NPR’s 2011 “Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books” Results

NPR: Your Picks: Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

NPR: Your Picks: Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Back in 2011, National Public Radio published on NPR.org their user generated list of “NPR: Your Picks: Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books.”

Lately, I have been rather taken up with the subject of “best” lists, or “must read” lists. Part of it is returning to school to finish my MFA in fiction, and part of it is an interest in broadening my knowledge of literature in general, and part of it is about embarking on my 2nd 10,000 hours, as Malcolm Gladwell would put it.

I have also been thinking of putting together my own “Must Read Before You Die” list, as I have not yet found a reading list that was entirely satisfactory to me.

Whatever the motivation, I always find it fascinating to see the holes in my understanding of any particular genre. Granted, I tend to read an author in chronological order, sans whatever novel brought me to them in the first place. So I can honestly claim complete check-marks on authors such as Agatha Christie; Albert Camus, Arthur Hailey, Cao Xueqin, Charles Dickens, Douglas Adams, E.B. White, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gabriel García Márquez, George Orwell, Ian Fleming, Irving Wallace, Isaac Asimov, J. R. R. Tolkien (95% anyway), John Grisham, Leo Tolstoy, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Vladimir Nabokov, and William Shakespeare.

By the way, if you feel the need to say “obsessive” at this point, I promise I will only smile back and say, “Yes, just what was you point? Did ya nay see the word “Infinity” at the top of the blog?”

So I will take these 100, even the one I don’t like much, as my foundation 100. If you wonder why I’m leaving in the ones I don’t like, I offer you this: “You can learn a great deal move about yourself as a writer from a book you don’t like, than you can from a book you love.” No doubt, some will argue that, but that’s my rational. I have so often found it to be true.

So, being mindful of Francis Sutton-Grove’s excellent observation upon the character of Gilbert Norrell; “He hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson and no one could bear to listen to him,” I shall get on with it.

Here is the NPR.org Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books : NPR list:

(Novel synopsis are provided on the original NPR page.)

1. “The Lord Of The Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams

3. “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card

4. “Dune,” by Frank Herbert

5. “Game of Thrones Boxed Set,” by George R.R. Martin

6. “1984,” by George Orwell

7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury

8. “Foundation,” by Isaac Asimov

9. “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley

10. “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman

11. “The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure,” by William Goldman

12. “Wheel of Time,” by Robert Jordan

13. “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell

14. “Neuromancer,” by William Gibson

15. “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

16. “I, Robot,” by Isaac Asimov

17. “Stranger in a Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heinlein

18. “The Name of the Wind,” by Patrick Rothfuss

19. “Slaughterhouse-five,” by Kurt Vonnegut

20. “Frankenstein,” by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

21. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” by Philip K. Dick

22. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood

23. “The Gunslinger,” by Stephen King

24. “2001,” by Arthur C. Clarke

25. “The Stand,” by Stephen King

26. “Snow Crash,” by Neal Stephenson

27. “The Martian Chronicles,” by Ray Bradbury

28. “Cat’s Cradle,” by Kurt Vonnegut

29. “The Sandman,” by Neil Gaiman

30. “A Clockwork Orange,” by Anthony Burgess

31. “Starship Troopers,” by Robert A. Heinlein

32. “Watership Down,” by Richard Adams

33. “Dragonflight,” by Anne McCaffrey

34. “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” by Robert A. Heinlein

35. “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” by Walter M. Miller Jr.

36. “The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells

37. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” by Jules Verne

38. “Flowers For Algernon,” by Daniel Keyes

39. “The War of the Worlds,” by H.G. Wells

40. “The Great Book of Amber,” by Roger Zelazny

41. “The Belgariad,” by David Eddings

42. “The Mists of Avalon,” by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. “Mistborn Trilogy,” by Brandon Sanderson

44. “Ringworld,” by Larry Niven

45. “The Left Hand of Darkness,” by Ursula K. Le Guin

46. “The Silmarillion,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

47. “The Once and Future King,” by T.H. White

48. “Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman

49. “Childhood’s End,” by Arthur C. Clarke

50. “Contact,” by Carl Sagan

51. “Hyperion,” by Dan Simmons

52. “Stardust,” by Neil Gaiman

53. “Cryptonomicon,” by Neal Stephenson

54. “World War Z,” by Max Brooks

55. “The Last Unicorn,” by Peter S. Beagle

56. “The Forever War,” by Joe Haldeman

57. “Small Gods: A Novel of Discworld,” by Terry Pratchett

58. “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever,” by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. “Shards of Honor,” by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. “Going Postal: A Novel of Discworld,” by Terry Pratchett

61. “The Mote in God’s Eye,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

62. “Wizard’s First Rule,” by Terry Goodkind

63. “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy

64. “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” by Susanna Clarke

65. “I Am Legend,” by Richard Matheson

66. “Magician,” by Raymond E. Feist

67. “The Sword of Shannara Trilogy,” by Terry Brooks

68. “The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian,” by Robert E. Howard and Mark Schultz

69. “Assassin’s Apprentice,” by Robin Hobb

70. “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger

71. “The Way of Kings,” by Brandon Sanderson

72. “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” by Jules Verne

73. “Homeland,” by R. A. Salvatore

74. “Old Man’s War,” by John Scalzi

75. “The Diamond Age,” by Neal Stephenson

76. “Rendezvous With Rama,” by Arthur C. Clarke

77. “Kushiel’s Dart,” by Jacqueline Carey

78. “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia,” by Ursula K. Le Guin

79. “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury

80. “Wicked,” by Gregory Maguire

81. “Gardens of the Moon,” by Steven Erikson

82. “The Eyre Affair,” by Jasper Fforde

83. “Consider Phlebas,” by Iain Banks

84. “The Crystal Cave,” by Mary Stewart

85. “Anathem,” by Neal Stephenson

86. “Furies of Calderon,” by Jim Butcher

87. “Shadow & Claw,” by Gene Wolfe

88. “Star Wars,” by Timothy Zahn

89. “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon

90. “Elric of Melnibone,” by Michael Moorcock

91. “The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury

92. “Sunshine,” by Robin McKinley

93. “A Fire upon the Deep,” by Vernor Vinge

94. “The Caves of Steel,” by Isaac Asimov

95. “Red Mars,” by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. “Lucifer’s Hammer,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

97. “Doomsday Book,” by Connie Willis

98. “Perdido Street Station,” by China Mieville

99. “A Spell for Chameleon,” by Piers Anthony

100. “Space Trilogy,” by C.S. Lewis

Now, while I was mildly annoyed that “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy made this list, as I do not consider there to be any real science or any sort of fantasy in that book, I was interested to see that not one single title by Joanne Rowling made the list, even though a dozen or so 19th century titles made the cut. I’m not sure just that that means, but it does mean something.

So for me, this list produces the following results:

* * *

Yes List of 44 titles:

1. “The Lord Of The Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams

4. “Dune,” by Frank Herbert

6. “1984,” by George Orwell

7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury

8. “Foundation,” by Isaac Asimov

9. “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley

10. “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman

13. “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell

16. “I, Robot,” by Isaac Asimov

17. “Stranger in a Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heinlein

18. “The Name of the Wind,” by Patrick Rothfuss

19. “Slaughterhouse-five,” by Kurt Vonnegut

20. “Frankenstein,” by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

21. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” by Philip K. Dick

22. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood

23. “The Gunslinger,” by Stephen King

24. “2001,” by Arthur C. Clarke

25. “The Stand,” by Stephen King

29. “The Sandman,” by Neil Gaiman

30. “A Clockwork Orange,” by Anthony Burgess

31. “Starship Troopers,” by Robert A. Heinlein

34. “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” by Robert A. Heinlein

36. “The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells

37. “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” by Jules Verne

39. “The War of the Worlds,” by H.G. Wells

48. “Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman

49. “Childhood’s End,” by Arthur C. Clarke

50. “Contact,” by Carl Sagan

52. “Stardust,” by Neil Gaiman

54. “World War Z,” by Max Brooks

55. “The Last Unicorn,” by Peter S. Beagle

57. “Small Gods: A Novel of Discworld,” by Terry Pratchett

60. “Going Postal: A Novel of Discworld,” by Terry Pratchett

63. “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy

64. “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” by Susanna Clarke

66. “Magician,” by Raymond E. Feist

72. “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” by Jules Verne

76. “Rendezvous With Rama,” by Arthur C. Clarke

80. “Wicked,” by Gregory Maguire

82. “The Eyre Affair,” by Jasper Fforde

90. “Elric of Melnibone,” by Michael Moorcock (In the graphic novel edition)

