AngiePen (angiepen) wrote,

100 really good books

Got this in e-mail from a friend, thought it was worth sharing. Sorry, I'm too lazy to re-create all the italics and underlining and such that was in the original list. [grin]

This list comes from the March 1998 issue of InQuest magazine, in an article titled, "Judgment Day: 100 Books Thou Shalt Read Before You Die"

1. The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien. The granddaddy of all fantasy literature, of course, notches our top spot. Besides reinventing the entire fantasy genre and influencing generations of writers, Tolkien's tale tells one helluva story. Yep

2. The Chronicles of Amber. Roger Zelazny. Amber is the one, true world. All others, including Earth, are merely shadows. Prince Corwin, rightful successor to the throne of Amber, must master these alternate realities, fight demonic forces, and survive the ruthless schemes of his own family to gain the crown. Yep

3. Ender's Game. Orson Scott Card. By age 8, Ender Wiggins becomes Earth's greatest military genius. Confronted with the realities of war, Ender chooses to abandon the military and become a "speaker for the dead," a councilor, truthseeker, and arbitrator between families in need of guidance. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans for him. Hell yeah, original novella and the novel it grew into, and the sequels. :D

4. Neuromancer. William Gibson. A down-on-his-luck hacker and a sleep razor-nailed mercenary discover the secrets of a newborn AI. Cyberpunk's first defining work and the first of Gibson's Sprawl books. Yep

5. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Stephen R. Donaldson. A real-world leper, Thomas Covenant gets transported to a fantasy world besieged by a corrupt and malevolent force. Only Covenant can save the world with the "wild magic" he's brought with him, but he doesn't believe this fantasy world exists. Urgh. I tried, but.... BORING! [shudder]

6. Foundation. Issac Asimov. Monumental tale of a galactic empire spiraling into decline and the secret society of scientists manuvering to control the damage. Yep

7. Dune. Frank Herbert. The first book in the Dune series tracks one of the most powerful psychics in the universe, Paul Atreides, as he learns to deal with the political machinations and environmental savagery of the desert planet Arrakis while balancing his growing powers. Yep

8. Elric. Michael Moorcock. An albino warrior/sorcerer from a dying race seeks out a soul-sucking sword and gets caught up in the ultimate batter between Order and Chaos Nope

9. The Man in the High Castle. Philip K. Dick. Full of paranoia and sophisticated reality games, this "what if Nazi Germany had won" storyline is the best alternative history ever written. Yep

10. 1984. George Orwell. The Ministry of Truth says you will enjoy this book. It's the only book you can read; there are no others available. You will spend two hours after dinner every day reading this book; the telescreens insure this. Big Brother is your friend. Nope

11. Hyperion. Dan Simmons. The Shrike: the ultimate killing machine that can stop time with a thought. The Hegemony/AI Consortium alliance: an empire that dominates an entire galaxy. The Ousters: eon-long mutated humanoids bent on overthrowing the Hegemony. Add them up and you've got Armageddon. Nope

12. The Stars My Destination. Alfred Bester. When Gully Foyle gets screwed over and vows revenge, he transforms himself into an all-powerful quasi-Superman with the power to change the universe. Nope

13. Tigana. Guy Gavriel Kay. In an act of revenge, a powerful sorcerer erases the kingdom of Tigana from existance. But a small band of heros clings to the memory of their homeland and quests to restore Tigana once again to its rightful place. Nope

14. Frankenstein. Mary Shelly. The classic tale of a mad scientist's creation, a monster pieced together from graveyard body parts, and the monster's struggle to have the world recognize his humanity. Nope

15. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Philip K. Dick. A Bladerunner policeman is assigned to hunt down andriods posing as human and questions the definition of "humanity" in the process. Nope

16. The Sword of Shannara. Terry Brooks. The first book in the "Shannara" series pits Shea Ohmsford against the evil Warlock Lord and his Skull Bearer minions. This book was pivotal in popularizing modern fantasy. Yep

17. The Anubis Gates. Tim Powers. A modern scholar gets caught up in time travel, body-swapping, swashbuckling, and sorcery in London, circa 1810. Thing Charles Dickens meets Indiana Jones. Nope

18. Lightning. Dean Koontz. A time traveler from the past seeks to avert Nazi Germany's alterations to the present. Yep

19. The Uplift Trilogy. David Brin. All the other races across the galaxy - including sentient dolphins and chimps - gained intelligence by genetic modification or "uplift" and can trace their heritage to their benefactors. Mankind cannot, leaving them at the bottom of the universal totem pole against technologically superior and often hostile races. Definitely yep.

20. Ringworld. Larry Niven. A space expedition crashes onto an artificial planet shaped like a giant hula hoop 190 million miles in diameter. The survivors must fight the barbarian descendants of the original builders as they adventure across the ring in search of answers. Yep

21. The Time Machine. H.G. Wells. A time-traveler explores a conflict in the year 802,701 A.D. between the meek and beautiful Eloi and the underground-dwelling, ruthless Morlocks. Tried vintage Wells, several of 'em. Couldn't get through any of 'em. :/

22. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Fritz Leiber. A barbarian and master thief band together and bungle their way through encounters with assassin guilds, deadly sorcerers and scheming gods. Read the first four or five stories.

23. A Princess of Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs. In the first book of the "John Carter" series, a Confederate soldier finds himself transported to Mars where he wins acclaim as a warrior. Yep

24. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams. The book that kicked off the five-book trilogy. Arthur Dent is rescued just before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway. He and his companion Ford Prefect encounter a depressed robot, visit the world where sofas come from and brave the dangers of Vogon poetry. Yep

25. The Stand. Stephen King. A virus wipes out most of the world's population. While pockets of people fight to restore civilization, a demonic power threatens to the remnants of America. Nope

26. Le Morte d'Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory. The definitive collection of Arthurian tales - from Lancelot's betrayal to the birth of Mordred to invisible knights. Nope

27. I, Robot. Issac Asimov. Short stories that set the standard for intelligent robots in science fiction. Most famous for setting down the Three Laws of Robotics now taken for granted. Yep

28. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Robert Heinlein. The moon is a penal colony ruled by an iron-fisted administration. The citizens want freedom and turn to a self-aware computer for rebellion plans. Oh, yeah. :D

29. Watership Down. Richard Adams. The search for a new home and struggle for survival, all from a rabbit's point of view. A unique take on the biblical story of Exodus. Yep

30. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. Firemen in the world of Guy Montag don't read books; they burn them. And Guy enjoys his job. Ten years as a fireman, he never questions the reasons behind book-burning or the pleasure it gives him...until a 17 year-old girl shares a past with him where people were not afraid to read. Chunks, for Jr. High English. Never went back to read the whole thing.

31. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf and 13 dwarves embark on a quest to retake the dwarven treasure in the Lonely Mountain. Trolls, goblins, giant spiders, and the infamous dragon, Smaug, stand in their way. Yep

32. Helliconia. Brian Aldiss. Civilizations rise and fall on a planet where their year equals 3,000 of our years and winter's like an ice age. Yep

33. The Book of the New Sun. Gene Wolfe. How many series have a torturer as the main character? Follow along as a young apprentice torturer graduates to mass executioner, moves on to ruler of the world, savior of humanity, and, finally, a ghost. Nope

34. Gulliver's Travels. Jonathan Swift. A shipwreck survivor encounters miniature people, giants and superintelligent, talking horses among other things in a series of political satires. Yep

35. Mindkiller. Spider Robinson. What do you do when you find someone can erase minds? Mindkiller (the first novella in Deathkiller) traces the paths of two men as mysteries in their lives irrevocably draw them to converge on one enigmatic organization - a corporation that is responsible for creating technology that lets people die from pure pleasure. It also has the first permanent means of brainwashing a person. The protagonists decide to try to shut down this cartel, even though they know it will certainly mean their doom. The book reads like a mystery-thriller the first time through, offers rich characterization on a second reading, and underneath asks: What makes life worth living? Yep

36. Blood Music. Greg Bear. A nerdy researcher develops biochips - intelligent cells - and injects them into himself. They spread like a disease, with apocalyptic results. Yep

37. The Green Mile. Stephen King. The eerie struggle of death row inmates as they fact the electric chair. Nope

38. Interview with the Vampire. Anne Rice. The novel that took the gothic mystique of the vampire into the nights of modern San Francisco. Nope

39. Starship Troopers. Robert Heinlein. A recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe - and into battle against humanity's deadliest enemy. Forget the movie, read the book. Yep

40. The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis. This series contains The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the most famous book of the series, wherein four children step inside a wardrobe in England and emerge into the magical land of Narnia, a land complete with fauns and talking beavers, a land under the rule and spell of eternal winter by the White Witch. Yep

41. The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. The three books of the Illuminatus are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the cover-ups of our time, from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill. Nope

42. Watchers. Dean Koontz. A genetic experiment creates two super-intelligent beasts. One, a twisted creature of evil, escapes and the only one that can stop him is his "brother" - a domesticated dog named Einstein. Nope

43. The Demolished Man. Alfred Bester. A thrilling murder/suspense story which answers the question, "How do you commit murder in a 23rd-Century telepathic society?" Nope

44. Emphyrio. Jack Vance. On the planet Halma, the ruling Lords have made mechanization and mass production illegal to keep workers poor by limiting their output. Ghyl Tarvoke, the son of a master woodcarver, works to overthrow the traditional system and earn fair treatment for the working class. Nope

45. The Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum. Dorothy seeks to return home while exploring a fantasy world with her companions. This is the first in a series of Oz books, containing much more material than the classic film such as an encounter with the monstrous Hammerheads and the origin of the Tin Man. Alas, no winged monkeys though. Yep

46. War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells. The classic alien invasion tale of technologically advanced Martian conquerors with an enormous Achilles' Heel. Nope

47. Mythago Wood. Robert Holdstock. Celtic and Old English myths come alive in a stretch of primeval woodland that generates living "ghosts" from people's unconcious minds. Nope

48. Animal Farm. George Orwell. Mutinous farm animals run off their oppressor to establish a livestock utopia. Nope

49. The Princess Bride. William Goldman. A swashbucking tale of romance and Rodents Of Unusual Size. Yep

50. Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan. One age dies, another age unfolds, and the web of fate shapes events as each cycle reincarnates old heroes and villians in new flesh. Imprisoned throughout the changing of the years is the Dark One, fastened by magic in his mountain prison, Shayol Ghul. He yearns to escape and break all that has escaped his grasp, while his minions scour the land subverting, manipulating and otherwise enforcing his dark will. Enter Rand al'Thor, farm boy. He has no comprehension of the events outside his little villiage. But when a mysterious woman arrives to open his eyes to the approaching evil, Rand and his friends set out on a quest that will forever change the world. You see, Rand is the Dragon Reborn, the most powerful male sorcerer to live during his age. He's got the power to level whole cities, to erase history, to challenge the Dark One himself - except it's slowly driving him insane. Nope

51. It. Stephen King. A creature which preys upon the weak, the vulnerable, the abandoned. A creature which becomes your worst nightmare. Nope

52. A Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess. When ultraviolent Alex gets caught, he undergoes treatment to have his antisocial urges artificially controlled. Is a person capable of goodness without free will? Nope

53. Timescape. Gregory Benford. Near-future scientists send messages back in time to 1962 to save the planet. Nope

54. Pern. Anne McCaffery. Human riders link minds with benevolent, airplane-sized dragons to fight off the all-devouring Thread. Yep

55. Slaughterhouse Five. Kurt Vonnegut. The horrors of war are examined as one man shifts back and forth between existences, from experiences in WWII Dresden to captivity on the alien planet Tralfamadore. Yep

56. Good Omens. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. In this bizarre, end-of-the-world comedy, Armageddon has come, except the angels and devils aren't ready for it. Yep

57. Fionavar. Guy Gavriel Kay. A group of modern-day students is mysteriously transported to a fantasy world in peril. When a malevolent diety is released from 1,000 of imprisonment, the students discover that their fates are intertwined with those of Fionavar. Nope

58. Earthsea. Ursula K. Le Guin. A misfit boy named Ged studies to be a wizard and eventually is called to help reestablish the balance of the universe: between light and dark, male and female, life and death, magic and its ultimate price. Yep

59. 2001. Arthur C. Clarke. How did we get to be what we are? This series answers that one fundamentally human question. It begins with the establishment of a connection between our ape-ancestors, struggling to merely survive. We are hoplessly weaker and outnumbered by the other animals of the planet. An outside force plants the seeds of real intelligence by way of a great black "monolith." These first conceptual thoughts launch us toward a chain of events into the future. As the future unfolds, our curiosity leads to the discovery of another such box on the moon - proof positive that we are not the only intelligent force in the universe! It is a discovery that is as impossible for us to understand as our survival problem was millennia ago. Still, humanity presses on, only to discover another box near jupiter, which brings even more events crucial to himanity. In 3001: The Final Odyssey, many of the questions raised in the series are - for good or ill - finally answered. Nope

60. Xenogenesis. Octavia Butler. The Oankali aliens have saved the earth. For a price. Oankali survival requires constant genetic exchange...and we are mating stock. Nope

61. A Fire Upon the Deep. Vernor Vinge. A god-like artificial intelligence from another universe threatens this universe. One group has the knowledge to stop it, but they're trapped on a primative planet without the technological means for space travel or communication. Nope

62. Conan. Robert E. Howard. The ultimate barbarian hero kicks the crap out of a cornucopia of evil sorcerers, trashes a legion of demonic monstrosities, and rescues every beautiful princess on the planet. Then he eats breakfast. Nope

63. Mars. Kim Stanley Robinson. In the year 2026, a group of 100 explorers sets out to colonize and terraform Mars. Except, not everyone wants it that way. Nope

64. Midnight at the Well of Souls. Jack L. Chalker. Most of the universe was actually built by an ancient dead race and is manipulated by one massive computer. Whoever controls the computer has ultimate power. Yep

65. A Spell for Chameleon. Piers Anthony. In Xanth, everyone has a special magic power unique to themselves. Unfortunately, Bink is born without one. Or is he? Yep

66. The Gap. Stephen R. Donaldson. From beyond the boundaries of Forbidden Space, the Amnion, an alien race capable to horrific atrocities, want something unspeakable from humanity - and they'll go to unthinkable lengths to get it. Nope

67. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. A 19th century man is transported back to the Round Table where he becomes Arthur's second in command by introducing a number of modern tools like railroads and telephones. Yep

68. Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat. Harry Harrison. Jim diGriz is the most brilliant con artist and thief in the galaxy. When he's finally captured, the law enforcement has only one choice - make him one of their own - for it takes a rat to catch a one. Yep

69. The Martian Chronicles. Ray Bradbury. A collection of short stories focusing on humanity's encounters with the Red Planet and its eerie inhabitants. It starts with first contact and moves on from there. Every story's got a trademark Bradbury twist. Nope

70. Dark Elf. R.A. Salvatore. One of the best series of gaming-related fiction introduces Drizzt Do'Urdern, a dark elf (or drow) born with something that no other drow has or can afford to have: a conscience. His hometown, the underground city of Menzoberranzan, is a rough place, and his family achieved its position of power by adhering to the city's Golden Rule: Don't get caught. As Drizzt comes of age, more and more of life in Menzoberranzan becomes repugnant to him, and he can't perform the evil acts his society requires. Eventually, he embarasses his family, and, being a male in a matriarchal society, the penalty for that sort of thing is death. He has no choice but to escape to the surface world, which doesn't take kindly to dark elves, who have a reputation of beeing bloodthirsty evildoers. Drizzt's quest for acceptance in "good" society and escape from his past lead to many adventures and battles. Nope

71. West of Eden. Harry Harrison. The earth is ruled by intelligent dinosaurs; they discover America, populated by tool-using, Stone Age men. Bloody fights ensue. Nope

72. A Fine and Private Place. Peter S. Beagle. A timeless classic romance between two ghosts who must fight to remember what life and love once were. Nope

73. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne. Captain Nemo's exploration of the oceans and battle for their control. Verne's Nautilus predates real submarines. Yep

74. Dying Inside. Robert Silverberg. An aging telepath starts to lose the grip on his mental powers. A fascinating journey into the mind of an average man granted unusual powers. Nope

75. Dragonlance. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The creatures of legend, dragons, have returned - and brought darkness and destruction with them. Only one band of adventurers can save the world...if they're not betrayed from within. Nope

76. Lensman. E.E. "Doc" Smith. Classic space opera with pure-as-Boy-Scout heros and unrelentingly evil bad guys fighting for control of planet-squishing "doomsday devices." Nope

77. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ray Bradbury. Perhaps the subtlest horror story ever written. The Carnival promises to fulfill your greatest wish, but charges the highest price for it. The images from this book will haunt you for the rest of your life. Nope

78. The Mote in God's Eye. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It's 3017 A.D. Humanity discovers intelligent aliens in a backwater region of space: Should we embrace them or bomb 'em to bits? Yep

79. Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert A. Heinlein. The stranger is Valentine Michael Smith, and the strange land is Earth. Smith was born on Mars, the only human survivor of our first expedition there. He was raised by Martians, then "rescued" by the second expedition some 25 years later. He thinks of himself as a Martian and uses Martian abilities like levitation without seeing anything unusual about them. Now, like a child raised in the wilderness by wolves, he must learn how to be human...and at the same time, teach his new friends how to think like a Martian. He discovers the joys of sex and free love (which is part of what made this book so popular with the 60's generation), and tries to reconcile the many conflicting teachings of Earthly religions with his Martian knowledge. The reader not only watches Smith's growth, but also gets a tour of a futuristic Earth and all the foibles of human society. Yep

80. Space Trilogy. C.S. Lewis. A Mars rampant with life. A water-covered Venus populated with floating, living "islands." An Earth where King Arthur fights corporate Britain. Nope

81. The Invisible Man. H.G. Wells. A scientist's sanity and morality is the price of his invisibility formula. Nope

82. Gun, With Occasional Music. Jonathan Lethem. A private eye gets involved in a murder mystery in a near, dark future populated by leftover humans and animals - like gun-toting kangaroos - genetically enhanced to near-human intelligence. Scathingly dark and very funny. Nope

83. Lyonesse. Jack Vance. Supernatural novels full of faeries, witches and inter-kingdom intrigue - and it all takes place beneath the English Channel. Yep

84. Catspaw. Joan Vinge. Cyberpunk, murder-mystery and political intrigue twist together in this page-turner which tells the story of Cat, a half-human psychic, forced to work as a bodyguard for the people he hates most. Nope

85. Crystal Express. Bruce Sterling. Humanity has finally abandoned Earth for space and divided into two factions separated by biology as well as philosophy. The Shaper faction uses genetic and bio-engineering to adapt their bodies to space while the Mechanists believe in creating superior humans using cybernetic enhancements. Nope

86. The Last Unicorn. Peter S. Beagle. When a unicorn receives word that all the other unicorns have vanished, she embarks on a quest to find her lost fellows. She is mortal for a brief period and is the only unicorn that has ever loved a human being for more than a short time. Yep

87. To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Philip Jose Farmer. Anyone who has ever died - you, me, Hitler, Mark Twain - ends up on a strange alien world. The first book in the Riverworld series follows the adventures of a lone explorer trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the freakish "afterlife." Yep

88. The Silence of the Lambs. Thomas Harris. An FBI agent must enlist the help of a sadistic serial killer to hunt down another serial killer. Nope

89. Downbelow Station. C.J. Cherryh. Humanity has been exploring space for a few hundred years with sub-light ships, long enough to establish trade routes between orbital stations in a handful of distant solar systems. Downbelow Station is at the crux of the shipping routes, the gateway to Earth's defensive perimeter. Earth authorities worry that the sub-light communication lags - of 10 years or more in some cases - are giving their distant colonies and upstart merchant vessels too much freedom, but when Earth finally cracks down, it's already too late: Scientists at distant Cyteen have already built the first faster-than-light spacedrive, and Cyteen has become the center of a new power called Union. Although Downbelow Station has always prided itseld on its neutrality, it's now caught between Earth, Union, and merchanter forces, fated to become the center of the conflict. Nope

90. Flowers for Algernon. Daniel Keyes. A mentally retarded custodian undergoes a breakthrough surgical technique that triples his IQ. He's got the mind of a genius, but the emotional maturity of a child. Yep

91. The Songs of Distant Earth. Arthur C. Clarke. Humankind learns that the Sun is going to explode and sends its genetic seed into the universe before the Earth is destroyed. This is hard science-fiction with a reasonably viable method of space travel. Nope

92. The Four Lords of the Diamond. Jack Chalker. A secret agent has his mind copied into four different bodies to infiltrate four enemy worlds and assasinate their rulers. Nope

93. Swords. Fred Saberhagen. The god Vulcan crafts magical blades, each with a specific unstoppable power, and unleashes them upon an unsuspecting world. First, humanity uses the swords to kill the gods. After that, things get violent. Nope

94. Way Station. Clifford Simak. An Earthling is employed by an intergalactic federation to watch over a Way Station they secretly set up on Earth. Can he balance the loyalties to his race and to his employers and prevent an atomic war? Nope

95. The Kraken Wakes. John Wydham. An unusual "invasion from below" premise with a couple similar to Paul and Jamie from "Mad About You" fulfilling the lead roles. Nope

96. Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson. The first cyberpunk novel to feature a Matrix with personality and the first hints of virtual reality. Plus, you've gotta love a main character named Hiro Protagonist who's a hacker, samurai-swordsman and pizza-delivery guy for The Mob. Nope

97. The High Crusade. Poul Anderson. Dark Age knights comandeer a space craft and conquer the galaxy, converting aliens to Christianity along the way. Yep

98. Through the Looking Glass. Lewis Carroll. In the novel that follows Alice in Wonderland, young Alice seeks to return home while exploring a mad, enchanted land and dodging those who seek to do her harm. Yep

99. Carrion Comfort. Dan Simmons. A secret society of psychic vampires feed off others' misery and play games with human minds. Nope

100. The Postman. David Brin. You've seen the movie about one man standing up for his ideals in a post-apocalypse America. Now read the book; it's better. Yep
Tags: books, recs

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