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Book Meme from philmophlegm
Flash
lil_shepherd
Taken from a book by James Cawthorn and Michael Moorcock entitled "Fantasy - The 100 Best Books". It's a little different from most 100 best fantasy books lists for two reasons. One: It dates to 1988, so it obviously misses many of the famous recent works and two: the authors' definition of fantasy is very broad.

Anyway, the 100 (in order of date of publication) is behind the cut. Repost and embolden the ones you've read. Feel free to comment.


Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole Heard a radio adaptation.
Vathek, William Beckford
The Monk, Matthew Gregory Lewis
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Melmoth the Wanderer, Charles Robert Maturin
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Edgar Allen Poe
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens Made to read this at school. Hated it.
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte This is not fantasy by any definition. Gothic, maybe.
Moby Dick, Herman Melville Neither is this. It's allegory.
Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bartram-Haugh, J. Sheridan LeFanu
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott
She, Henry Rider Haggard Not his best book, either.
Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson Or his.
The Twilight of the Gods, Richard Garnett
The Story of the Glittering Plain, William Morris
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (Radio adaptation, and TV adaptation.)
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The Turn of the Screw, Henry James. (Not read, but heard radio... are you seeing a pattern here?)
The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton Not sure this qualifies as fantasy either.
The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson This, on the other hand, is one of the greatest horror stories ever written, and the radio adaptation wasn't bad either.)
Black Magic, Marjorie Bowen
Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm (Thank ghu for the BBC.)
A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs Never liked Burroughs.
Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Lost World, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle This, on the other hand, is fun.
The Night Land, William Hope Hodgson Even in abridged form very, very difficult to read, full of Capital Letters.
Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Citadel of Fear, Francis Stevens
A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay I have a fondness for this.
The Worm Ourobouros, E.R. Eddison The best Eddison, I think.
The Haunted Woman, David Lindsay
Lady into Fox and A Man in the Zoo, David Garnett
The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany Too whimsical for my taste.
The Ship of Ishtar, Abraham Merritt Fun 30s pulp.
The Trial and The Castle, Franz Kafka
Witch Wood, John Buchan
War in Heaven, Charles Williams
Turnabout, Thorne Smith Ina loves Thorne Smith and we have a lot of his books.
The Night Life of the Gods, Thorne Smith
Dwellers in the Mirage, Abraham Merritt Fun pulp novel.
Zothique, Clark Ashton Smith I think we have this somewhere.
The Werewolf of Paris, Guy Endore
Lost Horizon, James Hilton
Northwest Smith, Catherine L. Moore Borderline SF.
Jirel of Joiry, Catherine L. Moore Now I'm humming the filk song. We have a very nice illustrated hardback.
The Circus of Dr Lao, Charles G. Finney I read this so long ago I remember very little about it.
Land Under England, Joseph O'Neill
Conan the Conqueror, Robert E. Howard Wasn't a Howard fan, and came to it after reading the Marvel comics. Which were more fun. (Though Barry Smith has never been able to draw horses.)
At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft His best book. Published in Astounding!
To Walk the Night, William Sloane
Roads, Seabury Quinn
The Once and Future King, T.H. White One of the three great retellings of the Arthur myth, the other two being Malory and Tennyson.
Slaves of Sleep, L. Ron Hubbard
Caravan for China, Frank R. Stuart
Fear, L. Ron Hubbard
Darker Than You Think, Jack Williamson
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, H.P. Lovecraft
Land of Unreason, Fletcher Pratt & L. Sprague de Camp
Conjure Wife, Fritz Leiber Misogynistic, and only frightening if you're a married man...
The Book of Ptath, A.E. van Vogt Another one that I read a long time ago. I remember it as SF, but I could be wrong.
The Dark World and The Valley of the Flame, Henry Kuttner
Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone, Mervyn Peake Well, read Gormenghast and then skip read. Grotesque is not my cup of tea, but they were books you were supposed to have read (and admire) if you were a fantasy fan.
The Exploits of Engelbrecht, Maurice Richardson
Mistress Masham's Repose, T.H. White
Adept's Gambit, Fritz Leiber
The Well of the Unicorn, Fletcher Pratt
You're All Alone, Fritz Leiber
The Dying Earth, Jack Vance
The Devil in Velvet, John Dickson Carr Historical fantasy detective story - and excellent.
The Tritonian Ring, L. Sprague de Camp
Three Hearts and Three Lions, Poul Anderson My favourite of his fantasies. I like Carolingian fantasy and, as we are talking about that, why isn't Orlando Furioso on this list?
The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett
The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson Flawed first novel, but interesting.
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Golden Strangers, Henry Treece
The Great Captains, Henry Treece
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson Good book. Greater film.
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock Possibly the only Moorcock I'd keep in the house if I didn't live with a Moorcock fan and collector.
The Serpent, Atlan, The City, Some Summer Lands, Jane Gaskell These Atlantean novels are awful.
The Crystal World, J.G. Ballard
Black Easter and The Day After Judgement, James Blish I ought to find copies of these, which I read from the library long ago.
Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin Read on holiday. Dreadful book.
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula le Guin Great book.
The Green Man, Kingsley Amis
Neither the Sea nor the Sand, Gordon Honeycombe Yes, that Gordon Honeycombe. I'd completely forgotten about this until it came up here. I remember it being thinly plotted and unsatisfying.
The Philosopher's Stone, Colin Wilson
The Pastel City, M. John Harrison Personally, not a Harrison fan, but this is highly regarded.
The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Angela Carter
Red Shift, Alan Garner Not my favourite of his books. Pretentious.
The Compleat Enchanter, L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt
The Alteration, Kingsley Amis
Our Lady of Darkness, Fritz Leiber Brilliant horror story.
The Drawing of the Dark, Tim Powers (This one is wonderful. 'The Dark' referred to is a cask of beer and just what has been hidden in it...?)
The Sending, Geoffrey Household
The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, Terry Pratchett
The Businessman: A Tale of Terror, Thomas M. Disch
Hawksmoore, Peter Ackroyd (Another radio adaptation I've heard without reading the book.)
Expecting Someone Taller, Tom Holt Wonderful opening. Holt has been repeating the same novel ever since, but there are so few decent comic novelists that he can be forgiven.

