Feature Image Credit: @musingsbysophie
These days, almost everyone is a science fiction fan – it’s almost impossible not to be. Listen, we can send a rocket to the moon and bring it back safely on a platform in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, I am still trying to master parallel parking. Technology predictions written into books decades ago are now reaching fruition and the ideas that have spanned generations are no longer out of the realm of reality. In honor of National Science Fiction Day, we rounded up some of the best science fiction books of all time.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
English teachers rejoice! This novel is assigned to reluctant school children every year. There probably isn’t a country out there that doesn’t have a history with some kind of undercurrent of anti-intellectualism. In the world of Fahrenheit 451, books are forbidden, and we follow the journey of the protagonist, whose job is to destroy them. He doesn’t question these orders until an extreme event makes him second-guess what he’s doing, beginning his path to enlightenment of what’s important and free-thinking.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Dystopian, horror and, in that era, science fiction, I Am Legend is a classic that fans of the genre will surely love if they don’t already. Matheson captures the tale of the last uninfected man on Earth, his battle in the darkness and the things that lurk within it. This book is powerfully written and takes an exciting approach to dystopian tales.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Who doesn’t love a feuding empire? Dune encompasses the ultimate futuristic world-building and not of just one, but multiple planets. There are Sandworms and shield walls that set the precedence for every gamer’s favorite RPG ability. A noble family leaves their home planet to assume control of Arrakis, aka the desert planet, Dune. This is an immersive read, and is sometimes considered ‘hard going,’ but push through because it’s worth it – it didn’t win both the Hugo and Nebula awards for nothing.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Comedy and science fiction hybrid? Yes! This novel is wonderful and deliciously ridiculous with some of the best quotes to date. Arthur Dent is about to have his house demolished, but it doesn’t matter because the entire planet Earth is about to be decimated to make room for a galactic highway. Lucky for him his friend Ford Prefect turns out to be an alien and together they embark on a funny, enlightening journey.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The 1980s is a great decade for science fiction books. The success of Star Wars and Star Trek helped pave the way for the genre. In Ender’s Game, humans are attacked by aliens and struggle to compete in skill and reflexes. They decide to start a school to find the most gifted children to be future military leaders. Enter Ender. His decision-making skills and strategic military choices make him a top student in their virtual training. The twist in this story will leave you reeling.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
If you are a fan of the idea of colonizing Mars, this is the book for you! You feel like you’re transported and experiencing every step as if you’re actually there, in this in-depth interpretation of humans hunkering down on the Red Planet. Kim Stanley Robinson doesn’t stop at the painstakingly thorough steps to cultivate the land but also touches on the political climate afterward. This is the first in a trilogy and every detail he writes is so real and interesting that it’s a wonder that we haven’t already made the leap to make it a reality.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I couldn’t leave out this book. I have heard so many different renditions of ‘may the odds be ever in your favor’ since the story became a massive hit. In The Hunger Games, there are 12 districts and two children are chosen from each one to compete to-the-death in the annual Hunger Games. When Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister to participate in the games, everything takes a turn for the corrupt. Suzanne Collins’s captivating world-building is a must-read.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Originally a self-published title, The Martian is not one to disappoint. A mission to Mars goes wrong when a giant dust storm forces the crew to abort and leave early. Unfortunately, Mark Watney is left behind. He’s forced to use his experience in botany to learn how to grow a food source in order to extend the limited resources he has until NASA can send help. The author does a great job of taking a very likable character and putting him in a not ideal situation. Mark Watney is a clever and amusing character and his journal entries alone are worth diving into this book.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Ever heard “Big Brother is always watching”? Yeah, this is the book that phrase comes from. A totalitarian state with Thought Police who seem to read your mind. A man with a mind and memory of his own and a dangerous taste for rebellion, a love affair, and a revolution, there is nothing that can draw you away from this dystopian novel. If your English teacher didn’t force you to read this book, now is the time.
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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
What Margaret Atwood book isn’t a must-read classic? In the second Civil War, Offred is a Handmaid, bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s, the totalitarian regime, commanders. We won’t lie to you: this book has a darker plot-line than most science fiction, but it is undeniably thought-provoking and uniquely shocking. It has been described as “feminist dytopian ficition” and Atwood does not disappoint.
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Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler is brilliant as she creates a post-apocalyptic world in which Lauren Olamina must fight for her survival, in more ways than one. Through the creation and belief of her own faith, companions, and her unwavering willingness to survive, Lauren becomes a phoenix, reborn from the ashes of her past. It’s hard to express this gripping tale of a world that might not be too far off.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
In case you didn’t know, Frankenstein is the scientist, not the monster. Oh, and it was first titled The Modern Prometheus. Shelley is completely and wonderfully ahead of her time in the story of a young scientist who decides to take life into his own hands and create his own creature. However, when the experiment isn’t exactly what Victor Frankenstein imagined and he rejects the specimen, it sets off a series of events that creates this story. Riddled with the virtues of mankind, looking inward, and questions of life and death, Mary Shelley sweeps the floor with this science fiction classic.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Would you travel through space and time with your little brother and the most popular boy in school in order to find your lost father? Meg Murry would and does. In this adventurous science fiction and coming-of-age masterpiece, all ages of life can enjoy the journey of courage, knowledge, and most importantly the fantastical magic that is life. If you would like to revisit a childhood favorite and rediscover the innocence of youth, this is the book for you.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
It all begins on the eve of Armageddon in a world called Hyperion, when a group of pilgrims want the riddles of their lives answered and they are risking it all to find them. Each one has a dark secret and one could be carrying the fate of humanity. What more do you need from this description to run to your nearest bookstore and buy it? This is a series, so if you cannot get enough of the first, there are 3 more waiting to be read.
Babel-17 by Samuel Delany
In a war with a sometimes-hostile alien race, the military intercepts what seem to be a coded message. A former cryptographer, a now famous poet, is designated to decipher it. She soon realizes it is not code, but a language. A she begins to understand this language in the heat of action, an evil plan comes to light and it might just tip the balance of the war. This is not only a book about the future and humanity, but one about the beauty and complexity of language.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. After a girl goes missing, a small town enlists Maggie to help find her. With the help of Kai Arviso, these two must travel through the rez and overcome any and all obstacles that stand in their way. From gods and tricksters, to witchcraft and technology, Maggie must come face to face with her past in order to survive. Welcome to the Sixth World.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson
A community that is formed around a mysterious alien biodome that is said to have healing powers, what could go wrong? Kaaro is a former criminal, but now works as a government agent. He knows whats inside o the biodome, but doesn’t wish to ever return. However, when something starts killing people, much like Kaaro himself, he must defy his own wishes and the wishes of those in charge of him and search for the answers. A dark past and a glimpse into what might be a horrifying future awaits him.
(Feature image courtesy of @jazzyjo19)
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What about Heinlein, Asimov, Norton etc? I like your choices but of all time???