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How would do you determine "the greatest SF book of all time"?

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken (kenzen) | 7 comments I saw that there is a vote on "the greatest SF book of all time" and I tried to participate. Until I realized that I cannot decide, even just for myself, what the greatest book would be. The one I liked the most at the time? The one I like the most now? The book that left the greatest impression? I tried to go with the last one. But all the books I could come up with were books for kids. Seems like I am less impressionable these days. The SF book that left the biggest impression is definitely John Christopher's Tripod trilogy. But I can't bring myself to call it the greatest book of all time.

So, how would you approach this? If you participated in the vote, how did you make your decision?


message 2: by Rohit (new)

Rohit Gupta (rohitgupta) | 5 comments That's s a very subjective topic. I don't think I can choose for everyone and say,suppose, book X is the greatest SF book ever written. If I still had to pick one I'd pick the one I liked the most, not the one which made a lasting impression on me.


message 3: by Colin (new)

Colin Gerber (cmgerber) | 5 comments It is a tough question and I would probably have to look at the time period the book was written in and the effect it had on the genre as well as how much I liked actually reading it.

For example you can look back at H.G. Wells Time Machine and think that was a decent book, I enjoyed reading it. And then you see that it was written in 1895 you realize how incredible it was that he came up with that concept. You can also see the effect it had on the genre as it helped create the genre.

Unfortunately this viewpoint will almost always bias you towards books of the past and not the present.

If I really had to choose a book that I loved and had a great effect on the genre I would probably go with the Foundation Series.


message 4: by Brent (new)

Brent | 5 comments I hate these kind of questions, such a challenge to pick just one. If I was to pick the greatest SF book ever it would have to be one that influenced people to look at themselves and their world differently. For me the SF book that has stood the test of time has been Frankenstein. To me it forced us to face our humanity and look at how we define ourselves as human. Empathy is one the major abilities than make us human, so testing our ability to empathize with The Monster was what the story Frankenstein did for the reader. The Monster also helped us define what humanity is, can this mix mash of parts be considered a human, does it deserve the same rights? In our future as people become less flesh and blood this story can still help us remember what being human really is.


message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken (kenzen) | 7 comments @Colin: I thought about it, but even then it becomes a rabbit hole of uncertainty. How do you determine which book had the biggest effect over time? Seems like a question for scholars.

I think in the end you can only read the question as "what's your favorite SF book?"


message 6: by Colin (new)

Colin Gerber (cmgerber) | 5 comments @Ken

I agree, it probably isn't a question that should be asked outside of academia. What is your favorite SF book is a much better question and will usually end up with a great and diverse collection SF books.


message 7: by Brent (new)

Brent | 5 comments Wow we are a politically correct bunch lol. it's ok to have an opinion on this subject. discussions are about discussing the positives and negatives. people worry too much about saying something that will be perceived as negative, even though so far this group is overwhelmingly positive. I'm still voting for Frankenstein, so technically I'm going to "win" by default lol. Thanks for starting this group up btw.


message 8: by Ken (new)

Ken (kenzen) | 7 comments It's not that I am afraid to offend someone. But I can't answer the question even for myself. I will concede that I overthink stuff.


message 9: by Brent (new)

Brent | 5 comments OCD might be a fairly common trait among SF&F readers :)


message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken (kenzen) | 7 comments You see, there I go again. OCD is a mental disorder that severely affects your daily life. Just thinking a lot doesn't; as much.


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed Lerner (codetheinternet) | 3 comments Definitely needs to be categorized. Soft, hard, space opera, utopian, dystopian, etc. There are too many great books that are subject to our specific tastes in this genre to narrow it down to a single book, series or author.


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