Sunday, May 2, 2021

A summer reading list for you (with prizes).

First: Thanks very much to everyone who picked up a copy of The Payoff! You're all my new best friends. I know I always say that, but it's true for every book I release.

Second: You might have noticed, if you bought your copy within the past few days, that there are three editions of The Payoff available at Amazon: Kindle, paperback, and -- ta daaaa! -- hardcover. Now, this isn't a super-fancy hardcover with a dust jacket and stuff. But if you prefer hardcovers, the option is there for you.

I don't know that I'll be doing hardcover editions for my other titles. But if there's a particular novel of mine that you would like to have in hardcover, let me know and I'll see what I can do.


Third: My novels never take very long to read. And we have a long summer ahead of us, with at least a chunk of it still spent away from other folks. So I offer you a reading list.

This all started when I saw one too many iterations of the BBC's top 100 books on Facebook. These lists are always heavily weighted with hoary old tomes written by dead white guys. Plus the BBC always leans on British authors (as well they should, since they're based in London, but still). And then you have the other issue: not nearly enough speculative fiction entries. I'm defining speculative fiction as science fiction, fantasy, horror, and any combination, including all subgenres, thereof. (See the Venn diagram below.)

Anyway, I saw that list and I snapped. See, I have a lot of well-read friends who read speculative fiction all the time. And I was certain that if I asked around, I could come up with a list of 100 speculative fiction novels -- and not only that, but our list would be a whole lot more interesting and fun than the BBC's list.

So I took nominations and posted the list on Facebook. That drew more nominations, so I added them and posted it again -- which drew more nominations. We ended up with 147 entries for our list of top 100 speculative fiction novels. (Which reminded me of the marketing hook for Douglas Adams's So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: "the fourth book in the trilogy!" That trilogy, of course, was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which of course is on our list.) It's actually way more than 147 books, because I insisted on each series being one listing, or else we'd have gotten to 100 too fast. (I mean, if you count each of the 41 Discworld novels separately, you've got nearly half the list already.) 

Here's our list. And here's the best part: Just like the summer reading programs your library always runs, I'm going to award prizes! 

Rules for the hearth/myth Summer Reading Challenge:

1. The contest starts now and ends Saturday, September 4th, 2021.

2. Count how many books on the list you've read and either leave a comment here on the blog or email me at

3. The top six readers will get a thing from me. The grand prize will be a signed hardcover edition of The Payoff. The next five winners will get a Pipe Woman Chronicles mug from my Zazzle store (my choice of design, sorry).

4. You don't have to read them all this summer; if you've read the book in the past, count it.

5. If you've read a single book in a series, you may count the series. 

6. If you nominated books for the list, you may still participate in the contest.

7. The list is final until the after the contest is over. I'm not taking any more nominations. (You people...)

8. As always, the judge's decisions are arbitrary, capricious, and final.

I'll announce the winners on my blog on Sunday, September 5th. Get ready, get set - read!


Top 147 Speculative Fiction Novels, in no particular order (according to Lynne & Friends)

1. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever – Stephen R. Donaldson

3. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

4. The Tooth Fairy – Graham Joyce

5. The Foundation series (7 books) – Isaac Asimov

6. The Robot series – Isaac Asimov

7. The Malazan Book of the Fallen – Stephen Erikson

8. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

9. Dracula – Bram Stoker

10. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

11. The Inheritance Trilogy – N.K. Jemisen

12. The Broken Earth Trilogy – N.K. Jemisen

13. The Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler

14. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein

15. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

16. To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip José Farmer

17. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

18. Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut

19. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

20. War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

21. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne

22. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

23. Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

24. Riftwar Saga – Raymond Feist

25. The Sun Wolf and Starhawk series – Barbara Hambly

26. The Darwath Trilogy – Barbara Hambly

27. Dragonsbane – Barbara Hambly

28. The Mysterious Stranger – Mark Twain

29. Alas, Babylon – Pat Frank

30. Dune – Frank Herbert

31. The Forever War – Joe Haldeman

32. Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb

33. Liveship Traders Trilogy – Robin Hobb

34. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. LeGuin

35. Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. LeGuin

36. The Earthsea Cycle – Ursula K. LeGuin

37. Little, Big – John Crowley

38. Space Opera – Catherynne M. Valente

39. Habitation of the Blessed series – Catherynne M. Valente

40. The Second Apocalypse – R. Scott Bakker

41. Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger

42. Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy – Cixin Liu

43. Culture Series – Iain M. Banks

44. Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake

45. A Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

46. Bless Me, Ultima – Rudolfo Anaya

47. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

48. Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

49. Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

50. The Tempest – Shakespeare

51. Lucifer’s Hammer – Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven

52. Earth Abides – George R. Stewart

53. A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller Jr.

54. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia – Ursula K. LeGuin

55. The Gate to Women’s Country – Sheri S. Tepper

56. Grass – Sheri S. Tepper

57. Cat’s Cradle – Vonnegut

58. A Wrinkle in Time – Madelaine L’Engle

59. Tales from the Arabian Nights 

60. The City and the City – China Miéville

61. The Wormwood Trilogy (Rosewater is book 1) – Tade Thompson

62. Books of Blood – Clive Barker

63. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum

64. American Gods – Neil Gaiman 

65. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman

66. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

67. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

68. The Road – Cormac McCarthy

69. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

70. Neuromancer – William Gibson

71. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

72. New Crobuzon series (includes Perdido Street Station) – China Miéville

73. Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James

74. The Stand – Stephen King

75. Carrie – Stephen King

76. The Pern series – Anne McCaffrey

77. The Mirror – Marlys Milhiser

78. Among Others – Jo Walton

79. My Real Children – Jo Walton

80. The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell

81. The Mermaid’s Daughter – Ann Claycomb

82. Vorkosigan Saga – Lois McMaster Bujold

83. The Fionavar Tapestry - Guy Gavriel Kay

84. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

85. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson 

86. Grendel – John Gardner

87. Feed – Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire)

88. October Daye series – Seanan McGuire

89. Mercy Thompson series – Patricia Briggs

90. The Walker Papers series – C.E. Murphy

91. A Boy and His Dog – Harlan Ellison

92. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

93. Miss Luddington’s Sister – Edward Bellamy

94. Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process – Edward Bellamy

95. Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon

96. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

97. Discworld series – Terry Pratchett

98. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

99. Wanderers – Chuck Wendig

100. The Miriam Black series – Chuck Wendig

101. The Finishing School series – Gail Carriger

102. The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher

103. The Dresden Files series – Jim Butcher

104. The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle

105. Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

106. A Song of Ice and Fire – G.R.R. Martin

107. Mordant’s Need duology – Stephen R. Donaldson

108. The GAP books – Stephen R. Donaldson

109. Song for the Basilisk – Patricia A. McKillip

110. In the Forests of Serre – Patricia A. McKillip

111. Neverness series – David Zindell

112. The Chronicles of Amber – Roger Zelazny

113. Memoirs of an Invisible Man – H.F. Saint

114. The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells

115. Hyperion – Dan Simmons

116. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand – Samuel R. Delany

117. Nova – Samuel R. Delany

118. Odd John – Olaf Stapledon

119. Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon

120. The Stars, My Destination – Alfred Bester

121. Magic Kingdom of Landover series – Terry Brooks

122. His Dark Materials series – Philip Pullman

123. The Thursday Next series – Jasper Fforde

124. The Athena Club series – Theodora Doss

125. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke

126. Rama series – Arthur C. Clarke

127. Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke

128. The Prince of Nothing series – R. Scott Bakker

129. The Book of the New Sun series – Gene Wolfe

130. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

131. Watership Down – Richard Adams

132. The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series – Douglas Adams

133. Radix Tetrad – A.A. Attanasio

134. Imperial Radch trilogy (book 1 is Ancillary Justice) – Ann Leckie

135. The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

136. The Uplift Saga – David Brin

137. The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton

138. Gaea Trilogy – John Varley

139. Thunder and Lightning series – John Varley

140. Snowcrash – Neal Stephenson

141. Wool series – Hugh Howey

142. Demon Seed – Dean Koontz

143. Whispers – Dean Koontz

144. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

145. Mistborn series – Brandon Sanderson

146. Rivers of London series – Ben Aaronovitch

147. Kitty Norville series – Carrie Vaughn

These moments of reading-challenge blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell (who has read 89 entries already). Here's hoping that by the time the contest is over, we'll be back to normal. Get your vaccination ASAP!

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