THE CRAWFORD LIST OF 107 ALL-TIME BEST SF & FANTASY WORKS
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TITLE
AUTHOR
YEAR
PREFERRED EDITION*
COMMENTS
The Drowning Girl
Kiernan, Caitlin R. 2012 ROC (9780451464163)
Imp (the protag) transcends elusive narration and shuffles our deck of realities.
In Delirium's Circle
Clark, Stephen J. 2012
Egaeus Press (9780957160613)
A debut novel that breaks all my rules of entry. It's that good.
The Silent Land
Joyce, Graham 2010
Doubleday (9780385533805)
The etheral, the intangible is as much a wonderment as it is a noose around one's neck. Early work is Horror; later, an enchantment.
The Terror
Simmons, Dan
2007
Little, Brown (0316017442)
Although some might object to its date raping of History, it's more about what we should've learned from this most disastrous of human expeditions.
The Road
McCarthy, Cormac
2006
Knopf (03072655439)
Death is the major issue in the world. For you, for me, for all of us. It just is. ** Cormac McCarthy, 2005
The Black Angel
Connolly, John 2005
Hodder & Stoughton UK (0340837659)
Written as a detective procedural and classified as a Crime Thriller, but this is Horror, mucker, especially if you have traditional religious beliefs. Also, Wanderer in Unknown Realms
Year of Our War, The
Swainston, Steph
2004
Gollancz UK (0575070056)
1st of the Fourlands trilogy, followed by No Present Like Time & The Modern World. Immortality vs. an Insect-like life.
Perfect Circle
Stewart, Sean
2004
Small Beer Press (1931520070)
The essence of living is the target here, fired at with dead people as bullets. Also, Mockingbird
Mortal Love
Hand, Elizabeth
2004
Morrow (0061051705)
Exploring the brumous terrian of Mythology in a HumVee called Art. Follow with Generation Loss & its sequel Available Dark
The Rope Eater
Jones, Ben
2003
Doubleday (0385509774)
Debut novel, only novel, using 19th Cent., Artic exploration as agar plate to test man's limits of his own imagination and capacities

The Scar

Mieville, China

2002

MacMillan (0333781740);

Start w Perdido Street Station & read everything. See City & the City & Kraken.

Lullaby
Palahniuk, Chuck
2002
Doubleday (0385504470); Jonathan Cape, (0224063014)
Until I read Fight Club as Tim suggests, this is it. There is also a review of Invisible Monsters and Choke on the Non-List Review page.
The Night Class
Piccirilli, Tom
2001
Shadowlands (1930595026); Leisure (0843951257), 2002
Here's a dark session in Despair 101. Also, look to November Mourns. Lately he's turned more Crime w So Gothic influences than Horror
Ash: A Secret History
Gentle, Mary 2000
Gollancz (0575069007); Gollancz 0575069015
An anti-romantic Medieval page-turner that re-directs demarcations between History and Myth. Or, you can start her with Golden Witchbreed and just keep going. NO REVIEW

A Friend of the Earth

Boyle, TC

2000

Viking (0670891770)

A EOTW (end of the world) SciFi entry from the Robbins-Irving school of writing

Punktown

 

Thomas, Jeffrey

 

2000

 

Ministry of Whimsy Press, Florida

The lawless melting pot of an alien colony city is of less interest in these festering short stories that scrape at the innards of humanity.

A Game of Thrones

Martin, George R.R.

1996

Voyager (0002245841)

In a Heroic Fantasy series, the intro novel. Read his SF, especially the novella A Song for Lya

Deus-X

Citro, Joseph

1994

Twilight (0963858513)

A quirky, kitchen-sink kinda Horror read w literary thematic content.

Skin
Koja, Kathe
1993
Delacorte (038530899X); Dell (0440211158)
This is her 3rd novel, but you might start with her 1st, The Cipher, to get comfortable with her stunning prose style. Rarely does such a unique voice resonate in your brain.

Snow Crash

Stephenson, Neal

1992

Bantam (344223686X); Bantam (0553351923)

A good example of post-Neuromancer, with less churning angst & more quirky cultivation, although Cryptonomicon could be the crown jewel.

Stations of the Tide
Swanwick, Michael
1991
Morrow (0688104517); Avon (0380715244), 1992
A scrutiny of information and its effects, really, whether it be legend, science, fact, or magic. For Fantasy, look up Iron Dragon's Daughter.
Boy's Life
McCammon, Robert R.
1991
Pocket Books (0671742264)
The early works are feverblisters of audacious explosions. This later novel subs more magic for malice, achieving that Bradburyian heartbeat. Later work are historical mainstreamers or born-again horror crap. See The Border & The Five

Dream Baby

McAllister, Bruce

1989
Tor (0312931972); Tor (0812510984)

Paranormalacy & Vietnam, an idiosyncratic gem.

