Top 100 sf(f?) books meme

Gakked from amy34 and celestialgoldfish. I struck out what I read, and italicized what I recommend.  I read a lot when I was younger, and my taste unformed. Some of these books feel dated, others didn't hit my personal sweet spot. And some of these are just plain wonderful and multi-layered, and can be read again and again....
And clearly I have some gaps in my sff education!

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin [first 3 books]

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan(book 1 only)

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss (About halfway)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman(part of one)

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings(I started one)

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan(maybe, can't remember)

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy(started)

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore

74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey [part of book one]

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan(started 1 book)

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson(maybe 1)

96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville[almost)

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis



Found a review of Dreamsnake(by Vonda McIntyre) by Ursula LeGuin via sartorias (Sherwood Smith). I immediately wanted to reread Dreamsnake and went upstairs to see if I indeed had a copy, as I thought I did.

And I did! Bought in 1980, from my meager student income. I also remember reading the short story this was based on before, though I can't remember where. There was a Dutch publisher who regularly published transaltions of anthologies of Nebula and Hugo winners, and my home town library bought some.

So, off I go to reread that wonderful, wonderful book, triggered by LeGuin's great review. I wonder if I still like it the way I did as a teen, or will my appreciation have changed?

Do you remember the book? Or own it? Speak up!

The Wall Street Journal Nonsense about YA Literature

Originally posted by kylecassidy at The Wall Street Journal Nonsense about YA Literature
It's kind of like robbing a bank that keeps its cash in an unguarded shoebox in a public park to say "I'm going to take on the Wall Street Journal's commentary on YA Literature, "Darkness Too Visible" penned by Meghan Cox Gurdon" whose inbox, no doubt, like the illustrious Journal's is probably filling up with incredulous and angry comments from people more eloquent and informed than I. But Gurdon provides extremely low hanging fruit that it's really hard not to swat at, beginning with the proposion that Young Adult Literature is: "all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation ... dark, dark stuff"

Which is sort of like standing in a mall parking lot and shouting "ALL CARS ARE RED!" One hardly need point out that Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Phantom Tollbooth, The House With the Clock in its Walls, the Chronicles of Narnia, and hundreds of other classics of yesterday are still YA literature, and are still on shelves. It also ignores modern classics like Ysabeau Wilce's Flora Segunda which has neither vampires nor suicides, but a daring young heroine who would be excellent role model material for any daughter I had. On top of that, it ignores the fact that some of the greatest works of YA literature, like Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are ... well, dark at times.

Gurdon goes on to make the bizarre claim that "...40 years ago, no one had to contend with young-adult literature because there was no such thing", contending that it began in 1967 with the publication of The Outsiders, bafflingly, this of course discounts not just Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, perhaps the two most widely known books written for a young adult audience in the English Language, but also books like Kidnapped and Treasure Island. On my shelf right now I have a book called Six Girls by Fanny Belle Irving published in 1882 -- I haven't read it, but I can assure you it's audience is teenage girls who might also be reading Little Women or Jane Austen. (In fact, the article's own sidebar recommends the 1943 novel A Tree Grows In Brooklyn for kids.) All this serves to suggest that Gurdon doesn't have a clue what she's talking about -- that she hasn't even taken the time to read the Wikipedia page about the topic she's writing on, and that carelessness suggests that we should take everything else she has to say with a grain of salt.

Gurdon then goes on to criticize a series of books individually, she takes time to specifically complain about Jackie Morse Kessler's book "Rage" which involves a girl who turns to self injury after being the victim of "a sadistic sexual prank". When we live in a world where teenage girls cut themselves at prodigious rates (and this is nothing new, it's been happening for hundreds of years) The Wall Street Journal thinks that we shouldn't have books for teens that discuss it. Gurdon takes to task an editor who laments having to cut language from a book in order to get it in schools as though it was a conversation never held between Mark Twain and his editor.

But this is simply the history of books and literature, it is the way things progress and regress and progress again. In the late 1800's Arthur Winfield began an extremely popular series of books for young readers called The Rover Boys. trillian_stars and I scored a complete collection of these a couple of years ago and found them so offensive, so sexist, so racist, so classist, as to be nearly unreadable -- the best-selling morality tales of the late 1800's and early 1900's were all about making fun of the poor & underprivileged, those with accents, or dark skin, or those not able to get into the same prep school. The Rover Boys play vicious pranks on their school mates who are fat or who speak with a lisp, and they succeed and persevere because they're rich and they're entitled to and, hey, it's all in good fun.

I realized while trying to read these that YA literature reflects the times as they are and that they will also, occasionally, attempt to grasp the times that Aren't Yet and pull them closer. If there's a glut of vampire books on the market now there may not be in fifteen years. Of these, many will fade into obscurity and some, the ones that strive, will remain -- Darwin will police the stacks -- and in the meantime, the literature will evolve. Things people look at as taboo in one era (women wearing pants) don't warrant a second glance in another. YA literature is one of the mechanisms by which children learn what types of adults they will become. They likely won't learn to become vampires, but they may learn that they're not the only teenage girls who have a compulsion to cut themselves, or that they're not the only boys who are attracted to other boys, or they may learn how to build a house in a tree if they ever get stranded on an island.

There are many YA books out there -- some of them good, and some of them bad. Some of them I'd be happy to let my (theoretical) children read, and some that I think would be a waste of their time.

I feel compelled to quote Heavy Metal Rocker Dee Snider who, when called before the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Comission) in 1985 by a very clueless Al Gore to testify about the harm rock music caused teens, schooled the Senator in parenting in one of the most one sided smackdowns since Lloyd Benson told Dan Quayle that he was, in fact, "No Jack Kennedy".

Senatore GORE: [Should a parent have] To sit down and listen to every song on the album?

Mr. SNIDER. Well, if they are really concerned about it I think that they have to.

Senator GORE. Do you think it is reasonable to expect parents to do that?

Mr. SNIDER. Being a parent is not a reasonable thing. It is a very hard thing. I am a parent and I know.

I don't know what's more embarrassing, that Congress would waste tax dollars on such a farce, or that the senior Senator from Tennessee got his ass handed to him in a debate by a guy who appeared on his album cover wearing shoulder pads, spandex pants, and pink lace-up boots waving a bloody soup bone.

I'm not sure why the Wall Street Journal would bother to print such nonsense, I can only hope it is a result of laying off so much of the editorial staff over the past few years rather than policy.

In summery:

  • Being a parent is not supposed to be easy.

  • It's not the publishing industry's job to decide what to print based on what you like to read.

  • Not all books are good books.

  • Every single book that you liked as a child you can still get for your own kids, if not from your local bookstore, then from ebay.

  • Good literature stays around, the bad stuff is transient.

  • At some point your child will probably read a book that you don't think is good that will change their lives in a good way.

  • Ranting to the Wall Street Journal that YA literature sucks when you apparently know nothing about YA literature is a sad attempt at making a shortcut to responsible parenting.

  • Ask a librarian, they're there to help.

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Dear LJ,

I'm happy to inform you that my (Dutch) YA novel Daughter of Jinn will be published in August or thereabouts.

With suppressed glee,

yrs Bo

it's the novel that I entered the contest with. It's such a strange story...I decided to enter 2 hours before deadline, on New Year's Eve. I had about 1/3 of it and then had gotten stuck two years ago. I wrote the rest in two months and delivered essentially a first draft to the publisher. I mean, things generally don't happen that fast in publisher country....:-)
clem by mangofandango


What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on

New York City. You are most definitely from New York City. Not New Jersey, not Connecticut. If you are from Jersey then you can probably get into New York City in 10 minutes or less.

Take this quiz now - it's easy!
We're going to start with "cot" and "caught." When you say those words do they sound the same or different?

Hm. I tried to answer with the British accent I was taught in (Dutch) school. How come that turned out NY?

The blinding feeling of kinship

Ravelry( the center of the knitting universe, in case you were wondering) was talking like mad about the sweater Sara Lund from The Killing wears in her fabulous detective series from Denmark.

I followed an impulse and bought the first season, and I'm blown away. You know why?

Because nearly every male actor I've seen on that series looks like my brother, or my uncle, or grandfather, or anyone from my mother's family. The foreheads, the cheekbones, the way their tall lanky bodies move. My mother's family is from Frisia, which is in the North Netherlands, not too far from Denmark, actually.

It's made me realize how different American and English faces are, as well as body language and culture. I watch so much TV from the US and quite a lot from the UK, since a small country like the Netherlands doesn't produce that much, and frankly, not always of the highest quality. Beside the point, probably.

It's the faces, and the bodies, and the body language. I love that recognition. I just love watching people who look like me and my family. It moves me. I feel more emotionally connected to what happens. The landscape, the light.

And at the same time, the Danish language provides  a little veil, which makes the similarities easier to see. When I watch Dutch TV, I'm so overloaded with the flood of information on their accents and looks, which tell me everything about their regional background and education and religion that it takes away this blinding feeling of kinship.

And now I'm wondering what it's like to be always watching people who don't look like yourself on screen. Because I think it distances you, makes it seem unreal, and yet TV is so real. If you don't look like the people you see on TV every day, what does it do to your self image? Do you still feel real?

And, to inject a dose of reality in here, I'm aware I'm talking about people of Northern European descent, who although they live in different countries, are no more than 500 miles apart. Yes, I  live in a country where most everybody is white and has lived there for centuries if not millennia.

But what is it like for someone who lives in a country with people from another continent? How big is the difference then? Bigger and deeper than the disconnect I feel when watching US TV, I bet.


Vote for me!

As you know, I write.
Lately I've been concentrating my efforts on my home turf, the Netherlands.

I've written a YA novel in Dutch, Daughter of Jinni. With that novel, I'm participating in a novel contest in the Netherlands. The prize is publication with a small press. (Yes, the p-word!) You can even read the first pages there, although Google Talk is making a fair hash of it...:-)

So could you guys please go and vote for me? Sadly, it's not an easy  press the button thing; you have to send an email with names.
Send to:
Subject: Castlefestbookaward Balder
In the body: 1. Balder
2. Karatas ( example; you can pick another name, but she's in the bottom)
3. Werring ( same story)

Thanks so much for helping me!