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...


memsaab said...

If being an oddball is wrong...

:) (and I'm so honored to be one you can agree with at times!)

Anonymous said...

My selections for top 10 sci-fi/fantasy book lists always feel so pedestrian. Not sure why. Typical picks of Heinlein, Anthony, and Farmer.

Anarchivist said...

Memsaab: you're definitely a member of the Oddball Hall of Fame.

And Paul, "pedestrian" would be pretty unusual as a description of you...

David B. Beaver said...

I love many of these great titles, thank for sharing, love the blog. Many blessings


Dave said...

I agree with the list, but the list should be top 20 at least. REH was always disputed as not a book, but a collection of stories, (amazing stories at that). I think you should swap out the China Meville one and put in its place Perdido Street Station, absolutely fantastic book. Herbert = amazing the Dune series, and 1984 will be remembered like LOTR's when others fall of the radar. But all in all I agree with choices...urs also. :)

alvaro villamizar said...

Tolkien books are just perfect, all the world and languages he created, everytime i read a Tolkien book i wish i was inside the story. I hate when people compare Harry Potter's books with Tolkien books, you cannot compare the epic story of Arda with anything else, because what Tolkien created is just unique!.

Anarchivist said...

I actually haven't read Perdido Street Station , but I do hear it's good. One of these days ... then maybe it'll make the list!

Also for one of these days is to revisit Tolkien. It's been too long. Brian Murphy over at The Silver Key was just blogging about The Silmarillion , and I remember really liking that, in the way-back when I read it.