Annalee Newitz's "The Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life" at io9.
Good list & even better summaries of the books. Only the post title is way too presumptuous: of the 20 that will change my life, 7 have been written since 2000, 5 during 1990s!!!
A few notes:
- Marge Piercy's "He, She, and It" (1991): "What would it feel like for a weapon to grow ethics?" That certainly is not a 90s original theme! I've seen it in at least one story of Eric Frank Russell - "A Great Deal of Power" (1953).
- Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" (1996): First contact with aliens "terrifying in their difference from humans", turning a human visitor "an alien to himself". That again, is something much older. Earliest story I can recollect with this theme is C L Moore's "The Bright Illusion" (1934) (collected in "The Best of C L Moore").
- China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" (2002): Summary actually makes me say - "skip it"!
- Cory Doctorow's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" (2003): "usher in a new wave of postcyber writing about downloadable brains and uploadable desires". Well, I like Doctorow, but primarily because of the immediately usable ideas some of his stories have. "Downloadable brains" is a very old sf trope. Off hand, a story that immediately comes to mind is also a very famous one - Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" (1957).
- William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" (2003): I know Gibson has his admirers but, having read 2 of his stories (not including this one), I know he's not for me: maladjusted characters, ghetto settings, & way too much technobabble.