New Meta-Lists: Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature of All Time

Readers of what the book publishing business snobbily refers to as “literary fiction” sometimes forget that there is a great deal of excellent literature in the various forms of what book publishers call “genre fiction.”  Two of the most popular genres are science fiction and fantasy, and so I decided to go through the Internet and find lists of the best books in each category and create meta-lists from those original source lists.  Listers often lump the two genres together, but I tried to keep them separated.  One of the key distinguishing features between science fiction and fantasy is that fantasy often has elements of magic or supernatural forces, while science fiction normally stays within the realm of what is scientifically possible.  Science fiction is usually (but not always) focused on the future, while fantasy fiction often takes place in a mythical past.  Here are the new meta-lists:

Best Science Fiction Books of All Time
Best Fantasy Books of All Time

Note that Make Lists, Not War has not neglected science fiction and fantasy in its other lists.  For example, in the list of Best Literature of All Time, the following sci-fi or fantasy books were found on three or more of the original source lists:

Frankenstein (UK, 1818). By Mary Shelley (on 6 lists)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (UK, 1865). By Lewis Carroll (on 9 lists)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (France, 1870). By Jules Verne (on 4 lists)
The Time Machine (UK, 1895). By H.G. Wells (on 5 lists)
The War of the Worlds (UK, 1898). By H.G. Wells (on 7 lists)
Brave New World (UK, 1932). By Aldous Huxley (on 9 lists)
The Hobbit (UK, 1937). By J.R.R. Tolkein (on 3 lists)
Animal Farm (UK, 1945). By George Orwell (on 8 lists)
Titus Groan (UK, 1946). By Mervyn Peake (on 4 lists)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (UK, 1949). By George Orwell (on 15 lists)
Gormenghast (UK, 1950). By Mervyn Peake (on 4 lists)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (UK, 1950). By C.S. Lewis (on 3 lists)
Foundation (US, 1951). By Isaac Asimov (on 3 lists)
Day of the Triffids (UK, 1951). By John Wyndham (on 4 lists)
Lord of the Flies (UK, 1954). By William Golding (on 5 lists)
The Lord of the Rings (UK, 1953-1956). By J.R.R. Tolkein (on 6 lists)
Titus Alone (UK, 1959). By Mervyn Peake (on 3 lists)
A Clockwork Orange (UK, 1962). By Anthony Burgess (on 5 lists)
Cat’s Cradle (US, 1963). By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (on 3 lists)
Slaughterhouse-Five (US, 1969). By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (on 5 lists)
Neuromancer (US, 1984). By William Gibson (on 3 lists)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Canada, 1985). By Margaret Atwood (on 5 lists)
Harry Potter (series of 7 books) (UK, 1997-2007). By J.K. Rowling (on 3 lists)

2 thoughts on “New Meta-Lists: Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature of All Time

  1. ronniesmartwriter

    Thanks a lot for this. I’m pleased that my personal library has a lot of these. This further emphasizes for me the importance of Mervyn Peake’s novels in the development of fantasy fiction in the modern era.


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