The parameters for this SF & Fantasy list are that the works have elements of the “not of this earth” variety. Horror qualifies as Fantasy, but only if it has supernatural or phantasmagorical assumptions. Pet Sematary is fantasy, but Gerald's Game (alas, my favorite King novel) is not. Criticism needs to work within a structure of agreement to be a useful tool in the communication of ideas. Bounding a conceptualization is not meant to restrict it, but to understand it better. I believe like should be compared to like; that is, a fantasy novel need only wrestle within its own weight class to qualify. Is War and Peace a better novel than The Forever War? Judgment must rely upon an acknowledged context for there to be a "Best of" anything.
I have tried to keep away from “The Classics”, especially older tomes like Stapleton's Star Maker or Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Verne, ER Burroughs, Howard, Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho & Lewis' The Monk, because, quite frankly, I don't enjoy reading them as much as the more contemporary works. I will, however, list historical works I feel are overlooked (like The Odyssey, right?) and are worthy of re-evaluation, or, are still just fun to read.
This is really a list of authors, not titles. With the exception of Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, and Fritz Leiber, I have tried to list my favorite book with suggestions to further works of interest.
The second list, entitled "Reviews & Readings", is the ongoing sifting necessary to unmud the jewels. Just because it's not a masterpiece doesn't mean it isn't a good read. And, there are also a smattering of asides I've labeled "rants", since they are more personal, irate foamings than valid criticism.
I hope you find my list provoking and that you discover some new favorites.
Beyond the last decade when I penned these criteria guidelines, most of my reads have ended up in the "Reviews & Readings" bin. That's because I've been off my boundaries for too long to maintain a strict Fantasy diet. And, as of 2017, I declare the Crawford List of the Best SF & Fantasy Works to be irrevocably stagnant. Over the years I've lost interest in Fantasy
© copyright 2005 by Larry Crawford