Seven is a weird number for a list, I think. Makes it seem like the author of the list just didn’t bother shooting for ten. And for a Best Of All Time kind of list, narrowing it down to ten would be fairly impossible anyway.
Worse, Forbes’ list — which is by Paul Tassi — evidently wasn’t put together by asking “What works have been most influential?” or “What works have been most popular?” It seems to be just a personal list, like “Paul Tassi liked these seven works a lot.” Labeling a list like that “Best” anything is a little, well, questionable. James Davis Nicoll, for example, could do much better with a list of this kind, and probably has, simply because he’s a lot more aware of the history of the genre and far more able to justify his choices.
Single detail that invalidates Forbes’ list: Tassi lauds the entire DUNE series. Wasn’t it Jo Walton who commented that with DUNE, every book in the series is half as good as the one previous?
He also includes the entire ENDER’S GAME series, which is . . . more reasonable, I guess . . . but the quality of that series rises and falls dramatically, so just throwing the series on a “best ever” list without further comment does make me feel Tassi is at best being pretty lazy with his list.
Anyway, click through if you’d like to see which works other than the above appear on this list. At least there is a mix of older and more recent works. I don’t find any of the choices that surprising, though I definitely don’t share Tassi’s tastes when it comes to SF.
I don’t feel up to trying to create a list of the Top Ten SF Works of All Time, at least not right now. I can say that I would probably include DUNE, though of course none of the sequels.
Oh, fine, I’ll give it fifteen seconds and see what instant choices occur to me for such a list:
- ENDER’S GAME
- “Flowers for Algernon”
- The Xenogenesis trilogy by Butler
- The Gaia trilogy by Varley
- A FIRE UPON THE DEEP
- The Mars Trilogy by KSR
- UP THE WALLS OF THE WORLD
There, not going to try to justify those choices, fifteen second limit (more like two minutes, but still). Of course also this is partially a personal-taste list. I like extremely well-done aliens, an influential factor for several of these choices. In fact, maybe I should pull CYTEEN and put on the entire Foreigner series in its place … but, no, I’ll let it stand as guided by my first impulse.
If you were picking something for a best-SF-of-all-time, list, what one work that I missed would have to go on that list?