What are the must-read fantasy and science fiction novels of the 21st century?

GreyLord

Legend
OK, having looked.into it casually for a few.minites, limited.to just stuff from 1900-1923:

  • A ton by Lord Dunsany: King of Elfland's Daufhter was 1924, but he did a lot.of fantasy short fiction prior to thar.
  • A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
  • A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (among other works)
  • The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle (among other works)
  • Fantômas, by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain (pretty fantastic, extremely influential on the superhero genre)
  • The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (among other works)
  • Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, by J. M. Barrie

Definitely stuff still worth reading, still actively influencing modern fiction.

A LOT of Nickel and Dime novels and pulp books (one of the most famous in the late 21th century but interestingly enough has seemingly been forgotten in this decade was Tom Swift for example). It was extremely abundant, though what they considered Fiction with a scientific idea of what the future could hold back then might not seem so miraculous to us today in some ways.

It was probably more abundant or just as abundant today, but many just don't remember the stuff unless they specialize in research of it either professionally or as a hobbyist.

Even stuff from the 30s, 40s, and 50s are hard to find today (but some of the biggest influences on the late 20th century scene came from that period).

How many of them are MUST reads though...it's not enough to just be remembered...there must be a reason for it to be a MUST read as well.

What is interesting is back then they had societies of authors which specialized in this type of stuff. Many times what they wrote was specifically for society members. Normally the stuff we have were written for the pulps or dime novels or the cheap stuff that got VERY popular.

In effect, the stuff we remember is what was EXTREMELY popular back then and something came of it (for example, books which had movies made of them that were extremely popular sometimes adds to the book remembering item. The Wizard of Oz is a great example of this. Many today would say the Wizard of Oz is a notable book and thus for our arena of Fantasy...a MUST read. Now I read the entire series as a child, but for much of the late 20th century the OZ series could not be found in libraries or bookstores. If one even realized they existed they had to special order them and then might not be able to obtain them. If you were lucky you might find the Wizard of Oz Sequel (The Marvelous Land of OZ) but even then, it wasn't common.

It's had sort of a revival over the past two decades, but even now, most people aren't even aware that there are more books than the Wizard of OZ, and if they are they don't know what most of them are called. Of the OZ books, the only one that MIGHT be considered notable thence, would be the Wizard of OZ. It isn't the series, but that singular book. IMO of course.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
A LOT of Nickel and Dime novels and pulp books (one of the most famous in the late 21th century but interestingly enough has seemingly been forgotten in this decade was Tom Swift for example). It was extremely abundant, though what they considered Fiction with a scientific idea of what the future could hold back then might not seem so miraculous to us today in some ways.

It was probably more abundant or just as abundant today, but many just don't remember the stuff unless they specialize in research of it either professionally or as a hobbyist.

Even stuff from the 30s, 40s, and 50s are hard to find today (but some of the biggest influences on the late 20th century scene came from that period).

How many of them are MUST reads though...it's not enough to just be remembered...there must be a reason for it to be a MUST read as well.

What is interesting is back then they had societies of authors which specialized in this type of stuff. Many times what they wrote was specifically for society members. Normally the stuff we have were written for the pulps or dime novels or the cheap stuff that got VERY popular.

In effect, the stuff we remember is what was EXTREMELY popular back then and something came of it (for example, books which had movies made of them that were extremely popular sometimes adds to the book remembering item. The Wizard of Oz is a great example of this. Many today would say the Wizard of Oz is a notable book and thus for our arena of Fantasy...a MUST read. Now I read the entire series as a child, but for much of the late 20th century the OZ series could not be found in libraries or bookstores. If one even realized they existed they had to special order them and then might not be able to obtain them. If you were lucky you might find the Wizard of Oz Sequel (The Marvelous Land of OZ) but even then, it wasn't common.

It's had sort of a revival over the past two decades, but even now, most people aren't even aware that there are more books than the Wizard of OZ, and if they are they don't know what most of them are called. Of the OZ books, the only one that MIGHT be considered notable thence, would be the Wizard of OZ. It isn't the series, but that singular book. IMO of course.
My library had all the Oz books in the 90's.

