My top 100 SF-Fantasy. Some of these are series, but some of the individual books are better than others. Where I can’t say one book is better than the others, I list the series as a single entry, so the list is actually more than 100.
My list. YMMV
1) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
2) Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
3) Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card
4) Dune - Frank Herbert
4) Roadmarks - Roger Zelazny
5) Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
5) Trumps of Doom - Zelazny
6) Jagged Orbit - Brunner
7) Foundation (series) - Issac Asimov
8) Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
9) Space Odyssey series - Arthur C. Clarke
10) remaining Dune Chronicles - Herbert
11) Piknik na Obochine (Roadside Picnic) -- Arkadi & Boris Strugatsky
(This is in Russian so finding an English translation may take you a bit. I consider this a MUST read for die hard SF fans. For that matter, I consider everything in the top 20 to be pretty much required reading.)
12) Barlowe’s Guide to Extra-Terrerestrials - Wayne Douglas Barlowe (mine is the ONLY SF list to put this in the top 100. Why? This book is a critical work for SF fans.)
12) The Fafherd and Grey Mouser (series) - Fritz Leiber
13) Equal Rites - Terry Prachett
14) Nemesis - Asimov
15) The remainder of the Amber series - Zelazny
16) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Heinlein
17) Hyperion (series) - Dan Simmons
18) Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
19) The Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
20) The Dresden Files (Series) - Jim Butcher
21) Guns of the South - Harry Turtledove
22) Bored of the Rings - Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney,
23) The X-Men (Comic book series) - various with some far better than others
24) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
25) Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift
26) Warlord of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
27) Thieves World (Series) - various
28) Dracula - Bran Stoker
29) Beowulf - unknown
30) The Modern Prometheus (AKA Frankenstein) - Mary Shelley
31) Animal Farm - Orwell
32) 1984 - George Orwell
33) The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
34) Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Adams
35) Life the Universe and Everything - Adams
36) Pern series - Anne McCaffrey
37) Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes (probably should be ranked higher)
38) Courtship Rites - Donald Kingsbury
39) Kiln People - David Brin
40) Across a Billion Years - Silverberg
41) The Rowan - McCaffrey
42) Wizard’s First Rule - Terry Goodkind
43) Jingo - Terry Prachett
44) The Man in the Maze - Silverberg
45) Conan The Cimmerian - Robert E. Howard
46) The Puppet Masters - Heinlein
47) Stainless Steel Rat (series) Harry Harrison
48) Hellstrom’s Hive - Herbert
49) Bill The Galactic Hero on the Planet of the Bottle Brains - Harrison
50) The Smoke Ring -- Larry Niven
51) The Bladerunner - Alan E. Nourse (not the movie or the other book you think of)
52) Mostly Harmless - Adams
53) So Long And Thanks for All The Fish - Adams
54) Time Enough For Love -- Robert Heinlein
55) The Galactic Milieu Series - Julian May
56) I, Robot - Asimov
57) Methuselah’s Children -- Robert Heinlein
58) The Number Of The Beast -- Robert Heinlein
59) Watership Down - Richard Adams
60) Seventh Son - Card
61) The Time Machine - HG Wells
62) Ringworld - Larry Niven
63) Lord Valentine's Castle -- Robert Silverberg
64) The Coming of the Quantum Cats - Fred Pohl
65) Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency -- Douglas Adams
66) The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul -- Douglas Adams
67) Another Fine Myth -- Robert Asprin
68) The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - Robert Heinlein
69) Heart of the Comet -- Gregory Benford & David Brin
70) Practical Demon Keeping - Christopher Moore
71) A Spell for Chameleon - Piers Anthony
72) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
73) The Books Of Swords (series) - Fred Saberhagen
74) Phaze (series) - Piers Anthony
75) Howard the Duck - Steve Gerber
76) There is a book the title and author of which escapes me in which a stasis bubble was developed and used to travel forward in time and conduct a war.
77) The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
78) A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
79) The Forge of God (and The Anvil of God) - Greg Bear (NB - These are the only books by Greg Bear which I like. The rest I do not care for.)
80) The Dune chronicle series by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Important because it fills in gaps in the Dune series which so many of us have wondered about for years.)
81) The Princess Bride - William Goldman
82) The Stand - Stephen King
83) Most of the remainder of the Xanth series - Anthony. (Some of ‘em suck).
84) The Blue Devil (comic) - Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Paris Cullins
85) Ambush Bug (comic) - Keith Giffen
86) Axa (comic) - Donne Avenell and Romero.
87) Ghita of Alizarr (comic) - Frank Thorne (also did Red Sonja)
88) The Once & Future King - TH White
89) The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
90) The Lord of the Rings trilogy - JRR Tolkien
91) Peter Pan and Wendy - JM Barre
92) The Ozark trilogy - Suzette Haden Elgin
93) Sluggy Freelance : Born of Nifty : Megatome 01 (comic) - Peter Abrams
94) Sluggy Freelance: Little Evils: MegaTome 02 (comic) - Abrams
95) Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien (Children’s book, but still awesome!)
96) Gateway (Heechee Saga)- Pohl
97) The Mule - Asimov
98) The Horseclan series - Robert Adams
99 )The Positronic Man - Silverberg & Asimov
100) The as yet untitled SF novel I’m working on.
I could easily list pretty much everything Heinlein, Zelazny, Sliverberg and Brunner wrote in my top 100 and still be satisfied. Instead I picked their tops works to make room for other authors.
I did not list anthologies, except for Thieves World, but they all rank high on list.
Someone is gonna eyeball this list and attempt to make some inferences about me. G’head. Lemme know what you come up with.
This is my top 100. I admit it may change as I read other authors and consider their work. While I did include a few classic literature pieces that to me are SF-Fantasy (Beowulf) and not some others, it’s because I either haven’t read ‘em or did not like them. You pick which option you prefer as I’m probably never going to read any more of the “classics” like The Iliad because I was forced to read ‘em in school and so now refuse to have anything to do with them.
Favorite authors: Adams, Asimov, Herbert, Clarke, Heinlein, Brunner, Phillip K. Dick, Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Clifford D. Simak, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursual K LeGuin, Poul Anderson, Sliverberg, Fred Pohl, Philip Jose Farmer, Larry Niven, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis, Mercedes Lackey, Michael Moorcock, Terry Brooks, L. Ron Hubbard, A E Van Vogt, Gordon Dickson, David Eddings, Alan Dean Foster, David Drake (his Hammer series is pretty good), Spider Robinson, Ben Bova, Prachett and more whose names escape me.
I do not care for CJ Cherryh’s work. Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time series” is immensely popular but once you read one of the books, you have read them all. Besides which he had the bad manners to die before finishing the series.
I have read 1 book by George RR Martin and found it entertaining, but not worthy of my top 100.
For other examples - http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books
I have most of these books.
And in case your wondering what is something you’d like to read, a flow chart - http://www.forevergeek.com/2011/10/flowchart-for-nprs-best-fantasy-and-science-fiction-books/
I have also found that when buying used books, I look for the Doubleday SF imprint. With 1 exception, I have always been delighted with Doubleday’s stuff. The one exception was merely OK. Dunno if you have discount dollar stores where you live. Sometimes these places have a book rack where you can buy new SF books for a buck or so. They were remaindered and the publisher is trying to get some money from ‘em.
I’ve picked up some real dogs and picked up some winners from these racks. If you don’t go in expecting a lot, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.