Back in the mid-1980s (it's unlikely to have been earlier than 1982 or later than 1987), I picked up a list of important/significant Science Fiction works.

It was called something like "The Science Fiction Landmarks List" or it might have been "Milestones." It wasn't just a top 100, it was a list of the trend-setting works for a number of topics.

I don't know who put the list together. I'm sure I got it off a usenet group, but I haven't ever found any archives that go back far enough, and I think it was before The Great Renaming, and I have no idea what the group name would have been if it was before rec.arts.sf.written existed.

Some examples: Dune was on the list as the first or best work dealing with alien ecological issues. Philip Jose Farmer's "The Lovers" was listed for dealing with alien sex. It was mostly a list of firsts, but if there was a later work that was considered better, it was also mentioned, sometimes there were a few "secondary" or "also significant" works listed. I'm pretty sure Left Hand of Darkness was on the list, but not sure if it was the same category as "The Lovers" or not.

Somewhere in one of my boxes of old personal papers I should have a printout (done on my university's room-sized laser printer) but I haven't seen it for a while and I'd really like to get a copy of it again. I think it would still be a good list of some essential Science Fiction.

  • 2
    net.sf-lovers -> rec.arts.sf.written (well, and rec.arts.sf.fandom, etc.)
    – DavidW
    Apr 22 at 18:31
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    +1 ZOMG I would love to see that list!
    – Lexible
    Apr 22 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


Is it this list? Landmark SF Poll, dated 1982 but compiled earlier.

The three works you listed are all on it:

Herbert, F. Dune [ecology, superman, eugenics]

Farmer, P.J. The Lovers [sex]

Le Guin, U. The Left Hand of Darkness [unusual sex]

(Found by searching net.sf-lovers for "farmer lovers dune darkness").

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    And I should credit @DavidW for the hint to search in net.sf-lovers.
    – Moriarty
    Apr 22 at 22:28
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    Longbottom, C.W. Tears of the Anaren [robot horses, fondue] Apr 22 at 22:43
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    Awesome! I'd forgotten that the "main" landmarks and the supplemental works were in different sections. Offhand, Clifford D. Simak's "City" is the only one I remember for sure that I bought because of the list, but I know I had a few more marked down on my physical copy. Apr 22 at 22:44
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    Great find! This list is very debatable, but I guess any such list would be.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 23 at 1:19

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