The Sword and Laser discussion

130 views
Voting for NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Open

Comments (showing 1-50 of 76) (76 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Jlawrence, S&L Forum Mod (new)

Jlawrence | 904 comments Mod
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/02/1388948...

Looks like they asked listeners for suggestions a month ago, now you can vote for 10 titles from the selections and the final result will be their top 100 list.


message 2: by Nick (new)

Nick (Whyzen) | 1290 comments Cool! Another list of good books I can read from!


message 3: by DrFlimFlam (new)

DrFlimFlam | 48 comments Submitted my votes. Can't wait to see the final list!


message 4: by Ed (last edited Aug 03, 2011 12:43PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Here's what I voted for (in alphabetical order):

The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
Little, Big, by John Crowley
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Watchmen, by Alan Moore

I was very happy to see Gravity's Rainbow make the list. It's not really SF in the traditional sense, but it's my all-time favorite novel.


message 5: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5062 comments Why is it your favorite? Perhaps a future S&L book pick. ;)


message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 695 comments Tamahome wrote: "Why is it your favorite? Perhaps a future S&L book pick. ;)"

I completely despaired over Against the Day. Gave up after 300 pages when I realized I had completely forgotten what happened 50 pages earlier.

But if Gravity's Rainbow isn't that bad, I'd be willing to give it a try.


message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (adrew) | 426 comments @Ed: Wanted to love Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, but just couldn't become engaged with that book.


message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike Rentas (mikerentas) | 65 comments Half my votes ended up going to Neal Stephenson. Guess I really like his writing!


message 9: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5062 comments Anne wrote: "Tamahome wrote: "Why is it your favorite? Perhaps a future S&L book pick. ;)"

I completely despaired over Against the Day. Gave up after 300 pages when I realized I had completely for..."


Gravity's Rainbow & Dhalgren need to be on audio so I can trudge through them. :)


message 10: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Aug 04, 2011 12:08PM) (new)

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments I voted for Gravity's Rainbow too, even though I didn't think it really belonged on the list. I love it because the language is beautiful, and I love the relationship between Roger and Jessica, while knowing that isn't what most people get out of it. It is one of the books that you'd probably resonate with differently each time.

I can't remember exactly what else I voted for, but I know it included:
Neuromancer
Snow Crash
Oryx and Crake
The Handmaid's Tale
The Sparrow
1984
Parable of the Sower
Left Hand of Darkness

Lots of cyberpunk, dystopia, and feminism on my list!


message 11: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5062 comments The Sparrow?


message 12: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Aug 04, 2011 08:39AM) (new)

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments The Sparrow. Wow, the description is really obtuse. Just think "Jesuits in Spaaaaaaace."


message 13: by aldenoneil (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments James wrote: "So many books on the list that I haven't read yet."

That's my gripe with these lists, and with any awards, really. How many people voting have read them all?


message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael (The_Smoking_GNU) | 178 comments While you are at it, how about voting on the goodreads list:
Best Science Fiction Books

I more or less voted for the same titles on the npr list: my votes

plus
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments aldenoneil wrote: "James wrote: "So many books on the list that I haven't read yet."

That's my gripe with these lists, and with any awards, really. How many people voting have read them all?"

I guess the argument is that more people would have learned about and read the best books, except that there a bunch on the list that I haven't gotten around to yet, even though they are classic.


message 16: by aldenoneil (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments I know. I can't allow anyone else to enjoy themselves, though. How else could I be happy?


message 17: by Boots (new)

Boots (Rubberboots) | 499 comments I'm surprised Battlefield Earth A Saga of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard made it into the Top 100, if it makes it into the Top 10 it will be a sad day for NPR books and perhaps a sad day for the internet at large.


message 18: by Ed (last edited Aug 04, 2011 08:15PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Tamahome wrote: "Why is it your favorite? Perhaps a future S&L book pick. ;)"

It's probably too challenging of a read for S&L, honestly. I found it to be the funniest, the saddest, most disturbing, most beautiful, most disgusting, most rewarding, most amazing book I've ever read. It's my stranded-on-a-desert-island book. I can re-read it many times, and I'll still get something new out of it each time. As a post-modern work, it's quite a challenging read, but it's far easier than Ulysses or Finnegans Wake. It can definitely be quite difficult in spots. It has one of the largest casts of characters I've ever seen in a novel, so I recommend taking notes to keep the characters and their relationships straight. I also highly recommend reading A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel by Steven Weisenburger concurrently for illumination of the more obscure passages.

If you have an interest in World War II, physics, rocketry, mathematics, psychology, statistics, sexual deviancy, Tarot cards, mysticism, psychoactive pharmaceuticals, Rilke's poetry, filmmaking, synchronicity, and conspiracy theories, then Gravity's Rainbow is the book for you!

If you're not sure you can handle it, you can work your way into Pynchon's writing by reading The Crying of Lot 49 first. It's much shorter, more distilled thematically, less ambitious, and not as difficult overall.

Tamahome wrote: "Gravity's Rainbow & Dhalgren need to be on audio so I can trudge through them. :) "

Gravity's Rainbow would actually be excellent as an audiobook, I think. The language is so beautiful and almost conversational in its stream-of-consciousness way. I read a good chunk of it out loud, and it read better that way than on the page.

Dhalgren, on the other hand, I can't imagine working as an audiobook at all. The layout of the words on the page is too important to how you read that book. The book and the story are kind of a palimpsest....


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments Ed wrote: " I can re-read it many times, and I'll still get something new out of it each time"
Exactly. I said this a few comments up. I've been... craving a time to read it again but feel like it hasn't been long enough.


message 20: by Ed (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Andrew wrote: "@Ed: Wanted to love Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, but just couldn't become engaged with that book."

It's not for everyone, I guess. I know some people find the writing to be dry, but I found the Jane Austen-ish prose and all the footnotes to be endlessly delightful and witty and the story is just heartbreaking and beautiful. It's one of the most fleshed-out fictional worlds, I've encountered.


message 21: by Ed (last edited Aug 04, 2011 06:10PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Anne wrote: "I completely despaired over Against the Day. Gave up after 300 pages when I realized I had completely forgotten what happened 50 pages earlier.

But if Gravity's Rainbow isn't that bad, I'd be willing to give it a try."


I haven't read Against the Day yet, so I can't compare. I have read Mason & Dixon though, and I found that to be a tougher read than Gravity's Rainbow. Again, you might want to start with The Crying of Lot 49 first.


message 22: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (adrew) | 426 comments Ed wrote: "Andrew wrote: "@Ed: Wanted to love Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, but just couldn't become engaged with that book."

It's not for everyone, I guess. I know some people find the w..."


It wasn't the writing, or even the footnotes (which admittedly were a little pretentious), it was the story as a whole, particularly the ending. Just didn't work for me, which is a shame as I do acknowledge that it did have potential. It’s still worth a read though.


message 23: by Ed (last edited Aug 04, 2011 06:35PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Jenny wrote: "Ed wrote: " I can re-read it many times, and I'll still get something new out of it each time"
Exactly. I said this a few comments up. I've been... craving a time to read it again but feel like it hasn't been long enough."


Yes, and I completely agree with you about Roger and Jessica, by the way. My favorite passages in Gravity's Rainbow all have to do with Roger and Jessica, particularly http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/... and
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/...


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments My favorite one starts, "you go from dream to dream inside me...."


message 25: by Ed (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Jenny wrote: "My favorite one starts, "you go from dream to dream inside me....""

You win. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/...


message 26: by Ed (last edited Aug 11, 2011 08:52AM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments The results are in!

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/1390858...

John Scalzi responds to the final list:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/08/11...