The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini

Dobyns, Stephen

1988

Viking (0670819808); Penguin (0140105670), 1989

Stretching the guidelines, I admit, but has aspects of Magic Realism

 

Watchers
Koontz, Dean R.
1987
Putnam (0399132635)
Yeah, this is the one with the dog. It is also Koontz's fav & rightly so, but don't miss his other quirky, cross-threaded hallucinations from Horror's Golden Age of the 80s, like The Bad Place, my fav. Go here for a very limited Koontz retrospective 1980-1991 here.

Ash Wednesday

Williamson, Chet

1987

Tor (031293002X); Tor (0812527208) 1989

What if dead people showed up where they died? What does it take to get rid of your ghosts?

Replay

Grimwood, Ken

1986

Arbor (0877957819); Berkley (0425106403) 1988

Much better than Groundhog Day.

Perfume

Suskind, Patrick

1986

Knopf (0394550846); Pocket (0671643703) 1987

More akin to Vampire rather than Serial Killer novels. A Historical Novel as a contemporary fairy tale.

The Vampire Lestat

Rice, Ann

1985

Knopf (0394534433); Ballantine (0345313860) 1986

Probably read Interview as a warm-up, then quit after Queen

White Noise

Delillo, Don

1985

Viking (0670803731); Penguin (0140077022) 1991

Tour-de-force of future suburban living

Blood Music

Bear, Greg

1985

Arbor (0877957207 ); Ace (0441067964) 1986

A good example of the Viral Horror Novel.

Dark Gods
Klein, T.E.D.
1985
Viking (0670805904)
1 novel and 14 stories are all we have from this guy, who, I guess, said what he had to say, then quit. This is Horror from the Blindside in 4 novellas, with Creepiness to Follow.
Cast A Cold Eye
Ryan, Alan
1984
Dark Harvest 0913165034
Ghosts w an historical bite; he shines in short format, The Back of Beyond & novella Amazonas ; subtle bites that creep under your skin.
Green Eyes
Shepard, Lucius
1984
Ace (0441302742)
Shines mostly in short stories & novellas; brilliant weavings of magic & horror into mundane life; try Louisiana Breakdown, Viator, see Short Story page.
She Wakes
Ketchum, Jack
1984

Berkley (0425114538) PBO; Cemetery Dance (1587670658), 2003

Originally titled The Huntress, it took 8 months to write & 4 years to sell this Gods-walk-among-us tale. Don't be fooled—it's Horror. Also, I'm Not Sam & The Crossings & Old Flames/Right to Life.
Viriconium
Harrison, M. John
1984
Gollancz' Millennium imprint (1857989953) 2000
This Fantasy series of 3 novels & a short story collection was started in 1971. No way back to the Shire here, Frodo.

The Glamour

Priest, Christopher

1984

Cape, UK (0224022741); Sphere, UK (0349128103) 1985

If everybody's invisible, how do you know who's talking? UK ending superior to US version. Try The Extremes for a different take.

Mythago Wood

Holdstock, Robert

1984

Gollancz, UK (0877957614); Grafton, UK (0586065857) 1986

Don't play in the woods, Boys!

Books of Blood

Barker, Clive

1984

Sphere, UK, PBO; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, UK

6 volumes of short stories. Not to be missed as opposed to anything he wrote afterwards. Okay, look at his 1st novel, The Damnation Game & the novella Chiliad, he's maturing.

Pet Sematary

King, Stephen

1983

Doubleday (0385182449); Signet (0451150244) 1984

The scariest of his supernatural horror phase. Recent work reviewed: Cell, & Lisey's Story, & 'Salem's Lot & Full Dark, No Stars & Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Startide Rising

Brin, David

1983

Bantam (1857233727) PBO; Phantasia Press (0932096387) 1985

Dolphins running starships. Grand Space Opera. Also look at Sundiver, The Uplift War Trilogies, Existence

The Anubis Gates
Powers, Tim
1983
Ace (0441023800) PBO ; Chatto & Windus: London , 1985
Time traveling & character shifting so plot-thick and imaginative that you need to read it in as few sittings as possible. The Non-List Review page crits Dinner at Deviant's Palace & On Stranger Tides also.
The Elementals
McDonald, Michael 1981
Fontana UK (0006166407)
Adding style and intelligence to the supernatural splurge by de-tuning the Thriller format. Earlier novels are The Amulet & Cold Moon Over Babylon.

