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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 23 October 2011
I cant understand books like this that put some arbitrary limit to their extent - except of course it cuts down on their work. This is a very slim book - just a booklet really- for the price. It selects one book to represent each writer, summarises it quite well without spoiling the ending, the recommends other books by the author or books on similar themes. But why not include all those other books as well - it would have made this volume a reasonable size and price. The authors one expects are there - no real surprise additions , but a few annoying exemptions - why no mention of Land Under England? As an intro for those new to the genre, its a handy little guide, but for thiose with much exposure to the genre it is not going to open up many, if any, new horizons. Dont pay full price.
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VINE VOICEon 29 November 2009
Physically the book is underwhelming being quite small. After a short intro from Christopher Priest there is longer intro by the authors who tell us their intentions. The main body of the book is like "David Pringle's Best 100 Science Fiction Novels" in that it purports to choose 100 novels. They are "must-read" rather than "best" in this case. There is an article about each of the 100 novels.

I own a previous version called Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy by M. H. Zool. It was published in 1989. The format is similar except it was by author instead of a by book. The two books are quite different in content to it is worth owning both. When done by different authors it gives another slant and many of the selections in the must-read 100 are not found in the other books I've referred to. It is also up to date, for example the 'read on' suggestions by Zool for A. C. Clarke include Greg Bear, Charles Sheffield, Robert Forward and Kim Stanley Robinson whereas the new version recommends Stephen Baxter, Jack McDevitt, Frederik Pohl, Olaf Stapledon and David Zindell.

Each must read gets an article which is about 300 words (roughly a page). The format is two paragraphs, the firstly to describe the plot (without too many spoilers, the authors say) , the second which typically gives value judgements on the author's style, the quality of prose, their importance in the field, etc.

I think it is a another worthwhile reference work and quite up to date. So while there are some of the usual classics by H. G. Wells, Asimov, Heinlein, etc, there are also modern books like "Altered Carbon" by Richard Morgan.

I always worry about reading plot summaries because I prefer to know as little as possible of the plot just in case it spoils the story. The important thing is to know it is a recommended read and what are the characteristics of the author. So I have been tending to read the complete article for books I have already read but only the second half for books I haven't yet read.
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on 18 March 2014
This was a useful but somewhat small volume. The book is a small relatively slim volume, and seems to focus mainly on the earlier fiction of the 50s, 60s and 70s although this is considered the golden age with many great sci fi books published. Published in 2006 so nothing later than about 2005.

Not as comprehensive as I would have liked. Not many works by the likes of Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov mentioned, just one or maybe two classics - although I guess to be fair there is only room for 100.

As a book to inform and guide me in my science fiction reading, and to point me towards different aspects of the genre then it served it's purpose though I would love a very much more comprehensive volume.
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on 29 October 2007
Having read both the book and S.Gunduz's review I have to disagree with his/her conclusions. The book is indeed populist as it sets out to be a good basic SF reference with recommendations for further reading (the authors suggest that readers consult 'The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction' for greater detail so there was never any intention of providing exhaustive coverage). It is not however 'throw-away' despite its compact size, as it is jammed full with factually accurate and fascinating information on the selected titles and the genre itself. Whilst many of these facts could be found online (as of course most information can these days) those unfamiliar with SF often need a good, concise reference as a starting point. It is also worth pointing out that many SF websites contain information that is far from reliable and/or ill-informed. The book reviews are relatively brief in order to avoid spoilers but they succeed in enticing new readers whilst also putting the works in their cultural context. Gunduz is concerned that not all of the titles fit into his/her notion of what is a classic, yet at no point do the authors claim that they are compiling a list of classic SF. The list is subjective, and writer Christopher Priest is given space for disagreement in the Foreword in the same way that readers are bound to differ according to their own tastes and experiences. It is not a 'best of' but rather an overview of the thematic breadth of science fiction writing. Having read a fair number of the novels included, I feel that the authors have succeeded in their aim - a notable feat given the immense amount of material to chose from. S Gunduz appears to be looking for a different book, one which he/she may find somewhere but not one which bears any relation to what the authors of this one set out to do. I see that 100 Must Read SF Novels has had three print runs so far. It 'does what it says on the tin' and it does so extremely well.
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on 27 March 2013
This book is like having a super enthusiastic sci-fi loving friend sit down and recommend FANTASTIC novels to you. It gives a flavour of the book and themes without giving away the plot. It has helped me delve deeper into this amazing genre. I would give the author 5 stars for the content.


The gripe I have is to do with the KINDLE formatting. Surely an A-Z guide should allow the reader to skip from book to book in alphabetical order. This does not. Seriously - the publishers should load up the ebook and try to browse the 100 books. There is no easy way of seeing the names of the recommendations. Frustrating isn't it? Guidebooks are all about accessibility and ease of use. It should have a proper contents page at the very least. Tut tut.
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on 18 October 2006
This is great book. And such a joy to flick through. It somehow manages to give brilliant reviews of the 100 novels you should read to give yourself a decent grounding in the world of science fiction literature. It is listed by author and along side the usual familiar names, and many gems here, there are long-forgotten (by me that is) classics as well as many novels I'd never heard of. I look forward to reading K. W Jeter's Dr Adder & Barry N. Malzburg's Guernica Night.

This book also lists a further 500 recommendations and you will need to believe there is a very long future just to get through them all.

The great thing about a list like this is that there's always stuff you can disagree with. I mean why isn't Stranger in a Strange Land there or Cyrano de Bergerac's two space travel books? But that's the fun of this - you can debate the inclusions and the exceptions. But these guys certainly know their stuff and unless you've read them all you can't really have a say.

There is a also a glossary to help the novice, a list of award winners and some really cool "Read On a Theme" lists such as top female authors, black authors, books that became films and my favourite, Science Fiction Rock and Roll - which is music I know, but it's still cool.

There is also a marvellous introduction as well and one of the best definitions of sci-fi (oops, sorry) SF I have ever read. It makes me want to drag all those old PKD novels out of the cupboard and blow off the dust.

This book should be a must-read itself. For all current science fiction fans. And those aspiring to be.
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on 25 September 2009
As a dyed-in-the-wool hard-core SF enthusiast I treated this Christmas gift with suspicion and skepticism. How could 100 books be squeezed into this little volume?

Well of course they cannot, but we are given 100 introductions, synopses, teasers, tasters, and I found myself warming to it because several books I had passed by in the bookshop were revealed to be slightly more tempting, and the words about the books I already owned and loved agreed with my own feelings. The sets of lists of other titles to consider are brief but very useful, and well worth browsing.
It also gave me enough info to decide to avoid a few I might have bought by mmistake.

So if you wish to run the risk of buying a hundred books (or more) that you had not previously considered then buy this one first. It will inform your choice.

For an alternative approach to lists of SF you might also consider the 1984 Complete Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Lists by Jakubowski and Edwards, less info, but many, many more top titles of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
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on 21 November 2013
Most helpful and easy to use.An informative guide of quality.A must for all sci-fi fans and
well worth it's money.I wish there were more of this kind.
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on 8 July 2013
No guide like this will satisfy everyone. Experienced SF readers will long for their own favourites and newcomers may frankly be underwhelmed by some recommendations. But as good a guide as is available on the market. Accessible, concise, giving a flavour of the richness, schools and debates that SF has and mus continue to provoke. Excellent.
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on 5 March 2007
or anyone developing an interest in the field.

Extensive, well researched and with the right amount of leftfield entries not to patronise anyone who already classes as an SF expert while simultaneously being accessible enough to encourage anyone with an interest in reading more widely than the bestsellers in the genre.

Superbly put together by people who cleary know and love their stuff - the passion comes through and really makes you want to go and raid the library or bookshop.

I'm going to be busy for years!
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