Top 100 Sci-Fi Books

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My buddy Scott sent me this link: Sci-Fi Lists - Top 100 Sci-Fi Books. It is a pretty good list of the best books of the genre, although I'm sure people could argue about the order (and what's included or not included). As much I liked Dune, I'm not sure I'd consider it #1. 1984, for example, is a much more important book, although it tends to get all the attention for dystopian literature. For an alternative to 1984, check out We.

My recommendations from this list, in no particular order, would be:

  • Ender's Game (my #1 probably)
  • Any of the Neal Stephenson books, especially Diamond Age. I know Snow Crash is cooler (and I'll never forget the scene with the rail gun), I just felt like Diamond Age was neater.
  • Lord of Light - which I've never read, but heard is very good. I was a huge fan of Zelazny's Amber series, which I hear is crap compared to Lord of Light.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz
  • The Handmaid's Tale -feminism and sci-fi, interesting mix
  • Flatland
  • Neuromancer - I still like to think of security in terms of "ice"
  • While not "high art", many of the Star Wars novels are pretty good, especially the Thrawn trilogy.

And while not a book - A Mind Forever Voyaging is the single best sci-fi game ever made.

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Scott Stroz posted on 3/10/2008 at 4:54 AM

I was a big fan of William Shatner's 'Tek' series as well.

And, I think the first Timothy Zahn series of Star Wars books were excellent.

Comment 2 by Steve Bryant posted on 3/10/2008 at 6:40 AM

Zahn's Star Wars and Ender's Game are definitely good. I think Red Mars was seriously undervalued on the list though.

Comment 3 by Jim Priest posted on 3/10/2008 at 5:34 PM

No John Varley? I just read his collection of short stories and it rocked.

Comment 4 by Ben Doom posted on 3/10/2008 at 6:01 PM

I'm not sure I'd suggest *any* of the Neal Stephenson books. I don't much care for what I've read of the Quicksilver cycle, although I know people who do. However, I don't know anyone who thought "The Big U" was a good book. Thankfully, it is short.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 3/10/2008 at 6:18 PM

Ben, I read part of the first book of Quicksilver, and found it dense, and hard to read. I never finished it. If that is your ONLY experience with Stephenson though, I _highly_ recommend you try Snow Crash and Diamond Age.

Scott - you are the second person to recommend Tek. I may have to add that to my wish list.

Comment 6 by Jeff Fleitz posted on 3/10/2008 at 7:42 PM

@ Jim

I agree with you re John Varley. His Gaean Trilogy is top notch.

It's a pretty decent list though. I have read many of them. Glad to see some of the old masters still hold up (Simak, Sturgeon, Pohl).

Comment 7 by Mark Drew posted on 3/11/2008 at 12:19 AM

One of my favorite books amongst those is The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin, apart from being written the year I was born, it has a fantastic parallel writing structure that I loved.

It also made me understand what being an anarchist really means :)

Comment 8 by Michael Williams posted on 3/11/2008 at 12:33 AM

Please someone send this list over to the producers at the SciFi Channel. Maybe they will stop bringing us garbage like "king cobra" and "man bug"...

Comment 9 by Raymond Camden posted on 3/11/2008 at 12:38 AM

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that they show BSG gives them a free pass to air 23 hours of crap the rest of the time. ;)

Comment 10 by Will Swain posted on 3/11/2008 at 6:34 AM

Interesting list. Not sure I'd put Do Androids as Philip K Dick's best book - for me UBIK and A Scanner Darkly are better - but I guess that might have something to do with the movie tie-in. Also would have Iain M Banks a bit higher - his Culture books are excellent sci-fi.

Comment 11 by David Betz posted on 3/11/2008 at 5:39 PM

Ray, you absolutely should read Lord of Light. Truly a classic.

Comment 12 by Raymond Camden posted on 3/11/2008 at 5:46 PM

Added to the wishlist. :)

Comment 13 by Nate Smith posted on 3/12/2008 at 7:25 AM

That's a strong list.

I was going to ask fro Neal Stephenson's autograph once but I didn't have _that much_ paper with me.

Comment 14 by Andy Lynch posted on 3/12/2008 at 3:40 PM

I bought Lord of Light as a used paperback, and I've read it at least a dozen times. It is fantastic. The book isn't that long, but the depth and history of the world that is implied is just incredible.

Comment 15 by Matt Gifford posted on 3/13/2008 at 2:53 PM

One of my all-time favourites books (well, the trilogy) is the Jon Shannow novels, by David Gemmell. Although not entirely sci-fi, they are a must read for fantasy novel readers.

A fantastic trilogy, set in the future, basically about a world after an apocalypse, when the world turned on it's axis. Superb characters, great storylines, and some imagery that is just mind-blowing. I've read the trilogu twice now, and am aiming for my third session soon.

You have to check it out.

Comment 16 by me posted on 7/7/2009 at 8:32 PM

Anyone catch this? I found this release this morning. It’s by NY Times best-selling author Steve Alten and it’s from his new book called Hell’s Aquarium.
Hollywood actress Lana Wood, who once played Plenty O’Toole opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, was attacked by what eyewitnesses say was a Megalodon, a 70-foot, 70,000 pound prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark. The attack occurred in the waters off the coast of Monterey, California. . .in the pages of New York Times best-selling author Steve Alten’s new release MEG: Hell’s Aquarium.
Lana Wood, a former Playboy centerfold, has an extensive career in the movies, and wrote a best-selling memoir about her late sister, actress Natalie Wood, back in 1986. She contacted Steve Alten a year ago and asked him to make her a character in his new MEG book, the fourth and best story in the series.
Lana Wood will be appearing at Comicon in San Diego July 16th – 19th as a featured guest in a special area that will house the "Women of James Bond." George Lazenby, who played 007 in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” will also be appearing. Lana says she will offer free autographs to anyone showing up with a copy of MEG: Hell’s Aquarium.

Comment 17 by psyphi posted on 11/5/2009 at 5:13 AM

I would also recommend
"nSpace" by Dovin Melhee
completely out of the box sci fi novel

Comment 18 by Micah Brown posted on 2/27/2010 at 12:38 AM

One of my favorite series to this day (in fact I've been meaning to re-read it) is the Myst series. there are three books and they are written by the brother that wrote the Myst video games. The books don't neccisarily have anything to do with the games but if you are a fan of the games it'll make it that much better.
They have really good character and pretty maazing stories and help gain a better insight to the dni characters.