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An Occasional Series

The multibranched internet strikes again… A digression about books about grass (where, solely to confuse you, I am identified as phialastring), or the lack thereof, led to a struggle to remember a particular science fiction novel that featured a rainbow-hued grass planet, to a Google-fueled discovery of that novel’s place on the Gollancz SF Masterworks list.

The novel in question is Grass, by Sheri Tepper, and I am now rereading it. It is the one I was thinking of: hooray for near-infinite searchability.

But that Masterworks list… the most up-to-date index I could find has one hundred and ten books on it. I haven’t read most of them, and the ones I’ve read were mostly in the distant past. (Here’s a less-current list, but with cover images.)

And there’s a fantasy list too, with another fifty books (and here again with covers). There too I haven’t read as many as I’d like, though for both lists many of the books have been on my to-read list for many years.

I haven’t read anything on either list since I became serious about writing fiction. My approach to reading has changed as my writing skills have improved, probably the former even more than the latter.

My new long-term project: track down and read all of both lists, and write short reviews here (main index). These books won’t be all I read, nor do I expect this to read them in order or any such organized approach. As I already said, I’m rereading Grass right now. I got the first volume on the fantasy list out of the library: Shadow and Claw, the omnibus of the first two volumes of The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. New Sun has been on my to-read list longer than most, as I reliably bounce off Gene Wolfe’s writing, short or long.

Want to play along?


  1. Laura says:

    Oh, that does sound appealing. I will play, too. 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Read some books. Mention them online occasionally, here or on your blog. 🙂 I don’t plan to impose any more structure than that.

  3. Carl Witthoft says:

    The moment you mentioned “rainbow-hued grass planet,” I recognized it as Tepper’s world. The sequels are pretty decent as well.
    I hesitate to ask whether you’re a Stark, Tully, or Targaryen follower.

  4. Tom says:

    You know, I was thinking the other day, and I realized there was one very important difference between my list of great SF and everyone else’s list. I have read all the one’s on my list. I can’t say that about anybody else’s list. All of the other lists contain at least one book that I’ve never read. How can I tell if it’s a good book if I’ve never read it? Am I supposed to just trust someone else when they tell me it’s good?

    That means that I don’t know how good these other lists are. I know that the books on my list are all good, but I’m not certain if the books on other people’s lists are really good or not. You all out there are just going to have to recognize that my list is the best list. I personally have read each one, and I think each one deserves to be on my list of the best SF stories. The rest of you guys are just going to have to get with the program.

  5. Sarah says:

    “The rest of you guys are just going to have to get with the program.”

    Okay. Where’s your list?