Best Science Fiction

Please do not include fantasy, alternate history (unless you find a clear science fiction exception), or other speculative fiction genres. They will be removed. If you're unsure, use this list.

From Wikipedia:
"Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. [...] It is similar to, but differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation)."

Other SF Lists of Note:
Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century
Best Forgotten Science Fiction of the 20th Century
Best Science Fiction Fantasy Books

Some subgenres:
Alternate History
Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic Fiction
Space Opera
Steampunk

Award winners:
SF and Fantasy Award Winner Lists

Locus Recommended Science Fiction:
2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

Sci Fi Award Nominees
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010
2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Science Fiction By Decade:
1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s
1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

Science Fiction By Ratings:
More than 50000, 25000 to 49999, 10000 to 24999
1000 to 9999, 100 to 999, Less than 100
1

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flag this list (?)
2,728 books · 4,555 voters · list created April 27th, 2012 by Michael Bacon (votes) .
1251 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Michael 1887 books
106 friends
Blania 290 books
25 friends
Kiran 818 books
74 friends
Peter 364 books
52 friends
Nare 482 books
172 friends
Teresa 428 books
25 friends
David 18 books
4 friends
Jain 680 books
24 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 108 (108 new)


message 1: by Michael (last edited May 16, 2012 10:44AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Hi! If you see any books that you do not consider to be science fiction, please mention them in the comments! We'll take a look, maybe debate a bit, and make corrections. If it's a hard decision, we'll automatically consider it science fiction. If it's clearly not science fiction though, we'll make the change. Thanks!

So far I've removed The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre because it is fantasy horror, not science fiction horror. Most of the stories within are focused on ancient gods and fantastical events.

I would bring Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness into question as well, but I haven't read it and am uncertain. Is it still about the supernatural? (Supernatural = not natural, but science fiction is fiction about the natural.) Is it about the Cthulu mythos? (Mythology is nearly opposite to science, right?) If so, we should remove it.


message 2: by Carolyn (last edited Jun 08, 2012 08:20AM) (new)

Carolyn I appreciate having a list that is specifically for science fiction.
I've just deleted the Twilight series books that I found on here (already), but there are several more HP Lovecraft books that I think should be deleted as well. I'll leave that to you, Michael.

I would make two suggestions, to keep the list as useful as possible (and best to implement early on):
1) Only allow books that have at least 50 (or 100 or whatever) ratings to stay on the list. If the book is one of the 'best', it should have been read/rated by at least that many people. This should help ditch some of the authors who like to nominate their titles for every list possible for marketing purposes. There are already 4 of them in the top 100 titles.
2) To help keep the list manageable, only allow the first title in a series (or any single title from a series.) When these lists get to be 5 or 8 pages long, they get pretty useless if you're looking for new stuff to read - no one ever pages through the whole list.

Just suggestions, I've already voted on the list and added some new books. Looking forward to watching it grow!)


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Carolyn:

Please make a case for the Lovecraft books or delete them yourself if you'd like to. If I haven't read them, I may well not know if they're sci-fi or not. As far as I can tell, all Lovecraft is fantasy (since all/most of his stories are at least partly about ancient gods), but there might be exceptions I don't know about.

Regarding suggestion 1: That doesn't seem like a bad suggestion for Listopia in general, but books like that will be pushed to the bottom of the list anyway, if other people vote, right? Besides, those could be the best sci-fi books ever written for all we know. Unpopular doesn't necessarily mean bad - it just means not many people have read the book yet.

2. Personally, I want to implement #2, but it doesn't seem fair if several books in a series are outstanding.

Any further thoughts on these issues, anyone?


message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Been getting into the Edgar Rice Burroughs books this year. Sure, not really believable, but great stories all the same!


message 5: by Fusionjazz (new)

Fusionjazz As of today, I see "Ringworld" by Larry Niven listed twice.


message 6: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Removed 16 duplicates.


message 7: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Good to see you are trying to keep this restricted to sci-fi only. I run the Sci-Fi Lists website (scifilists.sffjazz.com) and I have always found the 'borderline' books a bit of a challenge. In the top 100, I would not regard the following as sci-fi:

Parish Secret's - Megan White
Nine Princes in Amber - Roger Zelazny
At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft
Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey (McCaffrey cleverly got herself a fair bit of free publicity by arguing the point.)

