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Comments for 124 Scifi Novels Meme

124 Scifi Novels Meme: 01/22/09

Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings (love his blog's title!) has a post about the 124 must read science fiction and fantasy novels that the Guardian has compiled among their 1000 must read books. I have to say I don't agree with all the books they've selected. Poppy Z. Brite and Toni Morrison's books I would count as horror and I don't think of horror as an obvious subset of science fiction and fantasy. Of course the genres do sometimes bleed into each other (H. P. Lovecract comes to mind). Also I don't think JK Rowling's novels are of the same calibre as the others on the list (of those I've read). I would have liked to see one of L Frank Baum's novels on the list but I conceed that the list is British and the Oz books might not be on their radar.

I've read 39 from the list with another six to read. The bolded ones are the ones I've read and the italics are ones I have in my home but haven't read yet. There are probably a dozen more books on the list that I would like to read but I don't have copies right now and therefore don't have any immediate plans to read. With that in mind, I didn't include them in my italicized list.

  1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
  2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
  3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)
  4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
  5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
  6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)
  7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)
  8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987)
  9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
  10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
  11. Greg Bear: Darwin’s Radio (1999)
  12. Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956)
  13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)
  14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)
  15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
  16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
  17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
  18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
  19. Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
  20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
  21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
  22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
  23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
  24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
  25. Lewis Carroll: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
  26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)
  27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
  28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
  29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood’s End (1953)
  30. GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
  31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
  32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
  33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)
  34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
  35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
  36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
  37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
  38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
  39. Umberto Eco: Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)
  40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
  41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
  42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)
  43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
  44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)
  45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
  46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
  47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974)
  48. M John Harrison: Light (2002)
  49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
  50. Frank Herbert: Dune (1965)
  51. Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
  52. Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980)
  53. James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
  54. Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
  55. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
  56. Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
  57. Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
  58. Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
  59. PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
  60. Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
  61. Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
  62. Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
  63. Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
  64. Stephen King: The Shining (1977)
  65. Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
  66. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
  67. Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
  68. Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
  69. David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
  70. Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
  71. Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
  72. Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994)
  73. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954)
  74. Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
  75. Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
  76. Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006)
  77. Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
  78. China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
  79. Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
  80. Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
  81. David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004)
  82. Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
  83. William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
  84. Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
  85. Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
  86. Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
  87. Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)
  88. Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970)
  89. Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
  90. Flann O’Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
  91. Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
  92. Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
  93. Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
  94. Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
  95. John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
  96. Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
  97. François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
  98. Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
  99. Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000)
  100. Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
  101. JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
  102. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
  103. Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
  104. José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
  105. Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
  106. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
  107. Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989)
  108. Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
  109. Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992)
  110. Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
  111. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
  112. Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
  113. Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court (1889)
  114. Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
  115. Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
  116. Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
  117. Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
  118. HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
  119. HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898)
  120. TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
  121. Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
  122. John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
  123. John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
  124. Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

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Comment #1: Thursday, January, 22, 2009 at 17:53:36

Carl V.

Oh, you've read We! What did you think of it. I'll go out on a limb here, in case you hated it, and say that I was pretty amazed by it. Read it last!!!

How was Man in the High Castle?

I haven't read any of Rowling's books, so I'm no judge, but I didn't necessarily agree with her inclusion either. Of course the first one did win some of the same awards that American Gods and Jonathan Strange did so it doesn't surprise me that they included it.

Comment #2: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 15:43:03


I read We back in college for a Science Fiction in Literature and Film class. It was one of about 50 novels I had to read and 50 films I had to watch in a ten week period. I remember enjoying it and thinking it very different from so many of the other things we were reading but the details of the book have gotten mushed together. I would like to re-read it sometime.

The Man in the High Castle is a bit like Ada or Ardor by Vladamir Nabokov. Both are alternate earth stories that are political commentaries on current events. Although I enjoyed both novels they aren't my favorites by either author.

I'm not surprised either that Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone is on the list, more that other classic fantasy tales aren't on the list (Peter Pan, for instance). I've only managed to get through midway through book five where I've lost interest in the series.

Comment #3: Saturday, January, 24, 2009 at 15:25:32

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

I agree - it is a strange list. There are many that I wouldn't count as science fiction or fantasy (Sarah Water's Affinity, Toni Morrison's Beloved for example), and several others that are stretching the definition a bit. Most of those I've read are great books though!

PS. The link to view the other comments on this post seems to be broken.

Comment #4: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 13:34:23


I don't know what criteria they used for deciding which books went on the different genre lists but their definitions of science fiction and fantasy are looser than mine.

I've fixed the link. My blog isn't software / database driven so sometimes I forget to change the link when I start a new post.

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