Did some sci-fi research today and realized I had not endorsed my first-grab book of criticism: David Pringle’s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels
These one-or-two page evaluations are far from all raves, which I consider a plus.
They have a blended British and American perspective, which I consider a very fine thing. (I loathe this business of trying to make sci-fi an America-first genre, down to the ugly suggestion that H.G. Wells did not write “science fiction” because the term hadn’t been invented yet!)
It covers books published from 1949 (1984) to hawhaw 1984 (Neuromancer). Sure it wants an update, but you could make a persuasive case that the rocket started to run outta gas around the time it closes the curtain.
I cannot recommend this enough to sci-fi fans. Those who are uncertain should try to find an excerpt or two to see if you match up well enough with Pringle’s outlooks. I agree with him about, oh, 70% of the time. But I understand and respect every one of his arguments.
EDIT — BONUS (?)
Of the books on the list I have read here’s my selection of the Top 12 Most Unjustly Neglected:
• Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
• The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
• The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl
• A Mirror for Observers by Edgar Pangborn
• The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (his one great, halfway tolerable even, work)
• Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith
• Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch
• Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
Engine Summer by John Crowley
On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban