SF Masterworks: The First 24


Here at SCy-Fy, we don’t often sit in judgement on books (not publicly, anyway); we ask a lot of questions and then some more. Today will be different.
The reason is that I have just finished reading the first 24 books in Gollancz’s SF Masterworks series. This is a goal I have had for some years, ever since I bought their copy of “Do Androids Dream” by Philip K. Dick and saw the 24 books listed in there.
So, just let me pull up a really uncomfortable judgement seat:
King Egbert
Right, here we go. Ratings follow the Goodreads system: 1 is very bad, 5 is very good.
  1. THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman – 3. LET DOWN BY THE LOVE STORY
  2. I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson – 3. ALL YOU ZOMBIES
  3. CITIES IN FLIGHT by James Blish – 1. SILLY IDEA, BORING EXECUTION, IMO
  4. DO ANDROIDS DREAM by Philip K. Dick – 4. NOT BLADERUNNER, BUT STILL GOOD
  5. THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester – 5. TYGER TYGER!
  6. BABEL-17 by Samuel R. Delany – 3. INTERESTING IDEAS NOT LIVED UP TO
  7. LORD OF LIGHT by Roger Zelazny – 1. INDIAN MYTHOLOGY IS INTERESTING, BUT THIS…
  8. FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS by Gene Wolfe – 4. INTRIGUING. INVITES RE-READ
  9. GATEWAY by Frederik Pohl – 4. LET DOWN BY SEXIST ATTITUDES, OTHERWISE 5 STARS
  10. THE REDISCOVERY OF MAN by Cordwainer Smith – 2. SORRY, NO
  11. LAST AND FIRST MEN by Olaf Stapledon – 4. SO MANY IDEAS!
  12. EARTH ABIDES by George R. Stewart – 5. ANCESTOR OF MODERN POST-APOCALYPTIC
  13. MARTIAN TIMESLIP by Philip K. Dick – 2. UNINSPIRING PKD, THIS ONE
  14. THE DEMOLISHED MAN by Alfred Bester – 4. GOOD GOOD
  15. STAND ON ZANZIBAR by John Brunner1. UNREADABLE
  16. THE DISPOSSESSED by Ursula K. Le Guin – 4. NOT HER BEST, BUT STILL VERY GOOD
  17. THE DROWNED WORLD by J.G. Ballard – 4. GREAT PROSE AND IDEAS
  18. THE SIRENS OF TITAN by Kurt Vonnegut – 3. THE LAST ONE I READ; MEH
  19. EMPHYRIO by Jack Vance – 3. I LOVE VANCE, BUT THIS IS NOT HIS BEST
  20. A SCANNER DARKLY by Philip K. Dick – 5. BRILLIANT
  21. STAR MAKER by Olaf Stapledon – 4. IDEAS IDEAS!
  22. BEHOLD THE MAN by Michael Moorcock – 4. NEW WAVE STYLE
  23. THE BOOK OF SKULLS by Robert Silverberg – 1. INTERESTING IDEA, HATED THE CHARACTERS
  24. THE TIME MACHINE/WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells – 4. SF FOUNDATION STONES
My vote for the best: A SCANNER DARKLY by PKD.
The turkey of the bunch: STAND ON ZANZIBAR by John Brunner, so here is a picture of a …one of these:
(from
See you back here many years from now for the next 24.

13 thoughts on “SF Masterworks: The First 24

  1. Gasp! 3 stars for Babel-17! The Dispossesses not her best? Brunner unreadable? You are just trying to provoke me!

    Haha, j/k this is fun. Getting to Ballard next month…

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      1. In everybody’s opinion, too. But for me, The Dispossessed eeks by with a slightly more weighty impression on me. Both are fab, though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fewer than half – definitely – in fact, make that 3!! Oh dear! I need to go away and get my head down. I’ve read Nos 2, 4 and 24. I enjoyed I am Legend more than you did by the looks of things although it is quite a gloomy book to say the least.
    Well done getting through them all.
    Lynn 😀

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  3. That’s a white peacock dummy, ah but you already know that don’t you? I had to look closely at the guy on the throne and it really is you! Unusual to see you in designer stubble though. Bravo on having read the whole series. Salute June x

    Liked by 1 person

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