The Grand Masters’ Reading List


Don’t look now, but the holiday season is upon us. As the northern half of the Earth prepares to curl up somewhere warm and read a good book, I find myself wondering what to read next.

I turn my attention to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Masters. Collectively they have written some of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. The titles of these great novels are on the tip of each and every science fiction fan’s tongue.

But what about their lesser known works? What about those novels that many of us have never read and possibly never even heard of?

This week I have compiled a reading list taken from the works of the SFWA Grand Masters. The list is simply presented with only a small blurb for each entry. The idea was not to list the greatest novel of each author, but something new and different that shows the lesser known side of each Grand Master.

I encourage you to find something on the list to read this winter. Many of the titles may test your ability to locate a copy to read, but that challenge can be a marvelous pastime itself. Oh, how I enjoy a good bookstore.

Maybe one day a wise publisher will find a way to put all these entertaining works back into e-print at least.

If you’ve already read one of the books in the list, feel free to provide feedback in the comments section. Please also let us know if there are some other lesser known, novels that we should be sure and check out.

I hope you enjoy the SFWA Grand Masters’ Reading List.

Robert A. Heinlein

  • Glory Road  (1963)
  • A taste of fantasy from the prototypical Campbellian author.


Darker_Than_you_Think by Jack WIlliamsonJack Williamson

  • Darker Than You Think (1948)
  • Some consider it his greatest novel.


Clifford D. Simak

  • The Goblin Reservation (1968)
  • Because science fiction should be fun.


Sprague de Camp

  • Lest Darkness Fall (1941)
  • An amazing example of alternate history.


Fritz Leiber

  • Our Lady of Darkness (1977)
  • A scary tale for those horror and urban fantasy fans.


Andre Norton

  • The Time Traders (1958)
  • Norton’s version of James Bond.


Sands of Mars by Arthur C. ClarkeArthur C. Clarke

  • The Sands of Mars  (1951)
  • Just think when this book turns 100, you’ll be able to tuck it under your pillow during your vacation to Mars.


Isaac Asimov

  • David Starr, Space Ranger (1952)
  • Asimov’s guilty pleasure disguised as Paul French.


Alfred Bester

  • Who He? (1953)
  • Exploring the culture surrounding the dominant technology on our planet: television.


Ray Bradbury

  • The Halloween Tree (1972)
  • A below the radar Bradbury classic.


Lester del Rey

  • Marooned on Mars (1952)
  • Something for the younger readers.


Frederik Pohl

  • Jem (1979)
  • Space exploration beyond Earth.


Mind Switch by Damon KnightDamon Knight

  • Mind Switch (1965)
  • If it is Knight’s personal favorite, then it is worth a read.


A. E. van Vogt

  • The Book of Ptath (1947)
  • Some consider it van Vogt’s best novel.


Jack Vance

  • The Five Gold Bands (1950)
  • An early example of Vance being Vance.


Poul Anderson

  • Brain Wave (1954)
  • Anderson considered it to be one of his top five novels.


Hal Clement

  • Iceworld (1953)
  • On a cold winter night, we should be reading about someplace colder.


Brian W. Aldiss

  • Report on Probability A (1967)
  • Some consider it to be a seminal work in experimental science fiction.


Philip Jose Farmer

  • Red Orc’s Rage (1991)
  • Science fiction that explores science fiction.


Beginning Place by Ursula le GuinUrsula K. Le Guin

  • The Beginning Place (1980)
  • Le Guin’s genius on full display.


Robert Silverberg

  • The Stochastic Man (1975)
  • A masterpiece written by a Grand Master at the height of his powers.


Anne McCaffrey

  • Restoree (1967)
  • McCaffrey fighting back against the traditional depiction of women in science fiction.


Harlan Ellison

  • Web of the City (1958)
  • An example of Ellison taking novel research to the extreme.


James Gunn

  • Kampus (1977)
  • One of Gunn’s favorites.


Mother London by Michael MoorcockMichael Moorcock

  • Mother London (1988)
  • It’s just a great novel.


Harry Harrison

  • Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
  • Read it because you saw the movie Soylent Green.


Joe Haldeman

  • All My Sins Remembered (1977)
  • Another example of his great writing.


Connie Willis

  • Inside Job (2005)
  • A great novella during an era when novellas were largely banished by publishers.


There Are Doors by Gene WolfeGene Wolfe

  • There Are Doors (1988)
  • An intricate book that exhibits Wolfe’s masterful writing.


Samuel R. Delany

  • The Einstein Intersection (1967)
  • An example of poetic science fiction that Algis Budrys urgently recommended.


I hope you find something on the list that inspires you to step out of your standard fare and explore the far corners of science fiction. Happy hunting and amazing reading.

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  1. Thanks, R.K. This is a magnificent list that I heartily second. I was surprised I’ve read so many of them because I gafiated long ago and only occasionally read SF these days. There’s a lot of fun in store for readers who haven’t plunged into these yarns before.

  2. Another post that will send me on the hunt for great fiction. Some are easily found as eboooks, others will take hours of Used Bookstores, swap meets, garage sales…lucky me. Thank you.

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