94. “The Caves of Steel,” by Isaac Asimov

99. “A Spell for Chameleon,” by Piers Anthony

* * *

No List of 47 titles:

5. “Game of Thrones Boxed Set,” by George R.R. Martin

12. “Wheel of Time,” by Robert Jordan

15. “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

26. “Snow Crash,” by Neal Stephenson

28. “Cat’s Cradle,” by Kurt Vonnegut

32. “Watership Down,” by Richard Adams

33. “Dragonflight,” by Anne McCaffrey

35. “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” by Walter M. Miller Jr.

38. “Flowers For Algernon,” by Daniel Keyes

40. “The Great Book of Amber,” by Roger Zelazny

41. “The Belgariad,” by David Eddings

43. “Mistborn Trilogy,” by Brandon Sanderson

44. “Ringworld,” by Larry Niven

45. “The Left Hand of Darkness,” by Ursula K. Le Guin

47. “The Once and Future King,” by T.H. White

51. “Hyperion,” by Dan Simmons

53. “Cryptonomicon,” by Neal Stephenson

58. “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever,” by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. “Shards of Honor,” by Lois McMaster Bujold

61. “The Mote in God’s Eye,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

65. “I Am Legend,” by Richard Matheson

67. “The Sword of Shannara Trilogy,” by Terry Brooks

68. “The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian,” by Robert E. Howard and Mark Schultz

69. “Assassin’s Apprentice,” by Robin Hobb

70. “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger

71. “The Way of Kings,” by Brandon Sanderson

73. “Homeland,” by R. A. Salvatore

74. “Old Man’s War,” by John Scalzi

75. “The Diamond Age,” by Neal Stephenson

77. “Kushiel’s Dart,” by Jacqueline Carey

78. “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia,” by Ursula K. Le Guin

79. “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury

81. “Gardens of the Moon,” by Steven Erikson

83. “Consider Phlebas,” by Iain Banks

84. “The Crystal Cave,” by Mary Stewart

85. “Anathem,” by Neal Stephenson

86. “Furies of Calderon,” by Jim Butcher

87. “Shadow & Claw,” by Gene Wolfe

88. “Star Wars,” by Timothy Zahn

89. “Outlander,” by Diana Gabaldon

91. “The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury

92. “Sunshine,” by Robin McKinley

93. “A Fire upon the Deep,” by Vernor Vinge

96. “Lucifer’s Hammer,” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

97. “Doomsday Book,” by Connie Willis

98. “Perdido Street Station,” by China Mieville

100. “Space Trilogy,” by C.S. Lewis

* * *

Started, But Never Finished List of 9 titles:

3. “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card

11. “The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure,” by William Goldman

14. “Neuromancer,” by William Gibson

27. “The Martian Chronicles,” by Ray Bradbury

42. “The Mists of Avalon,” by Marion Zimmer Bradley

46. “The Silmarillion,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

56. “The Forever War,” by Joe Haldeman

62. “Wizard’s First Rule,” by Terry Goodkind

95. “Red Mars,” by Kim Stanley Robinson

* * *

At the end of it all, I have a 44% rating. Some of the “No List” is on my reading list, and 0.0% of the “Started, But Never Finished List” is on my horizons for the near future. I found the books to be dull, or slow, or disconnected from actual history- which is only a negative if you are writing within the constraints of Realism or Magical Realism. However, either way, I won’t take up those dead soldiers again any time soon. There are just too many other books in the world.

So I will blog about them as I come to the end of them in my “No Plot Spoilers” fashion. The next two titles, which I have written reviews for already, are “Coyote Blue,” by Christopher Moore, and “Singularity Sky,” by Charles Stross. I rather liked both of these books, and look forward to sharing them with you soon as I shot off this incendiary missive to my editor to find out why the bum hasn’t been working. I’m expecting a return ransom note or some other form of extortion.

C’est la guerre.

Comments

comments

5 thoughts on “NPR’s 2011 “Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books” Results

  1. Becky Kelm says:

    Fourth test. Cannot see text in IE.

  2. Joe Bob Briggs says:

    Fifth test with “minimal” setting and moderation off.

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