John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright

More stuff about SFF! The 1000 Novels of Dr. T! PART ONE

Oscillon asked me to post a science fiction journal entry. He said he would buy my novel Null-A Continuum if I did so. I did, and he lived up to his word like a gentleman. Now, I will publish another science fiction related entry, merely in the hope that he will buy a copy of WORLD OF NULL-A or SLAN or some other Van Vogt book.

The London paper Guardian has been running a series called
1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read and has recently published their 124 science fiction and fantasy picks. I have seen this list on one or two other blogs I frequent, and so thought I would add my own comments here.

Anything in bold I read: when I put it aside unfinished is so noted. I marked with a star those novels I agreed with Guardian must go on your must-read pile. One line book-reviews or snark follow any books on the list where I was prompted by my daemon to make a comment.

(My daemon changed shape when I was younger, but upon majority, assumed the form of a Shuggoth
a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train, a shapeless congerie of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light. The Magesterium employs me to run over gyptian villages or sink Turkish armadas, and I am safe from the Gobblers since my ego is so large that it cannot fit into the intercission chamber.)

I am a bit embarrassed to see how many books are on the unfinished list. When I was younger I had a strict reading discipline: only one book at a time, must read to the end, and no more than three books a day.

Here is the list.

1. Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)— I am the only person in the English-speaking world who does not find Adams’ humor funny.

2. Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)

3. Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951)

4. Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000) — I seriously doubt I could ever be persuaded to read anything by Mrs. Atwood.

5. Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)

6. Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984)

7. Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987)

8. Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987) — Why was this included, as opposed to, say THE STAND by Stephen King or GHOST STORY by Peter Straub?

9. Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)

10. Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995) — Good book, but not great.

11. Greg Bear: Darwin's Radio (1999) — I might have put ANVEIL OF STARS or BLOOD MUSIC on this list.

12. *Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956) — Why is DEMOLISHED MAN absent from this list? To make room for Poppy Z Brite? This one I agree is a must-read.

13. Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992)

14. Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960)

15. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)

16. Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)

17. Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960) — Saw the movie. Does that count?

18. Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)

19. *Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912) — Bravo. A real SFF book on the list. I am a little surprised to see this bit of wholesome and old-fashioned boy’s adventure tale sandwiched between so many works of self-important antinomian nihilism. It is like finding a Norman Rockwell painting in a Picasso exhibit. A must read.

20. William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)

21. Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979) — Octavia Butler is on this list, but not Ursula K. LeGuin or Anne Rice? Really? I detect an ugly whiff of tokenism here.

22. Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)

23. Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)

24. Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)

25. Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

26. Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)

27. Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)

28. Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)

29. Arthur C Clarke: Childhood's End (1953)

30. *GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)—A must-read.

31. Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004) Didn’t finish. Unpleasant characters, unremarkable magic system, plot like meandering river. Don’t understand the hype that surrounded this.

32. Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)

33. Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998)

34. Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)

35. Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)

36. Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)—Delaney is not for me. I read NOVA and FALL OF THE TOWERS. Meh.

37. Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)— Saw the movie.

38. Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)Didn’t finish. It is an outrage that two books by Dick make this list, but nothing by A.E. van Vogt, whom Mr. Dick was clumsily copying.

39. Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum (1988) — I did not hate the book, but I resent the huge waste of time the author inflicted on me. Plot, character, etc., were missing.

40. Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)

41. John Fowles: The Magus (1966)

42. Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001)

43. Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)

44. William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984)— A remarkable work, staggering in the imaginative effort that went into it.

45. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)

46. William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954) —Science Fiction? Really?

47. Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974) — I never understood the appeal of this book. It is not bad, but if you are not devoted to peacenik sentiments, nothing really memorable or interesting is present. I thought his WORLDS and its sequel WORLDS APART were better books on every level of writing, character, plot, etc.

48. M John Harrison: Light (2002) —On my ‘to read’ list. Someday.

49. Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) — Loved this book when I was a kid. Grew up. Hate it like poison now.

50. *Frank Herbert: Dune (1965) — Even after decades, this great novel is hard to surpass. A must-read.

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