Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

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message 1: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 24 comments Ok what is the best book Sci-fi or Fantasy you have ever read, and what is the worst?

message 2: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 24 comments I have to admit I am so young in the genre I don't think I have a worst. I do have a best though. Maybe it is imature but Harry Potter is still my all time fave.

message 3: by Tani (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new)

Tani | 8 comments For fantasy, I think two books that are at the top of my personal best list are Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Transformation by Carol Berg. Or at least, they're the first two that come to mind. I can't choose between them.

I don't know about the worst, but I think my most recent big disappointment was The Hidden Queen by Alma Alexander. On the surface, it seems like exactly the kind of thing I would like, but I was vastly unimpressed. It read like a pity fest for the oh-so-perfect main character, and I doubt I'll ever read the next one in the series.

I'm nowhere near well-versed in scifi, but I do love Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. They're amazing.

To demonstrate how very little scifi I read, I can't even think of anything to say as worst.

message 4: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Rob | 19 comments I just grinded through "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Please avoid at all costs! Unless of course, you enjoy reading about the chonicles of fish and their species. The book was definitely ahead of it's time with the idea of a submarine, but the rest of the book was punishment.

message 5: by Hugh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new)

Hugh (hughbehm-steinberg) Bests:

My favorite SF book is Galaxies, by Barry Malzberg. Very metafictional, a meditation on how and why we imagine the future. The ending is breathtaking. Try to get the original printing, the book design is part of the novel in a way that's quite different from your usual collection of blurbs. I also love Cordwainer Smith -- Norstrilia and many of his short stories and novellas like "Scanners Live in Vain" and "Alpha-Ralpha Boulevard." Philip K. Dick -- I try to read/reread a couple of his books every year. My favorites are Ubik and Galactic Pot-Healer.

For fantasy, John Crowley's Little, Big. Also love Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea novels, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, and anything by Kelly Link.


I really hate series that go on and on and on and on and on. Where they were ok as a trilogy, but then the writer (or the writer's agent, or their publisher) says hey, why don't we come out with another Dune book, or another Foundation novel, or another Ringworld?

Late Robert Heinlein is also truly dreadful, where nothing really happens and he soapboxes for page after page after page of the crankiest libertarian claptrap you've ever read.

message 6: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Sarah Sammis (caligula03) | 4 comments I love Jules Verne, although I enjoy the sequel to 20,000 Leagues more than the original. The Mysterious Island is a fun adventure story, though not exactly scifi. It is nonetheless one of my favorite books.

message 7: by Tamara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Tamara | 3 comments For fantasy, I greatly enjoyed the first book in Robert Jordan's un-ending Wheel of Time series -- the first DUNE book -- Gaiman's Neverwhere & american gods -- and the first two books in Philip Pullman's trilogy.

I haven't read much SF lately, although I've really liked the Greg Bear I've read.

message 8: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Best scifi--Ender and Bean series by Card, Star Shards trilogy by Shusterman, Jurassic Park by Crichton, assorted books from the Star Wars and Star Trek series.

I hate to disparage one of my favorite writers, but the worst sci-fi book ever was The Tommyknockers by Stephen King. I remember being on page 500 and thinking, "Oh my God! When is something good going to happen?" In his book On Writing, King admits that he was high on cocaine the entire time he was writing it--it showed!

Best Fantasy--Harry Potter Series by Rowling, anything by Tamora Pierce, Hero and the Crown by McKinley, The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb, Artemis Fowl series by Colfer, Eragon series by Paolini

Worst Fantasy--Midnight for Charlie Bone by Nimmo. The story had so much potential, but the writing is not there. I tried to hang in for the first two books in the series, but I kept being disappointed and gave up.

message 9: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Addition to the worst fantasy list--the graphic novel M.I.T.H. It had a really cool premise-- that America kept its world power status thanks to an elite covert group of operatives that made sure America possessed all of the world's magical artifacts. But, the plotline was culturally insensitive and I so didn't need the main characters to make out in the middle of a Mayan death trap. Blah.

message 10: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Carl | 38 comments Hard to choose a best.
Other than LOTR or Silmarillion, I think I'd have to say either Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon trilogy, or Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World Trilogy-- but those are old favorites, and so could be influenced more by my Jr Hi tastes (though I've reread each many times over the last 15-20 years). More recent favorites? Stone and Flute by Hans Bemman, or Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin, but I would have to put Gene Wolfe's Wizard-Knight duology as my top favorite these days. Original and interesting, extremely well written-- probably the best fantasy I've read which was written in the last decade.
Worst? Probably The Dark Tide by Dennis McKiernan, though I remember being pretty disgusted with the writing in books by Feist and Brooks as well. Oh, but there was one self-published Christian Fantasy that I tried to start a year ago and couldn't get past the first couple pages-- I've thankfully forgotten the title. I was writing better in Jr Hi. Seriously.
Well, at least that's how it felt when I read them around 8-10 years back.Oh wait, the christian one was a year or two ago.

message 11: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) A really tough question, agreed, because there are a lot of "bests". I remember having "discussions" on who was the best guitarist: Eric Claptop? Carlos Santana? Jerry Garcia? Jimi Hendrix? John McLaughlin? Stevie Ray Vaughan? Django Reinhardt? Duane Allman? (and the list goes on...:-). Best how -- technical, emotional, electronic, wooden? Best where -- rock, jazz, folk? Best when -- some great players be very dead, nobody can hear anything beyond maybe a tinny bad recording of a kind of music nobody listens to any more.

Best SF in maybe top tennish ties would have to include (yes, Sarah:-) Mysterious Island as a damn good read and where I learned to make gun cotton in case I ever need to, Dune, Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love, Brin's uplift series, Asimov's Foundation series, Forward's two Dragon's Egg novels, McCaffery's Pern series (which is SF and not fantasy), Lord of Light, Ringworld, and the Mote in God's Eye. And truthfully, I could add another dozen books to that that are "almost" as good -- The Legacy of Heirot, Atlas Shrugged (which is, again, really a science fiction novel), the White Mountains trilogy, ERB's Mars and Pellucidar series, Doyle's The Lost World, A Canticle for Leibowitz...

Best Fantasy has to include LOTR, Anderson's The Broken Sword (which never really finished, dammit, but which COULD have conceivably beaten LOTR), Red Moon, Black Mountain, the Narnia series (yes a bit hyperchristian but a ripping yarn with a surprising thread of philosophy), Amber (putting it here instead of in SF, which is a bit arbitrary), Terry Pratchett's entire series top to bottom, Lovecraft's collected works (dark demented fantasy is still fantasy), Douglas Adams (or is he SF), and again there are too many close ones to mention -- Andre Norton has some that could swing either way that deserve at least honorable mention, even Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series has its moments.

Worst? Equally difficult to tell, as I never finish(ed) them. Some get rejected in the store as obviously bad. Others I actually start and can't finish. I would never call a book that I can actually read cover to cover and complete a candidate for the worst, and some books I don't finish probably aren't "bad" -- they're merely boring. For example, I've discovered that I just can't read Greg Bear. Bores me to sleep long before I get captured by a plot, even though the covers and story lines often SOUND good. Maybe he's got a decent book out there somewhere, but I'll never know because I tried some three of them and haven't made it past the first 100 pages of one of the three yet. Life is too short, etc...

Also, worst is so open ended. There are some really truly terrible books out there, even among the ones I've finished. I just don't keep them, and am usually pretty successful at forgetting them.

message 12: by Fenixbird (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

Fenixbird SandS | 1 comments THE BEST SCI FI novel? IMHO--in my humble opinion

Undoubtedly DUNE by Frank Herbert.. A lot of contenders for this #1 position! including one I have not yet read...A Sound of Thunder (short story) by Ray Bradbury (made into I think an incredible movie!! starring Sir Ben Kinsgley)..

DUNE gets my vote for top billing because of its: originality & sensual & evolving style!

BEST FANTASY? hmmmm....Well I loved the dreaminess of Slaughterhouse dreamlike yet lifelike! [Amazing mind Vonnegut] However, The Talisman (which I just found out was written by Stephen King) I read as a pre-teen and have NEVER FORGOTTEN IT!! ORIGINAL for the time...keep in mind! Briefly..."Father is gone, mother is dying, and the world no longer makes sense..." It is a vision of the future where technology is feared as if it was evil (or from the Devil)! The plot goes something like this (as I recall!!).....A young man is time warped into the future....OUTSTANDING!! LEFT IT'S CREATIVE MARK ON ME including a very healthy skepticsm for technology!!

