Friday, August 12, 2011

If Loving You is Wrong

NPR recently did a survey of Top 100 Science Fiction/Fantasy Books, and the top 10 came out fairly predictably:

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The Dune Chronicles, Frank Herbert
A Song of Ice and Fire series, George RR Martin
1984, George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Not that I'm taking NPR seriously as a source for my sci fi/fantasy. And it's not like anybody's Top Whatever lists are things I generally agree with (except for when, say, Memsaab indulges). But sometimes one can't resist the temptation.

By the way, I was tipped off to this via The Silver Key, and I'm going to shamelessly borrow from him by listing my own Top 10, with notations about how my choices ranked:

Stand On Zanzibar, John Brunner (not listed)
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany (not listed)
Valis, Philip K. Dick (not listed)
A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick (not listed)
Mona Lisa Overdrive, William Gibson (not listed)
The Conan series, Robert E. Howard (#68)
The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, Fritz Leiber (not listed)
The City and the City, China Mieville (not listed)
The Discworld series, Terry Pratchett (two of the novels are listed at #57 and #60; not sure why they're separate, since the Xanth novels are listed as a series)
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (#26)

I didn't include either 1984 or Brave New World, even though they're two favorites: I know it's against the grain, but I just can't think of them as science fiction. Never have. Similarly, much as I love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I didn't feel right about including it. If pressed, I'd say that Terry Pratchett writes fantasy novels that are comic, and Douglas Adams wrote comic novels with a sci-fi element. The emphasis is different. Yes, that's completely subjective and probably illogical, which is why I'm writing here, and not at NPR.

And why no Lord of the Rings? I dunno. I don't dispute its status as a classic. But there are things I like better.

The main thing I notice about my list is that seven of my Top Ten aren't even in the Top Hundred. Yikes. This gives evidence for that feeling I've always had, that I'm an oddball even among oddballs. On the other hand: no Valis on their list? (Which I'd probably make #1 if I weren't ranking alphabetically). I feel like I should be handing out copies on the streetcorner, spreading the good news...