As usual, lists like these tend to spawn discussion over which books might not necessarily belong, and which other books might take their place, and I would question some of what appears here. However, for the purposes of this meme, I will simply go with what's here.
I have bolded those titles I have read, italicised those I feel I should read, and
Turns out I have read just over half of these. Comments on my list? What does your list look like?
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien - Required reading. Even if you don't actually like it, you should read it. It is the foundation of all fantasy writing since. Even my favourite author, Guy Gavriel Kay, who deliberately avoids using Tolkien as a source, and a direct influence, has admitted that his writing career has been shaped, in part, as a reaction to Tolkien's work.
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov - Not deep, but well crafted, and fun.
Dune, Frank Herbert - Can be tough going, but ultimately worth it. With so many interlocking themes and levels, I can read this book, and its sequels, over and over again, and still take something new and interesting away from it.
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein - I have always felt that Heinlein was a bit over rated. Then again, maybe I'm just not smart enough to 'grok' him.
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin - Classic young adult fantasy.
Neuromancer, William Gibson - I've never been sure just what to make of Gibson, and his series ofinterconnected novels beginning with Neuromancer have always puzzled me. They are enjoyable reads, but I am always left thinking there was something more I was supposed to get out of them. I much prefer his short fiction,much of which can be found in the book Burning Chrome. Hinterlands has always been my favourite story by Gibson, and I highly recommend it to those who have found his novels inaccessible.
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley - Chick lit. Not bad, but I wouldn't read it a second time.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras Cities in Flight, James Blish The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling - Has absolutely no place here. Success does not equal significance. If it did, Cordwainer Smith would not appear on this list.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams - No one saw the world quite like Adams. He was truly unique.
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith - Many people have never even heard of Cordwainer Smith. An oversight of tragic proportions. If you have never read any Smith, go out and find some. Now.
On the Beach, Nevil Shute - Perhaps somewhat less relevant than when I read it in the 80s, but only slightly.
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven - One of the most inventive science fiction writers ever.
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien - Can be a tough go. It's unlikely that anyone other than a true Tolkien fan will get through it.
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut - Another classic must read. An example of how SF&F use other worlds and other times to comment on today.
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson - His most talked about novel. On my to read list.
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
Tags: memes, the most significant SF&F books of the last fifty years