NPR’s 100 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book List

After 5,000 online nominations, 60,000 votes and parsing by some of the genre’s brightest and most knowledgeable critics and scholars, NPR has published its list of the 100 most vote-gettingest SFF books that a bunch of web-surfers can remember. I have been awaiting this list since I first heard about it a few weeks ago. NPR has a lot of credibility, as far as I am concerned, as do John Clute, Farah Mendlesohn, and Gary K. Wolfe, the afore-mentioned big brains of the SFF/criticism world. But I just cannot help but be disappointed when I see that some fool(s) decided that the Xanth series deserves a place on this list. Or that American Gods is top-10, while Watchmen is not. And seriously; Jasper-fucking-Fforde? Why not add Robert Asprin as well?

I suppose I should be happy, because overall the list is pretty strong. But I had such high hopes here. I am a sucker for best-of lists, but I have yet to see a really great one for SFF books. Most other online vote lists are a bloody mess. (Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh). (Although, some ain’t bad. Nope. Not at all). Individual lists, while sometimes great, almost always include a few books like The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica (thanks, Mr. Pringle), or some other bullshit personal favorite that is wholly incapable of standing with the books that really belong on lists of this type.

Well, as much of a whiner as I am about this, I am eagerly awaiting the publish date (set sometime next year) of The 101 Best Science Fiction Novels, 1985-2010, by Damien Broderick and Paul di Filippo; basically a second volume to Pringle’s work, linked above. With a year or so to go, I’ve got plenty of time to heighten my hopes again.

Oh yeah. And instead of “Be British,” it might be “Be British or American,” as the other half of the authors in the top ten are from . . . guess where?

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