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My Top 10 List of Scifi/Fantasy Series (Way Off Topic)

Hey, this all came up on Twitter this morning. Ayende is complaining about the Wheel of Time going on until 2011, but I’ve got him beat.  *I’ve* been reading on that thing since ’90.

I simply have too much invested in the Wheel of Time to drop it or knock it down.  You know how so many people overlooked the fact that the last two seasons of Battlestar Galactica were utterly unwatchable (oh look, Kara is screaming and throwing a fit.  Again.  Oh look, Apollo is being angsty again.  Oh look, Tigh is being grumpy again)?  That’s how I am about the Wheel of Time.  Here’s my list in no particular order.

  1. The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
  2. The Black Company – Glenn Cook.
  3. Hyperion/Endymion – Dan Simmons
  4. Night’s Dawn Trilogy – Peter F. Hamilton (I like the Starflyer/Pandora’s Star series too, but it doesn’t make the cut)
  5. The Chronicles of Amber – Roger Zelazny. 
  6. A Song of Fire and Ice – George R R Martin.  Yes, I too think it’s a stronger written version of the WoT, but is suffering from the exact same problems in the last book.  There’s supposedly an HBO series in the works now.  Betcha it’ll be gritty.
  7. Death’s Gate Cycle – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  I think this is by far and away their strongest series
  8. Malazan Book of the Fallen – Steven Erickson.  Much, much better when you read them back to back.  Way too complex for a casual reader.  Takes true dedication.
  9. The Baroque Cycle – Neal Stephenson.  Barely qualifies, but there’s some fantastical elements with the Elihu Root character and Stephenson has to make the list
  10. The Dark Tower – Stephen King.  5 years later and I’ve finally come to grips with the way that the last book ended.  I think the Wizards and Glass book is my favorite single book in any of this.


Just Missed the Cut:

  1. The Revelation Space books – Alistair Reynolds
  2. The Lord of the Isles – David Drake.  Gets knocked for being repetitive
  3. The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone – Greg Keyes
  4. The Sword of Truth – Terry Goodkind.  I loved the first one when I read it in college.  I think it went downhill fast after the first one.  Used to be a nice filler between new Robert Jordan orGeorge R R Martin books.
  5. Some of the Shannara books, but I think they’re very hit and miss.  Loved the first couple when I was in grade school.  Surprisingly liked the Genesis of Shannara series from the last couple years.
  6. The Vlad Toltos books – Steven Brust
  7. The Swans War – Sean Russell
  8. The Banned and the Banished – James Clemens
  9. The Prince of Nothing – R. Scott Bakker.  Way too intellectual for bedtime reading, but still recommended
  10. The Ender novels
  11. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant- The Unbeliever – Stephen Donaldson


NOT on the list, but I loved all these when I was younger:

  1. The Lord of the Rings.  The prose and dialogue is absolutely ridiculous.  The world building is amazing, but the exclamations of the characters are just too silly.  I, *gasp*, like the movies better now.
  2. The Dragonlance Chronicles.  The original trilogy only.  IMHO, every other Dragonlance book that followed was just a little bit worse than the one before
  3. The Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen
  4. Anything that David Eddings wrote.  C’mon, you know you liked it when you were 12. 


Ok, let the total geekfest begin in the comments:

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at http://codebetter.com/jeremymiller.
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  • http://codebetter.com/members/jmiller/default.aspx Jeremy D. Miller

    @Sandy Place,

    Branden Sanderson of the Mistborn trilogy is finishing the last book of the WOT, which has become a trilogy instead of a single book. Look for another one in November.

  • Sandy Place

    A big thumbs up for Steven Erikson’s series Malazan Book of the fallen. I wonder what is happening with WOT now that Jordan (RIP) is gone?

  • http://WowGoldPig.com warcraft gold

    I’m a Stephen King fan, and the “The Dark Tower” is just amazing. I’m actually planning to read it again. :)

  • http://www.beautifulfutility.com Kevin Stevens

    List seems to be much more fantasy than SF (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    I would probably throw in the Riverworld series.

  • Gerry

    Recent offerings not yet mentioned, but probably to be enjoyed by those who like Erikson, Martin, Rothfuss, Bakker etc:
    David Anthony Durham’s Acacia series;
    Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora series;
    Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series.

    And some older beauties:
    Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series;
    Paul Kearney’s Monarchies of God series.

  • http://diditwith.net Dustin Campbell

    I just don’t see how this is off topic. Just look at how we SciFi/Fantasy geeks have come out in droves. :-)

  • Stu

    Great topic!

    I’m pretty much on par with your opinions – other than those mentioned, I’d put in a good word for any of Janny Wurts books. The cycle of fire trilogy was released as one book not long ago.

    Also Jennifer Fallons ‘Second Sons Trilogy’ is pretty damn good – and you can finish it in under a month, which more than can be said for some these series…

  • David Fauber

    Damn man, this is your most controversial posting of the last two years! Personally Black Company/ASOIAF/Malazans are the holy trinity, putting Jordan at #1 is just blasphemy.

  • Ray

    Nice list. I read the first three Wheel of Time and just got busy. I’m going to have to pick it back up and have some fun.

    I have to say that it was good to see The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant on your just missed list. I will never forget when Thomas is standing in front of the Keep and he says, “Nom”.