Good list overall though. I often come here to see if there is anything relatively new that I have missed adding to my own online poll at Sci-Fi Lists. This list is pretty close to the mark. Cheers


message 8: by Michael (last edited Dec 03, 2012 09:29AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Fusionjazz: thanks for pointing out the duplicate.

Cindy: thanks for removing the duplicates! I just removed one more.

Crocranger: thanks for the information. I agree with all four of your removal suggestions and have removed them from the list. Those books are fantasy and are not based in science in any meaningful way.


message 9: by JJ (last edited Dec 10, 2012 07:58PM) (new)

JJ Good list, I found some new Titles and Authors to read. Thank you.

I think Footfall and Eifelheim would be a good additions.
Footfall
Eifelheim

Also, although I personally loved the book I would not consider Watership Down Science Fiction for inclusion in this list.


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon JJ: you need to add those books to the list yourself. You're right about Watership Down. It doesn't even resemble science fiction. I'll remove it.


message 11: by Candice (new)

Candice Number 214, Temblor, is not science fiction. It's the spanish version of a teen fantasy/romance about werewolves. The english title is Shiver.


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Thank you, Candice. Temblor has been removed.


message 13: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Just a word about what qualifies as 'science fiction'. At Sci-Fi Lists I constantly struggle with what should and shouldn't be regarded as sci-fi, especially when it comes to 'alternate histories'. Frederik Pohl once commented that: "It is that thing that people who understand science fiction point to, when they point to something and say 'That's science fiction!" At the relevant Wikipedia page, alternate history is listed as a major subgenre of sci-fi.

If we take Philip K Dick's 'Man in the High Castle' (1962) as an example - it has always been regarded as sci-fi by critics and even won a Hugo back in the days when it was strictly a science fiction award. FDR gets assassinated, Germany and Japan win WWII, and the Germans end up starting a space program. OK... maybe.

More recently, Michael Chabon's award-winning AH 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union' took out three major sci-fi awards for best novel in 2008. You gotta be kidding! The novel is a 'what if' focussing on Franklin Roosevelt's unrealised proposal to establish a temporary Jewish settlement on the Alaska panhandle in the lead-up to WWII. So where is the science? It didn't happen and the novel is nothing more than a lengthy speculation on where it might have gone. Hardly science fiction... very fantastical.

I accept that a lot of stuff is classified as sci-fi simply because it is set in space or the future. However, I think there needs to be a separate rule for alternative histories. If there is some sort of scientific explanation as to why history went astray, then it can be regarded as sci-fi. Otherwise, leave it to the fantasists.


message 14: by Michael (last edited Jan 03, 2013 03:42PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Crocranger:

At first thought, I vaguely agree that alternate histories which are not explained scientifically are better categorized as fantasy. However, I have two reasons not to do so. I'll examine them and then explain which argument I think has more weight for this list:

1. Every unexplained alternate history story can be seen as being in the "alternate dimension" genre of sci-fi by default. This isn't a very good argument, but it's not entirely unreasonable. I won't get into whether or not the idea of alternate dimensions (or alternate threads of time) is viable, because it's a common sci-fi trope, reasonable or not.

2. Sci-fi "experts" (those who choose winners of sci-fi awarsd, specifically the prestigious Hugo) consider alternate history stories to be sci-fi stories. Because of this, stores, fans of sci-fi, and libraries assign the sci-fi genre to these books.

I believe that argument 2 weighs strongly in favor of labeling alternate history books as science fiction on Goodreads, since Goodreads is something of a metadata library.

Personally, I don't have strong feelings either way, but as the primary editor of this list, I prefer to follow this philosophy: if I can't definitely say a book is *not* science fiction, I must assume that it was correctly labeled.


message 15: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Michael wrote: "Crocranger:

At first thought, I vaguely agree that alternate histories which are not explained scientifically are better categorized as fantasy. However, I have two reasons not to do so. I'll exam..."


