in honor of the holiday and because I'm sure no one is reading, the Science Fiction Book Club list of most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. Bold the ones you've read. (Italics if you're not sure; comments occasionally.)
FWIW, I think this list has some really. terrible. items in it.
1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (this is SF?)
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov vastly over-rated
3. Dune, Frank Herbert disturbingly relevant story about the leader of a religious revolution
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein let's wander around in Bob Heinlein's ego and id!
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin Jungian self-discovery made novel
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson characters? plot? what are those? All about atmosphere
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke Can't remember! I've read a lot of Clarke...
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick astonishingly, never read it, liked the movie
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley did a book report on it in 10th grade. Probably the most robust retcon ever.
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury a cliche of its own by now. Goes on the big SF/politics reading list with 1984 and Brave New World, which are both too old to make this list.
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe odd fantasy ramble
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. seems a bit trite now but was a radical piece of work in its day. The sequel is unremarkable.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett Surely this book -- the weakest of the Discworld books -- is a place-holder for the entire Discworld series, which is perhaps the best parodic writing of the twentieth century.
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison my mom's copy, actually. No longer seems so dangerous.
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany Delany has better work (e.g. Babel-13) but this is the best known. Don't know why/
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey in junior high, so I enjoyed it. it'd be harder to enjoy it now. Source of many "dragons are our friends" fantasy cliches.
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card Card's best work, grappling with xenophobia, war, and a universal concept of "the other". Too bad Card's such a homophobe. In EG, at least, his characters are pre-pubertal kids, so he never gets on that horse.
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman Excellent allegory for Vietnam.
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling this is SF? totally junkfood
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams Absurdist work that is the Anglophone world's answer to Calvino and Lem.
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice goth-y soft porn makes the cut!
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin Le Guin deserves another mention for The Dispossessed, which belongs on the same politics/SF list mentioned above, but in LHOD she tackles gender lability. (Though she still has a huge blindspot for homosexuality.)
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny I think Zelazny was high when he wrote this
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick what if Nazis won?
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke This one is so much fun and so free of actual plot. The nod to it in Planetary is really quite awesome.
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien I read about half in junior high and got bored. I think I would still get bored now.
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut the beginning of the blend: maybe the first slipstream novel
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson the breakout nerdpunk novel
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein possibly the most misunderstood of the list: this is an anti-war novel like Forever War but is rarely read that way.
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock I think I started it in junior high.
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks I hated this as Tolkien-derivative junk when I first read it at age 11 and won't go back
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer
I apparently have missed only a few.