Last month we posted the NPR: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books list to WWEnd. The list was built from over 5,000 nominations and voted upon by over 60,000 SF/F fans on NPR’s website. The resulting list is an odd one to say the least and has received mixed reviews from fans – both for the books it contains, or does not contain, and for the strange construction of the list.
The list includes entire series counted as one "novel" like the massive 33 volume Xanth Series and the 14 volume Vorkosigan Saga along with a couple incomplete series such as The Kingkiller Chronicles, so far only 2 volumes, and George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire which currently, and likely for a couple years longer at least, stands at 5 books. There is also the inclusion of the Watchmen and The Sandman comics into a list of best novels to contend with too. I won’t even get into the books and authors that are missing!
Despite some strange choices and other peccadilloes, it’s been the general consensus here at WWEnd, and with many fans that we’ve talked to, that it’s a perfectly fine "fan favorite" list but not really a serious contender for a "best SF/F novels of all time" list. Compare it to a more sober and wider ranging list like Guardian’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels or The ISFDB Top 100 Books to see what we mean.
The best thing that the NPR list has going for it is the newly minted and extremely geeky awesome decision-matrix-flow-chart-info-graphic-thingy™ from SF Signal. Click the image to read the article and to see this thing it all its full size glory. I’ll wait… Back? OK, is that amazing or what? It actually makes me care about the NPR list now. This is a work of mad genius! I love following the decisions through all the gyrations and the pithy, sometimes snarky, comments along the way make it wicked good fun. I especially like the thread that leads you to Military SF that ends with "Who shall we fight? –> Everyone –> Old Man’s War." Calls in the comments section to make this into a poster have quickly been answered so you can get an 11×17 printed version for your very own. Schweet.
So what do you guys think of the NPR list and the SF Signal’s art work for it? What other lists would you like to see get this kind of treatment?
Update 10/03/11: In a successful bid to out-do themselves, the guys at SF Signal have turned their excellent flowchart into an excellent interactive guide. Now you can click through the decision matrix one step at a time until you get to a book you want to try. You can traverse up and down the line and chase down different paths like a choose you own adventure for adults! Clear proof that the SF Signal nerds are more nerdy than you.