The Top 100 Sci Fi from Goodreads

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What Percentage Have You Read?

  • 0-25%

    Votes: 7 53.8%
  • 26-50%

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • 51-75%

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • 76-100%

    Votes: 1 7.7%

  • Total voters
    13

Jason

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I'm sure many have seen it, but an interesting article came out on Goodreads via my email feed today (7/7/20). The full list is here: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1874-the-100-most-popular-sci-fi-books-on-goodreads

Instead of regenerating the list here, to make it more interesting and participatory for AWers, here's the twist. After perusing the list, how many have you read? Admittedly, I would have thought my percentage was a bit higher, though I came in near the halfway mark. I had to remind myself though, that this was more of a popularity thing than truly a curated list of the top 100 of all time. These are what's popular, not necessarily what's truly among the best!

Perhaps that might be a worthy talking point here though - is there a distinction to make between popular reads versus truly canonical classics of a genre? If you had to take these popular reads, how many would also make it on to a list of the best in the genre, regardless of popularity? I was actually impressed with the number that I'd put in both...maybe 70-80% I'd also put in a classical sci fi "best of all time" list.

What books would you include that are missing? What books are included that you thought "really? no way!" :)

Cheers!
 
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Kjbartolotta

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Um, most of them, I think. Not sure if you count the ones I DNF'd. Overall a pretty good list actually, usually I cringe whenever I see what gets voted on and as always I Have Thoughts. Glad to see Dennis Taylor at #89, obviously he should be higher but good he's on the list.
 

Lakey

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I am not a huge reader of Science Fiction, but it turns out I've read about 25 of them, give or take a few that I started but could not finish (Foundation, Neuromancer, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Also some of them I read so long ago that I barely remember them. (I say I'm not a huge reader of SF, but integrated over my entire life I have read way more SF than fantasy, so if this list encompassed both I'd come in much, much lower I'm sure.)

There are a couple of "classics" of the genre that I have read but do not see on the list, like Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination -- there will always be omissions given the way the list is compiled, and maybe people don't read Bester so much these days, I don't know. Another science fiction author I remember reading when I was younger is Clifford D Simak, but maybe he's more of a paperback guy than an enduring classic that people still read. I've also read some John Brunner, and some Kim Stanley Robinson, though not the particular Robinson books that appear on this list.

:e2coffee:
 

lizmonster

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A lot of classics on this list, most of which I haven't read. :) I've read 22 of these (very few of the newer titles), and I have probably 5 of them on my TBR list.
 

Brightdreamer

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I've read 27/100, and a few more are in the TBR pile (physical or digital.) Decent range, and I might've swapped a few out (or cut down a bit on author repetition), but overall interesting.
 

Maryn

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I'm freakin' astonished. I don't consider myself primarily a science fiction reader, although as a young adult I was. That accounts for my having read 41 of these--but a fair number, I read in the last five years or so.

It's worth noting that one of our kids is a science fiction reader and gifts me the ones she knows I'll like, and that I pay close attention to the free or cheap downloads Tor offers occasionally, usually the early book(s) in a series when a new one is about to be released.

Hmm, what to add... Zenna Henderson, "Pilgrimage: Book of The People" leaps to mind. Women authors are not well represented on that list, and she was terrific at humanizing her concepts.

Maryn, who inherited her dad's first editions of 1950s scifi
 

RC turtle

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I've never been one to like "Classics" or even the most popular books, and even the ones on this list that I think I've read were so long ago that I don't remember much about them. Counting as half for the ones I'm sure I started but didn't finish, I only came up with 18.5.

If you read the explanation of how they came up with the list, though, it seems it would be biased toward older books, books people may have been required to read, and books people felt a need to comment on. I always hope these lists will be more useful than they ever turn out to be for me.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the best!

Edit: I did go back and find several books I want to read, so more useful than some.
 
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Chris P

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16 for me, which is more than I thought.

I was surprised to see Handmaid's Tale on there. I don't consider that sci-fi because the technology isn't really the thing.
 

lizmonster

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I was surprised to see Handmaid's Tale on there. I don't consider that sci-fi because the technology isn't really the thing.

