As I mentioned in the "What Books" thread, I recently found my copy of THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester. I would have gladly replaced my lost copy, but it seems to be out of print these days. I've said that the book would fall some where in my top 5 favorite sci-fi books, one thing led to another, and here we are.
1. ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card - I read tons of books every year. Every couple of years, or even once I year, I tend to re-read this one. Every time I've read it, I reminded why it's my favorite, and not just when it comes to sci-fi. I don't think there's a book I love more. Ironic, as it seems that I was not meant to like anything else by Card. SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD is one those books that's hard to get through, but the destination is worth the effort. Does that mean I can call it a good book? Not sure. Plus, Card is a homophobic dickwad, so the less I read by him, the better.
2. DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Phillip K. Dick - Alright, I really wanted to just go with ANYTHING BY PHILLIP K. DICK for my #2 spot. With stuff like THE MAN IN HIGH CASTLE, A SCANNER DARKLY, and UBIK, it's hard to pick just one. So I'll go with the one that brought me to him in the first place. I find that this and BLADE RUNNER share very little in common, but it's one of those rare cases where I entirely don't mind.
3. FOUNDATION by Issac Asimov - I'll cheat a little bit here. FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE, and SECOND FOUNDATION stand as one as far as I'm concerned. I only read these books about a year ago and I was thoroughly absorbed in them. I think was struck me the most was how epic it was, spanning thousands of years, cycling through different characters as it went, yet it did it with such a brisk pace and didn't lose any of its epic quality. Modern writers could take note.
4. THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester - As far as my memory serves me, this is the book that made be become more serious about science fiction. I must have read it over 10 years ago yet it's one of the few books that still burns brightly in my memory. Can't wait to read it again. A cool side note: Alfred Bester came up with the Green Lantern oath ("In brightest day, in blackest night....").
5. THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME VOL. 1 - Yup, an anthology. It doesn't get anymore definitive than this. The best short stories by pretty much all the giants of sci-fi (up to the 60s) in one tome. How's this for a lineup?
John W. Campbell
Arthur C. Clarke
Lester del Rey
Robert A. Heinlein
Clifford D. Simak
A.E. van Vogt
Stanley G. Weinbaum
Pretty great, huh? A highlight for me is ARENA by Fredric Brown. This story inspired the classic Star Trek episode of the same name that features the fight between Kirk and the Gorn. Other classics include THE ROADS MUST ROLL, MARS IS HEAVEN!, BORN OF MAN AND WOMAN...pretty much every story in this thing is great.
So yeah, I tend to like the older stuff, but I'm not exclusive to it by any means. Throw out your top 5, I'm always on the prowl for good sci-fi I haven't read yet.