My life in outer space

SF – The 100 Best SF Novels


One of the most important reference books I have discovered has been this, ‘Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels : An English-Language Selection, 1949-1984
by David Pringle’ published in 1985

This is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of literary SF. Pringle has selected 100 novels which, for one reason or another, are considered classics and provides an in depth review of each.
Of course, no one is ever going to choose the same 100 novels for such a purpose and there are bound to be eyebrows raised from some quarters at some of the choices. (I would have left out the Asimov selection for instance which Pringle admits in the review was only included out of respect for Asimov’s status within the genre.)
Over the last thirty years or so I have ticked off around 96 of these books, a good fraction of them I had already read, but there were many other which were new to me and which have since become personal favourites and broadened my horizons.
The complete list is below, and there are links to the pages where I have provided my own reviews, perhaps not as in-depth and academic as Pringle’s, but hopefully adding to the debate.
I originally posted that I would gladly welcome an updated version perhaps selecting another 100 novels from 1985 to date. Something to this effect has now appeared, ‘Science Fiction; The 101 Best Novels 1985 – 2010‘ selected by Damien Broderick and Paul DiFilippo, and with an introduction by David Pringle.

1.Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (1949)
2.Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)
3.The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (1950)
4.The Puppet Masters, Robert A. Heinlein (1951)
5.The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham (1951)
6.Limbo, Bernard Wolfe (1952)
7.The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester (1953)
8.Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1953)
9.Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke (1953)
10.The Paradox Men, Charles L. Harness (1953)
11.Bring the Jubilee, Ward Moore (1953)
12.The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (1953)
13.Ring Around the Sun, Clifford D. Simak (1953)
14.More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon (1953)
15.Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement (1954)
16.A Mirror for Observers, Edgar Pangborn (1954)
17.The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov (1955)
18.The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett (1955)
19.The Inheritors, William Golding (1955)
20.The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester (1956)
21.The Death of Grass, John Christopher (1956)
22.The City and the Stars, Arthur C. Clarke (1956)
23.The Door into Summer, Robert A. Heinlein (1957)
24.The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham (1957)
25.Non-Stop, Brian Aldiss (1958)
26.A Case of Conscience, James Blish (1958)
27.Have Space Suit—Will Travel, Robert A. Heinlein (1958)
28.Time Out of Joint, Philip K. Dick (1959)
29.Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank (1959)
30.A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1959)
31.The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1959)
32.Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)
33.Venus Plus X, Theodore Sturgeon (1960)
34.Hothouse, Brian Aldiss (1962)
35.The Drowned World, J. G. Ballard (1962)
36.A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
37.The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick (1962)
38.Journey Beyond Tomorrow, Robert Sheckley (1962)
39.Way Station, Clifford D. Simak (1963)
40.Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1963)
41.Greybeard, Brian Aldiss (1964)
42.Nova Express, William S. Burroughs (1964)
43.Martian Time-Slip, Philip K. Dick (1964)
44.The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Philip K. Dick (1965)
45.The Wanderer, Fritz Leiber (1965)
46.Norstrilia, Cordwainer Smith (1965)
47.Dr. Bloodmoney, Philip K. Dick (1965)
48.Dune, Frank Herbert (1965)
49.The Crystal World, J. G. Ballard (1966)
50.Make Room! Make Room!, Harry Harrison (1966)
51.Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1966)
52.The Dream Master, Roger Zelazny (1966)
53.Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (1968)
54.Nova, Samuel R. Delany (1968)
55.Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick (1968)
56.Camp Concentration, Thomas M. Disch (1968)
57.The Final Programme, Michael Moorcock (1968)
58.Pavane, Keith Roberts (1968)
59.Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter (1969)
60.The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
61.The Palace of Eternity, Bob Shaw (1969)
62.Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad (1969)
63.Tau Zero, Poul Anderson (1970)
64.Downward to the Earth, Robert Silverberg (1970)
65.The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker (1970)
66.334, Thomas M. Disch (1972)
67.The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe (1972)
68.The Dancers at the End of Time, Michael Moorcock (1972)
69.Crash, J. G. Ballard (1973)
70.Looking Backward, from the Year 2000, Mack Reynolds (1973)
71.The Embedding, Ian Watson (1973)
72.Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
73.The Centauri Device, M. John Harrison (1974)
74.The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
75.Inverted World, Christopher Priest (1974)
76.High Rise, J.G. Ballard (1975)
77.Galaxies, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)
78.The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
79.Orbitsville, Bob Shaw (1975)
80.The Alteration, Kingsley Amis (1976)
81.Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy (1976)
82.Man Plus, Frederik Pohl (1976)
83.Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1977)
84.The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley (1977)
85.Miracle Visitors, Ian Watson (1978)
86.Engine Summer, John Crowley (1979)
87.On Wings of Song, Thomas M. Disch (1979)
88.The Walking Shadow, Brian Stableford (1979)
89.Juniper Time, Kate Wilhelm (1979)
90.Timescape, Gregory Benford (1980)
91.The Dreaming Dragons, Damien Broderick (1980)
92.Wild Seed, Octavia E. Butler (1980)
93.Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban (1980)
94.The Complete Roderick, John Sladek (1980)
95.The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe (1980)
96.The Unreasoning Mask, Philip José Farmer (1981)
97.Oath of Fealty, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1981)
98.No Enemy But Time, Michael Bishop (1982)
99.The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Batchelor (1983)
100.Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)


2 responses

  1. Too many of these lists leave out important classics. Oh, well…

    August 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

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