  • Peter

    We made it this far without mentioning Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn? BOO

    Also I’d put Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster series up there, though the series is small enough to fit in one larger book. Her books are…uniquely poetic, and ooze mood.

    And, I’ve just read EE Knight’s Vampire Earth series (7 books so far), which manage to combine vampires, zombies, magic, a post-apocalyptic world, and Clancy-style(?) military fiction. It works.

  • Nick

    LOL, yeah, I did mean Stainless Steel Rat.

  • Kerry

    Props on Amber – makes up for missing Hitchhikers and Dune. Consistently good for the whole series, and you’ve given me many new ones to read too.

    Ever read Dilvish the Damned by Zelazny? Also, I was kind of surprised not to see any of the Thieves World series up there.

  • http://bahadorn.blogspot.com Bahador

    Thanks for the list! I’ll put them on the queue!

    But I can’t believe you didn’t include “The Hitchhiker’s” series in the list!

  • http://jopinblog.wordpress.com JohnOpincar

    I loved the Dragonriders of Pern series when I was young. I actually reread the first two books recently and still enjoyed them.

    Is the next WoT book out yet? What about Fire and Ice? I’m reluctant to start any more unfinished series at this point.

  • http://www.truewill.net/myblog/index.php Bill Sorensen

    Read some of George RR Martin’s older stuff – highly recommended. Armageddon Rag, Fevre Dream, all his short story collections, etc.

    I’m assuming Nick meant the Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison. Wonderful stuff.

    Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane series is the best sword & sorcery fantasy I’ve ever read.

  • ChrisWright

    I often look to Stephen T. Lavavej for book recommendations: http://nuwen.net/sf.html

    If he reviewed it and didn’t say that it’s utter garbage, it’s extremely likely to be good. If he has a scan of it, it’s likely to be at least a reasonable diversion.

  • http://codebetter.com/members/jmiller/default.aspx Jeremy D. Miller

    @All, update from me:

    – Feist, I read those when I was in HS. I remember them being okay

    – Definitely been meaning to read the Iain Banks books

    – I reread Foundation recently. Not as good as I remembered. I like the Robots series, but I’m not touching that memory by rereading them

    – I totally forgot about Dune. I like the first 3-4 of those

    Thanks for the suggestions on the reading list!

  • Marc Gravell

    A second nomination for Feist; definitely worth trying…

  • Martin

    What about the Culture novels by Iain M Banks?
    A great sci fi universe.

  • Scott Belchak

    If you enjoyed GRR Martin then you will love KJ Parker. Check out the Engineer Trilogy.

    It’s a perfect blend of fantasy and engineering. Very entertaining especially for a critical developer mind.


  • http://www.chrisholmesonline.com Chris

    I agree; Asimov’s stuff is brilliant. He had some great ideas that made for fun stories, but what made it work is that he actually knew how to write.

    Which reminds me: go find the trailer for “Moon”, a movie coming out in June with Sam Rockwell in it. I think it’s going to be a must see for Asimov fans (it is not based on his work, but you can see the influence).

  • http://conceptdev.blogspot.com Craig Dunn

    Near or at the top of my list would be Isaac Asimov’s Foundation _and_ Robots stories :-)

    The ‘three laws of robotics’ (yes, and the zeroth law) has gotta be right up there as widely recognizable SciFi concept even outside the books or genre itself.

    I’ll also add my vote to Neal Stephenson, Orson Scott Card (Ender), Douglas Adams (HitchhikersGTTG); will have to check out some of those other titles.

  • Nick

    Agree that the writing of most science fiction is awful. That why I stick to Atwood and the like to get any SF fix I need these days.

  • Nick

    My critical faculty has somewhat improved since I read some of these years ago, but…

    1. The Gormenghast series is amazing
    1. Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea novels
    2. R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt series
    3. Hitchikers, of course, though perhaps it’s not quite in the same genre
    4. Stainless Steele Mouse books – total crap but could be fun

  • http://www.chrisholmesonline.com Chris

    Herbert’s Dune series.

    Epic, deep, brilliant writing.

    Most people are familiar with the first book because of David Lynch’s film (or the awful miniseries that aired on the SciFi channel). But what most people don’t know is that books 4, 5 & 6 are some of the best science fiction put to print. You do, however, have to slog through the rather dry and cerebral 3rd book to get there. That said, the payoff is well worth it.

    Not to mention that Herbert’s prose is brilliant. I can’t get into most fantasy because the vast majority of authors are just generally terrible writers. Like Terry Brooks – what a hack. His prose is just awful. Not Herbert though; it’s a pleasure to read his work (his son’s additions to the legacy however – just as hackish as Brooks’ writing. Horrible stuff).

  • Jack

    Good list…….I have to add Patrick Rothfuss to the list. His book called The Name of the Wind is outstanding, and the first of a trilogy. (the second one is in the works)

    I love the George RR Martin books, I just wish (like everyone else) that they would come out a little faster. I’m going to have to re-read the whole thing to remember what is happening!

  • http://webgambit.com Karthik Hariharan

    No Raymond Feist?? He’s my favorite author next to Jordan and Martin.

  • Anonymous

    You ought to read the Coldfire Trilogy by C.S. Friedman 😀