L&Cs: Yet Another All-Time Novel List

Just discovered, at 4:45pm, that I don’t have time for anything substantial this evening; we’re having guests within half an hour. (Was going to write up Clarke’s RAMA. Maybe tomorrow.) So here’s a kind of link and comment I don’t usually post here.

Esquire, Adam Morgan, 11 March 2022: The 50 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, subtitled, “Fantasy is the oldest genre of literature, but its best release ever landed just six years ago.”

This is yet another list of all-time best science fiction or fantasy novels, this one from Esquire magazine, and compiled by someone named Adam Morgan, who is apparently a literary critic with various credentials, though he’s not known in the SF/F world.

The first point to be made is that I *collect* such lists, and integrate them. See on my SF awards site Citations, which compiles all manner of lists like this one, along with reader polls, general critical lists (like those from Modern Library) that happen to include SF/F works, and so on. But I see many more than I’ve included on this page, or in sfadb.com.

For instance, searching the web, there are a lot of lists that can be described “a list of favorite works by just some guy.” Some of these even get published by reputable sources, even though the “guy” (or gal) has no apparent expertise in the SF/F fields. And you can tell, usually, by the mix of obvious candidates of well known SF and F works, with outliers like obscure historical novels, or contemporary graphic novels, that are in no way considered by anyone the “best” or most “influential” works in their fields.

Another problem is that some of these lists are biased in terms of contemporary works the compiler has seen. This was a problem with last year’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time in Time Magazine, where half of the 100 have been published since the turn of the century, and numerous obvious earlier candidates somehow omitted. (Still, I compiled it anyway for sfadb.com.)

This Esquire list betrays a similar contemporary bias in that the compiler has chosen, for his #1 pick, a novel published only 6 years ago. (And at least 5 of the other top 10 in his list are 21st century novels.) He must feel very lucky to be living so close to the publication of some of the best fantasy books of all time.

Of course, Facebook commentators about this list pointed out obvious omissions.

I am still working *composite* lists of all-time SF and F novels, to be posted on sfadb.com, using a blend of many sources to try to balance out their individual biases. Coming soon.

OK, that was 20 minutes.

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