Top Ten Speculative Fiction Novels of All Time. Compiled by ARWZ Editors

In our first Top Ten List Project undertaken since the founding of ARWZ Magazine, the results were unprecendented. ARWZ readers and associates nominated nearly two hundred of their favorite novels and trilogies. Speculative Fiction fans from all over the world placed their votes for the most innovative, intriguing, memorable and ground-breaking novels, voicing their opinions toward this final list of the Best Speculative Fiction Novels of All Time. Participating voters were drawn both from ARWZ readership and from the membership of our Associate Pages. Our thanks to all participants.

Each voter submitted a list of no more than ten novels. Ranked votes were weighted according to the numerical rank assigned to each novel or trilogy (1. got 10 points, 2. got 9 points, etc.). Some voters preferred not to rank their lists, refusing to assign strict numerical value to artistic media; the novels of their lists were attributed five points each. Some participants voiced concern over the accuracy and fruitfulness of such an enterprise. To some measure, ARWZ Editors agree. We make no pretensions of the authority of these lists. Participants contribute voluntarily at our invitation, not as part of a measured sample. Nor do we decide these lists as the result of debates in a hand-picked commitee of editors. The list is determined strictly by open voting. Our methods may not be scientific, but their results are intriguing. Some may even find them controversial. And it is in controversy that ARWZ Editors consider our aim accomplished. We do these ranked Top Ten lists in large part because they are controversial. Controversy gets people talking, thinking and debating. And isn't that what speculative fiction is ultimately about?

Voters were also invited to provide commentary on the novels included in their lists. As much as possible, that commentary has been included for the Top Ten. But the discussion doesn't end there. If you would like to comment on this list, please feel free to join the discussion on our forums, or to send us a Letter to the Editor with your comments. If you would like to participate in our latest Top Ten List, to be published on ARWZ Literary Zine in a future feature article, please visit the official ARWZ Top 10 page to see what we're woking on next.

Top Ten Speculative Fiction Novels of All Time

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Lord of the Rings
1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Whether blatant copies, or brilliantly inspired, nearly every fantasy novel written in the past 60 years owes a debt to this series." - Brennil

"What else? This is where it all started." - Zodac

"Unfortunately many people have come to judge this novel - and it is a novel, not a trilogy - by its fans. But a thousand years from now, the wearers of plastic pointy ears will all be dead; the book itself will still be one of the wisest, cleverest, funniest and most original imaginative achievements in all human history." - Vefantur

"These books just blow me away, the detail in the characters and land that Tolkien creates is beyond comparison." - Spudy1

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Stranger in a Strange Land
2. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

"A blueprint for social revolution disguised as a book about a Martian visiting Earth." - ljim2000

"When Charles Manson was finally arrested, this book was in his backpack. Despite that, it is an excellent novel, and one of which you must have knowledge to understand Heinleinís future works." - Decagon

"This is probably his most influential, best-loved novel." - Custer1

"It was for me the weirdest book I ever liked." - Captainkalaa1

"Arguably Heinlein's strongest book, it certainly is the most representative of his abiding belief in human potential." - Brennil

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3. 1984 by George Orwell

"The definitive dystopia. A book we should all keep in mind when we look at current political developments." - pecooper

"Made going to school worthwhile." - Golophin

"This is a book everyone should read. I've heard it described as 'the ultimate post-apocalyptic anti-Utopia.' I simply believe it affected all literature written since this book was published." - Captainkalaa1

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4. Dune by Frank Herbert

"Dune is a compelling, brilliantly told, attention gripping, prophetic, philosophical look at culture, religion, metaphysics, ecology and messianic/hero worship. It has everything from knife fights to nuclear warfare, monsters to mind powers." - weapons are available

"Colossal religious science fiction epic. Dense, rich, intensely political and thought provoking." - Brennil

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Foundation Trilogy
5. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

"The space-age equivalent of the fall of the Roman Empire and an amazing tale in its own right." - Tobias Timepiece

"The individual stories were at the heart of the golden age of magazine sf; the trilogy in book form was immensely successful and influential, and the later additions aren't bad either." - Custer1

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The Book of New Sun
6. The Book of New Sun by Gene Wolfe

"Fantasy? SF? Complex, devious parable or ridiculously convoluted adventure yarn? This four-volume sequence is all these things and more. A measure of writerly ambition in the speculative field that has rarely been surpassed." - criminalenglish

"Rich, thought-provoking, sublime." - Infinite Chun

"It's original, thoughtful and multi-layered, and written by a man who truly understands the English language and what you can do with it if you know how." - Vefantur

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Fahrenheit 451
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

"What would happen if books were totally banned? A new meaning to the job of Fireman." - Sekhmet McFeerson

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At the Mountains of Madness
8. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft

"No living horror author has ever achieved what H.P. Lovecraft achieved. The blending of fact and fantasy is so artful, he makes you want to believe everything in his stories. And this novella is no exception." - Tobias Timepiece

"Magnificent story of a truly alien race and alien time." - Bravo1102

"He may get filed in the horror section, but this story is speculative fiction of the finest sort. The science he uses for his SF is archeology and biology and with it he creates a very believable and terrifying prehistory for our planet." - ljim2000

"Perfectly formed SF Horror." - Infinite Chun

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

"This book got me into reading and writing, and is just so hilarious that it keeps bringing me back to it again. Everyone who hasn't read it, should read it. It is a classic in Speculative Fiction and will remain to be so until it is publicly burned or becomes unfashionable." - False Dawn GAW

"42 is all you need know." - Sekhmet McFeerson

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The Man in the High Castle
10. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

"Dick brought an edge to sf, and this strange novel of an alternate America, divided after World War II by the victorious Axis powers, is particularly memorable." - Custer1

And by popular demand, we have decided to print further results of the vote for the sake of reader interest:

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11. Neuromancer by William Gibson

11. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

13. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

14. The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

15. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

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Brave New World
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

17. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

17. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

19. Enderís Game by Orson Scott Card

19. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

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The Silmarillion
19. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

22. Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

22. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

24. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

24. Valis by Phillip K. Dick

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A Wrinkle in Time
26. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

26. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

26. Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert Heinlein

29. A Case of Conscience by James Blish

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Harry Potter
29. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

29. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

32. Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

32. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson

32. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

32. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon

32. The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

37. The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany

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Around the World in 80 Days
38. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

38. The Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham

38. Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg

38. Firebird by Kathy Tyers

38. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

38. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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Lord of Light
38. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

38. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

38. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

38. The Recognitions by William Gaddis

38. The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

38. Startide Rising by David Brin

38. The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison

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The Chronicles of Narnia
51. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

51. Eye in the Sky by Philip K. Dick

51. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

51. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

51. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

51. Jerusalem Quartet by Edward Whittemore

51. Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

51. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

51. Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein

51. Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce

51. This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

51. Time and Again by Jack Finney

51. Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. Van Vogt

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The Colour of Magic
64. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

64. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

64. Dragon Lance by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

64. The Earth Abides by George R Stewart

64. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

64. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

64. The Hand of Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

64. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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Pattern Recognition
64. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

64. Quake by Rudolph Wurlitzer

64. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

64. Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb

64. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

64. Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe

64. Yesterday's Son by A.C. Crispin

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20,000 Leagues
80. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

80. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

80. City by Clifford D. Simak

80. The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin

80. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

80. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

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The Hobbit
80. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

80. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

80. Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

80. Space War Blues by Richard Lupoff

80. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

80. Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson

80. Waldo by Robert Heinlein

80. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin