NPR’s Recent Top 100 List


Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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19 Responses

  1. Plinko says:

    I would think this is exactly the kind of thing that could draw 300 comments in the main page. People love arguing about lists.Report

  2. Patrick Cahalan says:

    It’s less about the particular list, which I don’t analyze much, and the meta process of constructing such a list.

    I’m still getting a feel for cross-posting stuff. It feels weird.Report

  3. Tom Van Dyke says:

    The Stars My Destination–Alfred Bester
    Stand on Zanzibar—John Brunner
    Dying Inside—Robert Silverberg

    Bester in particular is stunning. Also wrote The Demolished Man and some killer short stories. His pages not only sing, they zing!

    Brunner, not so much a poet as a stylist, and Zanzibar [1968] is monstrously prophetic.

    Norman Niblock House. House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of the all-powerful corporations. Using his “Afram” (African American) heritage to advance his position, he has risen to vice-president at age twenty-six.

    Not bad, esp as the novel’s set in 2010…

    As for Silverberg, he had an uncanny run of about 10 exc sci-fi novels c. 1970. He later turned to fantasy, which ain’t my bag, altho his Lord Valentine’s Castle and the ensuing “Majipoor” series is probably what he’s best known for today.

    Thought I’d get in an early $0.02.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      The Stars My Destination is really an awesome book. I haven’t read “Stand”, it’s one of the Hugo winners I haven’t gotten around to yet. “Dying” gets inversion award: usually telepathy stories focus around the telepath getting *stronger*, not vice-versa.

      You should check out the post, TvD.Report

      • Oh, Pat, I did check the list—Those are my noted and notable lacunae [word of the day].

        BTW, I picked these for their stature in Sci-Fi history as well: Zanzibar won the Hugo in 1968 and is called “a little-acknowledged forerunner of cyberpunk”; Dying Inside I took to be Silverberg’s best-known and most acclaimed sci-fi, but I see he won the Hugo for Time of Changes, which I prefer and even had him autograph.

        As for Alfred Bester, there was a time when no top sci-fi author could speak of the greats without speaking of Bester as the ne plus ultra of the craft and among their influences. Wiki says even Stephen King “references The Stars My Destination in several works.” I see also the psychic cop in Babylon 5 is named “Baster” in tribute [per “The Demolished Man”].

        And yeah, sure, I also like these books. 😉

        Another interesting list—Bester is mentioned by 2 different modern authors, Not bad for a guy who did his best work c. 1960, before “the modern age”:

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      The world has come to an end, because I agree that these three are all magnificent.Report

  4. Tod Kelly says:

    Lists like this are hard to do. For example, I agree with Patrick that in addition to be good, you need to have had an impact to make it too a list like this.

    But I’d still have to put Towing Jehovah by James Morrow in my top 10, maybe even top 5, even though I have yet to meet anyone who has read it.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      There’s a reason why I give the most points to, “Hey, did *I* like the fishing thing, or not??”

      Otherwise, you’re not admitting that the list is really about your preference. Pure objectivism is a silly endeavor, here.Report

  5. wardsmith says:

    The problem with popularity contests like this is they are most effective at measuring the current milieu’s temperature. Great works of literature such as you mentioned in the other OP that have clearly stood the test of time may not even make the next 100 list at all, squeezed out by the currently popular.

    Compare it to music. Asked to name your top 10 works of music, would anything classical even make it? Yet it is “classic” /because/ it has stood the test of time. My brother went to Julliard, I assure you there are tons of obscure composers and works out there that only a music major would ever see, and for good reason. Not everyone is a Bach, but I’d sure hate to see Bach pushed out by Britney.

    I overheard some kids talking about how John Stockton shouldn’t even be on the list of top 50 basketball players. Thanks to one of their iPhone’s, I was able to quickly show that Stockton owns not one but TWO unbreakable records and is pretty damn high up there in a bunch of other categories. But being kids and captives of modern media, they were unaware of the “old guy’s” accomplishments.Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    The short story vs epic saga thing is the first thing I thought of when perusing the list before reading the post. (when I got to Flowers for Algernon, possibly the best short fiction of all time. Dune, also, which as you and others have said, stands alone)

    Poul Anderson continues to be a vastly underheralded and underrecognized science fiction writer.

    The order of the Heinlein books is completely backwards.

    The only other thing to add is that if they could get King and Piers Anthony(!) (although at 99) (and Conan!) on this list, they could have got Michael Crichton.Report