Thursday, August 11, 2011

Looking for Escapist Fiction These Days?

Then you're in luck.

NPR spent a bit o' time compiling a list of the best science fiction and fantasy books by reader nominations (caveat: no YA was allowed, so take that, J.K. Rowling). Then they winnowed the list to 237 finalists and finally to the top 100. They even had the temerity to rank them.

I have a problem with combining fantasy and science fiction on the same list. How to compare the Lord of the Rings and 1984? How can Stephen King be on the list at all, when John Brunner and Octavia Butler are omitted?

Over at, John Scalzi gives a brief list of books he would have included in the top 100, and his commenters go to town with their opinions. Worth reading if you're a fan. (A number of folks voiced my thoughts that there's too much Neal Stephenson, and a number of bizarre fantasy choices, like David Eddings' Belgariad and the Thomas Covenant books... they're okay, but the best of all time?)

For the record, the books I was most surprised to see omitted from the top 100, even though they were on the finalist list, were:

  • The Company Wars, by C.J. Cherryh (Downbelow Station, etc. Maybe now one knew them by that kind of kludgy name)
  • Kindred, by Octavia Butler
  • Little, Big, by John Crowley
  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler
  • The Snow Queen, by Joan D. Vinge
  • Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner
Man, The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner wasn't even a finalist. Hard to believe.


Carmella said...

What should Susan read on vacation? Something set in England would be nice. She likes witty, not pompous and a little dark. But not slit-her-wrists dark. She has a Jim Butcher and a Donna Leon tucked in her bag but has plenty of room on her iPad.

Carmella said...

I won't have any time for reading while the family is gone. I am off to doggie sleep-away camp. But if I was to re-read a classic, I would go with Animal Farm, of course.