Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fantasy Masterworks - How Many Have You Read?

I came across this the other day, and was quite intrigued by the idea.

We're still hard at work on the SF and Fantasy Materworks Reading Project and still showing how we stack up in the scheme of things. We did this with the Sci-Fi list of Masterworks first and not it is time to turn to the Fantasy set, which I was hoping to have done better at. What I've bolded are books read and italics means I own it, but it has been gathering dust. Hopefully in a year's time this list will look a lot more bolded.

I've done a bit better than Mad Hatter (though Jared has me beat), but hey, maybe the meme'll catch on.

1 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe
2 - Time and the Gods - Lord Dunsany
3 - The Worm Ouroboros - E.R. Eddison
4 - Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
5 - Little, Big - John Crowley
6 - The Chronicles of Amber - Roger Zelazny
7 - Viriconium - M. John Harrison
8 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard
9 - The Land of Laughs - Jonathan Carroll
10 - The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea - L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
11 - Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
12 - The Book of the New Sun, Volume 2: Sword and Citadel - Gene Wolfe
13 - Fevre Dream - George R. R. Martin
14 - Beauty - Sheri S. Tepper
15 - The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
16 - The Conan Chronicles, Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard
17 - Elric - Michael Moorcock
18 - The First Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
19 - Riddle-Master - Patricia A. McKillip
20 - Time and Again - Jack Finney
21 - Mistress of Mistresses - E.R. Eddison
22 - Gloriana or the Unfulfill'd Queen - Michael Moorcock
23 - The Well of the Unicorn - Fletcher Pratt
24 - The Second Book of Lankhmar - Fritz Leiber
25 - Voice of Our Shadow - Jonathan Carroll
26 - The Emperor of Dreams - Clark Ashton Smith
27 - Lyonesse I: Suldrun's Garden - Jack Vance
28 - Peace - Gene Wolfe
29 - The Dragon Waiting - John M. Ford
30 - Corum: The Prince in the Scarlet Robe - Michael Moorcock
31 - Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams - C.L. Moore
32 - The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson
33 - The House on the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson
34 - The Drawing of the Dark - Tim Powers
35 - Lyonesse II and III: The Green Pearl and Madouc - Jack Vance
36 - The History of Runestaff - Michael Moorcock
37 - A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay
38 - Darker Than You Think - Jack Williamson
39 - The Mabinogion - Evangeline Walton
40 - Three Hearts and Three Lions - Poul Anderson
41 - Grendel - John Gardner
42 - The Iron Dragon's Daughter - Michael Swanwick
43 - WAS - Geoff Ryman
44 - Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
45 - Replay - Ken Grimwood
46 - Sea Kings of Mars and Other Worldly Stories - Leigh Brackett
47 - The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
48 - The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip
49 - Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
50 - The Mark of the Beast and Other Fantastical Tales - Rudyard Kipling

Rob's Blog of Stuff suggests a third "strikethrough" for book choices one disagrees with.   An interesting idea, but the only real issue I have is that there's too much Moorcock.  Now, I love me some Michael Moorcock, but I don't think even I could justify him taking four places when someone like Howard only has two - all Conan.  Stormbringer and "Kings in Darkness" are essential, and their inclusion in Elric is a given. Gloriana would make a fair choice for second. I haven't yet read the Hawkmoon stories, and Corum left me cold for some reason. I don't think any one author should have more than three books in the line, unless there are at least 100 books.

Speaking of which, isn't it annoying that SF Masterworks goes up to 73 (it would be a nice, neat 75 if they ever get around to Disch's Camp Concentration and 334), but Fantasy Masterworks is stuck at 50? This is especially bothersome when there are still plenty of great fantasy works not included. Obviously, you'll have noticed a couple of massive gaps in the Fantasy Masterworks line: Tolkien, Lewis and Peake.  I'm guessing rights issues are the reason, for there's no way one could possibly exclude The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia or Gormenghast from such a collection.

Anyone else read through Fantasy Masterworks?  Do any strike you as "unworthy," do you notice any glaring omissions, or can you think of any that would be great additions?


  1. I was doing well with the Science Fiction list. I'd read over half the titles on that one and possessed most of the others. I'm embarrassed to tell you how few on this list I have read or even own. Elric, the Conan stories, the Bradbury and the Leiber and Voyage to Arcturus (oddly enough) I own and have read. The rest...

    Obviously I have some reading to do.

  2. Well, now I know what to do for my next post - the SF Masterworks! I think you have me beat there, though, I've barely made a dent in it. I guess that makes us even!

  3. not having been blessed enough to be born in the UK.. I've not read any of them specifically in those volumes.. but I've probably read about half of them.

  4. I have probably read almost the same amount as you-albeit a few differing titles here and there-the only Fantasy Masterwork copies I actually own though (since they are UK books) are the Conan's.

    And While I absolutely love and swear by THE BROKEN SWORD, I just couldn't get into Three Hearts and Three Lions, I'm not sure I even finished it.

  5. Lagomorph, I'm damn impressed nonetheless.

    David, I'm intrigued by that. I guess my Scottishness would be barrier of sorts!

  6. I'm rather ashamed I've not read more of them to be honest!

    I also have to say, It means a lot to be counted amongst the Allies of S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L

  7. No problem: anyone who sticks up for REH is an ally of the S.H.I.E.L.D.W.A.L.L. (not to mention your pastiche reviews are an important resource!)

  8. What about Lloyd Alexander?
    Totally agree that Mervyn Peake should be included.
    Worm and Voyage, while important to the history of the genre, certainly don't deliver the same level of narrative entertainment as others on this list.

  9. oh, and I've read 19.5 (I missed one of Wolfe's - Shadow of the Torturer - despite having read the others in the series).
    Oh, three more names I want to include
    Lawrence Watt-Evans (the Misenchanted Sword)
    Orson Scott Card (White Hart)
    Stephen R Donaldson (Thomas Covenant)