Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Science Fiction Masterpieces

 25 Science Fiction Books That Are Masterpieces

This is a list of 25 science fiction books that will go down or already are considered masterpieces.*

Last night our Science Fiction book group met for the seventh time this year.  Founded as a way of continuing reading and discussions that started in a class at the Basic Program of Liberal Education at the University of Chicago last fall, we began with Freedom by Daniel Suarez (a sequel to his earlier Daemon which was the last book we read in the class) and made our way to American Gods by Neil Gaiman last night. Along the way we have read a variety of different types of Science Fiction including cyberpunk, soft and hard SF, and SF fantasy.  Here is a list of masterpieces of Science Fiction as offered by a contributor to SFF World in 2009.

"Throughout Science Fiction’s history there have been hundreds perhaps thousands of great novels. Lots of these books were ground breaking in their approach and subject matter thereby adding to their appeal for readers. Although I could easily have considered 50 or 100 books to be on this list I have decided to just focus on twenty five books that are definitely masterpieces of science fiction. Now I know I will be excluding some books from this list that deserve to be on it but I am only putting on paper what I consider to be twenty five that deserve it. In any list ever created there will always be some books/authors that get left off no matter how big the list is so please consider this before posting any comments. I also limited each author to only one book each for this list. The list is no particular order so number one does not mean overall best. Here are my twenty five masterpieces of science fiction:"

1. War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells
2. Brave New World,  Aldous Huxley
3. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
4. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
6. Dune, Frank Herbert
7. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
8. Stranger in a Strange, Land, Robert Heinlein
9. Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
10. World of Null-A, A. E. Van Vogt
11. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
12. Flowers For Algernon, Daniel Keyes
13. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
14. 1984, George Orwell
15. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
16. Ringworld, Larry Niven
17. Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
18. Neuromancer, William Gibson
19. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
20. Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
21. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
22. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy & Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams
23. The Andromeda Strain, Michael Chrichton
24. Gateway, Frederick Pohl
25. A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge

Here are my personal favorite books not listed above but all are probably considered or will be masterpieces too:

1. The Voyage of the Space Beagle, A. E. VanVogt
2. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
3. The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
4. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
5. The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin
6. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller
7. When Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer
8. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
9. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
10. Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

*Source: SFF World
Image source: Science Daily


Parrish Lantern said...

2 great lists of which I''ve read quite a few over the years

James said...

Thanks for your comment. I've read most of those on the 25 from SFF World. The additional ten are all personal favorites that are mostly masterpieces, at least among the SF reading cognoscenti.

M. said...

A few comments on sci fi "masterpieces:"

Where are Alfred Bester's classics Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination? If these aren't masterpieces.....?

Two suggestions: Kasuo Ishiguro' s Never Let Me Go, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Two unforgettable reprises of classic sf motifs.

Read and was thrilled by Arthur C Clarke's Childhoods's End at age 15, some 50+ years ago. Does it hold up? Not sure I want to reread....