NPR’s Top 100 SF/Fantasy Books

National Public Radio posted their list of the 100 best science fiction and fantasy books.  They took nominations and then 60,000 people voted for their favorites.  The resulting list is pretty good, though of course I think there are some glaring omissions (I imagine everyone thinks this.)

I know that many people in the Skeptic community read science fiction and fantasy.  It seems obvious that we’d be attracted to SF since most of us are fascinated by science and like to think about what will happen in the future.  I’m not so sure about the appeal of fantasy, or for that matter why so many people who like SF also like fantasy.  It seems Skeptics might be less likely to enjoy fantasy, since we might have a harder time suspending disbelief.  Perhaps it’s the world-building we like.  It’s fun to test different models of civilization and compare them to ours. 

I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is at the top spot.  It blew me away when I read it as a child and it is still one of my favorite books almost 40 years later.  It continues to enchant the younger generation, too, at least in my family.  Certainly it has had a huge influence on the fantasy genre.

Some of the other books in the top ten I would not have ranked so high, like Ender’s Game (don’t get me started on Orson Scott Card) and the A Song of Fire and Ice series (which is a good series, I just wouldn’t have it in the top ten.)  Some of the books don’t belong on the list at all, IMHO.  I regret all the long, long hours I spent reading Stephen King’s The Stand.  I don’t think the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey belongs in the top 100, though admittedly I only read the first book and it might get better.  As much as I enjoy Piers Anthony, I wouldn’t put the Xanth series in the top 100 either.

I’ve read most of the books on the list, 84 of them to be exact, and of the remaining 16, I have no interest in reading 3.  [I don’t want to read The Road because I know how it ends, I don’t want to read World War Z because I don’t like zombies and I don’t want to read the Dark Tower series because I vowed never to read another Stephen King book after The Stand.] 

I am really looking forward to reading the remaining 13 books.  I have a head start since I already have 3 of them, just haven’t read them yet.  Neal Stephenson is on the list 4 times (as is Neil Gaiman, by the way) and I’ve never read any of his books.  I’ve also never read anything by China Mieville so I have a lot of fun catching up to do. 

What do you think about the list?  What would be your #1?  Anything you think should be on there or shouldn’t be?  Did it inspire you to try any new authors?

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