“best of list for sci-fi”

I have a different “best of list for sci-fi”  and there’s no fantasy in it – I don’t read much sci fi these days – I like Connie Willis – I read When Worlds Collide when I was in about the 5th or 6th grade and loved it.  One of my first adult books – maybe my first.  I’d read all the library’s  children’s section sci-fi,  such as it was,  so I ventured into the adult section.     Here’s my list as it stands now – they’re in order but that gets shaky toward the end of the list:

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert (read 2 or 3 times – first in the late 1960s.)
  2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card  (read in 2003)
  3. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov  (read in late ’60s)
  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley   (read in late ’60s)
  5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy  by Douglas Adams (read in 1999?)
  6. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (read in 2000?)
  7. Doomsday Book  by Connie Willis  (read in 2000?)
  8. A Canticle For Liebowitz  by Walter Miller  (read in 2011?)
  9. When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer(read in 1960?)
  10. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (read in 2000)

  1. I also enjoyed “11/22/63” by Stephen King which is time travel but not really sci-fi  – certainly not up to par with those on my list.  There might be some books from the 1970s through the ’90s,  but I don’t remember them at the moment – I notice the dates are missing and wonder …

7 Responses to “best of list for sci-fi”

  1. jameswharris says:

    I read When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide in the 8th grade and loved it. Several years ago it was reprinted by University of Nebraska Press and I reread those books and they were still pretty good. I also included Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep on my Top 10 list. I’ve read most of the books on your list and liked them the first time around. However, The Foundation Trilogy didn’t stand up to rereading, at least for me.


  2. I had to add two already – The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Now I’m wondering if I should put some Vonnegut in there – (heh)


  3. jameswharris says:

    You list is getting longer. At the SF book club we limited ourselves to 10. I wanted to squeeze in The Sparrow but I’d have to bump one of my original 10. I still might.


  4. Okay – I’ll play by the rules. (heh) – That was hard but I removed The Sparrow and Oryx and Crake because maybe they’re not really so sci-fi as they are just speculative fiction. They’re very good books though. I also removed Foundation because although I know it’s excellent, it was really hard for me when I read it so I didn’t actually “enjoy” it so much. Stranger in a Strange Land is gone because my memory is not good on that one. Editing is good for my character. (lol)


  5. jameswharris says:

    I thought The Sparrow was excellent science fiction. It was scientific and philosophical, which is how I love my science fiction. I haven’t read Oryx and Crake. You now have a very tight list. The ten I listed were:
    * Have Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
    * Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
    * City by Clifford Simak
    * The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
    * Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    * The Humanoids by Jack Williamson
    * The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov
    * Hyperion by Dan Simmons
    * Babel 17/Empire Star by Samuel R. Delany
    * Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick


    • Is that list on your site? I looked but didn’t find it. I’ve not read most of your books but I know I read Have Space Suit – Will Travel as a kid. I think that’s the book I keep remembering that I so very dearly enjoyed. I didn’t care all that much for The Time Machine although now that I’ve read more classic lit in general it might be “better.” (heh) I reread Farenheit 451 just a few years ago. I don’t know if I read The Naked Sun back in the 1960s with the others or not. Hyperion? I don’t think so. Babel 17 for sure not – I’ve never read anything by Delaney but it sounds good. And the Dick novel for sure.

      I’m not sure what part of The Sparrow is science. Yes, the old sci-fi was heavily idea based. Oryx and Crake is set in a futuristic dystopia which is due to technology.

      Confessions – When I was a kid I read sci-fi voraciously but when I got older I kind of slipped away from it because it seemed like a “boy thing.” Then I married a scientist and he really enjoyed sci-fi when were were young and crazy in the ’60s. He would pass the best of what he read on to me. As the years went by we both drifted away from it. After we divorced and then he died I kinda-sorta got back to some of it. Now I find I enjoy the really best but I’m not all that interested in fantasy at all and some of the older works seem dated. I like new books, dystopian or time travel or whatever is well written.

      To me, Dune is forever and always the best sci-fi book ever. I read about 3 of the sequence. I’ve reread them and listened. I don’t like the son’s variations.

      Boy I get wound up!


  6. jameswharris says:

    Babel 17 is a novel that talks about a novel, so Delany also wrote that novel too, and it’s Empire Star. And I think Empire Star references things in Babel 17. Only recently have they started publishing it together in one volume. Hyperion is an epic SF novel based on the structure of Canterbury Tales. It’s quite majestic. One reviewer said only a misanthrope could hate Have Space Suit-Will Travel.

    This list isn’t on my blog or my Classics of Science Fiction site. It’s the first time I’ve made it up. I’m still not sure about it. I’m writing a blog about it, so you might see it there soon. The Humanoids is a story about robots, one of the best, at least in far out ideas, but I’m not sure if it’s that good as a novel. I’m tempted to substitute The Sparrow for it, especially since I have two other robot novels, The Naked Sun and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


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