Saturday, October 1, 2011

NPR Books: The Top 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

A recent poll taken by NPR Books, in which more than 60,000 people who read F & SF voted, generated a list of the top 100 books in these two genres.  Unfortunately, the YA genre was not included, but more lists are coming!  So keep visiting the site every so often.  Hopefully a YA list will be available soon.

Here are some of my personal favorites.  The book images are readily available at Goodreads and Amazon; the comments accompanying each book are mine.   

You can read the complete list of 100 books HERE.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien's immortal epic, sold in both one-volume format and three-volume format,  has been the reading delight of several generations of fantasy fans since its publication in the 1950's.   The author, an Oxford professor, made full use of his expertise and love for ancient myths and languages in this richly-detailed masterpiece, which tells the story of the War of the Ring, pitting the seemingly insignificant hobbit, Frodo Baggins, against the fearsome, evil Sauron. 

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

This is a mesmerizing, although horrifying and sobering look at what the world would be like if books were declared illegal, and burned when found in anyone's possession.  The main character, a 'fireman', comes to realize just how special books are, and begins a journey of discovery from which he will never turn back.

The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

Asimov's declining Galactic Empire is the background for the founding of a special colony that will bring together all of humanity's knowledge throughout the centuries, as well as its aesthetic achievements.  Hari Seldon, a leader in the field of psychohistory, is the founder of this unusual colony, which reminds me of Castalia, the fictional intellectual province so central to Herman Hesse's masterpiece, Magister Ludi , also known as The Glass Bead Game.

Animal Farm, by George Orwell

A brilliant satirist, Orwell here creates a humorous, although chilling look at the development of a totalitarian regime.  At the beginning of 'the revolution', the motto is "all animals are equal".  By the time the dictatorship, obviously based on communism, is in place, the motto has changed to "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others".

I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

In this collection of related stories, Asimov brings to life his uique conception of robotic technology, with his highly original "Three Laws of Robotics".  These tales reflect his preoccupation with the latent dangers of artificial intelligence for human beings.

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

The clash of cultures, especially religious beliefs, is portrayed in this novel.    The Martian in question is really a human, born and raised on Mars, and brought to Earth as a young adult.  Valentine Michael Smith is a mystic whose particular brand of off-world religion will transform the culture of Earth.  The title refers to Exodus 2:22.

Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

For centuries, the Dragonriders of Pern have staved off planetwide disaster due to the fall of Thread, which falls like rain, but destroys everything it comes in contact with.  Now, the Red Star is approaching the planet, and there are very few riders left.  Lessa, a lowly kitchen servant, meets a queen dragon, and realizes what her true destiny is.

A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

After civilization is nearly wiped out in a nuclear war, the Monks of the Order of St. Leibowitz the Engineer became the custodians of pre-war knowledge.  Through long centuries, they endured.   And then history began to repeat itself...  This is a masterpiece of irony and even humor, which presents a staple of human nature, the repetition of historic cycles, with wit and style.

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

This modern retelling of the Arthurian tales sparkles with humor and vivid characterization.   It follows the life of King Arthur from his boyhood as brother to Kay, who calls him "The Wart", to his coronation as king of England, the establishing of the Round Table, and the adventures of the Holy Grail.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

This collecion of eerie, mesmerizing tales cover the years of the colonization of Mars.  They are poignant, reminiscent of smalltown Americana, and yet, strangely alien.  Some of the stories are weirdly humorous, but they all share an atmosphere of past nostalgia mixed with the reality of a new world, in the future.

There's also a printable version of the complete list, which you can access HERE.

For more details about each of the books that made the list, just go to the original post, and click on the book images.  Enjoy!! 


  1. Have you seen the NPR flowchart? It's kick ass way of picking a book at random. There's too many on the NPR list that I'd like to read!

  2. Hi, Jamie!

    Yeah, I've seen it. It'a a bit overwhelming, though! I'd like to read most of the books on the NPR list, too!! One big exception would be Stephen King. I can't stand him!! Well, I don't like the horror genre AT ALL. Another exception would probably be Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I saw the movie "Blade Runner", which is based on this book, and HATED it!! So DEPRESSING. But who knows? Maybe the book is better, so I might just give it a chance...

    Thanks for commenting!! : )

  3. Hi!.
    I'll write in spanish because my english is not so good!
    Muchas gracias por tus comentarios en mi blog, me han encantado.
    Tu blog me gusto mucho, estoy leyendo las entradas antiguas y por supuesto que se va a mis favoritos!!!
    Estoy revisando la lista del top 100 y estoy feliz de que Tolkien este en primer lugar con "Lord of the ring" definitivamente uno de los mejores libros que he leido, también esta en el puesto 42 esta "The Mist of Avalon" ame ese libro y porsupuesto en el 46 "Silmarillion" ..mi favorito de tolkien!
    Me a encantado tu blog y me has dado la buena idea de hacer mi propia lista de los 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books!
    Un abrazo gigante! =)

  4. Hola, Silmariel!

    ¡¡Muchísimas gracias por tus lindos y amables comentarios!! ¡Ya veo que eres una persona muy agradable!

    ¡Me alegro que te haya gustado tanto mi blog! Como ves, mis géneros literarios favoritos son la fantasía y la ciencia ficción. Además, me encantan los romances paranormaes (ejemplo: la serie “Crepúsculo“) los libros clásicos, y los libros escritos para los adultos jóvenes (young adult).

    También me alegro que este artículo te haya dado la idea de hacer tu propia lista de los 100 mejores libros de fantasía y ciencia ficción! Cuando la tengas terminada, por favor avísame para que pueda ir a ver los libros que has escogido.

    ¡Gracias por visitar mi blog, y unirte a sus miembros! : )

  5. I'm not sure if I would include Animal Farm as sci-fi, but it is one of my favorite books!

  6. Hi, flashlight reader!

    You are probably right. It´s more of a dystopian novel. Well, some of the people involved in this poll included it on this list. Perhaps it could be considered a fantasy...

    Thanks for commenting!


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