Hi Michael... I was actually responding to the note at the top of the list that asks people not to post alternate histories here and says they will be removed. Your philosophy is in line with Pohl's quote and, indeed, is the one I use on my own website. As for the future, I am going to try and tighten things up a bit at Sci-Fi Lists. Cheers (and keep up the good work)


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon I had forgotten that I put that note at the top of the list! I can get away with removing alternate history texts since I made that request. How silly of me. Thanks!


message 17: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Michael wrote: "I had forgotten that I put that note at the top of the list! I can get away with removing alternate history texts since I made that request. How silly of me. Thanks!"

It's all good fun, so no worries. As promised, I left the Friday arvo pub session early and came home to spend a scintillating night purifying Sci-Fi Lists of alternate history pretenders.

The stuff that stays (mostly involving time travel):
L Sprague DeCamp - Lest Darkness Fall (1939)
Philip K Dick - The Man in the High Castle (1962): A borderline choice, but the Nazi space program saved it. Besides, not really a big fan of hate mail.
Ward Moore - Bring the Jubilee (1955)
Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife (2003): Another tough one, but makes the grade.
Harry Turtledove - Guns of the South (1992)
Connie Willis - Doomsday Book (1992)
Connie Willis - To Say Nothing Of the Dog (1997)

The stuff that went (mostly straight historical fiction, albeit pretty good stuff):
Kingsley Amis - The Alteration (1976)
Gibson & Sterling - The Difference Engine (1990)
Tim Powers - The Anubis Gates (1983): A great book, but it has magicians and a werewolf. Wikipedia calls it a "time-travel fantasy". Have to agree.
Keith Roberts - Pavane (1968)
Kim Stanley Robinson - The Years Of Rice and Salt (2002)
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America (2004)
Harry Turtledove - Ruled Britannia (2002)

New kids on the block:
Stephen King - 11/22/63 (2011): His only real sci-fi since the Bachman novels.
Rene Barjavel - The Ice People (1968): Overlooked non-alternative history classic by a French author.

I would feel a bit guilty posting directly to a list like this, so I offer these suggestions for consideration only. Cheers


message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I definitely think the Connie Willis books belong! And agree that the Tim Powers does not.


message 19: by Michael (last edited Jan 04, 2013 10:13AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Thanks for categorizing! Please vote for whichever of those books you personally think are excellent. I can only add The Man in the High Castle, personally.


message 20: by Espen (new)

Espen Rosenquist Great to list things, makes life simpler all around.

However: The Road? No. Long time since I read it, but apocalyptic does not equal science fiction.


message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Espen: could you explain? The Road describes a future which is scientifically imaginable, in my opinion. Fictional but scientifically imaginable = the most basic definition of science fiction.

Here's a more elaborate definition: Science fiction (quoting the definition at the top of this list) deals "with imaginary but more or less plausible (or at least non-supernatural) content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities. [...] It is similar to, but differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation)."


message 22: by Espen (new)

Espen Rosenquist I'd say it is more of a social commentary on today, or perhaps the zombieinfested, paranoid 70s.

It would be watering down the definition of science fiction if every book that is conceivably about an alternative time-line should be listed.

The Road is a dark journey in a bleak landscape, with no proposition of technological salvation - only a vague hope of there being something better, even if I as a reader not for a single moment believed there was something at the end of the rainbow. Nor does it put up any possible social model other than the status quo.

The Road might be in the future, it might be set in a technologically or more advanced society, after the event horizon or whatnot. But it is not ABOUT that.

Regarding the things you list: sure, it is plausible, it might be futuristic, but it is not about the science part of fiction. I don't remember any aliens.

Take a book like Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged. Some has called it a science fiction tale, and it certainly contains elements of scientific and rational (however effed up, conceited and downright inhuman) salvation. I disagree, simply because it is a (deranged) contemporary commentary, but at least it is a fantastic tale fulfilling every list element.

The Road does not. Besides, defining a genre by ticking boxes is damned hard. The Road does not, for my part, tick any science fiction receptors.

Cheers


message 23: by Espen (new)

Espen Rosenquist And it is listed in "Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction" :)


message 24: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Espen wrote: "I'd say it is more of a social commentary on today, or perhaps the zombieinfested, paranoid 70s.

It would be watering down the definition of science fiction if every book that is conceivably abou..."


