What are your favorite science fiction characters
You gave us your five favorite science fiction novels. The result is a list of the 100 best science fiction books of all time. In four parts you will learn more about the 100 titles. It starts with the first 25 novels (part 1). Incidentally, the list does not represent a ranking.
To select "The 100 Best Science Fiction Books of All Time" on Tor Online: Within two weeks, 219 participants submitted 1099 nominations, which were divided into a total of 450 different titles. A jury of six (three women, three men) selected their 100 favorites from these 450 books. Let's start with the first 25 titles:
The numbers in front of the titles do not represent any placements or rankings, but are only used for orientation!
# 1 Doctor Ain - James Tiptree Jr.
In 1975, SF legend Robert Silverberg (in a foreword to a short story collection by his pen pal James Tiptree Jr.!) Stiffly asserts that only a man can hide behind the pseudonym, since no woman is able to write like that. Alice B. Sheldon should have laughed up her sleeve, because the life story of the psychologist who helped build the American secret service CIA is just as exciting as the SF stories she wrote under the above pseudonym. In Doctor Ain There are early stories Tiptrees from the 1960s, which poke fun at the genre of the time (and other topics, for example bureaucracy), but always have a serious core.
# 2 The Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern, 1977 - 2012)
At first glance it looks like a fantasy novel, and fantasy motifs also play a role in this story, which takes place on the human-colonized planet Pern, whose society fell back into medieval structures after an event, but still has modern technologies in some cases. Dragons - the bred, native flying lizards - are central to the plot, but spaceships and space continue to play a role. Between 1977 and 2012, 25 novels from this cycle were published for her novella The dragon queen McCaffrey received the Hugo Award in 1968.
# 3 Birds used to sing here - Kate Wilhelm (Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, 1976)
The Hugo winner from 1977, who has unfortunately been a little forgotten in Germany. Due to the foreseeable end of the world, the Sumner family is building a research center in a remote valley with the aim of ensuring the survival of mankind. After nuclear wars and other disasters, humanity is sterile and the Sumners are breeding clones of themselves, which turns out to be more difficult than expected. In his first volume on the Hugo Awards, juror Hardy Kettlitz writes: "It is astonishing that this novel has become so successful, as it is for the most part completely untrustworthy." The opinions can be so different, three of his fellow jurors saw it differently. And even if many critics do not like the book, there are still controversial discussions about it, especially in the English-speaking world. In this way, too, a book can be very influential.
# 4 The Machines - Anne Leckie (Ancillary Justice, 2013)
The machines basically won all the important science fiction prizes, from Hugo to Nebula to the Arthur C. Clark Award. A space opera that is not necessarily extraordinary because of the setting and the intrigue, but because of its main character Breq, who represents an aspect of an artificial ship intelligence that has been transferred into a human body and is on a kind of vengeance campaign. She uncovered a conspiracy surrounding the ruler of the Raj Empire. The machines is a highly ambitious, complexly structured and successful novel that questions outdated ideas and norms of gender.
# 5 Contact - Carl Sagan (1985)
Carls Sagan is best known as a physicist and astronomer who emerged in the 1980s through the documentary series Cosmos explained the universe in an understandable way. Originally drafted as a script, he succeeded Contact a notable first-contact novel that hit the big screen the year after his death in 1996, starring Jodie Foster. A novel that also takes a clear position for science and against religious dogmatism and fanaticism. Instead of traveling into space on spaceships, Sagan used the knowledge of wormholes at the time to venture into a distant galaxy in a more unusual way.
# 6 The Thinking Forests - Alan Dean Foster (Midworld, 1979)
Is the first volume of the so-called Homanx Commonwealth (Humanx in the original) and takes place in a universe inhabited by two intelligent species: humans from Earth and the insectoid thranx. The structure of the human society is somewhat reminiscent of the Federation of United Planets from Star Trek. The thinking forests are located on the planet Midworld, which is completely covered by a rainforest. The further course of the story is about the exploitation of this world by people arriving there, and yes: James Cameron stood up for Avatar clearly take inspiration from this story. Despite the adventure character, important ethical and moral issues are dealt with.
# 7 Evolution - Stephen Baxter (2003)
Stephen Baxter is one of those current hard SF authors with a scientific background who manage to tell gripping and exciting science fiction stories with scientific plausibility. With evolution he has made up his mind to tell nothing less than the story of our universe in a novel. And the result can be described as quite successful. On almost 1,000 pages (in the German edition) it not only describes our past (starting with the dinosaurs), but after arriving in the present, it courageously steps further into the future in order to continue thinking about the evolutionary history of our planet.
# 8 The hair carpet weavers - Andreas Eschbach (1995)
The debut novel by Andreas Eschbach - now probably the best-known German science fiction author - and probably also his most unusual. In an intergalactic empire spanning innumerable worlds, the profession of hair carpet maker is one of the most renowned. For a whole life they tie to a carpet, which at the end is sold to the star emperor and brings in the proceeds for another life. The episode is about the star emperor, a rebellion and its consequences. Received the German Science Fiction Prize in 1996.
# 9 Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami (Sekai no owari to Hādoboirudo Wandārando, 1985)
The Japanese writer, who is repeatedly traded as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, is not exactly known as an SF author, but there is often a touch of magical realism in his novels, and sometimes a little more. He is known to have a penchant for weird fiction. Hardboiled Wonderland takes place in a strange future in which a scientist finds out about a fantastic underworld of Tokyo and its non-human inhabitants, and in a second storyline tells of a strange city in which people live without feelings and according to a given routine. Murakami does not create realistic visions of the future, but rather metaphorical fantasy that explores the emotional life of the present.
# 10 The Burning Man (The Cosmonaut's Revenge, Tiger! Tiger!) - Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination, 1956)
An intergalactic revenge novel about the merchant Gully Foyle, who is first captured by a cargo cult on an asteroid belt after a spaceship accident, before he, like the Count of Monte Christo, embarks on his vengeance against the ship's crew who ignored his distress signal Has. While the historical model is unquestionably Alexandre Dumas, the novel anticipated some elements of cyberpunk in terms of setting, such as the power of large corporations and the technological modification of the body. Although the book was initially received in a mixed manner by the critics, it has now developed into one of the great classics of SF literature. You probably only appreciate some future plans when you have arrived at them.
# 11 The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury (The illustrated Man, 1951)
If we're adding collections of short stories to this list, then Ray Bradbury's legendary and groundbreaking ones are allowed The illustrated man not missing. Bradbury has been in many genres, including horror, detective novels and the coming of age. This collection is considered a turning point, a departure from technical-scientific science fiction towards poetic-literary. The illustrated man is a tattooed man whose body adornments come to life at night around the campfire and tell stories of a future with fully automated houses that relieve you of any work; a spaceship in distress; of the racial segregation from which African Americans are fleeing with rockets to Mars in order to build their own society; or from everyday life in the face of the apocalypse.
# 12 Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, 2015)
With the most recent novel on the list, by a writer known so far for his extraordinary fantasy novels with creatures that resemble insects and spiders. An arachnoid race also plays an important role in this SF novel. It is precisely the description of the society of these spider creatures that makes the novel so extraordinary. The starting point is the earth ruined by mankind and a terraforming experiment that went wrong on a possible new earth. A complex, original and epic novel that shows that tomorrow's classics will be written today. Juror Josefson says: "A master class evolutionary epic!"
# 13 War of the Clones - John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, 2005)
Scalzi's debut novel hit the mark in its day and ensured that Scalzi became one of the highest-paid SF writers. Old people put into young bodies to wage an intergalactic war in a mix Starship Troopers and The eternal war to fight. A refreshingly thin book, not necessarily with a lot of depth and sophisticated characters, but quickly written with humor to the point and definitely influential.
# 14 The Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) - Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, 1992-1996)
In his epic Mars trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson tells in the format of a hard SF novel about the colonization and terraforming of Mars and the results of these processes. And so impressively and optimistically that he - although a humanities scientist - was consulted by NASA as a Mars expert. Three of the last great novels that tell positively and optimistically about space travel and the settlement of space, from the time in the 1990s, when mankind had not yet lost its dreams of space.
# 15 The Martian - Andy Weir (The Martian - 2001)
A modern robinsonad in which space McGyver Mark Watney, left alone on Mars, fights for his survival, with lots of humor, ingenuity and ... potatoes. Initially self-published, the book became one of the world's rare science fiction bestsellers and was filmed in practically record time by Ridley Scott with Matt Damon in the lead role. A story that gets by without villains, without conspiracies and violence, and instead tells of how a man battles the extreme weather conditions on Mars and the perils of human technology.
# 16 The moon is a harsh mistress (Revolt on Luna, moon tracks) - Robert Heinlein (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966)
About a lunar colony that, like the American colonies in 1776 or the Bolsheviks in 1917, is tired of surrendering an excessive amount of its products to the colonial power / government, while it has hardly any say. What follows is a revolt that is doomed to fail due to its military inferiority. Heinlein on freedom, exploitation, ideals and libertarian values in modern societies. Won the Hugo Award in 1967, but in retrospect portrays social conditions a little too simplistic, as Hardy Kettlitz put it in his first Hugo book. Still an influential science fiction classic, also because of Heinlein's approach to artificial intelligence. Far less reactionary than his earlier books, he views the conflict here from several sides.
# 17 Morgenwelt - John Brunner (Stand on Zansibar, 1968)
John Brunner was one of the first SF writers to bring the social aspects of future societies to the fore. His prognoses were not exactly positive. Brunner's future is - as it was later in cyberpunk - dominated by powerful corporations, while the social gap is irreconcilable. Everything that was seen as possible future risks in the 1960s is becoming a reality for him. In Morning world he takes up the modern colonialism of American corporations in emerging countries and dictatorships. Hugo winner 1968. Not easy to read due to the countless storylines, but it is worth the effort.
# 18 Perry Rhodan - Clark Dalton
Long after the golden age of science fiction had dawned in the USA, the Pabel-Moewig-Verlag published a booklet novel on September 8, 1961 Stardust company from the newly started series Perry Rhodan out, created by Karl-Herbert Scherr and Walter Ernsting alias Clark Dalton. A young astronaut named Perry Rhodan lands on the moon, encounters an alien Arkonide spaceship and changes human history forever. That was issue no.1, issue no.3000 was published in February 2019. No other SF series has so shaped the German-speaking SF landscape with its readers and authors.
# 19 Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke (Rendezvous with Rama, 1973)
Won the Hugo and Nebula Award. One of the classics from British author and technical visionary Arthur C. Clarke. In the 22nd century, mankind encounters a cylindrical object 50 kilometers long in space that is initially believed to be an asteroid, but which then turns out to be of extraterrestrial origin. An exploration team is sent aboard the unusual spaceship. Basically a scientific adventure novel, as the object Rama turns out to be a great mystery in which there is a lot of fascinating things to discover.
# 20 Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein (1959)
Most people over thirty and under sixty should be familiar with the film adaptation by Paul Verhoeven. The novel by Heinlein won the Hugo Award in 1960 and is considered to be the forerunner of the military SF sub-genre. In principle, it is about an interstellar war against an alien race of beetles, the so-called bugs. While the film adaptation is more of a critical satire targeting militarism and fascism, the template clearly glorifies the military under the sign of the Cold War. Nowadays most readers should read this novel much more critically, but it also stimulates discussion and thought, stands for the time it was written and has influenced the SF for decades.
# 21 Utopia - Thomas More (De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia, 1516)
The mother of all utopias (apart from Plato's ideal state). Rather falls into the category of spatial utopia, as it takes place in the presence of Thomas More, but on a fictional, fantastic-looking island called Utopia, on which a supposedly utopian society has developed. But it also shows that the utopia of one can be the dystopia of the other, or at least has the potential to develop into it. By More, the book was actually intended as a (partly ironic) criticism of or as a mirror for the society of that time.
# 22 Wired World (Simulacron 3) - Daniel F. Galouye (1963)
Most likely in Germany thanks to the two-part television film world on wire be known by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A book that dealt with the topics of virtual reality and marketing very early on. It's about a perfect simulation of reality and the question of what reality really is. Probably the best Philip K. Dick novel not written by Dick. Under the title The 13th Floor there was a remake produced by Roland Emmerich in 1999. Some of the motifs in the novel also had a major impact on the film matrix (also 1999).
# 23 2001 - A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke (1968)
The accompanying film by Stanley Kubrick made film history and is considered one of the best and most famous films of all time. Clarke's book is said to have been created at the same time as the film, which is why it is not entirely clear whether the film is an adaptation or vice versa. A black monolith is discovered on the moon, which sends a signal to Saturn's moon Iapetus. Two years later, a spaceship with astronauts David Bowman and Francis Poole and the supercomputer HAL 9000 flies towards Saturn. A psychological duel develops between Bowman and the stubborn Artificial Intelligence.The film adaptation alone makes this book one of the great classics of science fiction, regardless of its literary qualities. However, despite some differences, it is also a useful extension that can help to better understand the film and its ending.
# 24 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, 1869)
One of the early classics of science fiction literature, from a time when the term SF didn't even exist. This time it takes the technical visionary Verne into the depths of the oceans on board the advanced submarine Nautilus with its captain Nemo. Names and terms that should be familiar to almost everyone, whether through the numerous films or the allusions in pop culture. Classic adventure literature with technical visions and moral questions that affect all of humanity.
# 25 Follow-up Trilogy - Chuck Wendig (Aftermath 2015 - 2017)
Franchise novels, i.e. novels on series such as Star Trek or film series such as Star Wars, have a difficult time with critics, as they are (pre-) quickly dismissed as ultra-commercial off-the-shelf goods. Which is often true, but not always. Like Timothy Zahns once did ThrawnTrilogy (from the Expanded Universe, which has since been declared invalid or deleted from the canon), the Star Wars franchise also has original and good novels to offer. Chuck Wendigs Aftermath-Trilogy bridges the gap between the end of The Empire Strikes Back and the one playing 30 years later The Force Awakens, for all those who were wondering what the hell went wrong with the rebellion while watching the sequel. The trilogy was received very divided by the readership, but our jury member Judith Vogt is so enthusiastic about it that she immediately put it on the list of the best.
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