When I saw the title of this Oct 12/2021 post by K.W. Colyard on the website Book Riot.Com this morning, I felt my usual reaction of curiousity mixed with scepticism. Having been a reader of SF since the late 1950s, I’ve found most commentary of this kind disappointingly superficial, sometimes outright wrong.
What a surprise was in store for me.
Kristian Wilson Colard is an SF writer herself, as well as being books feature writer for Bustle magazine, and involved in other occupations. From her website I would guess she is a Millennial, or a member of that enigmatic group just preceding the Millennials, which includes my two daughters, and which I have yet to figure out.
Colyard has read at least as much SF from the ‘golden age’ as me (which I define as 1940-1969), and from 1980 on, far more. She begins though in the nineteenth century, when SF was already starting to roll. Her brief summaries of the books here are startlingly thoughtful, relevant and interesting.
She says her writing includes online ‘bookish listicles’, which is what I assume we have here. Online writing experts tell you that these lists should be kept to 10 items, to avoid wearing out the modern reader.
Ms Colard ignores this advice with a vengeance – so I have to warn you, this is a list of 54 books, and when she finishes, unwilling to stop, she starts on a second list of possible most influential books for the future. You may not be able to stop reading. But each book is dealt with so succinctly, that you move through the list at a good pace.
In the 54 books alone, at least half of them are books I haven’t read. Am I disappointed about that, or ashamed? No. All my life I’ve known that I will never succeed in reading all the SF written in SF’s golden age, especially when I can’t help reading newer books as well. Here I’ve discovered many new ‘must reads’.
Do I want to argue with her choices? Or her analysis? – strangely (for I am one of the most argumentative people you could ever meet), there is hardly anything she says that I want to argue about.
So, if you are interested too in the fascinating alternative world of SF, go to her post asap:
The Most Influential Sci-Fi Books Of All Time (bookriot.com)
If you want to read more about Kristian Wilson Colyard herself: