. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
86. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, Jr.
85. Sphere by Michael Crichton
84. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
83. The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
82. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
81. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
80. Watership Down by Richard Adams
79. Griffin’s Egg by Michael Swannick
78. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
77. Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe
76. Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
75. Ringworld by Larry Niven
74. Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling
73. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
72. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance
71. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
69. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
68. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
67. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
66. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
65. A Song For Lya by George R.R. Martin
64. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
63. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
62. Wildlife by James Patrick Kelly
61. The Book of Knights by Yves Maynard
60. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
59. Forever Peace by Joe Halderman
58. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
56. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

55. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
54. The Book of Short Sun by Gene Wolfe
53. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
52. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov
51. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
50. The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe
49. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
48. The Demon Princes by Jack Vance
47. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
46. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
45. Alastor by Jack Vance
44. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
43. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
42. Farmer In The Sky by Robert Heinlein
41. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
40. Animal Farm by George Orwell
39. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
38. Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
37. Lyonesse by Jack Vance
36. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
35. True Names by Vernor Vinge
34. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
33. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
32. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
31. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
30. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
29. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
28. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
26. 1984 by George Orwell
25. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
24. The Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance
23. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
22. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
20. The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe
19. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
18. Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
17. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
16. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
15. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
14. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman
13. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
12. Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance
11. Dune by Frank Herbert
10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
5. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
3. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
2. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
1. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

42 out of 100. Guess I’ve got some reading to do.



  1. Thanks for the list. Will stock up to read in my down time. Or just for a break from all the history I’m reading.

    Is Left Hand of Darkness by LeGuin on the list? And I, Robot should probably be there.

    Comment by deb — January 20, 2010 @ 6:06 am

    • “The Left Hand of Darkness” is in the top ten, but “I, Robot” surprisingly didn’t make the cut. They went with “Second Foundation” and “The Gods Themselves” for their Asimov picks.

      Comment by petertypingfaster — January 20, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  2. While I have to admit to having only read about 18 on that list, there’s stuff that’s not on there, that (okay, yes that I’ve read), that I would have expected to be on there – even if just towards a classical understanding of things. Glad there’s a Lovecraft text on there, but it seems almost like a “oh we need some Lovecraft” – and there’s a lot of novels that I wouldn’t have put up (you know my feelings on Kay) especially when it comes to having all four of the novels on there.

    But yes. Interesting.

    Comment by Elize — January 20, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    • Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that I expected to see that’s not up there, and they definitely copped out by listing series a bunch of times (I think I counted like 10 or 12 series on there). I was surprised by how many names on there I hadn’t read (Gene Wolfe and Jack Vance especially).

      Say what you will about Kay, his novels are widely considered some of the best fantasy novels published in the past couple of decades (speaking more to things like Tigana and The Sarantine Mosaic, than The Fionavar Tapestry…if only for the dates of publication). He definitely belongs on the list.

      Comment by petertypingfaster — January 20, 2010 @ 9:13 am

      • I’m not saying it doesn’t belong on there. Just, perhaps not twice (that could be said for Tolkien or Philip K Dick as well, though I love them dearly, too).

        You know my opinions on “widely considered” though, and generally I don’t concur. That doesn’t mean it goes on a list.

        But some of the novels from some of the authors seem odd, is all.

        Comment by Elize Morgan — January 21, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  3. I agree there’s some stuff missing, but think Kay def deserves his spot. If you haven’t read it, you should also read his “Last Light of the Sun”.

    Comment by Priscilla — January 20, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    • Is Midwich Cuckoos there? And Day of the Triffids? All things Sturgeon, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein. I guess there are too many. Would love to see a list of the top horror lit as well.

      Comment by deb — January 21, 2010 @ 6:16 am

    • I’m not saying he doesn’t belong on there. At all. I personally hate his writing style. I’ve read a lot of his stuff, I find it pedantic. Do people love him? Yeah. Do I get that? Yes. I respect him, and I respect the fact that he wrote an amazing bunch of high fantasy that are, undoubtedly, some of the best CanLit out there.

      I just don’t think if you’re going to have a hundred-best-of, no matter what, that it’s good to have one (or two or three) authors repeatedly. Personally? I call cheating on that in list making.

      That’s how I feel

      Comment by Elize Morgan — January 21, 2010 @ 8:39 am

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