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20 Novels

Here are my top 20 novels. I don't claim that this is a definitive list. Nor is it 'the top 20 science fiction novels of all time' because some of these are fantasy, others are mainstream fiction with a strong speculative element. I'm not really counting either, so there may be more than 20 in the list. It might change too.

The links in the following list are to reviews. 


His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman. Awesome.

Dune, Frank Herbert. Camp luvlyness with big worms.

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende. Magical. Poor Barabas.

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K LeGuin. Adventures at the end of the gender ice age.

The Sparrow
, Mary Doria Russell. Jesuits in space. Beautifully drawn.

Look to Windward
, Iain M Banks. Restored my jaded sense of wonder.

Animal Farm, George Orwell.

Childhood's End, Arthur C Clarke. One of the first books to stop me cold.

, William Gibson. Pretty good actually, for an epoch-maker.

The Bridge, Iain Banks. Proper writing, innit.

, Brian Aldiss. Still strangely vivid in my memory after many years.

, Greg Bear. Some fine set peices.

The Handmaid's Tale
, Margaret Atwood. Dystopia, plainly spoken.

The Midwich Cuckoos
, John Wyndham. I worked in a saltmine in Middlewich.

Slaughterhouse Five
, Kurt Vonnegut. Mork in the ruins of Dresden. Heartbreaking.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman. Superbly colourful.

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. Dystopia's grandaddy.

, Isaac Asimov. Deeply influential in theme and style.

Lord of the Rings
, J.R.R. Tolkein. You probably haven't heard of this overlooked slim volume.

Stanislaw Lem. A head-scratching wonder.

Children of Men
, P.D. James. Recently filmed.

Fahrenheit 451
, Ray Bradbury. Flaming good book.

The Days of Rice and Salt
, Kim Stanley Robinson. What if?

, Mervyn Peake. Big in every way.

Stranger in a Strange
Land, Robert Heinlein.

, Doris Lessing. A world changing book.


Honourable Mentions

My favourite book, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson is not in this list. Although the author is fond of magic realism, this book is probably the most vividly real book that I've ever read. I know these people. If I ever achieve anything of this standard, I will die a happy man.

The Last Legends of Earth, A.A Attanasio. Best opening.

The Worm Ourouboros. E.R.Eddison. Massive




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