Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

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message 1: by Tyrone (last edited Dec 03, 2011 11:12AM) (new)

Tyrone (28daysearlier) I was recently plowing through a backlog of SF magazine podcasts and came across one which had a really interesting article by Amy H. Sturgis.

For reference the podcast was the excellent StarShipSofa Podcast Aural Delights episode No.48 http://www.starshipsofa.com/


Her article was based on an article published in the short lived Arkham Sampler, edited by August Derleth. Details can be found by putting the publication title into wikipedia.

The article was a poll taken by editors, contributors and authors of the time (1949) on Books Voted Most Necessary for a Basic Science-Fiction Library (By The Arkham Sampler, Winter 1949 Issue)

1st Place (9 votes each)

- Seven Famous Novels by H G Wells (includes The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, In the Days of the Comet, and The Food Of The Gods)

2nd Place (7 votes each)

- Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

3rd Place (6 votes each)

- The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells by H G Wells
- Adventures in Time and Space: Famous Science-Fiction Stories edited by R.J. Healy and J.F. McComas
- Slan by A.E. van Vogt

4th Place (5 votes each)

- The World Below by S. Fowler Wright
- Strange Ports of Call edited by August Derleth

5th Place (4 votes each)

- To Walk the Night by William Sloane
- The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Sirius by Olaf Stapledon
- Gladiator by Philip Wylie

6th Place (3 votes each)

- Before the Dawn by John Taine
- Who Goes There?: Seven Tales of Science-Fiction by John W. Campbell, Jr.
- The Best of Science Fiction edited by Groff Conklin
- Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
- Out of the Silence by Erle Cox

According to the issue, "these, then, constitute the most listed titles, and hence the basic science-fiction library."

There are a few unfamiliar titles i shall be checking out. HOWEVER, obviously some time has passed since 1949 so what books published since then do YOU believe should be added to this list?

Remember, we are looking at those books you believe most define the genre and should be a part of anyone's book collection, Expert or Novice.

Please, no authors plugging their own books. There are plenty of place that can be done elsewhere in the group...


message 2: by Tyrone (new)

Tyrone (28daysearlier) Ok i'll kick us off.

Two of my 5* rated SF novels;

Dune by Frank Herbert

and

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman


message 3: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 3 comments This may or may not be of interest.
In 2010, I ran a poll on the George RR Martin forums at Westeros.org, to create a list of 101 genre books of the 20th century. The methodology was designed to create a broad list, rather than a narrow popularity contest, so it shouldn't be too bad as an 'essentials' list. Except that it won't give extra weight to historically-significant 'classics' that nobody actually likes - which maybe an 'essentials' list would do.

It's also a mixed sci-fi/fantasy list and we didn't worry too much about the borders of even that.

However, it's a very literate board, and even if you just look at the sci-fi entries you'll get a useful nucleus of a list, I think.

Here's a Goodreads shelf that seems to model it (and please don't mess with it!): http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/45...


message 4: by William (last edited Dec 03, 2011 04:29PM) (new)

William Lexner | 3 comments My list of required SF reading

Novels

-Dune by Frank Herbert
-A Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
-The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
-Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-The Left Hand of darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
-The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
-Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
-The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
-Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
-The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
-Neuromancer by William Gibson


Must Read Short Stories

-A Rose For Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny
-The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
-Houston, Houston, Do You Read? by James Tiptree Jr.
-Twilight by John W. Campbell
-Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
-Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith
-I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
-A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
-Nightfall by Isaac Asimov
-Sandkings by George R. R. Martin
-"Repent, Harlequin!" said the Tick Tock Man by Harlan Elison
-Blood Music by Greg Bear
-Lobsters by Charles Stross
-Who Can Replace a Man by Brian Aldiss
-The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin


ETA: Obviously there is stuff prior to 1949 that should be on the list. The Stapledon is amazing for ideas, but doesn't hold up, IMO, for a 'basica library' list. The Wells and Verne, of course, do. I would add Frankenstein.


message 5: by Tyrone (last edited Dec 03, 2011 05:07PM) (new)

Tyrone (28daysearlier) Thanks Wastrel. That's a cool list with some great works. Glad to see i have read many on it but there are a few i haven't and it's always good to get more ideas.

I was fascinated by the Arkham list, not least because of it's historical perspective but also because it was put together by many of the influential speculative fiction names of the time. Some were writers, some editors of spec fiction magazines, many of which are no longer in existence. I was keen to know what peoples reaction were to the selections, partly because there are a few books and authors that seem to have fallen out of fashion. I also wondered what the same list might look like these days. I know that there are many such lists, but i hoped that the interest provided by the historical document would spark an interesting debate.

I also wanted to give a bit of a shout out on behalf of Amy and Tony for their work on the Starshipsofa.

Cheers William. Some great choices there as well. I'm especially grateful for the short story recommendations. I'm getting through many these days, mainly in audible form through podcasts.

Can i recommend a couple i have come across recently which i really enjoyed;

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate and Pump Six and Other Stories.

N.B. Agree with you on Frankenstein.


message 6: by Stephen (last edited Dec 05, 2011 06:59AM) (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments William wrote: "My list of required SF reading

Novels

-Dune by Frank Herbert
-A Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
-The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
-Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-The Lef..."


Excuse me, but "A Canticle for Liebovitz" is NOT a short story!! In fact, for such a thin book, it reads like a 500 pager. AND WHERE IS "THE LAST QUESTION" AMONG THE SHORTIES??!! This has to be THE best sci-fi short story ever written and a BRILLIANT, classic conjecture as to how the Universe might actually recycle itself.... SHAME!! SKAMEN!!!

Ten lashes with a short-circuiting light saber!!!

The Last Voyage of the Cassiopeia
Almagest: The Adventures of MarsShield
3700
The Avedon Question


message 7: by Pickle (last edited Dec 05, 2011 08:24AM) (new)


message 8: by William (new)

William Lexner | 3 comments Stephen, I am sorry that you are ignorant as to A Canticle For Leibowitz being a short story before it (along with two other shorts) became a fix-up novel, but for Heinlein's sake use Google before trying to call me out.

The short is better than the novel, btw. Seminal without being overly fluffed like the novel.

As for the Multivac story.... it's ok. Nightfall stands up better. It would be in my top 100 short story list, sure, but it doesn't hold a candle to any story I listed.


message 9: by Tyrone (new)

Tyrone (28daysearlier) I've always had issues with 'short fiction' being plumped up to novel length. More recently I've read the Harry Harrison story 'Roommates' which is the short upon which 'Make Room, Make Room' was based. I was praising the short and a few people complained that the long form version is not as good.

I have downloaded it as an audio book so can't comment yet on how they compare but having had bad experiences with short films that have been stretched into features I've found that it rarely works.

One exception is 'Cashback' where the original short film forms the discreet 2nd act, and a whole Act 1 and 3 have been added to lengthen it to feature length and it works.

Don't worry about Stephen...he has a tendency to shout and is very strong in his convictions....and everybody else is simply misguided. ;-)


message 10: by Stephen (last edited Dec 06, 2011 03:44AM) (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments William wrote: "Stephen, I am sorry that you are ignorant as to A Canticle For Leibowitz being a short story before it (along with two other shorts) became a fix-up novel, but for Heinlein's sake use Google before..."

Listen, do me a BIG favor and don't resort to adjectives like "ignorant" when pointing out my lack of knowledge about an obscure fact that I'm sure maybe 10% of this forum was privy to at best.

If there's one thing that turns me off like a light, it's people who want to puff themselves up by calling someone names on something small and even forgivable like that....


message 11: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments BTW, thanks, Tyrone... ;-)


message 12: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Umbrasaitė (HanWuTi) | 3 comments Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick (Cyberpunk)
Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan (Cyberpunk)
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow (Cyberpunk)
For the Win - Cory Doctorow (Cyberpunk)
Jackelian - Stephen Hurt (Steampunk)
Clockwork Earth - Jay Lake (Steampunk)
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (General Sci-Fi)
WWW Series - Robert J. Sawyer (General Sci-Fi)
The Road - Cormac McCarthy (Post-Apocalypse)
Honor Harrington - David Weber (Space Opera)
Dune Chronicles - Frank Herbert (Space Opera)
Revelation Space - Alistair Reynolds (Space Opera/Hard Sci-Fi)
Culture - Iain M. Banks (Space Opera)


My two cents.


message 13: by William (new)

William Lexner | 3 comments Stephen wrote: "William wrote: "Stephen, I am sorry that you are ignorant as to A Canticle For Leibowitz being a short story before it (along with two other shorts) became a fix-up novel, but for Heinlein's sake u..."

Stephen, ignorant means lack of knowledge. That's actually the definition. I was not insulting you. I am ignorant of a billion and three things, and so are you. It's not something to be upset about.


message 14: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments William wrote: "Stephen wrote: "William wrote: "Stephen, I am sorry that you are ignorant as to A Canticle For Leibowitz being a short story before it (along with two other shorts) became a fix-up novel, but for H..."

Harumph!! :-|


message 15: by Greyweather (new)

Greyweather Out of what I've read, I'd pick:

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer

Wastrel wrote: "This may or may not be of interest.
In 2010, I ran a poll on the George RR Martin forums at Westeros.org, to create a list of 101 genre books of the 20th century. The methodology was designed to cr..."


Thank you for putting that together Wastrel, I think it's an incredible resource.


message 16: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments Greyweather wrote: "Out of what I've read, I'd pick:

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Flowers For Al..."


Whoa! Greyweather!! It looks like we had the same inner librarian there! I've read: Lord of Light, Canticle, SAW Fahrenheit 451 as a movie, Rendezvous with Rama, AND 1984!!

Did you ever live in southeastern Pennsylvania??

My list:

2001: A Space Odyssey - Clarke
The Unreasoning Mask - Farmer
A Canticle For Liebovitz - Miller
Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor (FEH!) of Dune - Herbert
Childhood's End - Clarke
Gulliver's Fugitives - Keith Sharee (an excellent ST:TNG novel)
Brave New World - Huxley
Animal Farm - Orwell
Reendezvous With Rama - Clarke
Lord of Light - Zelaszny
Flowers for Algernon ("I hate that mouse!") - Keyes
1984 - Orwell
And PART of The Martian Chronicles - Bradbury

Have to tap my memory for whatever ones I'm missing here....but there they are.


message 17: by Marc (new)

Marc (AuthorGuy) | 121 comments William wrote: "Stephen, ignorant means lack of knowledge. That's actually the definition. I was not insulting you. I am ignorant of a billion and three things, and so are you. It's not something to be upset about."

I was about to say the same thing.


message 18: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments William wrote: "My list of required SF reading

Novels

-Dune by Frank Herbert
-A Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
-The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
-Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-The Lef..."


I would agree with everyone of these. I would add some mentioned like Little Brother and those suggested by Stephen. I would also include Slan, perhaps Voyage of the Space Beagle, Cyteen, Day of the Triffids and Downbelow Station. I would also include When Worlds Collide as an early example of hard SF and something by Hal Clement, but am unsure which novel, perhaps Mission of Gravity or the Needle series. And definitely Dhalgren, though of all of Delany, it is arguably SF.

Then there are the Vorkosagins...


message 19: by John (new)

John Moretz (vladdytrout) | 1 comments Some books on my list:


Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut.
Childhood's End - Clarke
The Iron Dream - Norman Spinrad
2001: A Space Odyssey and The Lost Worlds of 2001 - Clarke
Planet of the Apes - Pierre Boulle
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels and the published Radio Scripts - Douglas Adams
Illuminatus! Trilogy - Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea (Not sure if it's classified as science fiction, but hey, it's a far-out read).
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitch-hiking the Galaxy One Last Time - Douglas Adams
Brave New World - Huxley


message 20: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments John wrote: "...Illuminatus! Trilogy - Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea (Not sure if it's classified as science fiction, but hey, it's a far-out read)..."

I thought it was Historical Fiction ;-)


message 21: by Tyrone (last edited Dec 22, 2011 06:34AM) (new)

Tyrone (28daysearlier) John wrote: "Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels and the published Radio Scripts - Douglas Adams
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitch-hiking the Galaxy One Last Time - Douglas Adams"


Love the radio scripts almost as much as the novel...had the radio play on vinyl. Haven't read The Salmon of Doubt yet. Must get hold of a copy.


message 22: by Dale (new)

Dale (LeadSinger) | 18 comments Interesting lists (of which I have read about 70%) and a few to add to my "to read" list. May I suggest going back to the beginning of space opera to add both the Skylark & Lensman series by E.E. "Doc" Smith. They read a bit towards juvenile today, but they basically began the genre. At the same time, how can anyone leave off the Barsoom (Joh Carter) series by Edgar Rice Burroughs?


message 23: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (Photoscribe) | 83 comments At the same time, how can anyone leave off the Barsoom (Joh Carter) series by Edgar Rice Burroughs

...Otherwise known as the very first appearance of good ol' SUPERMAN in modern fiction....


message 24: by Dale (new)

Dale (LeadSinger) | 18 comments And this discussion kicked off my own post of "most favorite" book. Somehow, I actually omitted listing that book here as a "basic" SF library book - "Nerves" by Lester Del Rey. Is it actually a little dated, only in the actual language of the book. Read it, and I think you will be forced to agree that it could be today.


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Spence (PaulBSpence) | 12 comments With Dune on the list, perhaps the book that tied it for the Hugo Award also? Call Me Conrad (This Immortal) by Roger Zelazny.

A few greats I didn't see mentioned:

Breed to Come by Andre Norton
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman


message 26: by Greg (new)

Greg Strandberg (GregStrandberg) When I was building my library I made it a point to get all of the Hugo/Nebula winners that really interested me, which was about 20 books.

I think that's a good cornerstone.


message 27: by Aurelio (new)

Aurelio Ippandoza (AIppandoza) Yes, that's a great place to start.
I recommend the short stories: "Who goes there?"(Campbell),"Allamagoosa"(E.f.Russell)&"By his bootstraps"(by R.a.Heinlein)...classics.


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