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Why Don't We All Just Meet at the Star Trek Convention?

Everybody from Elisson to Michael Heilemann is memeing this list of 50 science fiction and fantasy books. Not being above using other people’s ideas as my own, I’ll be posting it as well. I’ll spare the 50 lines, and just leave in the ones that I’ve actually read.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks

I like lists like these, but I think this one’s misnamed. Tolkien’s books, for example, are not within the 50-year time span any more (the original list is from 2002), and shouldn’t be there. And although I’m sure they’re all good, I don’t know if I’d consider some of them all that influential. Electric Sheep, for example, is nowhere near as good or influential as Dick’s paranoium opus Vulcan’s Hammer. The only reason anybody still knows about it is because of Blade Runner’s hat tip.

Some I’d add to the list:

Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, both of whose successes inspired, in their times, a return to ‘hard’ science fiction (although its science wasn’t quite as hard as Crichton made it out to be).

Dungeons and Dragons first edition by Gary Gygax, as long as being a ‘novel’ isn’t a prerequisite–I mean, how many people derived works from that? It completely redefined the way people thought about the fantasy genre. And bathing.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. It’s still Heinlein’s best book, in my estimation, and hey, it gave us TANSTAAFL. Better than Starship Troopers, which is probably fightin’ words with a lot of people, and number two on my Why the Hell Ain’t They Made it a Movie list, right after Satanic Verses.

Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite Vonnegut book; it’s basically the same as Slaughterhouse-5, just a bit more screwy. I think it’s a pretty good bet that drugs played a wee part in the making of this one.

Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman. Although ripped root and branch right out of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ass, this book had more sequels than most of the other books on this list had imitators.

Some I’d remove from the list:

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I like this book; I’ve read it at least a dozen times; but it’s kind of cheesy. And I think you’d be hard pressed to say that it had a lot of influence in the sci-fi/fantasy world. There’s about a million books out there that left a bigger crater than this one.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I’ll give them The Man in the High Castle, but Electric Sheep is crap, and all that Mercerism mumbo-jumbo can kiss my ass. Sounds like somebody thinks it’s still hip to over-represent Philip K. Dick. His stuff wasn’t bad, but give it a rest already.

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I remember reading the Shannarah books as a fat, lonely teenager. Even then, it seemed derivative.

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Philip K. Dick's short stories generally beat the hell out of his longer works.

See ya at the convention. I'll be wearing the red shirt.


I've got a killer old book of short stories from Weird Tales that has one of Philip K. Dick's stories in it. His short stories are wonderfully weird. It's called...erm...something. Unfortunately, I've already packed it in my take-to-limeyland box. Anyhoo, it's about a war between men and insects, with spiders on our side, doing a running commentary. Good stuff.

I'd be re-thinking that red shirt. Unless you can do a Scottish accent, it's almost certain death.


I'll be the one with the Black Hat.

See Ya!!!


With the Windows logo....

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