WORST? Hmmmm... (hsve to think about that!!) I am new to the group (& groups in general!!)...Please forgive my delay in pondering "worst read" in this category...I simply LOVE sci fi! Okay there is one contender for "worst place:" Godzilla Vs. the Robot Monsters (Godzilla No 3) by Marc Cerasini I AM JOKING! NOT FAIR I have NOT read it!

STARTING TO READS FINDS: Foundation by Isaac Asimov and The Book of Earth (Part 1 of series) by Kellogg (HE LOVES DRAGONS!)...this second book reads like the opening to Flight of Dragons, which was an animated film my son and I both adored!! Anyone know whether this MIGHT be the origin of that film??

message 13: by The other John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new)

The other John (theotherjohn) Picking a "best" book would be very difficult. Some of my favorites--like Dune or Lord of the Rings--sweep me away with their complexity; others--like The Aquilad--are just enjoyable brain candy.

As for the worst, that would have to be an obscure book titled Time Echo, by Robert Lionel. It was a plot without drama, enacted by wooden characters. And of course, there's the more popular Left Behind--bad writing and bad theology. What more could you ask for?

message 14: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Carl | 38 comments I have to agree (strongly) with Left Behind as one of the worst, if not the worst-- I've got some friends who publish in the Christian market, so I tried it out when the series was new, but it was too too too painful. Argh. And that's just the writing. Not being a philologist in ancient middle eastern literature I'll refrain from commenting on their interpretation of scripture, but from what I understand they are ignorant of or ignore certain aspects of the literary context. But hey, I'm out of my field when I talk about that.

message 15: by Amanda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Amanda | 4 comments Ugh...thank you for the Tommyknockers comment. I HATED that book. I kept thinking...why do I have to know what is going on with every single person in the entire town...where did the kid go? I actually quit reading it, and came back to it like a year later, and skipped the rest of the second section and moved on to the third "act" to see how it ended. Horrible.

On a positive note,thanks be to JK Rowling, she brought be back into the fantasy fold! I have no shame in saying I am a Harry Potter fan!

message 16: by Robert (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:36PM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) Left Behind isn't really a book, it is a serious risk to society. Apocalyptics have, over the years, turned out to be one of the most dangerous religious variants out there. Does the phrase "drink the Kool-aid" mean anything to anyone out there?

I'm more than a bit worried that Left Behind feeds money into a group of apocalyptic christians that are taking steps to bring about the apocalypse, kind of helping it along. I recall reading things about trips to the holy land, spreading of propaganda, fostering conflict in the middle east instead of encouraging resolution and peace. I even remember finding a website, when I first looked into the book, that indicated some of what groups that participate in the literal interpretation of revelations participate in.

So sure, it would get a vote from me for being worst whatever it is (fantasy?) if only because it is a book with a (rare enough) actually evil impact on the world.

message 17: by Reads with Scotch (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments the deed to pakasarain is probably the best, but there is so much good Sci-Fi, maybe if you narrowed it down a bit like classic new age.
Classic Brave new world
Contemporary Pandora’s star
I have to say that a wheel of time turned into a real big disappointment, even before he went off and died ( no disrespect)
A song of ice and fire are also in high ranking, I am hoping that martin is in much better health.

message 18: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:49PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 24 comments I now have a worst! Oh my goodness but Dune Machine Crusade was bad! ggrrrrr....

message 19: by Jeremiah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Jeremiah Hebert | 1 comments Best: George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. Followed closely by Steven Erikson's 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' series.

Worst: Terry Goodkind's books. Absolute crap. "Which popular author's style can I emulate in this book". Followed by Robert Jordan's WOT books after book five.

message 20: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:02PM) (new)

Foxthyme | 2 comments Love Bujold's Vorkosigan series, Spider Robinson, much of Orson Scott Card, Pullman's series, and Jo Clayton's Diadem series. And R.A. MacAvoy's one of my faves!

