Jim Baen’s Top Ten

Here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/1000017381/ref=amb_link_3780492_4/002-9328996-0576804

  1. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  2. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
  3. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
  4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert
  6. Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague deCamp
  7. Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
  9. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  10. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
All good, solid, no-argument-here picks from Jim Baen. He knew the field as well as anyone; indeed, he helped define the field.

I am glad to see CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY on this list. It is really Heinlein’s strongest work, and the least preachy.

STRANGER IN A STRANGE BED has not held up on rereading for me. The inhabited Mars was out-of-date when he wrote it, and the social-sexual-religious mores portrayed in the book (may I say propagandized by the book?) have not stood the test of time. One cannot crack the pages without thinking: “How quaint! An artifact from the vanished civilization of the Summer of Love.”

DUNE is still the book I would hand to any muggle if I wanted to introduce them to science fiction. Since our genre is entirely concerned with the new ideas and latest technologies of the unimaginable far future, of course we read mostly about the Late Roman Empire in Space where aristocrats fight with swords and daggers. But Frank Herbert handles all these themes adroitly, telling a griping tale of intrigue and religious revolution.

He also lists solid contributions from Wells, Verne, and Clarke. Any top ten Best SF list lacking these names is not serious.

Nothing by A.E. van Vogt? I am a little surprised. De Camp and Miller have done good work, to be sure, but are the books listed here more significant to SF than SLAN or WORLD OF NULL-A?