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)

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