Dislike? Er...I always forget what I don't like, so that's harder. So avoid, I avoid...I guess: Same old same old stuff. Or books where there's no love. If the characters are just all about hate, forget it.

message 21: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 24 comments I have always thought of Stephen King as strictly horor... Guess I am very off base with that thought.

When I read the Tommyknockers I was drinking a lot, like Mr. King, probably why I liked it. Also I am pretty sure The Talisman was parallel universes not time travel. I just read that one a year or 2 ago. Right before I read the gunslinger series.

Speaking of the gunslinger series, I thought it was good, not amazing or fantastic. However I am so in love with the ending. The ending was amazing and fantastic. I don't know why but it couldn't have been more perfect and profound to me.

message 22: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Stephen King is much more deep than people give him credit for. While you will find most of his books filed under horror at book stores because of marketing and profits, I would argue that he crosses most genres. Tommyknockers is definitely sci-fi, Delores Claiborne is a screwed up family drama, Gunslinger series sci-fi/fantasy, etc. The man trancends horror.

message 23: by Dan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:05PM) (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments The best Sci-Fi, I guess, must be 'Citizen of the Galaxy' by Robert A Heinlein, at least at the time when I read it it made a strong impression on me (I was in my early teens).
The one the disappointed me the most was also a Robert A Heinlein book, maybe because I at the time believed that all Heinlein had written was of good quality. It was the book 'Sixth Column'. It's a real load of anticommunist, anti-Asian racist manure, and I doubt that people that didn't grew up during the Cold War understand anything of it. I really hope it have gone out of circulation.
However there are a lot of "Space Opera" books that is so bad that I have tried to suppress any memory of it, including the title and author.

As for Fantasy I have always loved Ursula LeGuin. The Earthsea books are really nice.
The stuff I don't like is the ones with to many magic wands, swords and artefact's, where there are to many Goblins, Dwarfs and guys with pointy ears named Aflaflin or Ifliflin and where wizards can kill of the mighty evil monster with a single word. I also hate when groups of "people" are sent out on quests, to much roll play in it. That would be all books by Eddings and Jordan I guess.
Yea! I don't like Robert Jordan, so what!?

message 24: by Hanno (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Hanno | 2 comments I haven't read much fantasy but I did sample the genre here and there. Most fantasy books I found to be too alike, the only ones that really blew my mind were the first five Amber books.

As for science fiction... RGB Mars hit me like a train when I first read it. It was only when I got older that I realized how much hidden political bias it contained. It's a testament to Robinson's skill that I still find his books to be great, despite holding an opposite view on almost everything.

Poul Anderson's The Boat of a Million Years is not the best I've read but it's one of those books that have to be in the top list but never actually get there, for reasons beyond my understanding.


message 25: by Glenn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Glenn (punchdrunk) | 2 comments Great topic, and pretty much all of my "bests" and "worsts" have appeared on both sides of the line already.

BEST: Frank Herbert's Dune is the best book I've ever read. Ever. And in defense of Herbert and to the gentleman who complained about there being too many lengthy series (which I would normally agree with), Frank Herbert only wrote six Dune books, and those are the only ones worth reading. More on that later.

A close second would be Heinlien's Stranger in a Strange Land. I thought that Brin's Uplift and Assimov's Foundation didn't quite live up to the hype.

As for Fantasy, I'd have to go with GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, EVEN THOUGH IT'S STLL NOT FINISHED!! LotR seems like an obvious choice, but I'm less inclined to lean that way in my older age. Still top-notch though. Goodkind and Jordan are tremendously overrated, imnsho. Goodkind I stuck with through 8 books or so, then punted. Same with Jordan. Maybe someday I'll finish them. Paolini has potential, although it seems to me to be more of the derivative/formulaic flotsam and jetsam out there nowadays. Potter was ok, I only read the first two, no desire to continue.

WORST: Anything by Brian Herbert and the hack Kevin J Anderson. Absolutely horrible. Pinky and the Brain indeed.

message 26: by Camilla (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

Camilla It's so difficult to pick "bests" and "worsts"... because if it truly is terrible, I put it down after a few pages -- and the books I end up reading and rereading are those that have been most entertaining to me, not necessarily the ones with the most interesting ideas or best writing.

The fantasy books I keep coming back to are Gaiman's American Gods, Pratchett's Discworld books (mostly the later ones -- The Hogfather, The Thief of Time, Maskerade), Donaldson's Mordant's Need Duology, Garth Nix's Abhorsen Trilogy (it makes the Harry Potter books seem overwritten and underedited), and just about anything by Barbara Hambly. The Song of Ice and Fire was off to a great start, but I just don't have the attention span for plots that go on and on and on and on and on... and on...

I don't re-read nearly as much sci-fi. I like the Dune books but Herbert's "The Dosadi Experiment" caught my imagination when I was a teenager and it's remained one of my favourites. The sci-fi book that made the greatest impact on me lately was "The Use of Weapons" by Iain M. Banks -- kinda rambly, but it punches in the gut when you least expect it. Like most of his other books, I suspect. In my sci-fi reading days I liked Stephenson's Snow Crash, Gibson's Neuromancer, and the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. The Gap Cycle was painful but ultimately worth it.

Ah, there are too many books! Who can possibly pick out the "best"? Even picking a favourite is impossible.

It's hard to pick a "worst", too. Dennis L. McKiernan's overblown writing might be a candidate, but I actually made it through some of his books. I think the most memorable of the books I didn't finish were something by Sara Douglass, and Kelley Armstrong's Industrial Magic. Still, I'm sure there's much worse out there.

message 27: by J-Lynn Van Pelt (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

J-Lynn Van Pelt | 19 comments Glenn,
I would agree that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's collective efforts on the Dune series fall short.

But, Kevin J. Anderson on his own is a lot of fun. He wrote some of the best Star Wars books and his most recent book about what happened on Crypton before Superman was launched from the dying planet looks really interesting.

message 28: by Glenn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

Glenn (punchdrunk) | 2 comments It's the Dune-head in me talking. I'm sure he's not a *complete* hack. ;)

message 29: by Iorek (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new)

Iorek | 1 comments Best for me - I've loved Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (if that is counted as fantasy?) since seventh grade. Currently I'm in my second year of college, so it's been a favorite for quite a while.

Worst - Into the Forge by Dennis L. McKeirnan. I read it in tenth grade, and the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I was doing it for a book report and was looking forward to giving it a horrible review. The characters were flat and annoying, and the story seemed VERY familiar.

message 30: by Vince (new)

Vince Well the best sci-fi book I've ever read would be The Robots of Dawn by Asimov, and the worst was The Observers by Damon Knight or Destiny's Road by Larry Niven. Though I would say it's harder to choose a worst because I always try and forget those. The Robots of Dawn at heart is a detective story rather than sci-fi, but I think that all great things are at one time two things, never one. I've read some of Asimov's pure detective stories and I've of course read his other science fiction and the melding of the two genres was masterfully done by Asimov. I hardly made it through The Observers, surviving on the merit that I had for finishing any book I started. Now, I've heard a lot of good things about Larry Niven's Ringworld, but I wasn't going to go out and buy it, so I went to library and they didn't have it, so I chose Destiny's Road, I wish I hadn't. The book, unlike The Robots of Dawn, was not a page turner. The only way I finished that book was that at the time I was reading it, I was in an even more mundane environment, so any outside fantasy was welcome.

message 31: by Vega (last edited Dec 28, 2007 10:53PM) (new)

Vega | 3 comments
Song of Ice and Fire for me too.I just wish A Dance with Dragons would hurry up and finish being written. As for Sci-fi, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge are classics in my eyes.

message 32: by Greyweather (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:35AM) (new)

Greyweather I had almost managed to forget that I ever read this piece of drek, but I can safely say the worst book I have ever read is William Shatner's Tekwar.

The best fantasy novel I've read is The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll.

The best sci-fi novel I've read is A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

The best horror novel I've read is Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge.

The best short story collection I've read is Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link.