Fantasy and sci-fi existed, for sure, but behind those sorts of best in class examples...way more.is getting published these days than did back then.
 

GreyLord

Legend
My library had all the Oz books in the 90's.

Fantasy and sci-fi existed, for sure, but behind those sorts of best in class examples...way more.is getting published these days than did back then.

I don't think so, at least in hard copy format. For starters, we don't even have the magazines in abundance like they did then, which is where a majority of the major stuff for the public was being sold.

I haven't taken into account how many or much is being written via Amazon via soft format though (digital only) so, in that light you MAY be right, but as far as hardcopy these days, I think you are favoring the present far more than the past.

There IS more availability in some ways (there is a LOT of stuff that will no longer be printed, but there is still backstock that's being stored, and even more that people have second hand that they are selling on Amazon, ebay, ABC, etc), but more being produced (hardcopy), I'd probably not agree with that assumption.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think so, at least in hard copy format. For starters, we don't even have the magazines in abundance like they did then, which is where a majority of the major stuff for the public was being sold.

I haven't taken into account how many or much is being written via Amazon via soft format though (digital only) so, in that light you MAY be right, but as far as hardcopy these days, I think you are favoring the present far more than the past.

There IS more availability in some ways (there is a LOT of stuff that will no longer be printed, but there is still backstock that's being stored, and even more that people have second hand that they are selling on Amazon, ebay, ABC, etc), but more being produced (hardcopy), I'd probably not agree with that assumption.
There is more of everything being published today than ever bwfore: and fantasy/sci-fi took off in a big way after the 50's, nothing like it was before.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think so, at least in hard copy format. For starters, we don't even have the magazines in abundance like they did then, which is where a majority of the major stuff for the public was being sold.

I haven't taken into account how many or much is being written via Amazon via soft format though (digital only) so, in that light you MAY be right, but as far as hardcopy these days, I think you are favoring the present far more than the past.

There IS more availability in some ways (there is a LOT of stuff that will no longer be printed, but there is still backstock that's being stored, and even more that people have second hand that they are selling on Amazon, ebay, ABC, etc), but more being produced (hardcopy), I'd probably not agree with that assumption.
OK, so looked into it: before even considering self-published stuff, the number of books published each year has increased astronomically in the past century:

"In 1907 there were 9,260 books published in the United States according to the New York State Library Bookboard."

"Compare that to 2010 when there were 316,480 books published by traditional publishing companies according to Bowker."

"Add to that another 2,776,260 on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and ”micro-niche” publications."

"That is over 3 million books published in one year."

 

OK, having looked.into it casually for a few.minites, limited.to just stuff from 1900-1923:

  • A ton by Lord Dunsany: King of Elfland's Daufhter was 1924, but he did a lot.of fantasy short fiction prior to thar.
  • A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay
  • A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (among other works)
  • The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle (among other works)
  • Fantômas, by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain (pretty fantastic, extremely influential on the superhero genre)
  • The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (among other works)
  • Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, by J. M. Barrie

Definitely stuff still worth reading, still actively influencing modern fiction.

I would also point out that the stuff around then is still very much present in the DNA of pop culture today. A Princess of Mars' influence threads its way through to Star Wars and Superman, for example. William Morris isn't read much these days, but Tolkien sure liked him. Neil Gaiman has praised Dunsany on a number of occasions. Even if people aren't directly reading these works, they still echo through the ages.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
What does it mean... "Must Read" ?

Also, the OP's premise is not what would we say is Must Read 100 years from now. It's what is Must Read now and was also published in the 21st century.

So, while interesting to say - "what has held up" since 1900-1923, I don't think that's actually germane to the OP
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
What does it mean... "Must Read" ?

Also, the OP's premise is not what would we say is Must Read 100 years from now. It's what is Must Read now and was also published in the 21st century.

So, while interesting to say - "what has held up" since 1900-1923, I don't think that's actually germane to the OP
It's opento interpretation. However, I would say the works of Susanna Clarke and Brandon Sanderson fit the bill of "will hold up in 2123".
 



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