Hi Espen... I think there is a danger in narrowing the definition of the genre too much. Almost all sci-fi uses the story as a platform to comment on contemporary issues. Otherwise, it would have difficulty achieving relevance. Good sci-fi extrapolates on known scientific fact and/or credible theory. While the cause of the apocalypse is not clearly identified in 'The Road', McCarthy does a brilliant job commenting on a range of social and environmental issues that are certainly relevant to modern readers, and sets it in a plausible and possible future. Definitely sci-fi. Don't forget, 'science' also includes the social sciences.

As you quite rightly point out, Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' is a bit debatable as sci-fi. Right wing capitalists who don't give a stuff for humanity go on strike in order to preserve their God-given right to make money without contributing constructively to society. Her novella 'Anthem', on the other hand, fairly clearly depicts a dystopian sci-fi future. Basically the same premise as Shrugged, but with a lot more sci-fi devices. Rand's imagined future - at least in her eyes - was also plausible and possible.

It all comes back to that word 'science'. Whether it involves endangering the planet with political ideology, nuclear weapons, climate change... or any other modern bug-bear... it has certainly always been worthy of a good story.


message 25: by Michael (last edited Jan 08, 2013 06:29PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Espen:
1. I was unaware The Road related to the 70's in any way. How did you figure that out? Everyone else I've talked to about the book's setting thought it was focused on the future rather than an alternate timeline.
2. The best science fiction stories are not "ABOUT" science fiction. Any story that is about science fiction would be incredibly boring and no one would be likely to vote for it to be on the list. The Road, like most good novels (I don't personally find it to be great, just somewhat good), is about people.
3. You seem to be a bit confused about what science is. We know that bombs (for example) can be made and used, therefore the setting and events of The Road are possible. That's what makes it easy to call it science fiction. Since we have not seen aliens yet, they're pushing science fiction a bit further, though they still count as being elements of science fiction because they might exist. Aliens are certainly not needed for science fiction to work. Claiming that they're essential or even something to look for to determine if a story is sci-fi is a very unusual idea.


message 26: by Winston (new)

Winston I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but it seems unfair to list, for example, The Foundation Trilogy and each of the Foundation books separately. I would think that would split the vote, and lower all 4 choices down the list.


message 27: by Michael (last edited Feb 11, 2013 10:05AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Dtigwell wrote: "I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but it seems unfair to list, for example, The Foundation Trilogy and each of the Foundation books separately. I would think that would split the vote, and..."

Dtigwell: That's, true, but I don't know of a way to solve this problem. If I remove the trilogy, people will just keep adding it. Any ideas?


message 28: by Dan (new)

Dan Quigley Great list. Everything in the top 100 is unarguably science fiction with for me the weakest case being Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I am uncomfortable confusing all "having fun with reality" as being true science fiction just because a small plot device in the novel is jokingly premised on some ability we don't currently possess. But then Orwell's Animal Farm won a Hugo, and there's no possible argument to my mind for Animal Farm being science fiction. I think you may have a difficult case to make for classifying all alternate history as not science fiction. The work that really tests that contention to my mind is H. Beam Piper's Paratime series, which is unquestionably science fiction as well as alternate history. The reason people in Piper's Paratime series are able to move between Alternate Earths is because of technology we don't have on our Level 4 world. How history is alternate is less important in most of the works making up this series than the actual moving through dimensions with scientifically created apparati and the ability to do so. Also, Piper is dead serious in his writing style - no Vonnegut playfulness - which makes his work seem more inarguably science fiction.


message 29: by Dan (new)

Dan Quigley On double listing Asimov's work, you could simply say at the beginning of the list "Please do not include fantasy, alternate history, entire series (list the individual works instead) or other speculative fiction genres ... Then, yeah, you will still no doubt have to constantly remove it.


message 30: by Crocranger (new)

Crocranger Hi All. Some good points made here, but any list that allows a high level of interactivity is going to have its quality control issues. For mine, this is the best of its type that I have found. At my own website, Sci-Fi Lists, I run an online poll that lists 400 choices, out of which I generate a Top 200. People are free to nominate a book for inclusion, but at the end of the day I decide whether it makes it or not. Again, it's a quality control thing where I exercise my editorial prerogative.

As for some specific comments above, Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is classic sci-fi satire and more than deserves a spot on the list. Vonnegut, however, always claimed his books were not sci-fi. Six of one, half-dozen of another.

Alternate history novels might be sci-fi, but are not necessarily so by definition. There needs to be some sort of science fictional element (time travel; parallel universe; etc.) to them to qualify. I have removed a few from Sci-Fi Lists over the years, but the survivors are at http://scifilists.sffjazz.com/books_h... for those who are interested. Cheers


message 31: by Lou (new)

Lou Rocama Fantasy and other suspicious stuff:

First the obvious (at least to me):
Charles Dexter Ward by H P Lovecraft
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings
Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyers
Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor


The stuff I'm not sure about:

Diary of Evil by Rick Royster. From what I can make out of the summary, it's not science fiction. I confess the summary is rather confusing, so i could be wrong.

Priestess of the Stone Circle - & -
Oracle of the Coast - & -
The Hive Folk - & -
Did Feast the Pack - & -
Astarte the Great Queen : all by Jerome Brooke. Summaries sound like stone age fiction and fantasy.

Sirens of Rhine by Kaylynne Spauls

Black by Ted Decker. Supernatural thriller, from the sound of it

I'm sure there's more, but I got tired of looking for them


message 32: by Blue (new)

Blue Gargoyle I am a great fan of Neal Stephenson (I rank Snow Crash top 10). However, Cryptonomicon (#489, also a great novel) and the baroque cycle (Quicksilver, confusion, system of the world, # =505) are in no way science fiction. Just including a secondary character who might be immortal or a time traveller does not make the novels anything more than historical fiction. Someone certainly didn’t read instructions and voted Game of thrones #1 (#527) Angels & Demons #2 (#605).

Disappointed to see negative comments about Enders Game. Yes, the author is behind the times with his views on same sex marriage but I’m sure there are many other great novels written by authors with outdated views (and remember the guy was indoctrinated from birth – should that make him loathsome?). Movie was quite true to the book.


message 33: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Blue: any book with a time traveler in it is either science fiction or fantasy, though it can also be historical fiction at the same time.


message 34: by Blue (new)

Blue Gargoyle Michael wrote: "Blue: any book with a time traveler in it is either science fiction or fantasy, though it can also be historical fiction at the same time."

Hi Michael: I'd say the main word in my comment would be "might". My understanding reading the books was that there was one minor character (not central to the story lines) who doesn't age. Exactly why is not stated. So, if you want to 'assume' a time traveller then it 'could' be SF. Or is he just an immortal (supernatural - not SF)? But it is very vague. What do others think?


message 35: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Well I must say I am greatly surprised by this list; the most recently published book in the top 10 is from 1989 and the vast majority that round out the ton seem to be from the 70s and earlier. I'll admit that I am not as widely read in sci-fi as I'd like to be, and several of the "classics" that I've read I've found to be a bit to quaint to be regarded seriously in this day & age, but has the genre truly been so bereft of quality in the past 20-30 years that the list should contain so few recent books? And I'm not asking this to be inflammatory in any way, I'm genuinely curious to get peoples' opinions on this point.

Also, to hark back to previous comments made in regards to whether or not The Road should be considered SF; personally I would have to argue that it's not, for the following reason:

In the description for this list, Science Fiction is described thus - ...fiction dealing with imaginary [...] content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities.

I would think it's fairly safe to say that none of the final four points apply to The Road, so this really only leaves us with "future settings" (with the understanding that these are not the only criteria that constitute a sci-fi story) and to my recollection, there is nothing in the story that actually places it as a future setting. The "disaster" that occurred could just as easily have happened in the 70s or 80s as in the future and this would place the narrative of the story in the past, which to my mind would make it more of an alternate history than sci-fi.

And of course, all this is just conjecture and supposition anyway; there is no definitive definition that fits all cases where genre is concerned and there will always be stories that don't fit neatly into any one or another, but our minds just love to categorise and pigeon-hole and say that this is like that, and, well, sometimes it's just fun to have a good old "it is or it isn't" discussion about a book.

And it's really just my rationalisation anyway, ultimately, The Road just doesn't feel like science fiction in my opinion.