The Snow Queen

Vinge, Joan

1981

Dial Press; Dell (0440177499), 1984

Grand alien world building

Valis

Dick, PK

1981

Bantam, PBO; Kerosina, UK (0948893168) 1987

The profundities of a racing mind going into the final turn. Besides, Ben's reading it on Lost, Season 4. Also, A Maze of Death

The Unreasoning Mask

Farmer, Philip Jose

1981

GP Putnam (0399126732) Berkley , 1983 (0425055515)

Grand-scale antics, like saving the Pluriverse, and, in the process, discovering God's hidden metaphysics.

Island of Dr Death

Wolfe, Gene

1980

Pocket Books (067182824x) PBO

All of the early novellas are great, especially 5th Head of Cerberus + the New Sun tetralogy is a classic of Fantasy

Land of Laughs

Carroll, Jonathan

1980

Viking (0670417556); Ace(0441469876) 1983

Thoughts can determine reality, literally.

The Nightwalker

Tessier, Thomas

1979

Atheneum (0689110588); Signet (0451097203), 1981

1st person narrative of discovering lycanthropy. Also, Finishing Touches, Wicked Things

Ghost Story

Straub, Peter

1979

Coward, McCann & Geoghegan (0698109597); Pocket, 1980

“I won't tell you that, but I'll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me…” More Straub: The Skylark, & lost boy lost girl, & Ballad of Ballard & Sangrine,

The Persistence of Vision
Varley, John
1978
Dial Press (0803768664) Dell, 1979 (F316)
The 1st short story collection. Continue with more short stories in The Barbie Murders. Novels? Try Titan, 1st of a trilogy inhabiting an alien artifact, which seems to be a genre in itself.

Our Lady of Darkness

Lieber, Fritz

1977

Berkley (399118721); Berkley (042503660X), 1978

Does San Francisco have a face? A name? A will? Some say Conjure Wife should be the Horror entry.

The Stand

King, Stephen

1977

Doubleday (0385121687); Signet (0451150678), 1980

It's as if Dickens discovered his hidden graveyard humor and wrote an EOTW novel. Recent work reviewed: Cell & Lisey's Story & 'Salem's Lot & Full Dark, No Stars & Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

The Game Players of Zan

Foster, M.A.

1977

DAW #236 (0879972874), PBO

A fantastic social/culture alien presence with one of the best plot puzzlers in all of SF.

Triton

Delaney, Sam

1976

Bantam (Y2567), PBO; Gregg Press (0839823711), 1977

Follow with Nova, Dhalgren & take the time to find his short story collection, Driftglass

Cold Hand in Mine
Aickman, Robert 1975 Gollancz, UK, 1975
enigmatic, haughty, and forever bewildering, there's always enough clues, but they never seem to add up to a satisfactory explanation.

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

Tiptree, James Jr.

1974

Arkham (0870541609) 1990

This is the best collection of her short stories and she's at her best in the short form. Make sure to read A Momentary Taste of Being for its deathlink to sex musings. See Tales of the Quintana Roo.

The Mote in God's Eye

Niven & Pournelle

1974

Simon & Schuster (0671218336)

The tag team for hard science pageturners. Lucifer's Hammer is their EOTW magnum opus, but forget the abominable Oath of Fealty. Try Ringworld, Niven's homage to the ultimate alien artifact.

Walk to the End of the World

Charnas, Suzy McKee

1974

Ballantine (23788) PBO

The re-invention of the bio/social order/world modeled on 70s feminist doctrine. While its' ideas seem silly at 1st, the characters refuse any mockery. Through 4 novels, Motherlines, The Furies, & The Conqueror's Child. Also, The Vampire Tapestry is masterful.

Watership Down
Adams, Richard
1972
Rex Collins Ltd UK
Outside of Fairy or Children's tales, there's not many brainy bunny stories out there. This is the best.
A Choice of Gods
Simak, Clifford D.
1972
GP Putnam; Berkley (02412), 1973
This wonderful pastoral vision is about living on the Earth without owning it, with some interesting ponderings about robots & Gods. Non-List Page has The Werewolf Principle , Our Children's Children & Ring Around The Sun

100 Years of Solitude

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia

1970

 

Fills you with a sense of magic that cannot be described or condensed.

The Year of the Quiet Sun

Tucker, Wilson

1970

Ace (94200) PBO

The inherent oddities of time travel wrapped in a EOTW novel. Big on characterization and a chilling similarity to present-day politics. And they only go forward to 2000!

Slaughterhouse 5

Vonnegut, Kurt

1969

 

Don't miss his early short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House

Bug Jack Barron

Spinrad, Jack

1969

 

Probably weak today, but it im-pressed me 30 years ago. Some people point to The Void Captain's Tale .

