For a new reading list, see Nick’s suggested reading

The big list of cultural literacy enforcement
Let’s try breaking this down categorically:
Nick’s Best books of all time
* Sherman Alexie
* Reservation Blues
* Theodore Sturgeon
* Whatever—A Way Home is a good place to start
* Kay Boyle
* The Crazy Hunter
* Cristina Garcia
* Dreaming in Cuban
* Raphael Carter
* The Fortunate Fall
* Roger Zelazny
* Dream Master
* Doorways in the Sand (Okay, not best, but certainly favorite
Nick’s second-tier best books of all time
* Colson Whitehead
* The Inuitionist
* Matt Ruff
* Sewer, Gas, Electric
Nick’s weirdest fucking books of all time
* Ballard
* The Atrocity Exhibition
* Cocaine Nights
* Damon Knight
* Humpty Dumpty: An Oval
* David Bowman
* Bunny Modern
* Let the Dog Drive
* Lethem
* This Shape We’re In
* Orson Scott Card
* Hart’s Hope
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Searching for the new masters
The old guard of sci-fi greats are either dead or in utter senescence (Bradbury and Clarke are alive but barely, while Zelazny, Dick, Herbert, Asimov, Bester, etc. are dead as doornails). The challnege is to figure out which are the promising new talents which might, under the right circumstances, become the new masters of the coming generation of science fiction. These here are, mind you, mostly dead ends, but they’re the people in regards to whose books I’ve said, “This could become something important.”
* Lethem
* Amnesia Moon
* As She Crawled Across the Table
* David Brin
* The Postman
* James Alan Gardner
* Expendable
* Raphael Carter
* The Fortunate Fall
* Patricia Anthony
* Cold Allies
* Brother Termite
* Mary Doria Russell
* The Sparrow
* Children of God
New Wave and associated
See New Wave for more information. Several additional authors who are not, properly speaking, New Wave, are included because they share essential attributes, and would fall into a broader category like “literary sci-fi”. These works on the whole tend to put the art of writing ahead of attempts at “hardening” their science.
* Zelazny
* Dream Master
* Isle of the Dead
* Today We Choose Faces
* Doorways in the Sand
* The Doors of his Face, the Lamps of his Mouth
* Creatures of Light and Darkness
* Lord of Light
* A Dark Traveling
* Jack of Shadows
* The Amber series
* Delany
* Jewels of Aptor
* The Fall of the Towers
* Farmer
* To Your Scattered Bodies Go
* Wind Whales of Ishmael
* Dick
* Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
* Bester
* The Demolished Man
* Psyschoshop
* The Stars My Destination
* Golem100
* Michael Moorcock
* The Eternal Champion
* Damon Knight
* Humpty Dumpty: An Oval
* JG Ballard
* “The Atrocity Exhibition”
* The Voices of Time
* Cocaine Nights
* Ray Bradbury
* The Martian Chronicles
SocioPunk, PoliPunk, PyschoPunk, AnthroPunk, BureaucraPunk HistoriPunk, and LinguiPunk
These authors are, like the New Wave set, interested in taking science fiction in a different direction than simple prediction of technological change, but they aren’t necessarily so artsy about it. For them, science fiction is about discovering the essence of the human by exploring its limits, and thus they grapple with the “human sciences.”
* Herbert
* Whipping Star (LinguiPunk, BureaucraPunk)
* The Dosadi Experiment (PoliPunk)
* Eye (Stories, varied. SocioPunk/ecology, LinguiPunk, BureaucraPunk)
* Dragon in the Deep (PyschoPunk, BureaucraPunk)
* Zelazny
* Dream master (PsychoPunk—but also, with its neuroparticipation, a clear foundational work for cyberpunk)
* Delany
* Babel-17 (LinguiPunk)
* Triton (LinguiPunk)
* Le Guin
* The Ekumen Books (AnthroPunk, PoliPunk)
* Rocannon’s World
* Left Hand of Darkness
* Earthsea (AnthroPunk)
* A Wizard of Earthsea
* The Tombs of Atuan
* The Farthest Shore
* Tales of Earthsea
* Brin (SocioPunk)
* The Uplift War
* Tolkien (LinguiPunk)
* Connie Willis (HistoriPunk)
* Doomsday Book
* To Say Nothing of the Dog
* Orson Scott Card
* Pastwatch (HistoriPunk)
Urban fantasy and magical realism
* Ray Bradbury
* Something Wicked This Way Comes
* Death is a Lonely Business
* Emma Bull
* The War for the Oaks
* Finder
* Sherman Alexie
* Reservation Blues
* Indian Kiler
* Toughest Indian in the World
* Charles de Lint
* Someplace To Be Flying
* The Little Country
* Lisa Goldstein
* The Red Magician
* Travelers in Magic
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy
A surprising amount of this, in fact, and among it some classics…
* CS Lewis
* Narnia
* The Space Trilogy
* Madeleine L’Engle
* Kairos (Murray and O’Keefe lineage)
* Chronos (Austin lineage)
* Mary Doria Russell
* The Sparrow
* Children of God
Other fantasy
* Peter S. Beagle
* The Last Unicorn
* The Innkeeper’s Song
Woman-authored science fiction
Because damnit, there isn’t enough. These selections here are, however, not included merely because they’re female-authored (in fact, you’ll notice most of them represented elsewhere as well)
* Raphael Carter
* The Fortunate Fall
* Patricia Anthony
* Cold Allies
* Brother Termite
* Catherine Asaro
* Primary Inversion
* Connie Willis
* To Say Nothing of the Dog
* Octavia Butler
* Patternmaster
* Sherri Tepper
* Sideshow
* Grass
* The Gate to Women’s Country
* Mary Doria Russell
* The Sparrow
* Children of God
Queer science fiction
As above
* Delany
* Dhalgren
* Raphael Carter
* The Fortunate Fall
Cyberpunk that doesn’t suck
I’m sure there is some…I’ve even read some. But I have trouble remembering…
* Raphael Carter
* The Fortunate Fall
An interesting field which may or may not make something of itself.
* Bruce Sterling
* The Artificial Kid
* The Schismatrix
* Octavia Butler
* Patternmaster
Humorous Sci-fi
Obviously, Hitchiker sets the paradigm…
* Douglas Adams
* Hitchiker books
* Dirk Gently books
* Arthur C. Clarke
* Tails from the White Hart
Humorous Fantasy
(yes, this is going to be repulsive no matter how I present it)
* Piers Anthony
* Xanth
* Robert Asprin
* Myth
* Zelazny
* A Night in the Lonesome October
* James Blaylock
* The Elfin Ship
* Craig Shaw Gardner
* The Ebenezum books

Specific authors of interest and import not sufficiently discussed previously
Orson Scott Card
* Ender
* Ender’s Game
* Speaker for the Dead
* Xenocide
* Children of the Mind
* The Worthing Saga
* Pastwatch
James White
* Sector General
HP Lovecraft
* “Celephais”
* ...
Top-tier mystery (i.e., genre-transcendent literary mystery writing)
* Dashiell Hammett
* Red Harvest
* James Lee Burke
* Black Cherry Blues
* The Neon Rain
* Burning Angel
* A Morning for Flamingos
Second-tier mystery
* Robert B. Parker
* Looking for Rachel Wallace
* Marcia Muller
* `Till the Butchers Cut Him Down
* Bill Pronzini
* Snatch
* Robert Crais
* The Monkey’s Raincoat
* John Dunning
* The Bookman’s Wake