Hey, I'm pretty much the same vintage and read every fantasy novel I could lay my hands on. Including The Human Age which I am relieved to see does not make the list.

*hums*

She is Jirel of Joiry,
No man is her master
And well she protects us indeed.
For with her sword above us
We fear no mage nor blade,
No injustice or overlord's greed.


(By Mercedes Lackey.)

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My reaction to seeing Gordon Honeycombe's name was pretty much "Surely not _that_ Gordon Honeycombe?", but as you say, it's the same one. It's rather like discovering that Anne Diamond has written a series of heavyweight space opera novels in the style of Peter F. Hamilton or Iain Banks.

Ina says, "Don't we still have that in store somewhere?"

I hope not.

Apart from missing out Mirrlees (even though I don't like her work), Cabell, Swann, Walton and some excellent modern (in 1988) writers, the references are odd. A. Merrit is 'Abraham Merrit' here, C.L. Moore 'Catherine L. Moore' and E.A. Abbott 'Edwin A Abbot' while Howard Phillips Lovecraft remains H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien remains J.R.R.

I am pretty sure that if you went out and bought collections in 1988 entitled The Incomplete Enchanter and The Enchanter Completed you would have Wall of Serpents in there, because I remember being annoyed when I picked up this to find out I already had it.

I've read hardly any of these except for Dickens (I was in a play based on it), Carroll (hated it), Tolkien, LeGuin and Garner. I agree with you about Red Shift being pretentious. I think it only got the Carnegie because no one on the selection committee wanted to admit they couldn't follow it. Weirdstone of Brisingamen and Moon of Gomrath are tons better. To be fair, though, I read Red Shift again about five years ago and didn't find it anywhere near as weird. I think my weirdometer has been reset over the last 30 years.

I have read Pratchett, of ccourse, but hadn't at the time this was published. I didn't find him until the 90s. And I think I read Expecting Someone Taller - or at least I read a couple of Tom Holts but as you say, they are all pretty similar so I'm not sure whuch ones.

Edited at 2012-08-09 08:48 pm (UTC)

The list is an odd mixture of literary stuff that would probably be regarded as slipstream nowadays, pulp fiction from the thirties, and the new wave of fantasy that must, like the Holt and the Pratchetts have just been published.

I find a lot of Garner full of wonderful ideas not expressed to their best degree. I love the myths and the ideas but the actual books leave me somewhat dissatisfied. Possibly they're just too grown up for me, though.

I'm surprised that there is no Thomas Burnett Swan amid this lot - he falls within the time frame, and was very well regarded (except, presumably, by Cawthorn and Moorcock).

Several other omissions too. Mostly US.

And where the heck has James Branch Cabell gone. You'd have at least expected Jurgen to be in there, and while I am almost alone in disliking Hope Mirrlees, she is too well regarded by the rest of the universe to be missed out.

I've read 13 of the first 20 and then hardly any of the rest. I am clearly stuck 100+ years in the past...

*snork*

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, there was almost no fantasy being published (except children's books.) I suspect that Red Shift is on the list because Garner had published nothing else to have pretension to be 'nearly adult' at that time. Naturally, I read everything I could find that was even remotely fantasy.

Expecting Someone Taller, Tom Holt Wonderful opening. Holt has been repeating the same novel ever since, but there are so few decent comic novelists that he can be forgiven.

That was very much my reaction too. I loved Expecting Someone Taller, but lost interest after that somewhat to the point where about four books in I decided he wasn't going to do anything new.

Jasper fforde has a similar problem.

He does indeed. In his case I made it through 2.5 books before I gave up...

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