At last, the most important works of science fiction are being determined scientifically. New Scientist magazine is doing a special science fiction issue on Nov. 15, and the magazine is polling its science-boffin readers as to the greatest books and movies in the genre. The magazine's own staff have already voted, and you might not be surprised by the books they put first. But you may have some issues with their most hated movies and books. It's hard to quibble with their picks for best movies and books. Being mostly Brits, the New Scientist group put Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy at the top of the novel heap. Iain M. Banks would have won, but his vote was split among a few of his books. (Including Feersum Enjinn. Really?) Frank Herbert's Dune also came close to winning. The best movie, according to the NS crew, was Blade Runner, followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris and Serenity.
The "worst" lists might be a tad more controversial. The worst SF books include 3001, Arthur C. Clarke's fourth and final book in the Space Odyssey series, and L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. The worst films were The Blob and David Lynch's Dune. Several people apparently also voted for The Matrix (the original) for worst film, but others named it one of the best. One person said of The Matrix:
It has one of the worst backplot elements ever: using people as power sources. I could write an essay on how ludicrous that is.
Finally — and here's the part where some people may disagree violently — the New Scientist staff named Primer the "most incomprehensible" science fiction movie.
"Well worth watching," said one of our editors, "though you might be excused for wondering if it makes any sense at all."
You can vote for your own favorite books and movies, and give your reasons, at this link. Or you could just write a diatribe about why Primer really does make sense, if you watch it eight times. Shape-shifting robot image by Mondolithic Studios for New Scientist. [New Scientist]