When NPR revealed its list of finalists for its "Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books" survey, we were struck by how diverse and wide-ranging that list was. Now the actual list of the 100 greatest books has been revealed... and it's quite a bit more conservative.
As NPR points out, the final selections for the top 100 SF/fantasy books tend to be heavily slanted towards books that were written a long time ago and have had time to build a fanbase. They're also tilted heavily towards books that have gotten movie or television adaptations. And they're overwhelmingly by dudes. (A lot of whom are British, curiously.) The fantasy winners tend to be the ones which feature a straight-up battle of good versus evil, and the science fiction winners tend to be the ones which reflected the zeitgeist when they were written.
One thing's for sure — these selections reflect the voice of quite a large number of people. As NPR notes:
Given the overwhelming response - over 60,000 votes - the truly popular titles would have been very difficult to unseat: For your favorite book to qualify for #1, it would have to have garnered more than the 29,701(!) votes received by The Lord of the Rings. Yeah, good luck with that.
Take, for example, the book comin' in at #2, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which clocked an astonishing 20,069 votes. That's a big step down, but still places it head and shoulders above #3, Ender's Game, at 16,141 votes.
John Scalzi, whose Old Man's War made the list, is nevertheless perturbed by some of the blatant omissions:
By and large it's a pretty good list of books, with some very conspicuous omissions that tell us more about the voters of the poll than the books under consideration. A list of the top 100 science fiction/fantasy novels without entries by Brin, Brunner, Butler, Cherryh, Delany or Silverberg (to name some obvious names; there are of course others) is going to have fans of various stripes shaking their heads.
Scalzi shares his own list of ten books that really should have been in the top 100, including Delany's Dhalgren and Octavia Butler's Kindred. What are your ten books that should have made the cut?