The best graphic novel I've read is Watchmen by Alan Moore.

message 33: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) I haven't been reading sci-fi and fantasy much yet, but I really want to. From what I have read, the best fantasy books are The Hobbit and the first two trilogies of Dragonlance. The worst fantasy is The Narnia series. The best sci-fi is Cat's Cradle. I have no worst sci-fi book.

message 34: by April (new)

April | 2 comments Best fantasy has to be Wraeththu by Storm Constantine. I can't understand why this book falls under the radar. Go get it. Now. Another great is CS Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy. If you're looking for a good antihero, check this one out.
Best science fiction for me is probably the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, four books starting with Hyperion. Another good (and obscure) one is John Varley's series starting with Titan.

Worst, I can't really say. I can't finish them, so I don't know if they get better towards the end or not.

message 35: by Werner (new)

Werner When it comes to the best science fiction novel I've read to date, I'd have to echo Greyweather and say Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz. And for me, the best fantasy novels are still Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit. The best short story collections I've read in those two genres are The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories and Modern Classics of Fantasy (the latter edited by Gardner Dozois).

Like some of the other people who've posted, I don't usually finish books I'm not enjoying. Of the ones I actually finished, the worst science fiction book was Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1916 novel Herland, and the worst fantasy was Merlin's Bones by Fred Saberhagen. But I'm sure some of the ones I didn't finish would have been even worse! :-)

message 36: by Mike (new)

Mike OK, I think that it hasn't been said yet and that is just a shame, so I will be the first to say it.
The Best Sci-Fi Book I've Ever Read is: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Yeah, that's right. Better than Dune(in theory(I haven't read it(sorry))), Better than Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep(Which is probably not true, but again, I haven't read it. Again, I apologize to the classic Authors of Sci-fi for not reading the classics) Better than Oolan Kaloofid's triliogy of blockbusters "Where God Went Wrong", "More Of God's Greatest Mistakes" and "Just Who is This God Person Anyway".
Say what you will about the original TV series(tried to hard to be the Radio Show(which was as close to perfect as could be)) and the fairly recent movie(which was great,(Yeah, the "So Long and Thanks For All The Fish" part was weird, but I think Douglas would have approved(and yes, I know the slapstick part was dumb, but it was in part aimed at American Movie Audiences, which are dumb(I've worked in a movie theater, I know how dumb movie goers can be, I'm not saying that you yourself are dumb for going to the movies, or that I myself am dumb(but don't put me in a horror movie unless you want me yelling at the screen telling the actors to get out of the haunted house, because based off of the one horror movie I saw in theaters, I'll do it) I'm just saying that once you get people into a large crowd the intelligence of the crowd becomes inversely proportional to the number of people in it(that's the right Discworld quote isn't it?)))) the book is great. I first read it when I was about 13 years old and it's always been there for me if I need to laugh. I've read the intro so many times that I've found myself reciting it to help calm myself down at stressful times in my life(after a recent minor car accident for instance(I'm fine and the car's fine, thanks for asking)) and if that's not the mark of a good book I don't know what is.
Ahem. So, obviously I get paid by the Parenthesis. Who pays me, I don't know, but that's defiently the way it seems isn't it?
Anyway, Best Fantasy? I can't say off hand.
I love all the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. In particular I think Guards Guards is one of the funniest and most well written, but then so is Men At Arms and Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad and EVERY DISCWORLD BOOK EVER(except maybe Colour Of Magic(YEAH! That's Right! I Said It! I'm Controversial! In really obscure and not very controversial ways!))
Uh, the worst? I don't know. If I don't like a book I don't finish it, so I guess Wizard's First Rule because I just couldn't get past the torture and I can't think of a sci-fi novel that I would describe as worst. Not that I haven't read bad sci-fi, I just have forgotten it.

message 37: by Gary (new)

Gary Galehouse | 2 comments Just joined the group, so I figured I'd chime in with a best and worst sci-fi.

Oddly enough, my best and worst are from the same author: L. Ron Hubbard. I LOVED Battlefield Earch and have read it several times. I know L. Ron was a whack-job and is responsible for making some annoying celebrities even more annoying, but this has to be one of the great all-time sci-fi novels. It was made into a horrible movie that I refused to see. It's a long read, as it's really three novels in one, but well worth it.

My worst was the first Mission Earth by him. Just an awful, awful book. I never read any more by him. I've read tons of sci-fi, and this one always stood out as the worst.

