31/52 books completed
Much as I love the genre, I often feel like a poser (is that still a word people use?) when I tell people I write science fiction because I’m not that well-read in the genre. I grew up on literary fiction—Dickens, Poe, Austen, and Shakespeare in particular—because that was what we had around the house. I read fantasy whenever I could get my hands on it, but it would have never occurred to me to go looking for a sci fi book.
Then I got swept up into the anime craze and became obsessed with all kinds of space opera shows. I had no idea that that’s what it was called, or that it even counted as science fiction, but I knew I loved it.
By the time I hit college, I had found a few contemperary science fiction authors, and I started getting a better feel of the breadth of science fiction. But I never took the time to go back and read the classics. 2001: Space Odyssey? Nope. Nothing by Heinlein. I honestly just heard of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy this year.
For 2016, I’ve set myself a simple goal: read 52 science fiction classics.
There are hundreds of books that deserve to be on this list, and I had to cut out a lot of great stuff to chisel the number down to 52. By no means is this the “best” of science fiction. I chose them based on the following rules:
- Only books I haven’t read before (which is why some of the obvious ones, like Ender’s Game and Dune, aren’t on the list).
- Only books published before 2000.
- Only one book per author, with the exception of Lois McMaster Bujold, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, and David Brin. Either these authors were very prolific or they had a series that I wanted to read.
I started by pulling together as many Best of Science Fiction lists as I could find online, then filtered by my three rules. That still left me with more than a hundred options, so from there I went based on my own interest. I searched the books, read their descriptions, checked to see if they were on multiple “Best of” lists, and eventually decided on the following schedule:
I’ll be going through the books in chronological order by publish date, with the exception of Lois McMaster Bujold (because once I read the descriptions of her books, I was so excited that I didn’t want to wait until the end of next year to read them!). I decided on chronological order because I’m really interested in watching the genre develop over the 130 years covered by this list.
I’ll be posting my thoughts on each book at the end of its designated week (or whenever I have time).
Let me know if you think I missed any great books! Like I said above, some of the big classics aren’t on this list because I’ve already read them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I completely overlooked a few gems.