The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , Douglas Adams
As game-changers go, they don’t come bigger than this. I hope you know where your towel is, because those Vogons will be here any day.
Legend , David Gemmell
Some things really do live on. The novel that was “one long fight scene” just did heroic fantasy bigger, better, and badder-arsed. Never tire of this book!
Neuromancer , William Gibson
The Internet’s premonition, the single most influential SF novel of our time – moved the whole minefield into another reality entirely. I’d say “watch your step,” but I know you’ve read this six times as well.
Herbert West Reanimator , H.P. Lovecraft
Not sure if this technically counts as a short story – but Lovecraft’s influence on everything we have become is undeniable. Even down to the Shoggoth plush that sits on my chair.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone , J.K. Rowling
I’m not really a Rowling fan – heresy I know – but this is here because it gave magic back to children, and for that alone I’ll forgive her almost anything.
The Hobbit , J.R.R. Tolkien
Do I really need to explain this one?
The Wasp Factory , Iain Banks
Not only because it opened the door for Banks’ subsequent Culture, but because it’s completely original, staggeringly imaginative – and its sheer inhumanity was pretty damn scary.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain , Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone
I still have my copy of this. I have never – legitimately – actually beaten the Warlock… and I’m sure there’s a lesson in that somewhere.
High Hunt , David Eddings
I grew up reading the Belgariad, but this is stark and real, wonderful and completely non-genre. Read it if you get the chance!
Ecko Rising , Danie Ware
A sarcastic, genre-bending shock of a SF character dealing with a fantasy world… what could possibly go wrong? [Disclaimer: Ware might be a little bit biased on this one. — Ed.]