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but did really enjoy the Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card.

message 38: by Pehr (new)

Pehr | 1 comments hmm for a while David Brins' Earth, and the first Uplift trilogy, was really high up on my list.

Now ... Robinsons Mars trilogy and Peter Hamiltons Nights Dawn trilogy, are probably on my top.

message 39: by Lasairfiona (new)

Lasairfiona | 8 comments I don't know about best. It changes from year to year (or week to week!). I do know the worst though: Blood Music by Greg Bear. Some other really bad ones are 9 Tail Fox and The Mirror of Her Dreams.

The first two are horrible because they took good ideas or characters and ruined them with bad writing. The last, well let's just say that the whole two book series made me want to gag with both its writing and its characterization. Oh, and False Memory by Koontz is evil as well in that the ending is the biggest piece of crap ever.

But on to good stuff. I read The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book) recently at it was excellent. Also, the classic The Demolished Man and The Lies of Locke Lamora (Mass Market Paperback) were great. I am in the middle of Altered Carbon: A Takeshi Kovacs Novel (Takeshi Kovacs Novels) and it is amazing so far.

message 40: by Michele (last edited Jul 08, 2008 04:57AM) (new)

Michele Jeez, this is tough!

Best sci-fi (defined as those that I go back and re-read regularly) would include This Star Shall Abide by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, and Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper.

Best short story collection without a question: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Both the writing and the stories are original, thought-provoking, top-notch.

Best fantasy -- well, we'll take Tolkien as a given, obviously :) Beyond that, I'd include Riddle of Stars by Patricia McKillip, The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, and pretty much anything by Charles de Lint.

Worst sci-fi (defined as books I think should be burnt in public and never allowed near young children) -- probably the one I just finished: Elom. The horrific experience is still fresh in my mind. Bad juvenile writing liberally sprinkled with anachronistic language and terminology (it's set in a stone age -- think Clan of the Cave Bear -- yet they say things like, "OK" and "I'm gonna do this" and "goofy"). Long pages of "He looked at her. She gazed at him. He choked back tears and half-smiled." Primitive characters suddenly are told (a) their god is not a god but an alien called the Multiped and (b) they came from a different planet. Are they distraught at the demolition of their entire world-view? Nah, they just say, "Oh, okay" and proceed to swoon over each others secondary sexual characteristics. I found out later that the author is a former senator; maybe that's how it got published. In the acknowledgement he thanks his editor. He should have punched her.

Oh, and also any Dune books not written by Frank Herbert.

Worst fantasy: any and all of the "McFantasy" chains, including Dragonlance. Utter crap, even the ones by big-name authors. Anything by that guy who wrote Sword of Shannara.

message 41: by Bresdin (new)

Bresdin | 3 comments Well the best sci-fi for me would have to be Enders Game series and the Bean series. I love them so much.
Another one of my all time favs is The Icurus Hunt by Timothy Zahn.
I do not have a worst for sci-fi.

message 42: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (sullypython) | 2 comments BEST SCIFI - I think I would give the edge to the Dune series if I had to pick one. However, the following are certainly up there:
(1) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson,
(2) The Ender Series by Orson Scott Card (Speaker for the Dead being one of my all time favorite novels)
(3) Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan
(4) A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller.
(5) The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
(6) A Case of Conscience by James Blish
Also have to throw in the following for sheer reading enjoyment: (7) the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, (8)Dorsai by Gordon Dickson and (9) the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

BEST FANTASY SERIES - George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire wins for me. However, the following are certainly worthy of consideration: (1) Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind (the first 3 books were among my all time favorites) (2) Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon, (3) Discworld by Terry Pratchett and (4) Devil's Day/Black Easter by James Blish

BEST FANTASY SINGLE NOVEL - a tie between American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Hart's Hope by Orson Scott Card (both among my all time favorite novels). Also worthy of note, Moonheart by Charles de Lint and Neverwhere and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

BEST SCIFI/FANTASY COMBO - The Hari Michelson/Caine series by Matthew Woodring Stover (includes (1) Heroes Die, (2) Blade of Tyshalle and the upcoming (3) Caine Black Knife.

message 43: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 121 comments Terry Brooks' Running with the Demon series is actually quite good--Running with the Demon, Knight of the Word, and Angel Fire East. I have a number of 'best', including Curse of Chalion and the Thread that Binds the Bones, but it's far too late to think of all of them. I have a partial list at my website on if you want to read it.

