Standalone titles: Fantasy and SF

Over at, we have a list of seventeen standalone fantasy titles. Now, mind you, a standalone is a mixed blessing. Because one of those titles is THE GOBLIN EMPEROR and how many of us are weeping because there isn’t a sequel planned? Right?


Even so, I must admit I’m often more likely to pick up a book, especially by a new-to-me author, if it stands alone.

other books I’ve read and loved from’s list: lots, actually, but particularly:

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

Wait, wait, but they include Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly, which kind of changes the topic from “books that are completely standalone” to “books that stand alone well enough that you don’t have to actually buy the sequels”, which is an entirely different kind of list and much much broader. Phooey, I say. A list for standalone titles should include ONLY titles that stand ENTIRELY alone in their universe.

Also! Why are only fantasy novels listed here? Quick, let’s list some great standalone SF novels, because I’m sure there must be lots. I don’t know that I can get to seventeen strictly from memory, but I’ll try for ten. So in no order, as they occur to me:

1. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

2. And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst

3. The Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

4. Embassytown by China Miéville

5. Cuckoo’s Egg by CJ Cherryh

6. Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Heinlein

7. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

8. The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz

9. Hellspark by Janet Kagan

10. The Martian by Andy Weir.

There! That wasn’t so hard. That’s certainly a wide range, too: everything from quite hard SF to basically science fantasy. I bet you can all think of others.

Not to mention lots of other fantasy titles that aren’t on’s list. Like just for example *most* of Patricia McKillip’s books, not to mention The City in the Lake, which is not only a standalone right this minute, but always will be, because unlike some of my other titles, I have no plans to write a sequel.

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1 thought on “Standalone titles: Fantasy and SF”

  1. There’s actually a couple of sequels to The Witches of Karres, now, sort of: they’re not by Schmitz but I think they’re authorized by his estate. (So, kind of like that Ardath Mayhar book about Piper’s Fuzzies.) I’m not feeling sufficiently purist to say that counts, though, at least not at the moment.

    Seven more to round out the list?

    11. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
    12. The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
    13. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
    14. The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
    15. Fool’s Run by Patricia McKillip
    16. Space Opera by Jack Vance
    17. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

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