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retrospective look at sf&f year-by-year
The Ultimate Guide to New SF&F Writers (from 1990 till now)

Best Science Fiction Novels

(not included in this list):

Again let me repeat, this list omits any SPACE-themed or TIME-themed or "END-of-the-WORLD" themed novels - they get their own "best lists"! This list only reflects how something impressed me as an individual reader, not necessarily corresponding with the impact on SF field in general, critical acceptance, etc. Plus my reading time is limited for long novels, so many of good (or new) writers would be absent.


William Gibson "Neuromancer"


Michael Chabon "The Yiddish Policemen's Union"
Arthur Clarke "The City and the Stars"
Douglas Adams "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
Poul Anderson "Brain Wave"
Isaac Asimov & Jerome Bixby "Fantastic Voyage"
Alfred Bester "The Demolished Man"; "The Stars My Destination"
Samuel R. Delany "Triton"
Philip K. Dick "Time Out of Joint"; "UBIK"
Philip Jose Farmer "Dark Is the Sun"
William Gibson & Bruce Sterling "The Difference Engine"
William Gibson "Mona Lisa Overdrive"
K. W. Jeter "Farewell, Horizontal"
Murray Leinster "The Forgotten Planet"
Stanislaw Lem "Return From The Stars"
David Mitchell "Cloud Atlas"
Christopher Priest "The Inverted World"
Michael Shea "The Colour Out Of Time"
Lucius Shepard "Life During Wartime"
Clifford Simak "The Goblin Reservation"
"Way Station"; "The Werewolf Principle"
Neal Stephenson "Snow Crash"


Arthur Clarke "Earthlight"
Douglas Adams "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe"
"Life, the Universe, and Everything"; "Mostly Harmless"
Kenneth Bulmer "Cycle of Nemesis"
Ray Cummings "Beyond the Stars"
Philip K. Dick "Martian Time-Slip"
"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch"; "The Unteleported Man"
Gardner R. Dozois "Strangers"
Philip Jose Farmer "The Lovers"; "The Night of Light"
"Tongues of the Moon"
Oscar J. Friend "The Water World"
William Gibson "Count Zero"; "Idoru"
"Pattern Recognition"; "Virtual Light"
Edmond Hamilton "The City at World's End"
M. John Harrison "The Centauri Device"
Frank Herbert "Destination: Void"
"The Dragon in the Sea" ("Under Pressure")
Dean R. Koontz "Fear That Man"
Fritz Leiber "The Silver Eggheads"
H. P. Lovecraft "At The Mountains Of Madness"
Ian McDonald "Desolation Road"
James Morrow "The Wine Of Violence"
Andre Norton "Perilous Dreams"
Bob Shaw "Dagger of the Mind"; "Medusa's Children"
Clifford Simak "Highway Of Eternity"
"They Walked Like Men"; "Time And Again"
Michael Swanwick "Vacuum Flowers"
John Varley "Millenium"
Jack Williamson "The Humanoid Touch"; "The Moon Children"
Evgeni Zamyatin "My"
Roger Zelazny "The Dream Master" ("He Who Shapes")


