While I was overseas in England, I came across Gollancz's Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks series, a dedicated series of distinguished books in the genre, each with some very cool covers and a good list to start with for anyone looking to get into the genre, or at least, read through some of the fundamental reads. While it is not perfect - like any list, it's missing a number of books, and is heavily male-dominated (there are very few female authors represented, something that will hopefully change with future additions), and there's always personal preferences and new authors that will likely be added up at some point in the future.
I've joined with ten other book bloggers from around the internet blogosphere, under the direction of Patrick, who runs the book blog Stomping On Yeti, who conceived of the project after realizing that he owned all of the books, but had yet to read the hundred and twenty-three in the series, save for a handful. After a call went out to the various corners of the internet, a small group has been assembled to read through the entire list, contributing reviews on the books in the series, hopefully providing a good resource for speculative fiction fans.
I'm looking forward to helping out with this project, having read several books represented in the series, but with a couple of books that I have yet to read set to go, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes and The Last and First Men, by Olaf Stapledon. Thus, the project provides a good opportunity to read several books that I haven't had a chance to get to, but also a good opportunity to reread some books in the near future that I haven't read for a couple of years.
Furthermore, the project is a cool crowd sourcing style project that brings together the writing abilities and expertise of a number of writers who largely look at new and upcoming books within the speculative fiction genre. There have been some larger literary projects, such as 1 Book, 1 Twitter, which has recently been moving through Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which brings together thousands of people reading the same book at the same time, and this one brings together a much more qualified group to look over an entire series of books as a whole.
Ultimately, I hope that there will be some good discussion not only about the books and their merits (or lack thereof), but also of the series, the selections, and multiple viewpoints on similar books to get a very comprehensive look at the books and series, but also at the underlying idea of what is Science Fiction and Fantasy, as larger genres. Finally, the last question that can hopefully be addressed is what books should be included in any sort of masterworks list? Given that a number of the contributers look to new and upcoming books, it will be interesting to see what has come out recently that will be considered a classic.One of my books is currently being read, and I'll hopefully have my reviews up and running soon enough.
The site can be found here: http://sffmasterworks.blogspot.com/