Monthly Archives: August 2017

New Meta-Lists: Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Literature of All Time

Readers of what the book publishing business snobbily refers to as “literary fiction” sometimes forget that there is a great deal of excellent literature in the various forms of what book publishers call “genre fiction.”  Two of the most popular genres are science fiction and fantasy, and so I decided to go through the Internet and find lists of the best books in each category and create meta-lists from those original source lists.  Listers often lump the two genres together, but I tried to keep them separated.  One of the key distinguishing features between science fiction and fantasy is that fantasy often has elements of magic or supernatural forces, while science fiction normally stays within the realm of what is scientifically possible.  Science fiction is usually (but not always) focused on the future, while fantasy fiction often takes place in a mythical past.  Here are the new meta-lists:

Best Science Fiction Books of All Time
Best Fantasy Books of All Time

Note that Make Lists, Not War has not neglected science fiction and fantasy in its other lists.  For example, in the list of Best Literature of All Time, the following sci-fi or fantasy books were found on three or more of the original source lists:

Frankenstein (UK, 1818). By Mary Shelley (on 6 lists)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (UK, 1865). By Lewis Carroll (on 9 lists)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (France, 1870). By Jules Verne (on 4 lists)
The Time Machine (UK, 1895). By H.G. Wells (on 5 lists)
The War of the Worlds (UK, 1898). By H.G. Wells (on 7 lists)
Brave New World (UK, 1932). By Aldous Huxley (on 9 lists)
The Hobbit (UK, 1937). By J.R.R. Tolkein (on 3 lists)
Animal Farm (UK, 1945). By George Orwell (on 8 lists)
Titus Groan (UK, 1946). By Mervyn Peake (on 4 lists)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (UK, 1949). By George Orwell (on 15 lists)
Gormenghast (UK, 1950). By Mervyn Peake (on 4 lists)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (UK, 1950). By C.S. Lewis (on 3 lists)
Foundation (US, 1951). By Isaac Asimov (on 3 lists)
Day of the Triffids (UK, 1951). By John Wyndham (on 4 lists)
Lord of the Flies (UK, 1954). By William Golding (on 5 lists)
The Lord of the Rings (UK, 1953-1956). By J.R.R. Tolkein (on 6 lists)
Titus Alone (UK, 1959). By Mervyn Peake (on 3 lists)
A Clockwork Orange (UK, 1962). By Anthony Burgess (on 5 lists)
Cat’s Cradle (US, 1963). By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (on 3 lists)
Slaughterhouse-Five (US, 1969). By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (on 5 lists)
Neuromancer (US, 1984). By William Gibson (on 3 lists)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Canada, 1985). By Margaret Atwood (on 5 lists)
Harry Potter (series of 7 books) (UK, 1997-2007). By J.K. Rowling (on 3 lists)

The Best Albums by Women: Another Perspective

You may have seen the list published last week by NPR of the best 150 albums by women since 1964 (click here to see it).  Like all the best lists, it is fun to read and fun to argue with. To provide another perspective, I went through my lists of Best Albums of All Time, Best Jazz, Best Blues, Best World Music, Best Hip Hop, Best Country, Best Music – Year by Year and Best Songs to compile an alternative list.  This one has 164 albums, in chronological order by date of the earliest recording on the album – the recordings here begin in 1920 and go all the way to 2016. I have added an asterisk to any album on my list that is also on the NPR list. Enjoy!

NOTE: Unlike the NPR list, which focuses almost exclusively on female vocalists, I have also including albums from bands with female instrumentalists, like Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads and The Smashing Pumpkins.

