Thursday, December 28, 2017

The best 40 science fiction novels I have read

Blade Runner poster
Lists of favorite books have always existed, and with the rise of the Internet they have proliferated. That’s why I decided to make a new list (in case there were not enough). But what I’m showing here is not just the list of my favorite books in this genre, but something a little more complex.
To build the list, I started with four lists made by others, sometimes individually, sometimes collectively. For example, one of those lists has been created in Goodreads, the social network for books, is called Best Science Fiction and contains over 2,000 books. In order to build this list, the members of Goodreads vote (almost 1000 people have voted for at least one book), together with the book’s score and the number of people who have read it (in some cases several million).
To form my new list I used the following criteria:
  1. It just contains books that I have read.
  2. It does not contain books that I have read, but did not like at all (i.e. those I would assign one star in the Goodreads or Amazon ratings). As an example of these books I will mention Do androids dream with electric sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Its argument is based on an interesting idea, but the way it has been developed in the form of a novel is deplorable, sometimes absurd. This is one of the rare cases where the film based on a book (Blade Runner) turned out to be far superior to the original work.
  3. Therefore, if one of your favorite books is not listed here, it may be for three reasons: because I have not read it, because I did not like it at all, or because it didn’t come among the top 40 in the average of the lists I have used to build mine.
  4. It only contains science fiction books. The Lord of the Rings, for example, has not been included, although it is on one of these lists, because I don’t consider it science fiction.


This is the resulting list:

Or-der
Novel
Author
Or-der
Novel
Author
1
1984
George Orwell
21
Voyage au centre de la Terre
Jules Verne
2
Ender’s game
Orson Scott Card
22
Speaker for the dead
Orson Scott Card
3
Dune
Frank Herbert
23
A princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
4
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury
24
The stars my destination
Alfred Bester
5
Foundation
Isaac Asimov
25
A canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller Jr.
6
2001 a space odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke
26
The caves of steel
Isaac Asimov
7
Randezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
27
Frankenstein
Mary Shelley
8
Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
28
A wrinkle in time
Madeleine L’Engle
9
The war of the worlds
H.G. Wells
29
War with the newts
Karel Capek
10
I robot
Isaac Asimov
30
The lathe of heaven
Ursula Le Guin
11
Starship troopers
Robert A. Heinlein
31
La invención de Morel
Adolfo Bioy Casares
12
The day of the triffids
John Wyndham
32
The Space Trilogy
C.S. Lewis
13
The time machine
H.G. Wells
33
Starship
Brian Aldiss
14
Brave new world
Aldous Huxley
34
A scanner darkly
Philip K. Dick
15
The left hand of darkness
Ursula Le Guin
35
Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut
16
Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
36
Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson
17
Solaris
Stanislaw Lem
37
Animal farm
George Orwell
18
The clockwork orange
Anthony Burgess
38
Flatland
Edwin Abbott
19
Hyperion
Dan Simmons
39
The ilustrated man
Ray Bradbury
20
20.000 lieues sous les mers
Jules Verne
40
We
Yevgeny Zamyatin
 In this list the following authors appear:
  • Two are represented by three novels: Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.
  • Six have two novels: Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, George Orwell, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
  • Twenty-two with just a novel: Edwin Abbott, Brian Aldiss, Alfred Bester, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Anthony Burgess, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Karel Capek, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Aldous Huxley, Daniel Keyes, Stanislaw Lem , Madeleine L'Engle, CS Lewis, Walter M. Miller Jr., Mary Shelley, Dan Simmons, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kurt Vonnegut, John Wyndham and Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Walter M. Miller Jr.


As for dates, this list includes 7 books from the 19th century, 4 between 1900 and 1940, 18 of the Golden Age of Science-Fiction (1940-1965) and 11 modern (1965-1990). Of the last 27 years, there are none.
I repeat that this is not the list of my favorite books. My personal preferences have only influenced by removing books from the list, or changing the order slightly. As a comparison, I include here the list of my favorite science fiction novels, excluding those I have written (:-):



  
Or-der
Novel
Author
Or-der
Novel
Author
1
A canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller Jr.
4

At the Earth’s core
Edgar Rice Burroughs
2
Orbit unlimited
Poul Anderson
Xenocide
Orson Scott Card
3
The caves of steel
Isaac Asimov
The sands of Mars
Arthur C. Clarke
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury
Randezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
Ender’s game
Orson Scott Card
Brave new world
Aldous Huxley
Perelandra
C.S. Lewis
The forgotten planet
Murray Leinster
4
Flatland
Edwin Abbott
Dark benediction
Walter M. Miller Jr.
Guardians of time
Poul Anderson
1984
George Orwell
I robot
Isaac Asimov
Comet dust
C.D. Verhoff
Foundation
Isaac Asimov
Voyage au centre de la Terre
Jules Verne
Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury
20.000 lieues sous les mers
Jules Verne
The warrior’s apprentice
Lois McMaster Bujold
De la Terre a la Lune+Autour de la Lune
Jules Verne
A princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Short stories
H.G. Wells

It can be seen that my list of favorite books has a greater granularity than the other lists I have used. Essentially, I would give between 4.5 and 5 Goodreads stars to the six books in places 1, 2 and 3; the other 20 would receive between 3.5 and 4.5 stars. 14 of my 26 favorite books of this genre are also in the previous list, while 12 have been left out, so it can be said that my personal preferences didn’t have a lot of influence on the other list.

Manuel Alfonseca
Happy 2018 for everyone

5 comments:

  1. As a fan of Robert Heinlein, especially his juveniles, I'm sorry none of them made your list. Otherwise, great lists!

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    Replies
    1. But he made it! Look at number 11 in the first list.

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  2. Ray Schneider means that non of his juveniles made it to the list. In any case, i think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress would be a better candidate. Starship Troopers though enjoyable isn't the best Heinlein has written.

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    Replies
    1. In the Goodreads list (the list with most voters I have used) "Starship troopers" is nr. 26 and "The moon is a harsh mistress" is nr. 34. Anyway the second book did not make my list, because I haven't read it (:-)

      Of Heinlein's juveniles I liked a lot "The menace from Earth", but as this is a short story, it didn't make it to these two lists of novels.

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    2. "Moon" is way better than 'Troopers'! ...nd heinlein's juveniles are anything, but: 'The Star Beast'???? 'Time For the Stars'????'Red Planet' ??? 'Have Space Suit, Will Travel'??? Difficult to make ANY 'best SF'list, yer a brave man. :D

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