Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Science Fiction and Fantasy

I just read some recent posts on another site, listing the 50 greatest sci-fi books of all time. So here's a (shorter) list:
1. JRR Tolkien: Lord of the Rings.
Amazing books. Yes, they can be a little slow. But really, I don't think anything from the 20th century can beat it. Start out with The Hobbit...not as well written, but a bit easier to read, and a good introduction to the series.

2. George RR Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire
A lot like Tolkien in that it's high fantasy, very well written, great characters, great plot. Different than Tolkien though--more graphic (so readers beware), more gritty, more realistic. This series will also become a classic...eventually. He needs to finish the series first though...

3. Robin Hobb: Assassin series
Good fantasy. None of the dorkiness of pop fantasy, and well-written and interesting. The Mad Ship series I didn't really care for, but the follow-up to the Assassin series was good. She's currently working on a fourth series...I'll probably wait until it's done to read it, but it's definitely on my list.

4. Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game series
Ender's Game is a great book. The rest of the series is more science fiction and more political games, but they're still good. Surprisingly, the follow-up series, Ender's Shadow, is also excellent. Fun to read, and the situations and characters provide a lot to think about.

5. Frank Herbert: Dune
The sequels just get stranger and stranger, but Dune is a great novel about life on a desert planet. Classic science fiction.

I'll update this list in the future. If you have any recommendations, let me know.


Anonymous said...

Tolkien's the Master, no contest. I'd rate Martin with Robert Jordan (sorry, Tim)—I wouldn't mind reading past Game of Thrones if the series had a forseeable end.

I love Card, Ender's Shadow is one of my all-time favorite books. I know it's blasphemous to say so, but I like it even more than Ender's Game.

I need to read Hobb's Assassin series ...

Many of my sci-fi fantasy favorites are actually Young Adult novels. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander is spectacular, no matter how badly Disney butchered it in the horrible animated adaptation. And although I know you weren't especially impressed, Tim, I still like Grace Chetwin's series From the Tales of Gom in the Legends of Ulm. Ursula Leguin's A Wizard of Earthsea is good; I need to read the other books in that series. I also like Madeleine L'Engle—I'd recommend A Swiftly Tilting Planet as the best I've read from her, and like the other Wrinkle in Time books it can stand on its own even when one has not read the rest of the series.

I also might recommend Brandon Sanderson's new book Mistborn, my most memorable read in recent months. It may not be a shining star in speculative fiction, but it has a really sweet new magic system (allomancy) in which certain magical abilities are powered by specific metals. It's a fun 300 pages.

Chelsey said...

No Robert Jordan in great fantasy? Even if you don't like the entire series (starting at 6, they do get long; however, I still enjoy them), you've gotta give him credit for at least the first half. He's accessible to both the main stream and the fringe, his character development is excellent, and his ability to keep track of about 15 plot lines is admirable. I'm guessing that from the other comment you're not a big fan, but Jordan deserves a place on the list.