  1. Umm Kulthum (Oum Kalsoum): The Legend: The Arab World’s Greatest Singer (1920-1949)
  2. Bessie Smith: The Essential Bessie Smith (alternative pick: The Collection) (1923-1933)
  3. Ma Rainey: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1924-1928)
  4. Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (1925-1930) (feat. Lil Armstrong)
  5. Memphis Minnie: Bumble Bee: Essential Recordings of Memphis Minnie (1929-1941)
  6. Billie Holiday: Lady Day (1933-1944)
  7. Big Maybelle: The Complete Okeh Sessions (1952-1955)
  8. Big Mama Thornton: Hound Dog – The Peacock Recordings (1952-1957)
  9. Amália Rodriques: The Art of Amália (1952-1970)
  10. Sarah Vaughan: Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (1954)
  11. June Christy: Something Cool (1955)
  12. Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Songbooks (1956-1964) (NPR lists Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook (1964)*)
  13. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong: Ella and Louis (1957)
  14. Billie Holiday: Songs for Distingué Lovers (1957)
  15. Patsy Cline: The Definitive Collection (1957-1963)
  16. Asha Bhosle: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle (1957-1999)
  17. Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (1958)
  18. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: Everybody’s Boppin’ (1959-1961) (feat. Annie Ross)
  19. Koko Taylor: What It Takes – The Chess Years (1960-1971)
  20. Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley: Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley (1961)
  21. Abbey Lincoln: Straight Ahead (1961)
  22. Dionne Warwick: Make Way for Dionne Warwick (1964)
  23. Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (1964) (feat. Astrud Gilberto)
  24. Big Mama Thornton: Ball n’ Chain (1965-1968)
  25. The Mamas & the Papas: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966) (feat. Cass Elliott and Michelle Phillips)
  26. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)*
  27. Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967)*
  28. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) (feat. Nico and Maureen Tucker)
  29. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (1968)
  30. Tammy Wynette: D-I-V-O-R-C-E (1968)
  31. Carla Bley & Paul Haines: Escalator over the Hill (1968-1971)
  32. Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (1969)*
  33. Tammy Wynette: Stand By Your Man (1969)*
  34. Gal Costa: Gal Costa (1969)
  35. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (1969) (feat. Maureen Tucker)
  36. Fairport Convention: Liege & Leaf (1969) (feat. Sandy Denny)
  37. Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter (1970)*
  38. Essra Mohawk: Primordial Lovers (1970)
  39. The Velvet Underground: Loaded (1970) (feat. Maureen Tucker)
  40. Joni Mitchell: Blue (1971)*
  41. Carole King: Tapestry (1971)*
  42. Janis Joplin: Pearl (1971)*
  43. Dolly Parton: Coat of Many Colors (1971)*
  44. Aretha Franklin: Young Gifted and Black (1972)*
  45. Roberta Flack: Killing Me Softly (1973)
  46. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1974)
  47. Richard & Linda Thompson: I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
  48. Elis Regina & Tom Jobin: Elis & Tom (1974)
  49. Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco: Celia & Johnny (1974)
  50. Patti Smith: Horses (1975)*
  51. Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)
  52. Koko Taylor: I Got What It Takes (1975)
  53. Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Kate & Anna McGarrigle (1975)
  54. Emmylou Harris: Elite Hotel (1975)
  55. Joni Mitchell: Hejira (1976)*
  56. ABBA: Arrival (1976) (feat. Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad)
  57. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (1977) (feat. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie)*
  58. Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris: Trio (1977)
  59. Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978) (feat. Deborah Harry)*
  60. The Slits: Cut (1979) (feat. Ari Up, Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollitt)*
  61. Talking Heads: Fear of Music (1979) (feat. Tina Weymouth)
  62. Gloria Gaynor: Love Tracks (1979)
  63. Pretenders: Pretenders (1980) (feat. Chrissie Hynde)*
  64. Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980) (feat. Tina Weymouth)
  65. Rosanne Cash: Seven Year Ache (1981)
  66. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: I Love Rock ‘n Roll (1981)
  67. Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983) (feat. Annie Lennox)
  68. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection (1983-1990)
  69. Prince & The Revolution: Purple Rain (1984) (feat. Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Novi Novoq, Suzie Katayama and Apollonia)
  70. Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984) (feat. Tina Weymouth)
  71. Tina Turner: Private Dancer (1984)*
  72. Kate Bush: Hounds of Love (1985)*
  73. Ofra Haza: Fifty Gates of Wisdom: Yemenite Songs (1985)*
  74. Salt-N-Pepa: Hot, Cool & Vicious (1986) (feat. Cheryl James and Sandra Denton)
  75. Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir: Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (1987)*
  76. Sonic Youth: Sister (1987) (feat. Kim Gordon)*
  77. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation (1988) (feat. Kim Gordon)
  78. Pixies: Surfer Rosa (1988) (feat. Kim Deal)
  79. Tracy Chapman: Tracy Chapman (1988)*
  80. Pixies: Doolittle (1989) (feat. Kim Deal)
  81. Madonna: Like a Prayer (1989)*
  82. Queen Latifah: All Hail the Queen (1989)*
  83. The B-52’s: Cosmic Thing (1989) (feat. Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson)
  84. Sinéad O’Connor: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)*
  85. My Bloody Valentine: Loveless (1991) (feat. Bilinda Butcher and Debbie Googe)
  86. Mary Black: Babes in the Wood (1991)
  87. Bikini Kill: Revolution Girl Style Now! (1991) (feat. Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox and Tobi Vail)
  88. Tori Amos: Little Earthquakes (1992)*
  89. Cesária Évora: Miss Perfumado (1992)
  90. Cherish the Ladies: The Back Door (1992) (feat. Mary Coogan, Siobhan Egan, Eileen Golden, Winifred Horan, Maureen Doherty Macken, Joanie Madden, Cathie Ryan, & Linnane Wick)
  91. Altan: Harvest Storm (1992) (feat. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh)
  92. Cassandra Wilson: Blue Light ‘Til Dawn (1993)*
  93. Björk: Debut (1993)
  94. Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)*
  95. PJ Harvey: Rid of Me (1993)*
  96. Sheryl Crow: Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)*
  97. Jane Siberry: When I Was A Boy (1993)
  98. The Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream (1993) (feat. D’arcy Wretzky-Brown)
  99. Portishead: Dummy (1994) (feat. Beth Gibbons)*
  100. Hole: Live Through This (1994) (feat. Courtney Love, Kristen Pfaff and Patty Schemel)*
  101. Annbjørg Lien: Felefeber (1994)
  102. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill (1995)*
  103. Cesária Évora: Cesária Évora (1995)
  104. Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball (1995)*
  105. Shania Twain: The Woman in Me (1995)
  106. Björk: Post (1995)*
  107. No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom (1995) (feat. Gwen Stefani)*
  108. Garbage: Garbage (1995) (feat. Shirley Manson)
  109. The Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) (feat. D’arcy Wretzky-Brown)
  110. Fugees: The Score (1996) (feat. Lauryn Hill)*
  111. Diana Krall: All for You (1996)
  112. Solas: Solas (1996) (feat. Karan Casey and Winifred Horan)
  113. Leann Rimes: Blue (1996)
  114. Susana Baca: Susana Baca (1997)
  115. Mary Jane Lamond: Suas e! (1997)
  116. Shania Twain: Come On Over (1997)*
  117. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)*
  118. Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)*
  119. Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces (1998)*
  120. PJ Harvey: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)
  121. Mariza: Fado em Mim (2000)
  122. Lo’Jo: Bohême de Cristal (2000) (feat. Yamina Nid el Mourid and Nadia Nid el Mourid)
  123. Sezen Aksu: Deliveren (2000)
  124. Diana Krall: Live in Paris (2001)
  125. Björk: Vespertine (2001)
  126. Gillian Welch: Time (The Revelator) (2001)*
  127. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells (2001) (feat. Meg White)
  128. Dixie Chicks: Home (2002)
  129. Missy Elliott: Under Construction (2002)
  130. Joyce (also known as Joyce Moreno): Just a Little Bit Crazy (2003)
  131. Sevara Narzarkhan: Yol Bolsin (2003)
  132. Madeleine Peyroux: Careless Love (2003)
  133. The White Stripes: Elephant (2003) (feat. Meg White)
  134. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell (2003) (feat. Karen O)
  135. Maria Schneider: Concert in the Garden (2004)
  136. Angélique Kidjo: Oyaya! (2004)
  137. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose (2004)
  138. Arcade Fire: Funeral (2004) (feat. Régine Chassagne and Sarah Neufeld)
  139. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods (2005) (feat. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss)
  140. Amadou & Mariam: Dimanche à Bamako (2005) (feat. Mariam Doumbia)
  141. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (2006)*
  142. Cat Power: The Greatest (2006)
  143. Joanna Newsom: Ys (2006)*
  144. Miranda Lambert: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007)
  145. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Raising Sand (2007)
  146. Santigold: Santigold (2008)
  147. Portishead: Third (2008) (feat. Beth Gibbons)
  148. The xx: xx (2009) (feat. Romy Madley Croft)
  149. Miranda Lambert: Revolution (2009)
  150. Janelle Monáe: The ArchAndroid (2010)
  151. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (2010) (feat. Régine Chassagne and Sarah Neufeld)
  152. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (2011)
  153. Adele: 21 (2011)*
  154. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel… (2012)
  155. Sharon Van Etten: Tramp (2012)
  156. HAIM: Days Are Gone (2013) (feat. Este, Danielle & Alana Haim)
  157. Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle (2013)
  158. LordePure Heroine (2013)
  159. FKA Twigs: LP1 (2014)
  160. Taylor Swift: 1989 (2014)
  161. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)
  162. Grimes: Art Angels (2015)
  163. Beyoncé: Lemonade (2016)*
  164. Solange: A Seat at the Table (2016)*