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100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels: Bloomsbury Good Reading Guides    by Stephen E. Andrews & Nick Rennison order for
100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels
by Stephen E. Andrews
Order:  USA  Can
A & C Black, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Having been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy for close to half a century, I was intrigued by this small reading guide's recommendations for must-reads. I checked first to see if it included Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz (though not an easy read, I consider it one of the greats), and it's in here. So is author Ursula K. Le Guin, who's very high on my list for her range as well as many great individual reads - like The Left Hand of Darkness included here - in both SF and fantasy.

Reassured, I opened the book and started at the beginning. As well as summarizing a hundred must-reads, the book offers suggestions to read on, down a variety of literary paths. In his Foreword, Christopher Priest speaks of SF in the 60s and his own take on the book's choices (I agree on Day of the Triffids, but vehemently not on his dismissal of Asimov and Heinlein!) After this, the authors explain their selection of 'books to read in order to gain an overview of the rich and diverse writings to be found in SF.' They offer 'a starting point for exploring the genre', attempting to cover all its major themes.

The Introduction explores popular misconceptions of SF, mentions media (cinema, television, video games) competing with books in the genre, and develops its history in fascinating detail (including the role of pulp magazines, where I read my first SF stories). And the book offers a definition of the genre: 'SF is the literature that suggests the significant, scientifically explicable changes that may potentially occur in the sphere of human knowledge and experience, exploring how they may affect our minds, bodies and culture.'

Here are my personal favorites from this hundred: Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man; Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars; Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game; Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End; Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon; and A. E. Van Vogt's The Voyage of the Space Beagle. And - as I'm sure will be true for any other SF fan going through this list - I'm also shocked by who's missing, in particular Sheri S. Tepper, Joan Vinge, C. J. Cherryh, David Brin, and Nick Sagan.

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