Books Fantasy

Brian’s Fantasy List

Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

Greatest time-travel tale. Powers may have written a couple of journeyman books but never a weak one. If you have never read him then you should start now. Also read On Stranger Tides & The Stress of Her Regard. This is the book that most fans of Tim Powers read first.
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock

An examination of the mythical Christ vs. the historical Christ using the Science Fiction tropes of time travel and the time machine.
Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

A quest novel unlike any others. A woman led through the fantastic landscape of her dream world by her aborted son and how it all crosses over into the “real” world. An influence on Gaiman’s Sandman
Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary

A truly original SF novel by an underrated writer. If only his day job didn’t take so much of his time maybe he would produce more mind-bending fiction.
Dark Ladies by Fritz Leiber

Leiber was truly one of the century’s great writers and he deserves more recognition. Fafhred & The Grey Mouser are his most recognized characters and tales but these quietly powerful tales still resonate with me, a clear influence on Tim Powers.

Domu by Katsuhiro Otomo

Akira is the more widely known work and it is deserving of its praise but I always thought it played things a little fast and loose at times. This however is tight storytelling from start to finish. A psychic battle of good and evil as represented by a girl and an old man that all takes place in an apartment complex.
Dying Earth by Jack Vance

I’m familiar with and see the argument of calling Tolkien the greatest fantasist of the 20th century but I just don’t buy it. Now admittedly I’ve never toed the company line when it comes to fantasy (as I said once before I once watched my best friends head literally explode when I proclaimed that Jim Henson’s body of work was more important then Tolkien’s, but I digress) but I think that Jack Vance certainly could hold that top spot. His output and the quality that it maintained is just astonishing. I actually own the V.I.E.

The Gift by Patrick O’Leary

Great story that begs and deserves to be discovered ( a “re-“ doesn’t even apply here). Haunting and will stick with you.
Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons

One of the great SF epics. Contains the 1st 2 novels. Also read Endymion & Rise of Endymion. For me its consistency places it in higher regard then Dune which is all over the map quality wise after the admittedly great first book.
Jerusalem Poker by Edward Whittemore

Book 2 of the Jerusalem Quartet. The strongest of the group. All 5 of Whittemores books deserve to be read. They may be fantastic but I don’t think that they are fantasy, but what the hell it is my list right.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

A great, if sometimes forgotten SF novel. Zelazny’s strongest novel. Also contains what might just be the single worst pun in the history of the novel.
Last Call by Tim Powers

One of my favorite novels. Ever. Period. Tim Powers at his strongest. So complex, so masterfully executed that everything else just pales in comparison. Plus you’ve got Bugsy Seagal as The Fisher King. Followed by Expiration Date & Earthquake Weather
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirlees

An unclassifiable book. The ending is so delightfully weird that it just takes the story right over the edge and into perfection. I like Catheryne Valiente’s assertion that it is the first slipstream novel.
Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The greatest “quest” novel. Don’t let the fact that it is a children’s book fool you, more happens here then in most books. The most allegorical book since Moby Dick.
Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Possibly the greatest fantasy novel of the 20th century. Brilliant. The story of how it came to see publication is interesting in its own right.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

The classic movie is just the tip of the iceberg of the actual story. A grand epic and as Paul Harvey says “…and now you know the rest of the story.”
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My favorite Gaiman novel. An exiting and well told adventure.

Riddly Walker by Russell Hoban

No other book does more to totally immerse the reader in a created world. The death of our language and the subsequent creation of a new language from its ashes is amazing. The power of language to direct how we view the world. Tolkien created a new world using language, Hoban does the same thing but vastly different. One of the most challenging books that I have ever read and also one of the most rewarding. Also the greatest post-apocalyptic tale ever written. John Leonard of the New York Times said ”… designed to prevent the modern reader from becoming stupid
Requiem by Graham Joyce

Parts of this book haunt me to this day. Joyce deserves a bigger audience. I don’t know if he has a best but this is my favorite.
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The single greatest SFF group of books period. This is the high water mark for the genre. Infinitely re-readable with more and more being revealed with subsequent readings.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman

A true epic in scope and story telling and possibly the greatest epic ever told. Simply devastated the conventions of what we imagine comics could be. The heights that it climbs to are stunning. In many ways the pinnacle. Must be read to be believed. Pick a cover any cover
Troika by Stepan Chapman

Never heard of it, not surprised. So utterly amazing that you need to do whatever it takes to get a copy. Go Now! If you send Vandermeer an e-mail you can probably still get a copy.
Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer

Great story by a great writer. The change of narrative perspective could have been a gimmick but was handled flawlessly. In fact it could be a text book on perspective. Most readers choose City of Saints & Madmen as their favorite but Veniss is the one for me.
Viriconium by M John Harrison

Punches Tolkien & his ilk right in the eye, kicks him when he’s down, pees on him, & sets the corpse on fire. There have been other anti-Tolkien & anti-fantasies but this was the first and remains the best. Particularly astute of Harrison to recognize the pitfalls of the genre considering when the first Viriconium book was published.
Watchmen by Alan Moore

Don’t read comics, read this and have your opinion of them changed. A brilliant deconstruction of the super hero mythos. A perfect marriage of words and pictures.

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

One of my absolute favorites. Profound treaties on big issues draped in the tropes of the fantasy genre. Carroll is the master. The scene at the zoo is one of the most haunting and tragic pieces ever written and is worth the price of admission alone. First book of a planned trilogy, 2nd book is Glass Soup.
Warhound and the Worlds Pain by Michael Moorcock

My personal Moorcock favorite. Elric may be the popular one but I like the Von Bek’s. Grab any of the Eternal Champion books if you see them. They all deserve to be read. A giant in the field of SF&F. The meeting with the sympathetic Miltonian Satan, the commonality of the grail, all brilliant stuff.

Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
The People of Paper by Salvadore Placencia

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary

Last Call by Tim Powers

Lud In The Mist by Hope Mirrlees

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Troika by Stepan Chapman

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

Requiem by Graham Joyce

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban