Ranking the Science Fiction
of My Life

I have read a lot of science fiction in my day. I quit reading fiction at all for several years but began again in the last two years. This is a list of what I consider to be the best of the three or four hundred science fiction novels I have read, in no particular order.

A couple of disclaimers, I read fiction to be entertained, first and foremost, and entertainment value played a large role selecting these titles.

1. Ambassador of Progress - Walter Jon Williams
This book is amazing, intelligent, actual believable adult relationships with an interesting premise. Williams, for my money is among the very greatest science fiction novelists.

2. 1632 - Eric Flint
At a time of difficulty in my life I was looking for something to distract me. I leafed through this book at a local bookstore and the name "Lennart Torstenson" lept off the page. I remember wondering what the heck this fellow was doing in a science fiction novel, but Torstenson was prominent in the 30 Years War, so I bought the book and was trasported. Flint could, perhaps, use a little of Walter Jon Williams skill depicting male-female relationships, but, otherwise this book is a wonderful read.

3. A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller Jr.
I read this book long ago, and was so impressed with it I recommended it to a wonderful fellow I knew who had a European classical education. He didn't like it nearly as much as I did, and do. Miller's works are, for me, intelligent and thought-provoking.

4. Pavane - Kieth Roberts
I don't suppose that this is properly a novel, but it is great reading. Anything by Roberts is.

5. First Cycle - H. Beam Piper
(edited and expanded by Michael Kurland)

Back in the '50's when I first began reading science fiction, and couldn't wait for the next issue of Astounding Science Fiction to hit the drug store, Piper was one of my favorite authors. This book was published after his death, and it is, in my opinion his best. And I love Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, and the Paratime stories, and Space Viking.

6. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
(the trilogy is one book for the price of 3)

Space Opera at its very best, an epic story of the triumph of science and reason in the world, er everywhere. If you haven't read these three, in my mind it's difficult to see how you can call yourself a fan of science fiction.

7. 1984 - George Orwell
This is literature, I suppose. If all literature were as interesting and well-written I would enjoy it much more.

8. The Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny
This is the strongest work by a very strong author. It's difficult to categorize, but it is a must read for anyone who loves science fiction.

9. The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
The sixties are over, man. So sad. This is what they were about, if not what they really were. Enjoy.

10. Hardwired - Walter Jon Williams
This is another of Williams' very strong efforts. All Williams novels I have read have an edge, but his best work, in my opinion, also is optimistic. He's on here twice because he deserves it for all the enjoyment he has given me over the years. And besides, it's hard to choose between the two books, though Ambassador of Progress gets a slight nod.

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