Personally, I think it's criminal that Little, Big didn't make the final list, but I'm really happy that Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun 1-4 did.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments I thought the list we voted from was only 100 books, but certain books *cough* Gravity's Rainbow *cough* aren't anywhere to be found. Maybe I didn't realize what I was doing, probably possible.

Now I want us to be able to show off which ones we've read! I've read 43/100, well, if I can count those series listed as books that I haven't necessarily read all of. I know you can't make a list like this of fantasy/sci-fi without including series, but it is strange to have them grouped this way, I mean, this is way more than 100 books! :)


message 28: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 5062 comments I thought you've read every book there is Jenny.


message 29: by Ed (last edited Aug 11, 2011 11:48AM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments We voted on the nominees, of which there were 237. This list of the top 100 is the result of our voting.

How they treated series was kind of weird and inconsistent. For example, Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was is book 1 of The Chronicles of Master Li and Number-Ten Ox. Similarly, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave is only the first book in a series. They also listed The Foundation Trilogy, but there are more than 3 books in the Foundation series.


message 30: by Ed (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments Jenny wrote: "I've read 43/100, well, if I can count those series listed as books that I haven't necessarily read all of."

Damn, you beat me by 1. I've read 42/100.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments Tamahome wrote: "I thought you've read every book there is Jenny."
Don't I wish! I'm very behind, especially in sword and lasery types. That's why I'm here!


message 32: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 2238 comments Ed wrote: "The results are in!

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/1390858...

John Scalzi responds to the final list:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/08/11......"


And James Nicoll's response, which is pretty much identical to mine:

Just as I called it in June, "more sausages than Oktoberfest."

At quick glance says it's 15 women in the top 100. None in the top ten. In fact the first woman shows up at position 20.


And as someone points out in the comments, the list is also as white as Casper the Friendly Ghost.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments Sean wrote: "And as someone points out in the comments, the list is also as white as Casper the Friendly Ghost. "
So are NPR listeners...

I mean, am I right? You have to think about who the voters are too.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments Aha, found a great official NPR Demographics document.

54% male. 86% white.


message 35: by Kris (last edited Aug 11, 2011 12:47PM) (new)

Kris (KVolk) | 797 comments Jenny wrote: "Aha, found a great official NPR Demographics document.

54% male. 86% white."


not to surprising when I see that..no C.J. Cherryh?! makes it not a top books list for me...just a list...46/100 for me


message 36: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 2238 comments I'm white and male, yet I still manage to read books by women and people of color. You'd think NPR's liberal base would be the people most willing to explore books from diverse voices.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments Kris wrote: "not to surprising when I see that..no C.J. Cherryh?! makes it not a top books list for..."

Most of the people who bothered to comment said the same thing about the same author. Enlighten me. :)

Sean, I do think that this list is off-balance, don't get me wrong. I guess I just wasn't surprised, considering the target audience.


message 38: by Kris (new)

Kris (KVolk) | 797 comments Sean wrote: "I'm white and male, yet I still manage to read books by women and people of color. You'd think NPR's liberal base would be the people most willing to explore books from diverse voices."

reminds me about the whole "saying vs doing" part of peoples beliefs....


message 39: by Boots (new)

Boots (Rubberboots) | 499 comments Although I agree that women are not well represented within the sci-fi/fantasy genres, I have a hard time feeling sympathetic considering they mostly dominate the rest of the publishing industry.

As far as the list goes, I'm glad Battlefield Earth didn't make it.


message 40: by Kris (last edited Aug 11, 2011 01:04PM) (new)

Kris (KVolk) | 797 comments Jenny wrote: "Kris wrote: "not to surprising when I see that..no C.J. Cherryh?! makes it not a top books list for..."

Most of the people who bothered to comment said the same thing about the sam..."


