Masters of science and science fiction pick the genre's greatest forgotten classicsS

New Scientist asked ten scientists and fiction writers, including William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood, to name their favorite "lost scifi classics." And to celebrate, New Scientist's having a fiction contest, judged by Neil Gaiman.

The lost classics named by the experts include some books you may have read, like Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad — but I pretty much guarantee that there'll be some books in there you won't have heard of at all. The list is heavily weighted towards the 1960s and 1970s, but there's one earlier book (Olaf Stapledon's First and Last Men) and at least one more recent one. In case your reading list isn't already jam-packed with greatness, you now have another reason to go out and hit the used book stores. (Sadly, both the recommenders and the recommendations only include one woman each.)

And New Scientist is seeking flash fiction on the theme of "forgotten futures," with Neil Gaiman judging the finalists:

Send us your very short stories about futures that never were. Tell us where we'd be today if the ether had turned out to exist after all, or if light really was made up of corpuscles emitted by the eyes. You don't have to be scientifically accurate, but the more convincing your story, the more likely it is to win!

The deadline is November 19, 2010 — so you've got a bit of time to write your 350-word entry. Good luck! [New Scientist]