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100 Albums Every Science Fiction and Fantasy Fan Should Listen To: 11-30

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We're on the penultimate day of our countdown of the 100 albums every science fiction and fantasy fan must experience once in this lifetime. Or particular corner of the multiverse. Whatever! What tunes are lined up for this beautiful Friday? We've got devil horns, lightcycles, the pharaoh master of jazz, and John Carpenter by way of Teutonic disco. And we'll be back on Monday for the final ten!

30. OutKast - ATLiens (1996)
Big Boi and André 3000 rose to global acclaim with later albums like Aquemini and Stankonia, but track for track their superheroes-and-space-invaders LP ATLiens may be their most consistent. How come? The murky, immersive production is — to crib a line from Big Boi — "cooler than a polar bear's toenails." It's like wading through abandoned utility tunnels, with the bass from the Flukeman's party burbling somewhere in the distance. - Cyriaque Lamar

29. Brian Eno - Before and After Science (1977)
This is 1970s futurist computer rock, created by one of electronic music's pioneers, Brian Eno. It's all about how reality is turning into science fiction. Love this video for the track "No One Receiving," which contrasts images of Spock with ads for hot dogs. — Annalee Newitz

28. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
This is the one with "Stairway to Heaven" on it, but it's dripping with weird fantasy shit in general, and it's also one of the great classic rock albums of all time. Sample lyrics: "The Queen of Light took her bow and then she turned to go... I'm waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow." There's a wistfulness behind all of Jimmy Page's guitar twanging, and Robert Plant's screechy vocals, as if the band is pining for Avalon, or something. In his book on this album, Erik Davis finds a strong Lord Dunsany influence, as well as knight-in-shining-armor fantasies in full effect. - Charlie Jane Anders

27. The Splash Band - The Music of John Carpenter (1984)
What's better than the ominous synthesizer scores of John Carpenter movies? Nothing, except maybe Carpenter's music videos, but this collection of remixes by the German italo disco outfit The Splash Band comes pretty damn close. When this record is not busy being insanely catchy or ominous, it's gut-busting. Using this record, you could host an entire dance party with John Carpenter songs. Don't forget The Splash Band's theme from The Philadelphia Experiment! (Also, shout outs to all those ephemeral italo disco artists who made only ~1.5 great scifi singles and disappeared. Thank you, Charlie for "Spacer Woman," The Voyagers for "Distant Planet," Ciber People for "Doctor Faustu's," and Xenon for "Galaxy") - CL

26. Dio - Magica (2000)
Ever since Ronnie James Dio fronted Black Sabbath, he was obsessed with mystical and science fiction themes. Though most of his work was like a Baen novel with awesome guitar, Magica actually was a novel in album form. It's a concept album, complete with short story in the liner notes, about a dying world clearly influenced by Jack Vance's Dying Earth series. Ancient magic! Frozen wastes! Vibrato! It's all here. - AN

25. Emerson Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
This classic prog rock album has cover art by H.R. Giger, the artist who designed Ridley Scott's alien for the Alien films, and an epic song called "Karn Evil." Get it? This is one of the great horror fantasy albums in prog history. - AN

24. Wendy Carlos and Journey - Tron Soundtrack (1982)
We were torn between Carlos' Tron soundtrack and her equally groundbreaking Switched On Bach, which used Moog synthesizers and electronic noises to create an insane baroque soundscape. Tron won out, only because it accompanied a classic computer movie and heralded a new era in movie music, even with an orchestral accompaniment jammed in at Disney's request. When Daft Punk did the soundtrack to Tron Legacy, they were partly paying tribute to the strange time signatures and dischordant crashing tunes that Carlos burned into all our brains. - CJA

23. Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack (1975)
This is the music from the cult flick that inspired generations of young people to cast off gender norms, embrace lingerie, and dance like aliens. Need we really say more? - AN

22. Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007)
Canadian metal musician Devin Townsend creates his quirkiest album, about an alien named Ziltoid who travels to Earth in search of the ultimate cup of coffee - - only to dislike what he gets. Yes, after all those metal albums about overthrowing the oppressive state and fleeing through a black hole with an army of cyber mutants, this is what we get. The song "Ziltoidia Attaxx," with its fiendish double drummers and crazy riffs, has launched a million YouTube how-to videos and demos. - CJA

21. Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)
Dolby's steampunk videos and bizarre tales of scientists, sentient machines, and sustainable energy brought a welcome dose of weirdness to early 1980s new wave. He's the original mad scientist musician. - AN

20. Yes - Fragile (1970)
This might be the ultimate apotheosis of prog rock — from the first blaring crescendo which you expect to turn into an "Eye of the Tiger" crash but instead goes "plink," this album keeps challenging your preconceptions. Musical and otherwise. You can feel Rick Wakeman's keyboards scrubbing all the little cracks in your brain, while the surprisingly fierce bass playing makes your booty twitch. The Roger Dean artwork promises a cosmic exodus, and this album more than delivers. - CJA

19. The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Inspired by acid trips, police sirens, nursery rhymes, and a sprinkle of complete nonsense, Magical Mystery Tour is solid psychedelic rock that pushes your mind into new worlds (even if the movie didn't). Although Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came first, Magical Mystery Tour's journey farther down the rabbit hole deserves serious plaudits. After all, this is where "I Am the Walrus" first debuted. - Meredith Woerner

18. Sun Ra - Space Is The Place (1973)
It's hard to choose between the releases of Sun Ra and his prolific Solar Arkestra — hello, Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra — but Space Is The Place earns our vote. And if you loved this album by jazz's all-time strangest dude, watch the movie! - CL

17. Underworld and John Murphy - The Sunshine Soundtrack (2008)
Thanks to input from techno stalwarts Underworld, the score to Danny Boyle's flick about a grim solar expedition resembles the world's most depressing National Geographic documentary. Gloomy yet ethereal, it's no surprise so many movies and television shows crib it. - CL

16. Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime (1988)
It starts out with a weird dystopian hospital setting, complete with jarring news reports and a cheery/evil nurse threatening to drug you. From there, it lurches into a shattering heavy metal epic about a fortune hunter who decides to overthrow the evil rulers of the world. But is Nikki a freedom fighter, or just a pawn of the mysterious Dr. X? The answer lies in the sweaty guitar runs and choruses like the epic "Revolution Calling." — CJA

15. Joe Satriani- Surfing With The Alien (1987)
This is the music the Silver Surfer puts on his Walkman Cosmic as he zooms through the spaceways looking for more planets for Galactus to munch on. The guitar work and beats are as tight as a naked singularity, and the groovy mix of styles and genres puts you in a cosmic headspace as easily as a hundred Mellotrons. - CJA

14. Gustav Holst - The Planets (1916)
The original Solar System concept album, hands down. In a historical sense, probably the most important composition on this list. In a personal sense, I want "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" to suddenly thunder on whenever I enter a room. - CL

13. Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
A glorious slab of messianic fantasy metal from the band who once covered Colderidge with shredding, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son causes your mind's eye to go LARPing. You'll hang with Aleister Crowley, get a Shakespeare lesson, and fence Satan to death with Bruce Dickinson. - CL

12. Queen - Queen II (1974)
Side two of this album ("the Black Side") is basically a series of dark fantasy short stories, in song form, written entirely by Freddie Mercury. This was the first sign that Queen would become the ultimate fantasy/SF/glam band, who would later add their epic sound to movies like Flash Gordon and Highlander. - AN

11. Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996)
Often imitated but never recreated, Octagonecologyst remains a singularly bizarre record 15 years later. A hip-hop A-Team of rapper Kool Keith, producer Dan the Automator, and DJ QBert takes the listener to the offices of an incompetent, omnipotent alien surgeon, where oddities like Chewbacca Uncircumcised and Mr. Gerbik, The Halfsharkalligatorhalfman dwell. Keith was afraid the Dr. Octagon persona would eclipse his own legend, so he killed the character on record a few years later. Sure, Octagon would (sort of, not really) come back and Automator moved on to Gorillaz and Deltron 3030, but Octagonecologyst was some sleazy bottled lightning. - CL