Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' Named Most Significant Book in the Science Fiction(R) Book Club's Top 50 Science Fiction/Fantasy Books

'There would be no modern science 'fantasy' genre without Tolkien,' say

Science Fiction Book Club(R) Editors

Mar 03, 2003, 00:00 ET from Bookspan

    NEW YORK, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R.
 Tolkien is the Most Significant Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the last
 half-century, as selected by the editors of the Science Fiction Book Club.
     The Science Fiction Book Club editors have compiled the 50 Most
 Significant Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of the last 50 Years in honor of
 the club's 50th anniversary.
     "The Lord of the Rings is not only the single most important fantasy novel
 ever written, but also the source of the entire fantasy genre as it exists
 today," said Andrew Wheeler, editor of the Science Fiction Book Club.  The
 Science Fiction Book Club is owned and operated by Bookspan, a partnership of
 AOL Time Warner Inc. and Bertelsmann AG.
     The editors compiled the list based on four criteria: literary quality,
 historical importance, originality and readability.
     The remainder of the Top 10 list is as follows:
       2. "The Foundation Trilogy" by Isaac Asimov
       3. "Dune" by Frank Herbert
       4. "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein
       5. "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Ursula K. Le Guin
       6. "Neuromancer" by William Gibson
       7. "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke
       8. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
       9. "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
      10. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
     Of "The Foundation Trilogy," Wheeler said "that Asimov took a wide,
 expansive view of history and applied that to the canvas of the future,
 creating a universe of scope and depth unmatched in its day and only rarely
     Ellen Asher, Science Fiction Book Club Senior Editor, said that "'Dune'
 brought new ecological insight into science fiction in the 1960s.  Frank
 Herbert created a world of depth and complexity -- in its climate and
 landscape as well as its people and their problems -- unequalled at the time,
 and raised the bar for what science fiction should do."
     Asher described Heinlein, author of "Stranger in a Strange Land," as "the
 single most popular and widest-read science fiction writer of all time.
 'Stranger' was not only a phenomenon for science fiction readers.  It jumped
 the borders into the wider culture, giving a new lexicon to the late '60s and
 a new way of looking at the world."
     Editor Wheeler said of "A Wizard of Earthsea," "Science fiction and
 Fantasy are famously popular with teenagers, and 'Wizard' was the great
 entryway into these worlds for the Baby Boom generation and beyond."
     According to Wheeler, "Neuromancer," "ignited a literary movement -- the
 Cyberpunks -- and launched a million impressionable readers headlong into the
 world of computers.  Gibson, more than anyone else, realized that the future
 would not be in outer space -- it would be in cyberspace.  The world of the
 Internet -- especially the go-go capitalist frenzy of the late '90s -- is
 straight out of 'Neuromancer.'"
     Arthur C. Clarke, author of "Childhood's End," is the third of Science
 Fiction's famous "Big Three" (along with Asimov and Heinlein).  "'Childhood's
 End' showcases all of his great strengths: his transcendent vision, his cold
 clear eye on the way people really are, and his transparent writing," said
     Of Philip K. Dick, author of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," Senior
 Editor Asher said, "when other science fiction writers created mighty-thawed
 engineer heroes, Dick wrote about everyday men and women, living one day at a
 time in a world they often didn't understand."
     Senior Editor Asher said of "The Mists of Avalon Asher" that it "re-
 imagined the legend of King Arthur from the point of view of the women in his
 life, imbuing an ancient legend with new life and bringing feminism to
 fantasy.  It was a huge success and the wellspring of a new flood of fantasy
 -- some feminist, some Arthurian, many both."
     "Fahrenheit 451" "presents a future the writer fears will come to be and
 wants to stop" said Wheeler. "Bradbury foresaw a world without books, without
 learning -- a world of complacent know-nothings, the suburban 1950s on a
 cosmic scale -- and wrote his fiery tale to keep it from ever happening."
     A complete list of the Science Fiction Book Club's 50 Most Significant
 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books is available at the club's web site .
     About Science Fiction Book Club
     Founded in 1953, The Science Fiction Book Club is the world's leading book
 club devoted to science fiction and fantasy books.  Recognized as a major
 influence on the genre, The Science Fiction Book Club offers its members a
 comprehensive selection of the latest novels, anthologies, and reprints of
 classic titles.
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