ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

1980s Classics of SF

At the Asimov's forum it was asked which are the best SF stories of the 1980s. I came up with the following list -- ten stories in each category (except novel):


I’m scanting novel a bit … to some extent, the most famous novels seem disappointing to me (Ender’s Game, Neuromancer (indeed I prefer Count Zero), The Snow Queen) – though when I say disappointing, I should emphasize that they are all very much still worth a look.


So, two undeniable classics:

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe

Little, Big, John Crowley


And two more that I have a special fondness for:

Fevre Dream, George R. R. Martin

The Wild Shore, Kim Stanley Robinson



More or less in order of my preference:

“Green Mars”, by Kim Stanley Robinson

“Great Work of Time”, by John Crowley

“The Autopsy”, by Michael Shea

 “The Blabber”, by Vernor Vinge

“The Originist”, by Orson Scott Card

“The Last of the Winnebagos”, by Connie Willis

“In the Western Tradition”, by Phyllis Eisenstein

“Souls”, by Joanna Russ

“Another Orphan”, by John Kessel

Fugue State”, by John M. Ford



 “Bloodchild”, by Octavia Butler

“Blood Music”, by Greg Bear

“Black Air”, by Kim Stanley Robinson

“Rachel in Love”, by Pat Murphy

“Snow”, by John Crowley

“Fire Watch”, by Connie Willis

“Swarm”, by Bruce Sterling

”The Slovo Stove”, by Avram Davidson

“A Spanish Lesson”, by Lucius Shepard

“Walkaway Clause”, by John M. Ford


Short Story:

“Out of All Them Bright Stars”, by Nancy Kress

“New Rose Hotel”, by William Gibson

“Speech Sounds”, by Octavia Butler

“Rat”, by James Patrick Kelly

“Tangents”, by Greg Bear

“Stairs”, by Neal Barrett, Jr.

“Game Night at the Fox and Goose”, by Karen Joy Fowler

“The Crystal Spheres”, by David Brin

“Spider Rose”, by Bruce Sterling

“Pretty Boy Crossover”, by Pat Cadigan


(Note that a couple stories are borderline as to category, particularly “Snow” and “The Autopsy”, which each might be a category smaller than where I’ve listed them.)


Just Missed:


A few stories that just fell off these lists: George R. R. Martin’s “Nightflyers”, Howard Waldrop’s “The Ugly Chickens”, Bob Leman’s “Window”, Thomas M. Disch’s “The Brave Little Toaster”, James Tiptree Jr.’s “Slow Music” and “The Only Neat Thing to Do”, Gardner Dozois’s “The Peacemaker”, Bruce Sterling’s “Dinner at Audoghast” and “The Beautiful and Sublime”, George Alec Effinger’s “The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything”, Connie Willis’s “Blued Moon” and “All My Darling Daughters”, Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Sur”, Judith Moffett’s “The Hob”, Eileen Gunn’s “Stable Strategies for Middle Management”, John Kessel’s “Mrs. Shummel Exits a Winner”, and Alan Brennert’s “The Third Sex”. And one story that I haven't read but surely should: "The Unconquered Country", by Geoff Ryman.


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