Worst would include almost everything by R.A.H., especially To Sail Beyond the Sunset and The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls, while Cristopher Stasheff and Dennis McKiernan can fight over the fantasy award for badness.

message 44: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 121 comments Paladin of Souls was a very good book, but it pales compared to the first one in the series, The Curse of Chalion.

message 45: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 2 comments I am definately going to go with DUNE as being the best. It's just such a wonderfully telling story that oddly parallels todays natural resources crisis, the toughness of middle eastern "desert" power, and how powerful religions/guilds/cults can form under all of these extremeties and gain power.

Worst - Dianetics.

message 46: by Susanne (last edited Aug 18, 2008 12:35AM) (new)

Susanne (suslikesturtles) | 4 comments I've got a "worst" because it's the only book I've ever, EVAR thrown away. I don't even like lending my books to anyone, not to mention sell them or give them away... but Terry Brooks' Sword of Sharannah (Excuse spellin. I shall NOT look this up.) disgusted the hell out of me. I don't mind a bit of derivation, but that pile of ... trite re-telling of Tolkien was too much for me.

Review is here: If that links doesn't work:

Best is hard. I have a fierce love for the Hitchhiker even though when I read it nowadays the writing doesn't seem quite so excellent anymore.

Can I pick a graphic novel? The Sandman collection Seasons of Mist is The. Finest. fantasy story I've ever read.

message 47: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 121 comments I had much the same reaction, and don't have too many Brooks novels as a result. McKiernan is the same, including a Dweller in the Lake scene right out of Tolkien.

I liked Dune, but I'm not so interested in ornate and exotic settings and world-building as some. I want to read books about people and why they do what they do.

message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) "This Immortal" or "Lord of Light" by Zelazny are close to the top of my SF list, along with "Dune" (just the first) by Herbert, "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Heinlein, "The Masters of Solitude" by Kaye & Godwin, "2001, A Space Odessey" by Clark & "The Martian Chronicles" by Bradbury.

I never remember the worst since I can't read the book. Some of the worst SF is 'Campbellian'. John Campbell's "Island's of Space" for instance or Doc Smith's Lensmen series. I read them as a kid, but can't stand them now. Piers Anthony & Heinlein each have a few stinkers on this list.

Fantasy bests are LeGuin's original Earthsea trilogy, Tolkein's LOTR, Zelazny's Amber series & Modessit's Recluse series. Stasheff's "A Warlock in Spite of Himself" should also be mentioned.

Of course, this too shall change & I'm sure I'll see others as more people post.

message 49: by Travis (new)

Travis Crowe (travis_crowe) | 5 comments Best:

A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin

Yes, I'm hopping right on the bandwagon. This is sincerely the greatest fantasy I've ever read, and a top-five mention for overall fiction. The incredibly in-depth characterization, and intriguing plot fortify this series as a MUST READ for anyone interested in the fantasy genre.


Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind

Goodkind is a hack writer, and never deserved to be published. His work is terribly generic, uninteresting, and he spends a great part of his characterization and dialogue as a canvas for his own skewed beliefs. Regardless, his trash fiction continues to sell, as he continues to shell out terrible novels to make a quick buck and flaunt his personal beliefs to unsuspecting readers. I'd recommend anyone to stay away from this debacle, and anything else cranked out by this fraud.

message 50: by Peter (new)

Peter | 18 comments Best fantasy for me would probably be the Amber Series from Zelazny and Song of Ice and Fire series, so I'm in agreement with Jim and Travis.

Worst is hard. I'm actually reading the Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth series now and, although I've felt that there are some interesting elements, I'm going to have to agree that it's pretty weak--I have a hard time not finishing something I've started though, even if it isn't meeting my expectations. I doubt I'll last through all 11 books (or however many there are) though.

I also thought David Eddings Belgariad series (what I read of it) was very middle of the road, by the numbers fantasy.

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