These are in no particular order. I had trouble reducing the list from about 15 down to 10.
* “The Door into Summer” by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s hard to pick your favorite Heinlein Novel. Some days it’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, but this one is the one I have reread the most over the years.
* “The Einstein Intersection” by Samuel R. Delaney. If you are familiar with Delaney, you know that his work is more poetry than prose. This is a wonderful little book, even though I hesitate to recommend it to others. The style is sometimes difficult and it appealed to me more back in my druggy days.
* “Dune” by Frank Herbert. I would have thought that Dune would not have aged well, but the more I re-read it, I appreciate it as the ultimate novel of intrigue. “Plots within plots” is a frequent phrase in the book and the excellent plotting is the appeal. I like to think that Dune has the best first chapter of any science fiction book ever written. I have it on tape now and I listen to it in the car at least once every 6 months.
* “A Fire Upon The Deep” by Vernor Vinge. All Vinge has to do to become my all time favorite author is to write a couple of more novels. Somebody get him off his ass and get him writing. I want a book a year.
* “Neuromancer” by William Gibson. Gibson has not been able to fulfill the promise of his first three books. The last couple of books are unreadable. The first three, though, form an exciting and interesting idea that is well executed.
* “The Big Time” Fritz Leiber. Leiber is one of favorite writers because of the fantasy that he wrote, but this novel is a great murder mystery with a fascinating SF premise.
* “I, Robot” Isaac Asimov. This is the seminal book on artificial intelligence. I’ll read anything by Asimov, but he was never better than when writing about his robots.
* “The Skylark of Space” Edward E. Smith. Smith wrote the first real science fiction. Although not great literature, all of ‘Doc’ Smith’s books are very readable.
* “The Last Castle” Jack Vance. This is my favorite Jack Vance novel (Actually novella). Vance wrote lots of stuff very quickly in the 50′s and early 60′s and all of it is very good.
* “The Stars My Destination” Alfred Bester. This is as close to great literature as science fiction can get. This should be in the 10 best books of the 20th century.
* “The Judgment of Eve” by Edgar Pangborn. Pangborn is not well known these days, but this book or his novel “Davy” are books that made a huge impression on me.
This was a tough list to put down and I have already thought of other novels. Someday I will extend it up to about 50.
Authors: Read anything by Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, Clifford Simak, Roger Zelazny, Phillip K. Dick, Poul Anderson, J. G. Ballard, James Blish, Frederick Brown, Hal Clement, Gordon R. Dickson, Jack Finney, Frederick Pohl, Jack Williamson