And while we're on the subject, I'd have to argue that The Stand doesn't qualify as sci-fi for the same reasons.


message 36: by Dan (last edited Dec 04, 2013 06:40AM) (new)

Dan Quigley The Road and The Stand are examples of post-apocalyptic fiction. Some people would like to say of genres that all post-apocalyptic fiction is sci-fi while all alternative history is not. It's neat, clean, and cut and dry to make such assertions. Unfortunately, just as in the world, the shades of gray confound us.

I have already pointed out how the wonderful Paratime series by H. Beam Piper should clearly be considered sci-fi even though it's also alternate history. Alternate history riders in Paratime use a device called the Ghaldron-Hesthor field generator to traverse realities. It can't get much more sci-fi than that! I'm sure there are other alternate history works that are science fiction like this.

You have made a case that I agree with for The Road and The Stand, two post-apocalyptic novels that would automatically be classified as sci-fi, to not be considered as such. I would add Matheson's I Am Legend to this list of two that should not be classified as science fiction for similar reasons. I see no evidence of The Road as possibly taking place in the 1970s. I assumed throughout my reading simply that it took place in the near future. Your correct assertion that nothing in the novel contradicts that it could have taken place in the 1970s does support not classifying The Road as sci-fi. There's no enhanced technology referred to and no developments from current society that occur except for a nuclear bomb having probably gone off for no revealed reason. A nuclear bomb having gone off is insufficient reason to my mind for classifying The Road as science fiction.

Then, there's the really difficult grays between fantasy and sci-fi, such as Andre Norton's Witch World series, just to name one that quickly comes to my mind. Science fiction? Well, some extra-terrestrial beings appear to have constructed the gates leading into that world. However, after that, magic and fantasy appear to dominate how both Estcarp and the High Hallack continents work, yet not always exclusively so. Proper classification here and, I am sure, with many other works I have not read remains elusive.


message 37: by Michael (last edited Dec 04, 2013 08:42AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Dan and Marcus:
That's a good argument against The Road as science fiction, but not enough to disqualify it from the list. It may or may not be science fiction, but a post-apocalyptic world in which bombs have destroyed civilization could easily be argued to be something that hasn't happened yet and would only happen in the future. If so, it would be science fiction for two reasons:

1. When science is applied in a new way (wiping out a civilization with bombs), that's the definition of science fiction.

2. When a story takes place in the future and is based on an imagined setting for what the future would be like, that is also science fiction. That's a long-accepted way of determining such.

Marcus, you are misunderstanding the description for this list. "[C]ontent such as" means "content that is like the following examples." It does not mean that ALL of those examples need to be included at once, or even that two of them need to be included at once.

Your point about The Road possibly taking place in the past is a good one, which shows that an alternate history storyline could be classified as science fiction, if science is being applied in a way that it wasn't applied at that time in history. If someone were to write a story that seemed like steampunk (which is normally subgenre of fantasy) in such a way that their devices were scientifically feasible and in such a way that magic was not part of the story, I would argue that it would change from fantasy to science fiction, even if it took place in the 1800's.


message 38: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon I edited my original description of this list to allow SOME alternate history.


message 39: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Marcus: to answer your other question,

1. A somewhat objective opinion: fewer people have read science fiction books written in the last 20 years than books older than that. Once a book is 20 years old, it has had time to gain a reputation because people who have been putting it off finally have a chance to recommend it. Ender's Game, for example, has been recommended to me by many people for the last 15 or so years of my life, but I never read it until last year. No modern science fiction books have ever been recommended to me, so I haven't read as many of them. The sum of this is that fewer people have read current sci-fi and thus have no opinions about it, which keeps those books away from the top of the list, where well-established books go.

2. My personal opinion: Science-fiction has declined as a whole. It's not as popular of a genre as it used to be and no one writing in it currently is widely thought of as a master of his/her craft, as Asimov and Clarke were, for example.

3. All of that aside, if you want to read an outstanding recent science fiction novel, I recommend _Never Let Me Go_. It's one of my favorite books of any genre.


message 40: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Michael wrote: "Dan and Marcus:
That's a good argument against The Road as science fiction, but not enough to disqualify it from the list. It may or may not be science fiction, but a post-apocalyptic world in which..."


I don't disagree with your argument, Michael, nor do I believe the book should be removed from the list, just felt the need to provide my own opinion as to why I personally don't feel that it's a science fiction story. And I completely agree that some alternate history stories can also be classed as SF, so if nothing else I'm glad to see that cleared up in the list description.

