The Basic Bookcase

The Fourth Shelf: The Middle Period (1973-1994)

13 August 1999

The Fourth Shelf We'll assume that each of these books is 21mm thick (about 0.82"), thus fitting 35 books on this shelf. Since virtually all of them are available as paperbacks, and 73.5cm (29") is narrower than ideal for a real bookshelf, 35 books should fit comfortably. These books are, on average, a little thicker than those on the third shelf, in line with the trend in English letters.

These books all saw print between the end of the Apollo program in December 1972 and the end of 1994. I chose the end date for convenience and for some boring theoretical reasons. As a group, these books are literarily far more mature than the ones on the third shelf. Judging them by whether there's a rocket ship (or unicorn) on the spine makes as much sense as judging any other book by its cover. A speculative fiction writer should be familiar with most of them, because they have had significant (if often unconscious) influence on more recent work in the field. This is particularly true for the books published as "commercial fantasy."

Work by some of these authors also appears on other shelves. I encourage anyone who likes these books to read more by the same authors.

And, without further ado . . .

1 Lou Aronica, et al., eds., Full Spectrum 3
2 Michael Bishop, No Enemy But Time
3 David Brin, Brightness Reef
4 Octavia Butler, Wild Seed
5 Suzy McKee Charnas, The Vampire Tapestry
6 C.J. Cherryh, Downbelow Station
7 John Crowley, Little, Big
8 Pete Davies, The Last Election
9 Harlan Ellison, ed., Again, Dangerous Visions
10 Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories
11 M.J. Engh, Arslan
12 Steve Erickson, Days Between Stations
13 William Gibson, Neuromancer
14 Lisa Goldstein, The Red Magician
15 Richard Grant, Rumors of Spring
16 Ken Grimwood, Replay
17 Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
18 Robert Holdstock, Mythago Wood
19 Ursula K. LeGuin, Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences
20 Ursula K. LeGuin, The Wind's Twelve Quarters
21 Vonda N. McIntyre, Starfarers
22 Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates
23 Keith Roberts, Kiteworld
24 Joanna Russ, The Female Man
25 Robert Silverberg, Dying Inside
26–29 Dan Simmons, The Hyperion Cantos (Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion)
30 Michael Swanwick, Stations of the Tide
31 James Tiptree, Jr. (Dr. Alice Sheldon), Brightness Falls From the Air
32–35 Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun (The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, and The Citadel of the Autarch)


  • the fine print first (you'll need to replace "{at}" with "@" on the address line). Please come back soon.
  • Return to Savage Reviews
  • Return to The Savage Beast (est. 1215): Literary Reviews and Resources on Speculative Fiction
Intellectual Property Rights: © 1999 John Savage. All rights reserved.
You may contact me concerning permissions via email. This copyright notice overrides, negates, and renders void any alleged copyright or license claimed by any person or entity, specifically including but not limited to any claim of right or license by any web hosting service or software provider, except when I have transferred such rights with a signed writing that complies with the requirements for transferring the entire copyright as specified in Title 17 of the United States Code. This includes, but is not limited to, translation or other creation of derivative works, use in advertising or other publicity materials without prior authorization in writing, or any other non-private use that falls outside the fair use exception specified in Title 17 of the United States Code. If you have any question about whether commercial use, publicity or advertising use, or republication in any form satisfies this notice, it probably does not. Violations of intellectual property rights in these pages will be dealt with swiftly using appropriate process of law, probably including a note to your mother telling her that you're a thief.
"The Savage Beast", "Savage Reviews", "Surreality Check", and the dragon-and-book banner are trade and service marks of the website owner. Other marks appearing on these pages belong to third parties, and appear either with permission or as exemplary references.