Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Great SFF works we should not forget

Here is a post by Victor Milan at tor.com: Five Classic Works of SFF by Authors We Must Not Forget

Interestingly, I have read only one of these — Lord of Light by Zelazny. But I do think it’s a shame to stop at five when there are so many. Couldn’t Milan have at least gotten to ten? I figure I’ll help him out by providing a few more, which I’m listing below in the random order in which they occurred to me:

6. The Gaean trilogy by Varley. It’s practically a crime, how little attention Varley gets today. There may be no other author of his era who would better appeal to modern readers.

7. Ringworld by Niven. Niven pretty much founded the era of extraordinary SF settings, and did it better than practically anyone since. Also, Michael Whelan’s vision brought it to life for readers:

8. Dune. Obviously.

9. The Riddle-Master of Hed by McKillip. Hard to believe this was first published so long ago, but so it was. Modern readers are sooooo missing out if they do not grab up this trilogy.

10. The Last Unicorn by Beagle. Again, I’m amazed to find out how old that one is. But everyone still reads it, right? Or do modern readers miss out because they’re so swamped by the recent releases that are getting the current buzz? That would be a shame.

What else should obviously be included on a list of must-read classic or great SFF? If you have a moment, please drop one book published before, say, 1990, in the comments.

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11 Comments Great SFF works we should not forget

  1. Karen K

    I would put

    James Schmitz – The Witches of Karres
    Issac Asimov – Foundation

    On the list. Know that I am forgetting some. Looking forward to other suggestions.

  2. Allan Shampine

    Interesting list. I’ve read all of them except Riddle Master of Hed (I know, I know – it’s on my TBR pile). All works that have aged very well, in my opinion.

    I might have put Fred Saberhagen’s Empire of the East (technically a collected trilogy) over Berserker, but the Berserker series certainly had a lot of influence.

    As an aside, I went to school with Eric Saberhagen. The evolved dog/god in Empire of the East, Draffut, was named after their own dog Tuffard!

  3. Evelyn M. Hill

    I find it easier to think of SFF authors you should read, not individual books. Ursula K. LeGuin springs to mind, Left Hand of Darkness or The Word for World is Forest. Or LMB, of course, but I think she started later.
    If you want to talk neglected authors, how about R.A. Lafferty? His writing drives me crazy, the way it’s all over the place like a Jackson Pollock painting, but he’s got a terrific voice all the same. 900 Grandmothers or Fourth Mansion.

  4. Craig N.

    I’m a huge Lafferty fan… Rachel, not so much.

    I’ve read everyone mentioned so far, though very little Brackett — and I think I’ve got a Stark collection I’ve never cracked open.

    Cordwainer Smith is close to the Platonic ideal of an SF writer who seems to be teetering on the verge of being forgotten — but he’s been in a holding pattern there for decades, as best I can tell, so he may be in less danger than I’d immediately predict.

  5. Evenstar

    I’ve also only read Lord of Light from the original list but have read four from yours. Have not read The Last Unicorn, it’s been on my list for a while. I would add Niven’s The Integral Trees (which I think is where the cover art you show is from) and The Smoke Ring.

  6. Rachel

    I should have thought of Cordwainer Smith, who as Craig says has always seemed to be just on the verge of being totally forgotten.

    I think The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring are covered under Ringworld; to me it’s all the same thing.

    …There’s a dog-god in Saberhagen? Now I suddenly feel like looking up whatever book that’s in…

  7. Pete Mack

    Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland
    A Different Light, Nancy Kress

    The latter is a fascinating look at the scientific method, but on a much more claustrophobic scale than “The Steersman.”

  8. Allan Shampine

    Saberhagen originally released a trilogy but later rewrote them and combined them under a single cover that was released as “Empire of the East.” That is definitely the version to read.

    He has a whole bunch of later books set in that world, though not nearly as good, in my opinion. The entire Swords series is set in that world, for example.

  9. Allan Shampine

    Also, if you haven’t read Empire of the East, you should definitely add it to your TBR pile. Personally I think it’s the best thing Fred ever wrote.

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