Michael came across this list of the 50 most significant SF&F books of the last 50 years at this website here; apparently the list came from somewhere else, though it’s not clear to me where. The books are listed in order; I’ve bold-faced the ones I’ve read, and added some comments. I’ve put “+++” by the ones I’ve read multiple times, “—” by the ones I’ve read but didn’t much like, and “000” by the ones I’ve read that I can’t remember anything about. As you’ll see, I’ve read 40 of the 50, and at least tried to read most of the others.
- +++ The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien.
- +++ The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov.
- +++ Dune, Frank Herbert.
- +++ Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein.
- +++ A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Neuromancer, William Gibson. I started this one, and hated it,
and never finished it. This almost never happens.
- +++ Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke.
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick. I’ve
read a little of Dick’s work, and didn’t like it, so I never tried
- The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’ve read a fair
amount of Bradley’s “Darkover” series; I’m not sure why I’ve never
read this one. It seems to be targetted more at women than men, though.
- Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury.
- +++ The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe.
- +++ A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr..
- The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov.
- Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras Never heard of this one.
- +++ Cities in Flight, James Blish.
- +++ The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett. Though this is hardly the best of the series.
- Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison.
- Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison.
- +++ The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester.
- Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany. Couldn’t get through this one, either.
- +++ Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey.
- Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card. The short story is better.
- +++ The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson.
- 000 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman.
- Gateway, Frederik Pohl. I’ve never read anything by Pohl that
I cordially liked.
- +++ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling.
- +++ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.
- I Am Legend, Richard Matheson.
- — Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice.
- +++ The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Little, Big, John Crowley. I’ve tried to re-read this several times, and never gotten very far. Interesting, but I don’t think I ever really understood what was going on.
- +++ Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny.
- The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick. See above.
- Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement.
- More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon. I don’t remember whether
I’ve read this one or not.
- +++ The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith.
- On the Beach, Nevil Shute. Oddly, I’ve not read this one; I
tried it when I was far too young, and didn’t like it. I ought to
give it another try.
- +++ Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke.
- +++ Ringworld, Larry Niven.
- 000 Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys.
- +++ The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien.
- 000 Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut.
- Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson.
- +++ Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner.
- The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester.
- +++ Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein.
- +++ Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock.
- — The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks.
- Timescape, Gregory Benford. Like Pohl, Benford does nothing
- — To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer.