NewsWire: J. R. R. Tolkien Crowned “Lord of Science Fiction” – A natural choice ~

by Mar 6, 2003Other News

Editors crown Tolkien lord of science fiction
by: Bob Minzesheimer

(from: USA TODAY)

J.R.R. TolkienJ.R.R. TolkienThe master, J.R.R. Tolkien, is No. 1 in a new ranking of science fiction and fantasy books. The newcomer, J.K. Rowling, failed to make the top 10.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a trilogy about the battle between good and evil, is the “most significant” science fiction or fantasy book of the past 50 years, according to editors of the 50-year-old Science Fiction Book Club.

Their choices, released Sunday, rank the top 10 books and list 40 other unranked titles chosen for literary quality, historical importance, originality and readability.

The top choice was obvious, says Andrew Wheeler, one of four editors to compile the list. “In influence, The Lord of the Rings is head and shoulders above anything else. Tolkien set up all the rules on how to write a story like this.”

The first in Rowling’s popular series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published in the USA in 1998, is the newest book among the 50 titles.
But Wheeler says: “More time has to pass before you can gauge if something is overwhelmingly significant. In another 25 years, if there’s a list like this, I think it’s a fair chance she’ll be on it.”

It’s the latest honor for Tolkien, an Oxford professor who died in 1973, 19 years after The Lord of the Rings was published.

Boosted by new movies of the first two parts of the trilogy, his book sales last year were topped only by Rowling and romance writer Nora Roberts. A biography by British scholar Tom Shippey dubbed him “author of the century.” A readers’ survey by crowned his trilogy “book of the millennium.”

Wheeler says editors “split the difference between what’s best and what’s most popular. Books are important for different reasons.”

<ul><li>No. 2, Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy, published in one volume in 1963, creates “a universe of scope and depth unmatched in its day and only rarely since,” he says.</li>
<li>No. 3, Frank Herbert’s Dune, “brought new ecological insight into science fiction” in 1965, editor Ellen Asher says.</li>
<li>No. 6, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the newest book in the top 10, “ignited a literary movement, the cyberpunks” in 1984, Wheeler says, “and launched a million impressionable readers headlong into the world of computers.”</li></ul>


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