Update: Top 100 Sci Fi & Fantasy Lists

At the end of 2018 I set a goal for myself of reading all of the books on the Top 100 Fantasy and Top 100 Science Fiction book lists. It was ambitious, and I will not succeed by the end of 2019. I am closing the year at 75 fantasy and 75 sci fi books from the lists.

I just couldn’t not read other books! I read all of McCaffrey’s PERN books, Carey’s Kushiel trilogy, Cherryh’s Cyteen trilogy, Robinson’s StarDance trilogy, McDonald’s Fletch and Flynn series’, Hart’s Death on Demand series, Bishop’s Black Jewels series, May’s Pliocene and Galactic Milieu series’, MacLeod’s ‘Boston’ and Madoc & Janet Rhys series, innumerable cookbooks, travel guides, gardening books, and alternative spirituality books. With the books from these lists (not counting the ones I’d already read, of course) I’ve easily read 300 books over the course of the year. (Yes, I am a fast reader.)

Here’s what I thought of the latest ones (note the F and SF):

Dragons of Autumn Twilight Weis & Hickman F I’d forgotten I’d read these back in my youth . . . And they’ve held up so very well.
The Cloud Roads Wells, Martha F A shapeshifter lives a lonely life and I found the story dreary and character motivations unclear.
A Stranger in Olondria Samatar, Sofia F A deep immersion into a very different reality. I found the early scenes of child abuse overly horrific, even when making a point.
Mythago Wood Holdstock, Robert F Interesting premise, and I wish I liked it more than I did.
Night’s Master Lee, Tanith F Convoluted and absolutely ‘high fantasy.’ This is a complicated book with a number of extremely difficult scenes. Utterly macabre.
War for the Oaks Bull, Emma F Captivating, delightful, surprising and absolutely one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Six Wakes Lafftery, Mur SF Utterly surprising — a scifi version of a closed room mystery. Excellent!
The Dispossessed Le Guin, Ursula SF The story holds up after all of these years, even if it’s a bit subtle for new readers.
Scythe Shusterman, Neal SF Brilliant premise and excellent character building — this is another one of the best books I’ve read all year.
Roadside Picnic Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris SF A classic, but very slow going and at times impenetrable.
The Martian Chronicles Bradbury, Ray SF I’d forgotten that I’d read these back in my teen years — and they are just as wonderful on a re-read. Problematic in some ways, but not nearly as bad as, say, Heinlein.
Oryx & Crake Atwood, Margaret SF Gorgeously developed world and hypnotically excellent writing, as always.
Ship Breaker Bacigalupi, Paolo SF Amazing story with one of the best character developments I’ve read in a long time. Loved it.
Midnight Robber Hopkinson, Nalo SF Sadly, this was not a book for me. It reminded me of The Clockwork Orange in its impenetrable language.
Illuminae Kaufman & Kristoff SF WONDERFUL. Some of the best dialogue I’ve read in a long time.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe Yu, Charles SF Just couldn’t get into it because the protagonist is a major douchebag.
Infomocracy Older, Malka SF To dense for me. This was a novel that made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough to understand what was going on.
The War of the Worlds Wells, H.G. SF It’s a classic for a reason, but the prose is slow going and ponderous.
Valor’s Choice Huff, Tanya SF Huff’s military background shines through in this fantastic story full of evolving characters and a kickass heroine.
Station Eleven Mandel, Emily St. john SF Opening with a major hook, this is a great novel that nonetheless lost me with its characters.
Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Williams, Tad SF Another book I just couldn’t get into, not only because its book 1 of 4 — so not right for this list.
The Forever War Haldeman, Joe SF Not what I expected. A tale of how modern warfare removes ones humanity. Frankly, others have done it better.
Trading in Danger Moon, Elizabeth SF Moon’s work is excellent, always. This (first of a series) is no exception.
The Windup Girl Bacigalupi, Paolo SF Deeply disappointing given how much I liked Ship Breaker. Over-contrived world-building forced into the first paragraphs left me confused and uninterested.

Here’s a link to the post with the entire list, and my thoughts. I’ll do one more post when I’ve finished all of them in 2020.

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