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Which Science Fiction Books Make Up the Perfect Library?

The Telegraph lists 110 Best Books for the Perfect Library.

Here are the science fiction titles:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson

Other notables…Listed under “Childrens books”:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R. R. Tolkien
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Listed under “Books that changed your world”:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

12 Comments on Which Science Fiction Books Make Up the Perfect Library?

  1. It never ceases to amaze me that Asimov’s Foundation routinely makes it into lists like this, the compilers of which would doubtless say “of course, most science fiction is badly written and too focused on crazy ideas”. I’m not dissing Asimov, he was hugely important writer to the genre, but for goodness’ sake, we’ve come so far since then!

    Sorry, rant over. I should really be accustomed to this throwing-of-bones by now. *sigh*

  2. So what would be on your list, Paul?

  3. It’s not a bad list and I can’t really disagree with any of the ones there, but its just so… predictable.

    I’m not sure I like the idea of creating the “perfect” library if it’s going to be so safe.

    You’ve got to respect the classics, but couldn’t the author have taken a few risks and thrown in some less well known titles as well?

  4. Iain M Banks – Player Of Games

    Bruce Sterling – Distraction

    Geoff Ryman – Air

    Iain McDonald – Ares Express

    Jeff Noon – Automated Alice

    But those, of course, are the first five random picks from list I’d write right now … I expect I’m not alone in saying I know I’d write a different list next week, next year and so on. The point being that the perfect book is a function of the moment in which it is read or thought about.[/sophist]

    But anyway, y’know, I kinda went off on one there. It just baffles me that non-genre readers can give misty-eyed accolades to a book that, while very important, reads like one immense cliche with the benefit of hindsight, but then refuse to read sf because they’ve heard it’s not very good. Green eggs and ham, you dig?

  5. Joe Iriarte // April 7, 2008 at 6:25 pm //

    LOTR is a kids’ book? Ridiculous.

    (I’m not saying kids can’t or don’t read it. I was eleven when I read it. But it’s not a kids’ book. If you compare the density of the prose and ideas in LOTR to those of the others mentioned, there is a pretty significant difference.)

  6. That is pretty ridiculous… I think someone confused it with The Hobbit.

    And lists like these are pretty much redundant, like Paul said. Everyone’s lists are likely to be different and having a list of 110 books is a bit like a carpet bombing tactic. Bound to hit a few everyone will agree on.

  7. Or everyone’s bound to agree with a few, but not the same ones. 🙂

  8. Another curiosity along these lines is the “Children’s Recommended Reading List” compiled by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in 1994, which is available online at

  9. Didn’t work for me.

  10. Ken Springs // May 4, 2008 at 9:26 am //

    I’ve been conducting a mind experiment using many of the listed books. Occasionally, I pick one of my favs that I haven’t read in 10+ years, and reread it. I have found that they change with time. What really happens is my perception changes!

  11. Rodney Payne // July 27, 2008 at 7:45 am //

    What about the Forge of God and Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear?

  12. Rodney Payne // July 27, 2008 at 7:47 am //

    What about the Forge of God and Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear?

    I’ve read and re-read these books on several occasions and still find them gripping.

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