What Great Books are Missing from the NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books?

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Answered by: Joseph, An Expert in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Category
In August 2011, NPR released a list of the top 100 science fiction and fantasy books of all time. As with any list of this type, a number of popular books had to be left off the list, each of them with a vocal fan base of admirers. Each of these could have easily made the top 100 science fiction and fantasy list. In addition, young adult novels were not included, some of which have a great many adult followers and mature themes.

'Bridge of Birds', by Barry Hughart, is a historical fantasy set in ancient China. The first novel in the Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, 'Bridge' builds off of traditional Chinese myth, folktales and history to create an epic that is breathtaking and whimsical. Many modern historical fantasy works have Bridge of Birds as major influences.

Although somewhat dated due to its treatment of women, H. Beam Piper's 'Little Fuzzy' is a tale of corporate politics gone horribly wrong. The attempts to exterminate an indigenous species in order for a corporation to keep their contract to colonize a world has been echoed in novels and films for decades, including 'Alien', 'Avatar', and the 'Little Fuzzy'-inspired reboot by John Scalzi, 'Fuzzy Nation'.

'Solaris' by Stanslaw Lem is a classic of European science fiction, and has been made into a movie twice, with the Russian original considered a classic of cinema. It tells the story of a space station crew studying a planet, which is itself studying them, and is a philosophical study of communication.

The Harry Potter series was not eligible for inclusion on the list due to being intended for young adults, but it will remain a tremendous influence on fantasy readers for generations to come. The seven books in the series have captured the imagination of readers around the world for their story of a boy destined to defeat the most dangerous wizard in the world.

'The Hobbit', the precursor to J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' was not included on the list because it was originally intended for younger readers. It is, however, part of the same world, with events that stretch into Tolkien's later masterwork, and many adult readers find it more accessible and enjoyable than the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Octavia Butler's Patternist or Parable series could have been included, particularly 'Wild Seed', the earliest novel in the Patternist series, chronologically. In it, a telepath who jumps from body to body interacts with a shapeshifter throughout the course of human history. Butler was one of the preeminent African-American women in science fiction, whose writing paved the way for current authors such as N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor.

The line between urban fantasy and horror is very thin, and Jim Butcher, who was represented on the NPR list with 'Codex Alera', is also the author of 'The Dresden Files', a popular series about a private eye/wizard in modern Chicago. The characters include modern Knights Templar, vampires, ghosts and other spirits, making it a glorious hodgepodge of fantasy in a setting people relate to immediately.

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