Hence, here is a small list of speculative fiction works -- old and not so old -- that seem to be widely unread. I'm not saying that everyone has to "like" these books, but I feel that one cannot call themselves SFF fans if they haven't given these novels/series a shot.After which, with two exceptions, only epic fantasies are named.
Does this mean that those of us who aren't as enamored with epic fantasies (I like a few, but many on lists such as that of Pat's are dreck in my not-quite-humble opinion) and have never really cared to try anything else that might have the whiff of Tolkien about it (not me personally, but others have stated this in the past) are not SFF fans?
So in a teasing spirit, I present you, dear gentle/arrogant/non-SFF fan reader with a few books that should have been added to a list such as that:
Frank Herbert, Dune - One of the all-time bestselling SF novels got no love over there, so I'll give it some here. I like this book so much that I bought Spanish and Serbian translations of it so I could quote the "Fear is the mindkiller" mantra to natives of those languages. Plus the story is one that has a great many layers to it.
China Miéville, Perdido Street Station - It's weird, it's not pastoral/questy, and the prose is a brilliant mess. In other words, it ain't no fuckin' Hobbit trapasing through the liliacs story! Or something like that, for those of you regulars reading this who haven't been under a rock the past decade...
Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun (series) - I've spent a lot of time this past autumn discussing his major works, so just do a search in November and December 2007 for all the reasons why I enjoyed these books and think that they are a must-read for a great many SFF fans.
Ursula Le Guin, Earthsea (series); The Left Hand of Darkness; The Dispossessed - It was a criminal oversight on Pat's list, so if you haven't sampled her work, sample it!
Samuel Delany, Dhalgren - This was the proverbial mindfuck of a novel when it was released around 40 years ago. It still is and well worth the effort spent trying to grasp just what in the fuck was happening.
Roger Zelazny, The Great Book of Amber (omnibus) - Zelazny wrote some terrific stories in these 10 collected Amber novels. It occupies a space that touches the borders between heroic/epic fantasy, SF, and "simple" adventure novels, told in a fashion that makes (at least for the first 5 novels) for a well-paced and thought-out story arc.
Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End - Despite the acclaims he received for the Odyssey series, I found this standalone to be the best of his work. It's a metaphor of sorts for the crisis that our "modern civilizations" face and the conclusions are still disturbing, more than 50 years after it was written.
And there are doubtless countless dozens more that I could add to such a list, but since I'm not really huffed about any of this, I'll let others add works to such a list, keeping in mind that it most certainly shall not approach the size of this. That list alone can occupy any dedicated SFF fan (see, we don't make, even in a joking fashion, claims that those who haven't read X aren't members of Y here!) for years, if not decades. And that being said, time to finish the final 7 cantos of Orlando Furioso before I revise one review and begin writing another.