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January 23, 2009

1000 novels everyone must read: Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Guardian finally reached the part of their 1000 novel list that I was interested in, SF.

Here is their website.

I've only read 30 of the 124 books listed. It's a good list though, someone with a real clue wrote it. Obviously some classics are missing and some should be removed, but any list is not going to please everyone. There are several I've never even heard of. I will be writing far more about this list later, watch this space.

Here is the list in an easily digestible format, marked with an X are the ones I've read.

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) X
Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)
Isaac Asimov: Foundation (1951) X
Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin (2000)
Paul Auster: In the Country of Last Things (1987)
Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory (1984) X
Iain M Banks: Consider Phlebas (1987) X
Clive Barker: Weaveworld (1987) X
Nicola Barker: Darkmans (2007)
Stephen Baxter: The Time Ships (1995)
Greg Bear: Darwin's Radio (1999)
Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination (1956) X
Poppy Z Brite: Lost Souls (1992) X
Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1960) X
Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (1966)
Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Coming Race (1871)
Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange (1960)
Anthony Burgess: The End of the World News (1982)
Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Princess of Mars (1912)
William Burroughs: Naked Lunch (1959)
Octavia Butler: Kindred (1979)
Samuel Butler: Erewhon (1872)
Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees (1957)
Ramsey Campbell: The Influence (1988)
Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) X
Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) X
Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (1984)
Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)
Arthur C Clarke: Childhood's End (1953)
GK Chesterton: The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
Michael G Coney: Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975)
Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma (1998) X
Mark Danielewski: House of Leaves (2000)
Marie Darrieussecq: Pig Tales (1996)
Samuel R Delaney: The Einstein Intersection (1967)
Philip K Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)
Philip K Dick: The Man in the High Castle (1962)
Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum (1988)
Michel Faber: Under the Skin (2000)
John Fowles: The Magus (1966)
Neil Gaiman: American Gods (2001) X
Alan Garner: Red Shift (1973)
William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984) X
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Herland (1915)
William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
Joe Haldeman: The Forever War (1974) X
M John Harrison: Light (2002)
Robert A Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) X
Frank Herbert: Dune (1965) X
Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
Russell Hoban: Riddley Walker (1980) X
James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
Michel Houellebecq: Atomised (1998)
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World (1932)
Kazuo Ishiguro: The Unconsoled (1995)
Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (1898)
PD James: The Children of Men (1992)
Richard Jefferies: After London; Or, Wild England (1885)
Gwyneth Jones: Bold as Love (2001)
Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)
Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (1966)
Stephen King: The Shining (1977) X
Marghanita Laski: The Victorian Chaise-longue (1953)
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Uncle Silas (1864)
Stanislaw Lem: Solaris (1961)
Doris Lessing: Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
David Lindsay: A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)
Ken MacLeod: The Night Sessions (2008)
Hilary Mantel: Beyond Black (2005)
Michael Marshall Smith: Only Forward (1994) X
Richard Matheson: I Am Legend (1954) X
Charles Maturin: Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy (1992)
Cormac McCarthy: The Road (2006) X
Jed Mercurio: Ascent (2007)
China Miéville: The Scar (2002)
Andrew Miller: Ingenious Pain (1997)
Walter M Miller Jr: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960)
David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas (2004) X
Michael Moorcock: Mother London (1988)
William Morris: News From Nowhere (1890)
Toni Morrison: Beloved (1987)
Haruki Murakami: The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (1995)
Vladimir Nabokov: Ada or Ardor (1969)
Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife (2003) X
Larry Niven: Ringworld (1970) X
Jeff Noon: Vurt (1993)
Flann O'Brien: The Third Policeman (1967)
Ben Okri: The Famished Road (1991)
Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club (1996)
Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey (1818)
Mervyn Peake: Titus Groan (1946)
John Cowper Powys: A Glastonbury Romance (1932)
Christopher Priest: The Prestige (1995)
François Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532-34)
Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space (2000) X
Kim Stanley Robinson: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)
JK Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997) X
Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses (1988)
Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry: The Little Prince (1943)
José Saramago: Blindness (1995)
Will Self: How the Dead Live (2000)
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
Dan Simmons: Hyperion (1989) X
Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker (1937)
Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash (1992) X
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)
Rupert Thomson: The Insult (1996)
Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court (1889)
Kurt Vonnegut: Sirens of Titan (1959)
Robert Walser: Institute Benjamenta (1909)
Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)
Sarah Waters: Affinity (1999)
HG Wells: The Time Machine (1895) X
HG Wells: The War of the Worlds (1898) X
TH White: The Sword in the Stone (1938)
Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (1980-83)
John Wyndham: Day of the Triffids (1951)
John Wyndham: The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)
Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1924)

Posted by se71 at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2009

The Ghost - Robert Harris (Review)

The Ghost - Robert Harris

My first book of 2009, and not a promising start. His first book "Fatherland" appealed to the alternate history nerd inside me, and wasn't a bad detective story. But this is a watery, weak affair that seems to stumble along trying to find excitement, and even when there is some, it manages to turn the volume down and play it in slow motion.

The narrator/hero of this story is a ghostwriter by profession. I don't think we ever get to know his name, which is a clever trick by Harris - ghostwriters of course are never mentioned on the covers of the books they have 'written'.

He gets the job of writing the autobiography of former Prime Minister of Britain, Adam Lang. The previous person who tried to do this drowned, suicide assumed, but we know that it must be a suspicious death.

Lang and his wife are obviously grotesque parodies of Tony and Cherie Blair, which oddly enough makes this book less interesting rather than more.

So the writer goes to Martha's Vineyard to meet Lang, and spends a short time interviewing him as a political crisis looms. Gradually he uncovers irregularities in Lang's past, and starts to wonder whether his life may be in danger too.

It sounds like a good book, but it's clumsily handled. Characters are cardboard cutouts, and perform randomly as the plot requires. I was reminded of the author Frederick Forsyth for some reason as I read through; it seems like his kind of plot, and I wished someone with his skill had tackled it instead.

Buy it here, or not, whatever. I'd advise against it.

Posted by se71 at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)