More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles. Over on NPR's pop culture blog, Monkey See, you can find one fan's thoughts on how the list shaped up, get our experts' take, and have the chance to share your own.
A quick word about what's here, and what's not: Our panel of experts reviewed hundreds of the most popular nominations and tossed out those that didn't fit the survey's criteria (after — we assure you — much passionate, thoughtful, gleefully nerdy discussion). You'll notice there are no young adult or horror books on this list, but sit tight, dear reader, we're saving those genres for summers yet to come.
So, at last, here are your favorite science-fiction and fantasy novels. (And a printable version, to take with you to the bookstore.)
"Three Books. . ." is a series in which we invite writers to recommend three great reads on a single theme.
When I was 14, I wanted be a sorcerer. This did not go over well at school.
"Your father's an electrician. Why not be an electrician?" said the headmaster. But I was in the grip of an addiction to fantasy literature and role-playing games that would last my entire adolescence, and I wanted to be Frodo, Merlin or Dr. Strange.
The allure of fantasy to a boy like me was clear: I was useless at sport, clueless when it came to fashion, laughed at by girls, kicked by bullies and bored to distraction by the grim, gray reality of 1970s England, which was like Poland, but without the excuse of totalitarian communism.
My entire youth is recalled in shades of concrete gray. Only fantasy gave it color.
'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell'
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, Hardcover, 800 pages
'The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen'
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner, Paperback, 288 pages
'A Wizard Of Earthsea'
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, Paperback, 192 pages
Audio book sales are increasing at a double-digit rate, according to the Audio Publishers Association. As Lynn Neary reports, popular books like the Harry Potter series have done well — and expanded consumer awareness of audio books in the process.
And the future is beckoning. The industry is hoping to lure more fans with popular narrators and celebrity readers, CDs with special DVD-like features and books that can be downloaded to computers and digital players.
The audio book industry has grown steadily since the mid-1980s, when major publishing houses began recording some of their biggest new titles. Just last month, audio book publishers reported a 14 perent increase in sales between 2001 and 2003.
Another development may represent the future of audio books: digital downloading. Audible. com, the biggest provider of audio books online, reported an increase in sales from 5.1 million in 2001 to 18.4 in 2003.