Monday, September 8, 2008

100 Classics, Revisited

Current Reading: The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

Inspirational Quote: "A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness." -- Edith Wharton

Science fiction is a fairly young field. I don't think it existed before Verne and Wells. If you include folklore, myth and legend, then Fantasy goes back as far as the human capability for story telling. That's a lot of material to consider when trying to construct a list of classics.

One way to narrow it down is to define what a classic must be. My blog, my rules, so here goes: a classic is a book that has had an impact on the genre, influencing the work that came after it. If it's new, then it's a book that I believe is likely to have that kind of impact. It's also a book that is likely to be read by the next generation.

I have yet to come up with an entire 100 classics for this list, and what appears here is in the order the titles occurred to me, or to others who contributed their thoughts. As before, the ones I've read are in bold:

100 Classics of SF and F

01 The Lord of the Rings - Tolkein
02 The Hobbit - Tolkein
03 Earthsea - LeGuin
04 Neuromancer - Gibson
05 The Time Machine - Wells
06 The Invisible Man - Wells
07 Frankenstein - Shelley
08 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - Verne
09 Dune - Herbert

10 Farenheit 451 - Bradbury
11 2001 - Clarke
12 Foundation - Asimov
13 I Robot - Asimov
14 Rendezvous with Rama - Clarke
15 Discworld - Pratchett
16 Harry Potter - Rowling
17 Lathe of Heaven - LeGuin
18 Left Hand of Darkness - LeGuin
19 War of the Worlds - Wells
20 Childhood's End - Clarke

21 The Songs of Distant Earth - Clarke
22 1984 - Orwell
23 Animal Farm - Orwell
24 A Clockwork Orange - Burgess
25 Fantastic Voyage - Asimov
26 Journey to the Center of the Earth - Verne
27 From the Earth to the Moon - Verne
28 The Island of Dr. Moreau - Wells

29 The Shape of Things to Come - Wells
30 The War of the Worlds - Wells
31 Ringworld - Larry Niven
32 Enemy Mine - Longyear
33 Conan - Howard (I haven't read all of these)
34 Elric - Moorcock (I haven't read all of these)
35 Flowers for Algernon - Keyes
36 Pern - Norton (I haven't read all of these)
37 The Forever War - Haldeman
38 Starship Troopers - Heinlein
39 The Integral Trees - Niven
40 Wheel of Time - Jordan (I haven't read all of these)
41 Daughter of the Empire - Wurts
42 Magician - Feist (I haven't read all of these)
43 Man Plus - Pohl
44 Ender's Game - Card
45 Red/Green/Blue Mars - Robinson (I haven't read all of these)
46 The Demolished Man - Bester
47 A Canticle for Leibowitz - Miller
48 Stranger in a Strange Land - Heinlein
49 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Heinlein
50 Stand on Zanzibar - Brunner
51 Riverworld - Farmer
52 Gateway - Pohl
53 Lucifer's Hammer - Niven / Pournelle
54 Hyperion - Simmons
55 Fafhred and the Gray Mouser - Leiber
56 To Say Nothing of the Dog - Willis
57 Alice in Wonderland - Caroll
58 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Adams
59 Day of the Triffids - Wyndham
60 The Iliad - Homer
61 The Odyssey - Homer
62 Gilgamesh
63 Beowulf
64 His Dark Materials - Pullman
65 The Faerie Queene - Spencer
66 Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
67 The Metamorphoses - Ovid
68 A Christmas Carol - Dickens

69 Wizard of Oz - Baum

I'm always open for suggestions and disputes on this list.


slcard said...

Ah, brilliant! It's like Christmas came early.

There was more on your list which I have not read than I expected. This is welcome indeed, as I have been finding it difficult to find reads that both divert and provoke me (and when I say provoke I mean encourage me to higher thought, not to be ill or offended, which unfortunatly happens more and more of late as the envelope of entertainment gets increasingly pushed).

Thank you for your insights. I hope more readers comment. This is a fantastic post. SF/F can be so maligned, but I believe it has offered much and has much to offer humanity.

Perhaps you might also consider including L. Frank Baum's, The Wizard of Oz. As far as I know, it is the only story with a female protagonist who follows the hero's monomyth without becoming masculinized to some degree.

I do have one question regarding your list. You have Clarke listed as the author of Fahrenheit 451. Most of my books are now boxed in my attic, but this particular novel sits tattered on my shelves beside a few other favorites, and it has Ray Bradbury's name on the cover (I had to go get it to be sure). Do you know something I don't?

And one last thing: I really like your quotes. Here is one for you.

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
--Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536)

It has been a pleasure.


Ulysses said...

Good Lord! I put Clarke beside Bradbury's work? Argh! Well, I've corrected that, and added the Wizard of Oz as well. A worthy addition. Thanks, slc.