The Classics of Science Fiction list began in the 1980s when Mike asked Jim to name the all-time best science fiction books. Jim said he could list his personal favorites, but wondered if there was an objective method for identifying the classics of science fiction. Jim collected lists of popular science fiction books based on polls and awards, books taught in school, books that critics, writers, editors, scholars, and librarians recommended. He then produced a series of lists that statistically showed which titles were remembered the most. Whether or not these books are the actual best science fiction books can be debated. However, we’ve been producing these lists for thirty years, and the results keep getting more interesting. Be sure to study the table comparing Versions 1-4 of the Classics of Science Fiction. Jim is fascinated by how books stay alive in popular culture.

For version 4, Mike joined Jim again on this project, and developed a new list processing system for handling the 65 lists they gathered. Mike used the Go programming language. Mike loves to program, so Jim Tom Sawyered him into this project with an interesting programming challenge – solve a database project without using a database.

James Wallace Harris (Auxiliary Memory)

Mike Jorgensen