Probably everyone on the planet has seen this already—or at least that’s the way it usually works for me—but in August NPR announced the results of its reader poll to name the Top 100 science fiction and fantasy books. I’m a sucker for Top X lists—Top 10, Top 25, or Top 100, it doesn’t matter. I like to see what others think are the best of the best for two reasons: (1) I can find “recommendations” for something that I might not have located otherwise, and (2) I can scoff at the lister’s obvious inferiority.
Scanning through NPR’s list (suprisingly, I’ve read 54 of the 100, and 38 of the top 50), I see some curious selections. In his post (a must read), NPR’s Glen Weldon notes that the list is really a popularity contest. How else can the inclusion of George R R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series at #5 (it isn’t even finished yet) or four Neil Gaiman’s books (I like Gaiman, but four) be explained? I would argue sliding some titles up or down the list (Dune is really #4?), but most of the books look like good selections for the top 100. It’s nice to see A Canticle for Leibowitz (#34), The Forever War (#56) and A Fire Upon the Deep (#96) get recognized. While some of my other personal favorites didn’t make the cut (e.g., Delany’s Nova, Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog), it would be hard to argue which books to remove to make room (although The Belgariad would be one potential contender, IMO).
So enjoy the list, and when your done there, be sure to head over to SFSignal and check out their fantastic flow chart. It will help you decide which of those books that you haven’t read to tackle first.