On the other hand, I must admit to struggling somewhat with your statement that wiping out a civilization with bombs constitutes an application of science in a new way - I'm sure the citizens of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 would argue that we've clearly seen the effects such bombs would have and it's just a matter of scale to ramp this up to a planet-wide effect. So really, this is more a case of science fact rather than fiction, but of course this doesn't preclude The Road from being classed as science fiction as it's clearly a fictional story anyway.

And as to the rest of the description for SF, no misunderstanding on my part. I reaslise that the examples listed may apply individually or in any combination and are also not exhaustive of what SF stories may include, but it was convenient to use the examples given to illustrate my opinion.

Cheers!


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Thanks Marcus.

Marcus and Dan,

"Science fact" would mean that it had already happened. Science fiction is the application of science fact to a fictional story.

A whole civilization has not been wiped out by a nuclear bomb, but a whole city has. Therefore, it's possible to apply what we know about nuclear bombs to create a situation in a story that hasn't happened yet. That's what science fiction is about.

If we didn't have a good reason to think that a bomb could destroy a civilization, the book would be fantasy instead.


message 42: by Tiago (new)

Tiago Consider adding "The colour out of space" by H.P. Lovecraft

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon Tiago wrote: "Consider adding "The colour out of space" by H.P. Lovecraft

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1..."


You have to do that. I can't add other people's favorites. If you want the book in the list, you have to add it. =)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads If you're wondering how to add a book to the list that's not already on it; go to the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes." You'll have a choice of adding from your own shelves, or doing a search of the database.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads A Game of Thrones (#553) is back on the list, as is Dan Brown's Angels and Demons (#669).


message 46: by Michael (last edited Jan 18, 2014 12:33PM) (new)

Michael Bacon Okay...


message 47: by Blue (new)

Blue Gargoyle @Marcus #35 states "sometimes it's just fun to have a good old "it is or it isn't" discussion about a book".

Unfortunately no-one yet seems to want to comment on Neal Stephenson's "System of the World" trilogy - is it or isn't it Sci fi(Michael #33 thinks it is OK, I am not convinced, #32, #34).


message 48: by Michael (new)

Michael Bacon @Blue

Those are so far down the list that they don't really show up on my radar. I haven't read those books. If your description is correct, then they are not science fiction and shouldn't be on this list. Unfortunately, I see no research, sources, or secondary opinions to back that up yet, so I can't remove them at this point. Science fiction is the second (though I'm ready to admit that it's probably false) genre attributed to them by Goodreads readers. At the moment, it's just your point of view versus lots of other people. Give me something a bit more concrete, and I'll probably remove it.


message 49: by Blue (new)

Blue Gargoyle Michael. Again, I'm not trying to be critical in any way. Nor critical of the author -a favorite.

I like your definition of SF, so I'd really like someone to discuss why it should be considered SF.

Here is s.o.'s blog review of the trilogy. Pretty accurate.
http://speculiction.blogspot.ca/2012/...

Yet book 3 won the Locus SF award.


message 50: by Michael (last edited Jan 27, 2014 08:58AM) (new)

Michael Bacon Hmm. Winning the award might be enough on its own to get past our definition long enough to make it onto the list... Sci-fi is a confusing genre.

After reading the review, I agree with you that it's not science fiction. However, the reviewer makes a somewhat acceptable explanation of why it could be considered a work of fiction that heavily emphasizes science. It's literally "science fiction" but it's also not a work that fits the actual story genre that we normally give that name. It's fiction about science that does not fit the science fiction genre (a genre that requires speculation about unknown but not theoretically impossible applications and discoveries of science.)

I would argue that a historical fiction book that described Tesla teleporting through the medium of electricity or Einstein traveling through time would still be science fiction, as would an alternate history book in which everyone in the 1950's could travel in the same manner, because they apply imagined, not-quite-completely disproven science to a fictional work that is somewhat grounded in reality.

I don't think this baroque cycle seems to do that, so I agree with you.

Despite all of that, a lot of people, including "the experts" who choose people for awards, disagree with us, so I suppose we should leave them on the list.

Fun topic to bring up!


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