Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves

Here are twenty core Speculative Fiction Works it may surprise you to learn I’ve never read, chosen entirely on the basis of merit and significance to the field1. No implication is intended that these are the only twenty books you or for that matter I should consider2.

I’ve owned copies of some of these for a significant fraction of my life to date.

Persons unfamiliar with one or two of the works, congratulations! You’re one of today’s Ten Thousand! SO AM I. ALWAYS NEW FRONTIERS TO EXPLORE.

1: There are two filtering rules:

  • Only one work per author per list

  • Any given work by a particular author can appear on only one list. A given author may, however, have works on various lists but each instance of their work will be unique.



  • InterestedObserver99

    James - You read almost 200K words a day, and never read Oz? Do yourself a favor, suspend your cynicism, and read the first three or four. There are "better" books on the list (e.g., the Le Guin & Windling), but Oz underlies many American fairy tales in the same way (that Tolkien pointed out) that "fairie" is part of the European tradition.

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  • Chris Jordan

    Oz is much better read aloud. Find some young relation and go read it to them. Also, be careful what editions you read. Part of the charm of all the books after the first is the wonderful artwork by John R. Neill, which is not included in some later printings (I assume the text went out of copyright first).

    You may have missed your window a bit for enjoying the later books. I was a little sad when my much loved copy of "Lucky Bucky in Oz" was swept out to sea in a hurricane, my parents, not so much.

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    • Juliet Sutherland

      I tried to read The Wizard of Oz out loud to my children. I did quite a lot of reading aloud, but I found that one very hard to read. The writing was very choppy and didn't follow well. It's the only book I've ever read where the movie is Better than the book. I remember from my childhood that many of the later books were full of really awful puns but haven't gone back to verify that.

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  • Sarapen

    Hild isn't speculative fiction, it's entirely historical. It's told from the perspectives of characters who strongly believe in the supernatural and thus they ascribe intentionality to events we might call random chance. The book is careful not to answer the question of whether the supernatural doings are real but it's an unimportant distinction for the story. The belief of the characters is real and thus their world experiences real effects from things that may have no objective existence.

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