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Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels Paperback – October 23, 1997
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
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From Library Journal
Beginning with George Orwell's 1984 (1949) and ending with William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984), the editor of British sf magazine Interzone presents brief (two-page) essays on 100 books that he considers to be landmarks of the genre. Pringle freely admits his subjectivity in selecting these titles; nevertheless, most important sf authors are represented here, and a thought-provoking introduction makes a case for his omissions. Each essay provides a synopsis of the book, a brief history of the author, and, in most cases, a critical commentary. This is not intended as a definitive reference source; in fact, a bibliographic essay directs readers to more serious studies of the genre. A good introduction for the novice sf reader, this belongs in large libraries where books about science fiction are in demand. Jackie Cassada, Asheville-Buncombe Lib. System, N.C.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Yet the reader is to be warned:
1-Beside his sharp but short critical reviews, the author gives a summery of each novel--which might be spoiler
2-The reader might just take these selected titles as a clue to find her/his through a vast labyrinth of published works, but s/he has to check each choice against other literary criteria s/he has. In other words, you are advised to check it for yourself. You can read the sample of these books on Amazon, etc. look at various and contrasting reader's comments or simply borrow a copy from a library before ordering the selected novel
3-Personally I prefer SFs with a literary value (which are so few) and it might inevitably exclude such entertaining/ popular stories ... And this may not be quite in unison with some choices made by David Pringle
In any case, this book is a very good guide book.
Well, Pringle has selected a good beginning list of "the good stuff." He devotes the same two pages to each book, and doesn't seem to favor one school of s-f over another, giving the volume as a whole a very balanced feel.
Lastly, a couple of caveats: first, the book does limit itself to the time frame listed in the title, beginning with Orwell's 1984 and ending with Gibson's Neuromancer; it would be interesting to read Pringle's thoughts on the last twenty years. Lastly, Pringle's reviews contain "spoilers;" as he's trying to write thoughtful mini-essays on the books in his list, he occasionally refers to specific plot twists while discussing them.
All in all, a very nice job.
The book starts with a forward by Michael Moorcock in which he comments a bit on what he feels was ignored - short-story collections in particular, which, again, Pringle chooses to leave out for reasons that he explains in his own thoughtfull 11-page introduction. Pringle is more interested in the literary end of the spectrum than the pulpy one, which may help to account for why he starts his survery in 1949, the year of "1984", rather than, say, 1939, the year of Asimov, Van Vogt and Heinlein's ascension. This "bias" it seems to me makes the book far more worthy a quarter-century on than it might otherwise have been - many of these works don't feel nearly as dated as some of the work more deliberately aimed at genre audiences (though to be fair, most of his selection certainly are from "genre" authors). He's interested primarily in books that work as much as novels about the human condition, as they do as explorations of science fictional concepts.
Rather than list every book included (which you can find out readily enough from a variety of places - and which I think might spoil your fun in browsing the book, so please don't!) I'll just give a rundown of the most-named writers, which should give you some idea as to whether this book might be still interesting or not:
Philip K. Dick - 6 novels chosen
J.G. Ballard - 4
Brian R. Aldiss, Thomas M. Disch, Robert Heinlein - 3 each
Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Algis Budrys, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. LeGuin, Michael Moorcock, Frederick Pohl, Bob Shaw, Clifford D. Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, Kurt Vonnegut, Ian Watson, Gene Wolfe (1 of his selections is for the 4-volume series "The Book of the New Sun"), John Wyndham - 2 each
Few of the books selected will be completely obscure to the specialist, but few are world-famous outside of the genre either. A great rundown then, with all the caveats that come from being one man's personal choices - some of the famous books NOT listed include "Ringworld", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "The Gods Themselves", "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (but do any of these really need more hype?) - but also few of the concessions to generic taste or the lowest common denominator that a more populist book might make. Highest recommendation to serious SF buffs, even after 25 years.