Left Hand of Darkness

LeGuinn, Ursula

1969

 

You can't go wrong with The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, The Earthsea Trilogy, or The Word for World is Forest either

Fourth Mansions

Lafferty, RA

1969

 

His sense of humor, satire, improbable juxtapositions, and quirky outrageousness is not to be missed. To make sure you won't meld too permanently into his insanity, try a small shock of the early short story collections, 900 Grandmothers & Strange Doings.

A Boy & His Dog

Ellison, Harlan

1969

Avon; New American Library, 1974

Ellison will punch you in the gut. And he hits hard. Novella from The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World. Any of the short story collections of the ‘60s & ‘70s. As editor, Dangerous Visions.

The Lankhmar Series
Leiber, Fritz
1938-1988
all Ace PBOs, except last grouping The Knight & Knave of Swords (068808530x)

The lusty, swashbuckling, and magical antics of 2 distinctly American heroes by the man who defined the Sword and Socery genre

The Teachings of Don Juan

Castaneda, Carlos

1968

 

Read w second in series, A Separate Reality. It's still debatable whether this is fact or fantasy. You decide.

Rosemary's Baby
Levin, Ira
1967
Random House; Dell (7509), 1968
A rare instance where the film version stands as tall as its source material. Besides the urban paranoia of bad neighbors, this one shows Humor (satire, wit, irony) can inhabit Horror's dark corner, too. More of the same in The Stepford Wives.

Stand on Zanzibar

Brunner, John

1966

 

Master of the dystopia, Zanzi's overpopulation, The Sheep Look Up is pollution, The Jagged Orbit is racism, Shockwave Rider, the coming computer age. Pick your poison.

Dune

Herbert, Frank

1965

 

It's on every SF list ever created and unequivocally deserving of being there. But don't bother with the sequels.

The Magus

Fowles, John

1965

 

Does it really belong on this list? Who cares? Imagination and curiosity of this caliber cannot be bound.

Tales of Terror and the Unknown

Blackwood, Algernon

1964

 

Great campfire stories, especially The Willows & The Wendigo

Man in the High Castle

Dick, PK

1962

 

Possibly the most visionary if not paranoid SF writer of all time. If you read only one Alt History novel, this is it. Also, A Maze of Death

The Drowned World
Ballard, J.G.
1962
Berkley (F655) PBO; Gollancz, UK
A saturnine vision of the world gone wet, & man's place in it usurped. Then try the world gone gemstone in The Crystal World

Stranger in a Strange Land

DELISTED

RELISTED

Heinlein. Robert

AS OF

AS OF

1961

9/3/2011

 

11/30/2012

 

I'M NOT 14

ANYMORE

HOW CAN YOU

Okay, okay, I need to read more Heinlein. After Starship Troopers, no, I don't.

 

SAY SF&F W/0 HIM? Okay, but I'm warning you, you might wake up with pimples.

Solaris

Lem, Stanislaw

1961

 

So wonderful, different, scary, and profound, there's nothing to say about it but read it.

A Fine & Private Place

Beagle, Peter

1960

 

Some people like The Last Unicorn better

Haunting of Hill House, The
Jackson, Shirley
1959
Viking Press
The consummate possession-by-a-ghost-house story, many times borrowed, most notably The Shining. The horror is off the page and in your imagination, so don't answer when called "Eleanor".

Canticle for Liebowitz, A

DE-LISTED

RE-LISTED

Miller, Walter

AS OF

AS OF

1959

11/21/2010

01/21/2013

FOR

FOR

A rote choice I haven't read in a long time. Is it really that good? COLLECTING TOO MUCH DUST

BEING A CLASSIC, PERIOD.

The Big Time

DE-LISTED

Leiber, Fritz

AS OF

1958

01/21/2013

Ace (D-491) PBO 1961 ; Gregg Press, 1976

2 ENTRIES IS

An example that SF can be Literature and a mesmerizing read to boot.

ENOUGH FOR LEIBER

Nine Horrors and a dream

DE-LISTED

Brennan, Joseph Payne

AS OF

1958

01/21/2013

Arkham House, 1958

OTHER WORKS

melancholic and scary, sentimental horror, where the terror is not in frightening, but in its untethering.

A DISAPPOINTMENT.

Pincher Martin

Golding, William

1956

Faber & Faber, UK;

Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, read them all

Ficciones

Borges, Jorge Luis

1956

 

Short stories also included in Labyrinths collection, except for The South which is a must-read.

No Blade of Grass

Christopher, John

1956

“The Death of Grass”, Michael Joseph:UK Avon (S-288), 1967

How can you justify murder & looting, even in times of extreme chaos? A rather grim & cynical look at what happens to humanity when it gets hungry. Quite contemporary, even though it doesn't have any zombies in it.

The Stars My Destination
Bester, Alfred
1956
Signet (S-1389) PBO, 1957 after Galaxy Mag serial
It's a travesty that Gully Foyle is not as recognizable as Hans Solo. Get smug. Say it. Gully! Gully!
I Am Legend
Matheson, Richard
1954
Fawcett Gold Medal (417) PBO; Walker & Co (0802755240), 1970
I conjure that Romero couldn't get the film rights, so he created Night of the Living Dead instead. One of the darkest takes on societal mores you'll ever read.

The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien, JRR

1954

 

Don't you DARE settle for the movie.

Childhood's End

Clark, Sir Arthur

1953

 

Ah Karellen, where are you now that we really need you? Also, Rendezvous w Rama.

The Day of the Triffids

Wyndham, John

1951

Michael Joseph; London; Popular Library (411), 1952

EOTW where most everybody goes blind then get menaced by saguaros that think they're Zombies. It's a little Tech-Goes-Bad with Nature-on-the-Revenge fun. Try The Midwich Cuckoos and The Kraken Wakes, too.

Earth Abides

Stewart, George

1949

Random House;

I'm sorry, but most of the Bay Area could stand a makeover.

1984

Orwell, George

1949

 

Regarding modern politics & media, this one set the bar until globalization took over.

Track of the Cat
Clark, Walter Van Tilburg
1949
Random House
A unique & riveting insertion of the Supernatural into a classic Western theme.
The Dark Carnival
Bradbury, Ray
1947
Arkham House
Find a bibliography. Close your eyes. Let your fingers choose. This is his 1st collection. It was reprinted in 1955 as The October Country. For a novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes is it.

The Gormenghast Trilogy

Peake, Mervin

1946

Eyre & Spottiswoode, UK

Admittedly running out of juice by the 3rd volume, this is a tangled snake pit of a tale with lots of bite to it.

The Best of C. L. Moore
Moore, C. L.
1946
Nelson Doubleday, SFBC, c.1975
In pulp mags, she created the first female action hero in Fantasy, and that's the least of her accomplishments.
Out of Space & Time
Smith, Clark Ashton
1942
Arkham House
A visceral horror/fantasy imagination & stunning use of language keep him still unmatched today.

The Outsider & Others

Lovecraft, HP

1939

Arkham House

Again, read the short stories, not the novels, adding the earlier collections The Dunwich Horror & The Colour Out of Space

Voyage to Arcturus

Lindsay, David

1920

Methuen & Co, UK

A rare SF Allegorical Fable. Or is it?

The House on the Borderland
Hodgson, William Hope
1908
Chapman & Hall
The bridge between Lucifer and Cthulhu.
Dracula
Stoker, Bram
1897
Archibald Constable & Co, UK
Its concern with tradition and folklore swallowed by emerging innovation and technology remains surprisingly tempered and pragmatic, as the modern sensibility seeks solace in the myths of media. Reading Dracula today is an act of condescension, if not humility.
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Wells, H. G.
1896
Heinemann, UK
Probably not as popular as War of the Worlds or The Time Machine, but it's revealed horror seems more poignant as man strides forward, thinking he's more sophisticated merely because he's continuing on. NO REVIEW
The Three Imposters
Machen, Arthur
1895
John Lane, UK; Ballantine (026438125), 1972
Its idiosyncratic madness is as frustrating as it is brilliant. Also, The Great God Pan

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Poe, Edgar Allen

1839

 

All of the short stories, and don't forget Rue Morgue & Gold Bug, or the poetry, The Raven & Annabel Lee

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

Shelley, Mary

1818

 

Read it because what you think it is, it is not. You may be bored, but you'll also be surprised.

Macbeth

Shakespeare, William

1606

 

Because he's the greatest writer in English, period. There's witches in this one, right?

The Odyssey

Homer

8th Century BC

 

Proof that the Fantasy genre rose thru the hero's tales from Antiquity.

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*Entry order is 1st Edition Hardback publisher with ISBN or catalogue number in parenthesis. Italicized entry is 1st Paperback and noted if publishing year is different. All PBOs (paperback originals) are assigned and listed before the Hardback. Denoting 1sts is an inexact science at best, so please email me with mistakes seen or any suggestions. Book cover images are not meant to identify any particular edition, but used strickly for graphic appeal. crawfoto@silverlinksphotography.com

 

© copyright 2005 by Larry Crawford

updated 06/21/2007