Syllabus for Fantasy/Sci-Fi Literature 101 – Top Ten Tuesday

It’s another week of Top Ten Tuesday, created and hosted by the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is top ten books that would be on your syllabus if you taught _____ (fill in your own blank) 101.


I was originally going to create a creative writing syllabus, but something inside me decided that shouldn’t be the route for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. Partly because there’s no way I would require ten books to be read for a creative writing class, and partly because I know no student would read ten books for a creative writing class. It’s just not happening.

Short stories, yes. Novels, no.

I have a feeling many others’ top ten lists will mostly going to lean in the direction of YA books or YA fantasy genres. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. However, I fear that many will throw in Harry Potter or other contemporary series, which I think can be somewhat counterproductive to exposing and introducing students to a genre. I think using contemporary authors and novels is fine, but I think syllabi should include more texts from authors who are ground-breakers in the genre or whose works have changed the way we as readers understand that genre.

But maybe that’s just me.

I took survey course back in college called “Writing About Literature: Legends of Modern Fantasy,” and I think my professor did a great job covering authors I’ve either never heard of or never had a chance to read. So, if I taught a fantasy/sci-fi course, I would teach from the same books I read five years ago. And since I gave a very lengthy introduction, I won’t give descriptions on the books, as I think the purpose of the course would be to cover them anyway.

Top Ten Books in Fantasy/Sci-Fi Literature 101 Syllabus:

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin
  3. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
  4. The Scar by China Mieville
  5. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
  6. The Conquering Sword of Conan by Robert E. Howard

If you count the trilogy and quartet as separate books, this top ten list just hit 11 books!

Have you had a chance to read any of these authors? Who would you recommend to add to this fantasy/sci-fi syllabus list?

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