I ran across Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books at NPR.org of all places. I enjoyed it, and immediately started thinking: “What’s missing?”
First, I have to say that it’s a pretty good list. With surprises, even, notably the inclusion of Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale; welcome, but far from her best book. It is biased toward the old rather than the new which is in the nature of such things. Trivia: I’ve read 42 of the first 50 and only 21 of the second. I’ll read more.
I considered, and could only think of three works that were obviously missing; interestingly, all by authors with other offerings that had made the list.
Missing by Zelazny · Lord of Light. I mean, really, the Amber books are OK even if there are too many of them. But Lord of Light is a huge, immaculately-plotted book bulging with character and wit, not to mention some serious speculative sizzle.
I’d also rate Doorways in the Sand above Amber, but Lord of Light is Zelazny’s masterpiece.
Missing by Wolfe · I don’t want to denigrate Book of the New Sun, which is a wonderful piece, but a novel doesn’t have to be a sprawling multi-volume overreach to belong on this list.
My favorite Wolfe, by a wide margin, is The Fifth Head of Cerberus. The full title includes the trailer Three Novellas but I omit that because Wolfe’s being cute; this is single story, and a tightly-woven one, full of horror and wonder. The fact that you notice this only gradually is part of the charm.
Missing by Le Guin · Well, Earthsea, of course. I think that the people who voted for The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed actually liked Earthsea better but wanted to vote for Le Guin’s “serious” work. Granted, Earthsea has dragons and wizards and princes and so on; but nonetheless it’s a finer, deeper work than the (elegant, granted) explorations of gender and class in those other books.
What Did I Miss? · Which books do you think should’ve been in that list?
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