Thursday, August 11, 2011

NPR releases survey results for Top 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Books

The results are in for NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books survey. You can view the complete list over on the NPR website, but here are the top 10 as selected by 60,000 readers:

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The Dune Chronicles, Frank Herbert
A Song of Ice and Fire series, George RR Martin
1984, George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
American Gods, Neil Gaiman

I've read all the books in the top 10, though with one caveat--I've only read the first Dune book, as I've heard the sequels aren't very good. (I've got to think that most of the votes were for Dune itself). All in all it's a pretty good list, although I think it's very premature to put A Song of Ice and Fire--which isn't even finished yet--on such a list.

Here's my personal top 10 and where they ended up:

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (no. 1)
The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien (no. 46, a surprise as I didn't think it would make the cut)
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut (no. 19)
1984, George Orwell (no. 6)
The Once and Future King, T.H. White (no. 47)
Watership Down, Richard Adams (no. 32)
The Conan series, Robert E. Howard (no. 68)
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (no. 27)
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (no. 20)
The Worm Ouroboros, E.R. Eddison (did not make the cut)

13 comments:

Taran said...

No Gene Wolfe or Stanislaw Lem? I am dissapoint.

(Honestly, there wouldn't have even *been* a New Wave without ol' Stan)

Falze said...

I've only read the first Dune book, as I've heard the sequels aren't very good.

Allow me to heartily disagree. As long as you allow yourself to accept what Herbert was doing there's a lot to like there. Definitely heavier on the philosophy as he went along. I enjoy all 6 and am curious to see what his kid made of his notes for the conclusion. I think he did an amazing job envisioning what 20,000 years could do to current belief systems. I agree that most people probably haven't made it through the other 5.

I keep vacillating on Enders Game, haven't picked it up, yet...is it worth it?

Lagomorph Rex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lagomorph Rex said...

Lagomorph Rex said...

It is criminal that the Conan stories are farther down the list than Terry freakin' Goodkind,Sword of Shannara and Riftwar. Jeeze. That really just goes to illustrate what the endless pastiches have wrought.


Gene wolfe is even further down the list. Tad Williams isn't even on the list.

Would be interesting to see the list extrapolated out into top lists for Fantasy and Sci-Fi.. Maybe I'll do that.

David J. West said...

The only one I haven't read in the top ten is the Asimov - I have just never been motivated to pick him up.

And Ender's Game? Most of my friends love it but I was severly underwhelmed.

And I voted for Ouroborus too.

Ted Cross said...

Conan really should be much higher. And where is Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? I still can't believe that the Earthsea series, Deryni Chronicles, and Thieves World were not even on the list for voting.

Falze said...

Just to be clear, this is a popularity contest best of list, nominated by popular suggestion and voted on as "your favorites" not "best". Face it, folks, Conan is not as popular as Terry Goodkind nowadays. The list looks like the popular sci-fi/fantasy section at...uh...Barnes and Nobles (they're still open, right?). Hey, Conan beat out Wicked. It's not all bad.

Brian Murphy said...

No Gene Wolfe or Stanislaw Lem?

Gene Wolfe is on the list, though way down at no. 87. No Lem.

Allow me to heartily disagree. As long as you allow yourself to accept what Herbert was doing there's a lot to like there.

Come to think of it, it may have been the sequels written by Herbert's son and another author that were panned. I loved Dune so maybe I will try the Frank Herbert sequels.

I keep vacillating on Enders Game, haven't picked it up, yet...is it worth it?

I think so... I liked it quite a bit, and have a spoiler free review here if you're interested:

http://thesilverkey.blogspot.com/2007/12/enders-game-review.html

If you like twist endings, Ender's Game has a doozy that I didn't see coming.

Would be interesting to see the list extrapolated out into top lists for Fantasy and Sci-Fi.. Maybe I'll do that.

I wish they kept the two separate myself.

Conan really should be much higher. And where is Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? I still can't believe that the Earthsea series, Deryni Chronicles, and Thieves World were not even on the list for voting.

I agree. As Falze said it is a popularity contest, not a statement of quality, though there was some qualitative judgment made early on by a three-person panel of experts who helped winnow down the final list prior to the popular vote. You would think that one of those three might have put Leiber, Vance, and some of the other greats on for consideration.

Fred said...

I've read 8 of the Official Top Ten and 9 of your top ten. The three I missed are Hitchhiker's Guild, Conan, and the George RR Martin series.

I was disappointed to see that Jack Finney's _Time and Again_ wasn't considered. In my estimation, it's the best time travel novel going.

But, it is a popularity contest and not a measure of quality, which explains a lot of the strange rankings.

On the other hand, I was surprised to see that _The Silmarillion_ placed so high as I don't know anyone who liked it at all, even among those who are Tolkien fans.

marycatelli said...

I've read all of their top ten -- at least one volume of them, at least.

Long Haired Spider said...

I haven't read the Neil Gaiman, and I've only read the first Dune, but I've read the others in the top 10. I can't believe A Canticle for Leibowitz made the list! I thought my husband and I were the only ones who had read it ;)

Seriously though, it's an interesting list. I like peering into the brains of 60000 other readers.

Fred said...

No, you're not the only ones who've read _The Canticle of L_. It's one of my top five post-holocaust novels.

Eric D. Lehman said...

Hmm...I have to disagree with the disagreement about the Dune sequels. Although I read them, and 'enjoyed them', they are definitely not up to the quality of the first, if I look at them honestly. The first book is a work of literature - the rest are mere sequels. If you know what I mean.