SCIENCE FICTION: The 100 Best Novels by David--Ed. Pringle

SCIENCE FICTION: The 100 Best Novels

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From the editor of the British sf magazine Interzone: 100 frankly personal--i.e., often downright eccentric--selections, comprising two-page critiques of English-language sf novels; ordered chronologically they range from George Orwell's 1984 (1949) to William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984). There would seem to be several overabundances: of British entries (27, plus six more by American authors then or now resident in Britain), of Philip K. Dick (six), and J.G. Ballard (four). And of many omissions, the most glaring: Joe Haldeman's dazzling, nightmarish The Forever War. Some of the items here will provoke no dissent whatsoever: George R. Stewart's post-disaster yarn Earth Abides; Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man (telepathy); Ward Moore's alternate history, Bring the Jubilee; James Blish's religious dilemma, A Case of Conscience (though Pringle neglects to point out that while the first half is nigh perfect, the second half self-destructs); Ursula K. Le Guin's marvellous account of hermaphroditic humans, The Left Hand of Darkness; Joanna Russ' powerful, flawed, feminist polemic The Female Man; Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s brilliant post-nuclear A Canticle for Leibowitz; and others less famous but equally remarkable. Elsewhere, Pringle is waspish and arbitrary. He picks at minor flaws in Frank Herbert's fine Dune while ignoring Herbert's several magnificent non-Dune novels. He dislikes Isaac Asimov intensely, for no clearly defined reason, and chooses Asimov's best novel, The End of Eternity, apparently at random; the critique, too, passes over the novel's stellar virtues in order to relish the pulpish trappings. And he selects some very minor Robert A. Heinlein, overlooking that author's most revealing (Starship Troopers) and most provocative (Stranger in a Strange Land) works. Still other entries range from the interminable (J.G. Ballard's Crash) to the obscure (Damien Broderick's The Dreaming Dragons). In sum: for sf aficionados--the more knowledgeable the better--who love to argue.

Pub Date: July 26th, 1986
Publisher: Carroll & Graf