The Basic Bookcase
The Fourth Shelf: The Middle Period (1973-1994)
13 August 1999
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 . . .
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