30 November 2012

Locus 20th & 21st Centuries Poll

Locus this month has been conducting a poll to find out the "best" science fiction and fantasy novels and short fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. Though I first suggested on Twitter that I would be filling it all in with Raymond Carver stories, I gave in today at the last minute and instead filled in the poll with some choices other than Carver stories (though I was tempted to put "Why Don't You Dance?" on there, since it has a certain fantasy feel to it, at least to me).

I'll post my choices after the jump here.

Because I did the poll at the last minute, the choices were as much impulsive as rational. I'm not much interested in differentiating science fiction and fantasy, so I paid only the barest attention to categorization. For lengths, I used the lists Locus posted or what I could find on ISFDB, and for the few items not on either, I just relied on my own memory and guessing.

Were I to write the lists now, or tomorrow, or next week, they would be different, both in content and order. Such is the nature of these things. Only a few items are absolute for me (e.g., Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is the best science fiction novel ever written). Many of the choices are there not because I think they are Eternally & Canonically Important (though many are) but because they remain vivid and powerful reading experiences for me. Also, some things didn't make it on because I would need to reread them to decide — for instance, I couldn't pick one of the novellas from Le Guin's Four Ways to Forgiveness, because though I'm fairly sure one of them belongs on the list, I haven't read the book recently enough to decide between them. M. John Harrison's Viriconium probably belongs on there, too, but I couldn't decide on one of the books in particular, wasn't sure if the big collection would count as a single novel, and in any case had The Course of the Heart on there already (it's another absolute for me — no list of best 20th century fantasy novels is complete without it). And then there are things that probably belong on such a list, but I've never read them, such as Gormenghast. And then there are the obvious items I forgot and will be chastising myself for tomorrow.

I know of lists from a few other folks: Niall Harrison, Cheryl Morgan, Ian Sales. Once Locus publishes the results from the poll, I'll put a link here.

Finally, I am perfectly aware that I will be the only person voting for quite a few of these.

(Note: Because I cut-and-pasted these into the Locus poll form, I deliberately removed diacritical marks and any other punctuation that might mess up the tally. And I'm being lazy here and just pasting my master list in.)

20th century science fiction novel
1. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delany
2. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
3. 1984 by George Orwell
4. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh
5. 334 by Thomas M. Disch
6. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
7. Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
8. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
10. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

20th Century Fantasy Novel
1. The Castle by Franz Kafka
2. The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
3. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
4. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
5. The Course of the Heart by M. John Harrison
6. The Affirmation by Christopher Priest
7. Explosion in a Cathedral by Alejo Carpentier
8. Neveryona by Samuel R. Delany
9. Mickelsson’s Ghosts by John Gardner
10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

20th Century SF/F Novella
1. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
2. Empire Star, by Samuel R. Delany
3. The Stains, by Robert Aickman
4. Great Work of Time, by John Crowley
5. Souls, by Joanna Russ
6. Pastoralia, by George Saunders
7. Pork Pie Hat, by Peter Straub
8. R&R, by Lucius Shepard
9. The King’s Indian: A Tale, by John Gardner
10. Mr. Boy, by James Patrick Kelly

20th Century SF/F Novelette
1. Invaders, by John Kessel
2. The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule, by Lucius Shepard
3. The Asian Shore, by Thomas M. Disch
4. The Hell Screen, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
5. The Hospice, by Robert Aickman
6. A Little Something for Us Tempunauts, by Philip K. Dick
7. The Juniper Tree, by Peter Straub
8. Solitude, by Ursula K. Le Guin
9. Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler
10. Sea Oak, by George Saunders

20th Century SF/F Short Story
1. A Country Doctor, by Franz Kafka
2. Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, by Jorge Luis Borges
3. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula K. Le Guin
4. Day Million, by Frederik Pohl
5. The School, by Donald Barthelme
6. Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!, by Raccoona Sheldon
7. Or All the Seas with Oysters, by Avram Davidson
8. The Terminal Beach, by J.G. Ballard
9. Abominable, by Carol Emshwiller
10. One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts, by Shirley Jackson

21st Century SF Novel
1. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
2. Light by M. John Harrison
3. Liberation by Brian Francis Slattery
4. Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel R. Delany
5. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

21st Century Fantasy Novel
1. Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
2. The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
3. The City & The City by China Mieville
4. Oh Pure & Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet
5. One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak

21st Century SF/F Novella
1. Tainaron, by Leena Krohn
2. A Crowd of Bone, by Greer Gilman
3. Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link
4. Near Zennor, by Elizabeth Hand
5. Memorare, by Gene Wolfe

21st Century SF/F Novelette
1. Stone Animals, by Kelly Link
2. Only Partly Here, by Lucius Shepard
3. Yellow Card Man, by Paolo Bacigalupi
4. The Empire of Ice Cream, by Jeffrey Ford
5. Revenge of the Calico Cat, by Stepan Chapman

21st Century SF/F Short Story
1. There’s a Hole in the City, by Richard Bowes
2. Cold Fires, by M. Rickert
3. Abraham Lincoln Has Been Shot, by Daniel Alarcon
4. Delhi, by Vandana Singh
5. Safe Passage, by Ramona Ausubel