She is a writer with the ability to write sword or laser but I think she is exceptional in how she tells her story. She almost always focuses on the lowest level of the political/social/economic rung and you still get the sense of the bigger conflict. She also writes the most human of characters in my mind which really appeals to me more and more. I also appreciate her lean prose that still drives a emotionaly charged story. I would recommend either Downbelow Station for laser or Gate of Ivrel for a sword book. I do think she will be appreciated more as time goes on because her stories age well. I just reread Downbelow Station and it did not have that aged feeling some of the scifi stuff gets over time.

hope that helped...


message 41: by Skip (new)

Skip | 515 comments Odd list ... they have Butcher for the Codex Alera, but not the Dresden books? Also, no Norton, no Cherryh? This is why voting for these things is never the "best" answer.

I read at least 57 of the books/series; I can't remember all the books I read in the '80s so I didn't include it if I didn't own it. It will go up to 58 if I ever make it through Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments I wonder what would have happened if we each picked our top 100!


message 43: by Jlawrence, S&L Forum Mod (last edited Aug 11, 2011 08:43PM) (new)

Jlawrence | 904 comments Mod
I've read 45 titles on the list (as long as I use the Jenny Method(tm) of counting series even if I haven't read *all* the books in the series). 10 of those I owe to their being S&L picks!

I'm glad to see a good number of my favorites represented, but I think the initial 237 nominees list was much more intriguing and varied. Almost everything on this top 100 I've heard of before, whereas on the nominee list there were many things that made me think, 'Ooo, what's that?'

I printed out the nominee list and will slowly be feeding parts of it to my ever ravenous Goodreads to-read list.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2173 comments I had a thought. How diverse is our S&L list? We have thousands of people in our little book club. Maybe we need to make more of an effort? I would guess our percentages are close to the NPR list.


message 45: by Kris (new)

Kris (KVolk) | 797 comments Jenny wrote: "I had a thought. How diverse is our S&L list? We have thousands of people in our little book club. Maybe we need to make more of an effort? I would guess our percentages are close to the NPR list."

Probably so though I do seem to remember that we read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in response to a similar thread...


message 46: by Boots (new)

Boots (Rubberboots) | 499 comments Jenny wrote: "I wonder what would have happened if we each picked our top 100!"

That's a good idea!


message 48: by Lou (new)

Lou (loumassignani) | 5 comments I'm the sucker that always finds something to get angry about when I see these lists. I have to say though the Patrick Rothfuss thing kinda pisses me off. The third book has yet to be published, there is no possible way for him to tidily wrap up all the plot lines he has started and/or hinted at in one volume, and it's just not mind blowing work. To warrant a top 20 of all time spot seems ridiculous. I was also a little put off by the author admitting he was upset when he thought his books were not included in the list(until he saw it was under kingkiller chronicles and not Name of the Wind). You written two thirds of a slightly above average series and you're upset your work isn't considered the best of all time?


message 49: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (adrew) | 426 comments Jlawrence wrote: "I printed out the nominee list and will slowly be feeding parts of it to my ever ravenous Goodreads to-read list. "

I know how you feel, some of the discussion in this thread alone has already prompted a growing to-read list.


message 50: by Ed (last edited Aug 11, 2011 05:50PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 169 comments The issue of gender representation in these lists always seems to come up. According to my research, there are "over 1800 writers" in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), but there are only 158 listed members of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Female Writers (SF/FFW). By my calculations, that means female writers roughly make up ~9% of the SFWA. The reality is probably slightly higher. My googling revealed estimates in the 10-15% range. I believe someone in this thread said there are 15 books/series by female writers in the top 100 poll. That seems like a completely proportionate level of representation to me. No offense intended. FWIW, I'm a big fan of Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Susanna Clarke. :-)


« previous 1
back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

Gravity's Rainbow (other topics)
Against the Day (other topics)
Dhalgren (other topics)
The Sparrow (other topics)
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

C.J. Cherryh (other topics)
Tracy Hickman (other topics)
Margaret Weis (other topics)