31 August 2007

Top 15 great science-fiction books

The List Universe has posted a list of the top 15 great SF books. In their opinion, that is. You can see their comments (as well as those of dozens of other folks) at the link above. Here are mine.

1. The Time Machine - H G Wells
This was one of the books I had in comic-book format back when I was a kid (lo, these many years ago), along with The First Men in the Moon and The War of the Worlds, by the same author. TWotW is the only one of the three I've gone on to read as actual books, though I keep meaning to do so with the other two.

2. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein
One of only two books by RAH I've started but been unable to finish). I think I got a few pages into the second chapter the second time I tried it. The phrase "incredibly, unutterably boring" doesn't come close to describing it.... (The other book I didn't finish was Job: A Comedy of Justice; I got about halfway through it before losing interest.)

3. The Lensman series - E E “Doc” Smith
I've read Triplanetary, the first book in this series; can't remember what I thought of it at the time (~35 years ago), but I didn't go on to read any of the other six books. I did, on the other hand, enjoy The Skylark of Space and its three sequels.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke
This was originally a short story called "The Sentinel," which I really enjoyed; the book was okay. I'm ambivalent about the movie version, which had a great sound track and opening sequence (the apes) but left me totally confused at the end.

5. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
I've read this one twice, once back around 4th grade and once a year or two ago. Enjoyed it rather more the first time round.

6. The Foundation series - Isaac Asimov
I enjoyed these, at least as far as I got with them. I read the first one (Foundation), and started the second (Foundation and Empire) but didn't finish it - not because I didn't like it, but because I was distracted by other books. Someday I really will go back and finish it. (I do prefer Asimov's non-fiction to his SF, though.)

7. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
I've only read one book by Vonnegut: The Sirens of Titan. That was enough to keep me from ever developing any interest in any of his other works.

8. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
My roommate in the barracks at Pearl Harbour had a single-volume collection of the Hitchhiker books. I read the introduction, which talked about ths history of the stories - books, radio, telly, &c - and found it fascinating. Then I tried reading the book itself, and couldn't work up any interest at all. Not sure if I finished the first chapter or not.

9. Dune - Frank Herbert
I bought this book and what at the time were its only sequels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, as a set from the SF Book Club back around '78 or '79. Still haven't read them.

10. Neuromancer - William Gibson
I'm not real big on cyberpunk, so this is another book I've never been tempted to read.

11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K Dick
I've seen a few minutes of Blade Runner, the film based on this book. (Thanks to being on submarines, I've seen a few minutes each of many, many movies, glimpsed as I passed through the mess decks either on watch or whilst getting coffee.) Never have gotten around to reading the book. Dick also wrote "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," which I loved (it had a much better ending than the film version, Total Recall), and The Man in the High Castle, which I didn't (boring, though at least I did finish it).

12. Gateway - Frederik Pohl
The cover, as shown in the Wikipedia article about the book, looks familiar; I think it's another book I started but didn't finish because I was sidetracked by other books.

13. Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card
I read and enjoyed the original novelette, but wasn't interested enough to pick up the novel or any of its sequels.

14. 1984 - George Orwell
Ah - at last, another book I've actually read! And liked! I think I liked Orwell's Animal Farm a little better, though on the other hand I've reread 1984 but not AF.

15. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Read this one back around high school, too, and thought it was all right - not as good as 1984, though.

Yes, I freely admit that I'm not one to read books just because they're considered classics, or because of the awards they get....*

The folks who wrote this list admitted that they would have included something by Jules Verne if they'd been able to decide on a single book. I would have included a different book by RAH, as well as books by Anderson and Piper.

H/T to Sherry at Semicolon.

* Okay, so I'm reading my way through the Newbery Medal winners, and considering going on to the Caldecott Medal winners. Sue me.

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