Isaac Asimov "The Caves of Steel"
Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"
Anthony Burgess "A Clockwork Orange"
John W. Campbell "The Ultimate Weapon"
Arthur Clarke "Childhood's End" ; "The Deep Range"
Samuel Delany "The Einstein Intersection" ; "Nova"
Philip K. Dick & Roger Zelazny "Deus Irae"
Philip K. Dick "The Game-Players of Titan"
"The Simulacra"; "The Crack in Space"
Gordon R. Dickson "Space Swimmers"
William Gibson "All Tomorrow's Parties"
Robert A. Heinlein "The Puppet Masters"
Frank Herbert "The God Makers"
Damon Knight "Mind Switch" ("The Other Foot")
Henry Kuttner "The Creature from Beyond Infinity"
("A Million Years To Conquer")
Sam Lundwall "No Time For Heroes"
Ursula Le Guin "The Word For World Is Forest"
Murray Leinster "The Brain-Stealers" ("The Man in the Iron Cap")
Stanislaw Lem "The Voice Of The Sky"
Milton Lesser "Jungle In The Sky"
Julian May "The Many-Colored Land"
Alexander Mirer "Dom Skitaltcev"
Walter Miller Jr. "A Canticle for Leibowitz"
Michael Moorcock "An Alien Heat"; "The Hollow Lands"
"The Ice Schooner"
Richard Morgan "Altered Carbon"
Larry Niven & Steven Barnes "Dream Park"
Andre Norton "Garan The Eternal"
Christopher Priest "The Space Machine"
W. T. Quick "Dreams of Gods and Men"
Spider Robinson "Telempath"
Rudy Rucker "Software"
John E. Stith "Manhattan Transfer"
Bob Shaw "The Ragged Astronauts", "The Wooden Spaceships"
Robert Silverberg "Downward to the Earth"; "The Man in the Maze"
"To Open the Sky"; "The World Inside"
Clifford Simak "All Flesh Is Grass"; "Ring Around The Sun"
Bruce Sterling "Involution Ocean"
A. & B. Strugatskie "Otel "U Pogibshego Alpinista"
Theodore Sturgeon "The Cosmic Rape" ("To Marry Medusa")
"The Dreaming Jewels"; "More Than Human"
A. E. Van Vogt "More Than Superhuman"; "Slan"
"The Shadow Men" ("The Universe Maker")
Jack Vance "Brains Of Earth" ("Nopalgarth")
"The Five Gold Bands" ("Space Pirate"); "To Live Forever"
Jack Williamson "The Humanoids"
Dave Wolverton "On My Way To Paradise"
John Wyndham "The Chrysalids"
"The Kraken Wakes" ("Out Of The Deeps")


Also see:

Best SF Novel (General Themes)
Best Space SF Novel
Best Time SF Novel
Best Apocalyptic SF Novel


Best SF Series (general themes)
Best Space SF Series

Best SF Novella 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Novella 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Novella 1920-1960
Best Space SF Novella 1961-now
Best Time SF Novella
Best Apocalyptic SF Novella

Best SF Story 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Story 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Story 1920-1960
Best Space SF Story 1961-now
Best Time SF Story
Best Apocalyptic SF Story





Best Fantasy Story 1920-1960
Best Fantasy Story 1961-now




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it you have not read any Alastair Reynolds? And not even a mention of Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos? At least I would have has these two somewhere in there. I see some Vance, but wheres the rest? Wolfe? H.G. Wells has some killer stuff out there (books, not movies). I'm not a huge fan of cyber-punk but Gibson is creative (although personally I think he's a snobby elitist).

4:17 PM  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Hey, thanks for comment! Guess what, Reynolds on the first place in my series list... plus second place "space sf novel" for "Revelation Space" (so far I read only 2 of his novels, but lots of stories - see his individual entry under R). I have not read Simmons' Hyperion series but definitely plan to. I prefer Vance's short fiction to his novels (see his stuff all over "SF story and SF space story" lists). Same goes for Wolfe. His short fiction is brilliant, but novels could be less focused. H. G. Wells is outside of the time scope of my reviews, as I start from the birth of pulp magazines in the Twenties. However, my Spyglass reviews reach 100 years back and will cover him, too. It's interesting to read your remark about Gibson... I value his stuff a lot, but may agree about elitist aftertaste from his recent novels. Good points all, thanks.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My bad, I guess I rushed into that whole Reynolds thing without looking through it 'all'. I have a tendency to do that.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really need to read some Lois McMaster Bujold. She writes both science fiction and fantasy, and has won four Hugos and numerous other awards. And she only gets better and better!

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good to see "The Demolished Man" rated so well, but I can't seem to see "Dune" anywhere - maybe I missed it under the series category. Also Gene Wolfe's "Books of the New Sun" are stunning, and I would seriously recommend John Varley's "Gaean Trilogy" to read - they will never qualify as great books, but they culminate in one of the most fantastic, and enjoyable battles you could ever read about.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

re: Lois McMaster Bujold
- Yea, I'll give her a far has slipped through the fingers

re: Al
"Dune" ended up as THIRD PLACE SPACE sf novel, which is very cool. However the rest of the series seem not to live up to the expectation (too bloated for my liking)
- I definitely have to give Gene Wolfe trilogy a try, but he can be quite obscure in his style sometimes.
- I love Varley, have not read Gaean trilogy yet.
thanks for your suggestions!

4:58 PM  

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Collecting Pulp Magazines

Ephemera Interview with Avi Abrams

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

Also read recent posts:
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The Wonder Timeline: SF&F Restrospective
Space Adventure Article



"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
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--/ wonder award
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