Yeah, it's spec fic for sure, but SF? Hm. I'd say the same thing about The Stand, and that's closer.

On the other hand, there wasn't a lot of fantasy bleeding in, which was nice.
 

Brightdreamer

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16 for me, which is more than I thought.

I was surprised to see Handmaid's Tale on there. I don't consider that sci-fi because the technology isn't really the thing.

SF can also be speculative, on how the future might change if certain ideas or philosophies rise or fall. (Though IIRC Atwood herself rejects the label "science fiction" for her work.)
 

Brightdreamer

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It's worth noting that one of our kids is a science fiction reader and gifts me the ones she knows I'll like, and that I pay close attention to the free or cheap downloads Tor offers occasionally, usually the early book(s) in a series when a new one is about to be released.

Hmm, what to add... Zenna Henderson, "Pilgrimage: Book of The People" leaps to mind. Women authors are not well represented on that list, and she was terrific at humanizing her concepts.

Yeah, the Tor ebook-of-the-month club is pretty good, though they have a way of repeating titles and offering them after I've literally just paid for a hardcopy... (I often download the freebies anyway for archiving purposes. There are only a few I've completely passed on because they just didn't appeal to me.)

And Zenna Henderson wrote one of the most memorable short collections I've ever read ("The Anything Box", borrowed from my mother); I keep meaning to read more from her.
 

Fiender

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Are we counting ones we couldn't finish? If so, I have 24.
Goodreads' selection is very interesting. I expected more books printed before I was born, and was glad to see lots of newer titles on there.
 

Albedo

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23, counting both The Forever War and Flowers for Algernon, of which I've read the original novellas but not the expanded versions. It's good to see a variety of authors on there. I'm surprised there's no Vernor Vinge in the top 100. Nor Alastair Reynolds. I suppose neither has really had a juggernaut book, but I thought Revelation Space or A Deepness in the Sky might be up there given a lot of their 90s/00s contemporaries are.
 

Albedo

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Regarding the discussion point, if anything this list by most-reviewed (if that's a measure of popularity, and I suppose it is) deviates much less from the usual 'canon' or 'classics' than I would have thought. I can't argue that the great majority of these aren't important books. There are a few outliers, but in the interest of harmony/wa/和 I will not be noting the books that should be struck from this record forthwith.
 

katfeete

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52, or thereabouts. My misspent youth (and, er... not-so-youth) with my nose in a book is finally paying off!

There are a couple of "classics" of the genre that I have read but do not see on the list, like Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination -- there will always be omissions given the way the list is compiled, and maybe people don't read Bester so much these days, I don't know.

Glancing at the ratings, that seems likely — The Stars My Destination has about 2k ratings, not shabby, but book #100 on this list had over 12k. I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised to see Bester fail the “a rating over 3.5” test, though: he’s a brilliant writer, but his stories are difficult, uncomfortable, and as unpolitically correct in our day as they were in his own, albeit for entirely different reasons.

Simak falls to the opposite problem — he writes these lovely low-key modest Midwestern books, some of which are quite brilliant, but so quietly brilliant you’ll miss it if you blink. I still have several of his sitting around I haven’t gotten to, but then... *eyes bookshelves* *eyes spare time* *sighs*
 

Albedo

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What's that joke about the Velvet Underground? Only 100 people ever listened to them, but every single one went out and started a band?
 

Kjbartolotta

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I'm surprised there's no Vernor Vinge in the top 100. Nor Alastair Reynolds. I suppose neither has really had a juggernaut book, but I thought Revelation Space or A Deepness in the Sky might be up there given a lot of their 90s/00s contemporaries are.

Greg Bear, Gene Wolfe, David Lindsey, Lois McMasters Bujold (don't think I saw her), Leigh Brackett, and (here's where I get crazy with it) Thomas Pynchon are the authors I'm sorry to see left out. I definitely have some books on that list that could be tossed out to make room for them, but like you, said, wa​.
 

lizmonster

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Greg Bear, Gene Wolfe, David Lindsey, Lois McMasters Bujold (don't think I saw her), Leigh Brackett, and (here's where I get crazy with it) Thomas Pynchon are the authors I'm sorry to see left out. I definitely have some books on that list that could be tossed out to make room for them, but like you, said, wa​.

Bujold was there, for Shards of Honor (fair, but I think Barrayar is a better book).
 

Jason

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The Full List - Text Only

1984 George OrwellNeuromancer William GibsonChildhood's End Arthur C. ClarkeBinti Nnedi Okorafor
Animal Farm George Orwell2001: A Space OdysseyArthur C. ClarkeContact Carl SaganShards of Honour Lois McMaster Bujold
Farenheit 451 Ray BradberryWar of the Worlds H.G. WellsKindred Octavia E. ButlerConsider Phlebas Iain M. Banks
Brave New World Aldous HuxleyDark Matter Blake CrouchThe Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. Le GuinOut of The Silent Planet C.S. Lewis
The Handmaid's Tale Margaret AtwoodSnow Crash Neal StephensonThe Sirens of Titan Kurt VonnegutSolaris Stanislaw Lem
The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy Douglas AdamsRed Rising Pierce BrownThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress Robert HeinleinStar Wars, Heir to the EmpireTimothy Zahn
Frankenstein Mary ShellyThe Andromeda Strain Michael ChrichtonRingworld Lary NivenStories of Your Life and Others Ted Ghiang
Slaughter House Five Kurt VonnegutOryx and Crake Margaret AtwoodCryptonomicon Neal StephensonAll Systems Red Martha Wells
Ender's Game Orson Scott CardCloud Atlas David MitchellThe Passage Justin CroninChildren of Time Adrian Tchaikovsky
Ready Player One Ernest ClineThe Martian Chronicles Ray BradburyParable of The Sower Octavia E. ButlerWe Are Legion Dennis E. Taylor
The Martian Andy Weir20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Jules VerneDirk Gently's House Detective Agency Douglas AdamsRed Mars Kim Stanley
Jurassic Park Michael ChrichtonBlindness Jose SaramagoThe Sparrow Mary Doria RussellLock In John Scalzi
Dune Grank HerbertStarship Troopers Robert HeinleinThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet Becky ChambersThe Humans Matt Haig
The Road Cormac McCarthyHyperion Dan SimmonsThe Mote in God's EYe Larry Niven & Jerry PournelleThe Long Earth Terry Pratchett
The Stand Stephen KingThe Man in The High Castle Phillip K. DickA Canticle for Leibowitz Walter M. Miller, Jr.Sleeping Giants Sylva
A Clockwork Orange Anthony BurgessArtemis Andy WeirSeven Eves Neal StephensonVox Christina Dalcher
Flowers for Algernon Daniel KeyesLeviatdan Wakes James S.A. CoreyThe Day of The Triffids John WyndhamSeverance Ling Ma
Never Let Me Go Kazuo IshiguroWool Hugh HoweyA Scanner Darkly Philip K. DickExhalation Ted Chiang
The Time Machine H.G. WellsOld Man's War John ScalziAltered Carbon Richard K. MorganThis is How You Lose The Time War Max Gladstone
The Foundation Novels Isaac AsimovAnnihilation Jeff VandermeerRedshirtsJohn ScalziThe Paper Menagerie Ken Liu
Cat's Cradle Kurt VonnegutThe Power Naomi AldermanThe Dispossessed Ursula K. Le GuinGideon The Ninth Tamsyn Muir
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Phillip K. DickThe Invisible Man H.G. WellsRecursion Blake CrouchThe Collapsing Empire John Scal
Station Eleven Emily St. John MandelThe Forever War Joe HaldemanAncillary Sword Ann LeckieAmerican War Omar El Akkad
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. HeinleinRendezvous with Rama Arthur C. ClarkeThe Illustrated Man Ray BradburyThe Calculating Star
I Robot Isaac AsimovThe three-Body ProblemCixin LiuDoomsday Book Connie WillisProvenance Ann Leckie
 

Jason

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Explanation of the Above:

I was taking the full list and compiling an Excel file to have as a reference for my own reading goals. A tweak here (to CSV), a massage there (to HTML), and a final edit (to vBulletin) and the full list is above, ordered in increments of 25 by rank, with the Title and Author...
 

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