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Amazon's list of top science fiction and fantasy includes classics and new books

Classics by George Orwell, Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey on the list

Modern best-sellers by J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin also make the list

CNN  — 

Before “A Game of Thrones,” “The Magicians” and “The Hunger Games,” there were classics by Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell and more.

It’s true we’re living in a golden age of science fiction and fantasy, where new creatures, technology and entire worlds exist beyond our “reality.” Science fiction/fantasy books and the movies, costumes and conventions inspired by those great works seem to be everywhere, but one reason for their popularity is the classics that came before.

As Amazon releases its 100 Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books list on Wednesday, CNN asked Amazon’s book editors to pick their 20 “must-haves” for any serious science fiction/fantasy reader’s bookshelf.

Kids are reading history for fun

“We wanted to choose books that had been life-changers to readers,” Amazon editor Adrian Liang said. “The best books realign your thinking about your world, yourself and the world.”

“A lot of themes stay the same because they’re timeless,” Liang said. “Generally in fantasy, the themes are coming of age, personal strengths, how to deal with power you have and making the right choices. In science fiction, it’s how you interact with society and tear it down or build it up again. Apocalyptic fiction is also seeping into the genre.”

CNN’s Henry Hanks contributed to this story.