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What do you think Are the Best Classic Fantasy And Science Fiction Books and Stories of All Time?

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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And what is it about them that makes them great or memorable? What new ground if any did they break ?

This topic covers every era.

Thoughts?

Ill start it out with The Well at the Worlds End By William Morris . A young man Ralph of Utterbol sets out on quest to find this mysterious Well and along the way has all kinds of adventures and misadventures . I know this is not the first epic fantasy ever written or even Morris's first epic. The setting story borrows heavily from prior literature. It is a world modeled on Medieval era of history. It did leave me me with the with the impression that this realm could be a real place. As for the characters, well, they are bit two dimensional, there is no stream of consciousness like we have in modern literature, so we can't really see into Ralph or the other characters . But they are believable enough to care about.
 
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hitmouse

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I would hazard that there might be one or two nearly identical threads already in existence here.
 

Bick

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Your choice of "best classic SFF book of all time" is a little curious, Baylor. By your suggestion, its not very original and has two-dimensional characters. Wouldn't the finest story ever written be fairly original, and have well described characters?
 

Steersman

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The one that comes to mind for me is a book called "The Seetee Ship". Just looked it up on WIkipedia. it was written by Jack Williamson
 

BAYLOR

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Your choice of "best classic SFF book of all time" is a little curious, Baylor. By your suggestion, its not very original and has two-dimensional characters. Wouldn't the finest story ever written be fairly original, and have well described characters?
Yes it has it's flaws . No argument on there but as whole , it's still a great work of 19th century epic fantasy and no doubt J .R Tolkien and other writers that came after, appreciated it and even drew inspiration from it. It is an important work of fiction in the fantasy genre .
 
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psikeyhackr

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Omnilingual by B.C. Beam Piper

Multiple reasons: deals with atomic structure less than 30 years after discovery of neutron, about Mars while published in the year of Sputnik, female lead character, significant to linguistics and universality of science.

psik
 

Green Lantern

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Yes it has it's flaws . No argument on there but as whole , it's still a great work of 19th century epic fantasy and no doubt J .R Tolkien and other writers that came after, appreciated it and even drew inspiration from it. It is an important work of fiction in the fantasy genre .
I want to establish important factors of a Science Fiction novel first and then go into finding the good candidate. In my opinion a) general story line b) believability of the events c) believability of the characters and d) internal consistency , are the main parameters that make me really like or god forbid hate a Sci-Fi novel.
 

BAYLOR

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The Broken Sword Poul Anderson . Superb novel one of his best. :)
 

Randy M.

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The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles Finney

Characterization thin, plot barely sufficient, yet I've read this 5 or 6 times and expect to read it a time or two more. This is fantasy as satire of American mid-western life and values, in which a circus of thread-bare marvels enter a town the inhabitants of which do not really register how magical the acts are, how spellbinding they would be to an audience with imagination.

Through all the customer interactions Dr. Lao proceeds, becoming who he needs to be for the moment, perhaps a reflection of the expectations of those facing him; a loquacious speaker of pidgeon English one moment, a scholar the next, mostly he acts as a herder of the wonders populating his circus, pushing them through their paces and fending off aggressive customers while shielding the more vulnerable (well, some of them anyway) in his audience.

I've heard some readers complain the ending just trails off, but it's a circus, a circus ends, the wagons pull out and move to another town, leaving some interactions unresolved. It took 3 or 4 readings for it to work for me, but it does now. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Randy M.
 

BAYLOR

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The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles Finney

Characterization thin, plot barely sufficient, yet I've read this 5 or 6 times and expect to read it a time or two more. This is fantasy as satire of American mid-western life and values, in which a circus of thread-bare marvels enter a town the inhabitants of which do not really register how magical the acts are, how spellbinding they would be to an audience with imagination.

Through all the customer interactions Dr. Lao proceeds, becoming who he needs to be for the moment, perhaps a reflection of the expectations of those facing him; a loquacious speaker of pidgeon English one moment, a scholar the next, mostly he acts as a herder of the wonders populating his circus, pushing them through their paces and fending off aggressive customers while shielding the more vulnerable (well, some of them anyway) in his audience.

I've heard some readers complain the ending just trails off, but it's a circus, a circus ends, the wagons pull out and move to another town, leaving some interactions unresolved. It took 3 or 4 readings for it to work for me, but it does now. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Randy M.
It's a very good read and they did a film adaptation of it back in the 1960's staring Tony Randall and Barbara Eden .:)
 

althea

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I would like to add a very funny book which was written in 1971.The Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven.
It is not a huge book nor a series,but I have never forgotten it.I read it every couple of years and enjoy it every time.
(Possibly says more about me than the book.)
If you want a light hearted read,this is the book for you.
 

Kerrybuchanan

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I am aware that this is a really naff reply and I'll be sat on by a significant percentage of forum members, but for me the gold standard is still Tolkein. He wrote not just wonderful epic high fantasy, but his whole world had such depth and breadth, languages, customs, traits of different species. There have been many since and some before who wrote brilliantly, but I still find Lord of the Rings impossible to beat.
 

Jo Zebedee

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It isn't naff at all. Or no more naff than me naming Dune as the classic sf book so many try to emulate. Big world, good future concepts, cracking characters. I think he's the sf classic of the similar ilk.

For me, it would have to be books which stay with me after I read them. For sf I'd mention Rendezvous with Rama, Flowers for Algernon and some of Card's work (Songmaster is probably my favourite, but I also like Ender's Game.)

For fantasy - I don't read huge amounts - Name of the Wind is up there for me. Also some of the magical realism stuff really does it for me and are classic in tone - of those, I might go for Allende's House of the Spirits.
 

BAYLOR

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Conan Hour of the Dragon by Robert E Howard . His only full length Conan novel . It's got a bit of everything conspiracy , murder, war and a really cool Sorcerer Villain Xaltoten.:D
 

clovis-man

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The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke (or its earlier incarnation, Against The Fall Of Night, take your pick). Published in 1956, it's one of a very few books in the SF genre which I might call "timeless". Takes the idea of what humanity might look like in the distant future and imbues it with a sense of wonder.
 
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