Let the nerd wars begin | Bleader

Let the nerd wars begin

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True fact: I learned about the Sci-Fi Lists: Top 100 Sci-Fi Books from a librarian's newsletter, Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff I Found on the Web This Week (actual title).

The sci-fi list, which claims to be maintained by an Australian wildlife ranger, also has top TV, films, and short fiction. Online voting is allowed, though I couldn't find any way to tell how the votes are counted, or how many votes actually separate different places on the list. So far I've been able to vote two days in a row. The books and short fiction lists actually go 200 deep.

But the fun of these lists is arguing about them. Don't ask me about Orson Scott Card (whose most popular book is currently #2) or Madeleine L'Engle (#37) -- I've never been able to finish anything they wrote. I'm sorry to see that hometown hero Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife (in which the Newberry Library plays a part) just took a dive from #98 to #122. There seem to be a lot of geezers voting here, as only one of the top 100 (Dan Simmons's Ilium) was published in the current century.

Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale comes in #74, which is fine, but nowhere to be found is her equally dystopian Oryx and Crake. And, just to revert to the heart of the classical canon, of course Robert Heinlein's all over the list, and of course Stranger in a Strange Land is his top finisher at #6 -- but why is his next finisher Starship Troopers (#10), a mediocre effort compared to its rough contemporaries The Puppet Masters (#68) and The Door into Summer (#72)?

Although I loved David Marusek's Chicago-set Counting Heads, I can understand why it didn't make the top 200. But where is his brilliant, chilling "The Wedding Album" on the short fiction list? (You can find it in his new collection, Getting to Know You.) And why do formulaic Heinlein shorts make the top 200 in short fiction, while "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag," with its charming theology, is off the list altogether? So many injustices, so little space-time...

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