OK, go here and pick your top ten SF/Fantasy books from this list.
Not as easy as it sounds.
No, really. This is a surprising relevant list, more so than most I have encountered. If anything, it shows the strength of SF/Fant, both of its current incarnation and its backlist. My first list ran to 27 titles, of which I had to pare down to 10. Ten! Any one of the top 27 are books that I would recommend to others. And in doing so, I found my Fantasy side pitted against my SF side, and my modern reader sensibilities with those of the young man discovering Galaxy magazine for the first time.
Here are the top ten: A Canticle for Leibowitz, Chronicles of Amber, Deathbird Stories, Dune, The Forever War, the Illuminatus Trilogy, Lord of the Rings, Perdido Street Station, Stand on Zanzibar, and The Yiddish Policeman's Union. If you don't recognize some of these, go read them.
Yet there were others that it killed me to leave off the list - Anathem, Mote in God's Eye, Pattern Recognition, Riverworld, The Wind-Up Girl, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. And THEN there were those that I would still recommend to others as worth reading and discussing - The Anubis Gates, Childhood's End, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Fahrenheit 451, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Neuromancer, Ringworld, The Sparrow, and The War of the Worlds.
We always seem to be bashing on the decline of the genre, but this list, and the choices it forces, suggests otherwise.
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