Books are immortal friends that keep up with you in every situation. Great books do leave a lasting impression, one that is hard to be erased. There are multiple genres that can please the senses and captivate the soul. Science fiction, a genre that has a tremendous scope for modern writers, is a favorite among many.
Are you a geek who is a fan of everything science? Maybe you just desired a little exploration on techie fiction? Whatever the cause, here are the best of sci-fi books that you must give it a read. Do read it once in your lifetime and soon you will be suggesting others to pick up this habit of reading the best of science fiction books listed here.
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Neuromancer is a masterpiece of science fiction by the American writer William Gibson in 1984. It is all about a dystopian world that is full of technological and scientific achievements, also called the cyberpunk genre.
The protagonist Henry Dorsett Case is a hacker who is hired to carry out a series of data thefts for his employer Armitage. In return, he will have his damaged nervous system restored. He is accompanied by Molly, an augmented mercenary and the sociopathic thief Peter Riviera to carry out his mission. The trail leads him to an artificial intelligence Wintermute and the story gradually evolves. The ending of the book turns out to be quite mind-boggling and unexpected.
The book is particularly interesting because of the adventurous and risky journey that Case had to undertake. Neuromancer provides a glimpse into the preconceived digital world of mankind. It introduces us to a world where our assumptions about technology are constantly challenged.
This debut novel has won several awards like Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick. The book is even enlisted in the 100 Best English-Language Novels Written Since 1923 (Time Magazine).
Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune is an epic novel written by American author Frank Herbert in 1965. It was the chief competitor for the Hugo Award and even won the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Millions of copies of this book have been sold and the idea behind Star Wars can be dedicated to this science fiction.
The story takes place with Paul Atreides and his family who are granted custody of the desert planet Arrakis. A spice named Mélange which is the most importance resource in the galaxy is harvested. The drug is said to prolong life, heighten awareness and give superhuman abilities. However, Duke Leto Atreides, father of Paul realizes that rivals have set traps against them. The novel measures the journey of the Atreides family from the zenith to the nadir and back to victory with a lot of bloodshed. We get to witness Paul’s eventual journey to being a figure of worship whose actions have a direct bearing on the planet and his family.
Frank Herbert weaves the story of a future humanity millennia through the novel. The themes are violence, redemption, power, technology, ecology, political tragedy and upheaveal. Dune is a complete story in itself that can be called a standalone epic. It is a timeless classic that will intrigue every generation. The plot is heavy that will make it a busy read. It stands as the fantastic science fiction that is read even today.
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Three Body Problem (Sān ti in Chinese) is originally written by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin in 2008. It has been translated into English by Ken Liu. It is the first volume of the trilogy that is succeeded by The Dark Forest and Death’s end. However, the entire series is even referred to as the Three Body Problem.
The backdrop is that of China’s cultural Revolution. A secretive project on earth intends to establish communication with aliens from the planet Trisolaris. An alien civilization that is on the brink of collapse receives the signal sent from earth and plans for invasion. Meanwhile, the society on earth is split into separate groups who either want humanity destroyed or stand up to the aliens.
The commendable book is an ambitious one that takes its readers to the distant universe. It has many interesting characters, plotlines and locations that make it a fascinating read.
All the events surrounding the extra-terrestrials seem extremely realistic. This highly esteemed novel is even going to be transmuted to a Netflix series from David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo. Surely, you will enjoy watching the upcoming series if you are already familiar with this interesting book. This novel is an international bestseller that has received the 2015 Hugo award for Best Novel. Overall, the book serves as a masterpiece having a wider scope and portraying an enormous vision.
The Time Machine by H.G Wells
The Time Machine is a classic and a sci-fi novella written by H.G Wells in 1895. The primary topic that it deals with is time travel. The book narrates about the Time Traveller of Victorian England who invents a time machine that takes him forward to 801,701. The world he encounters is peopled by two distinct post-human races: The Eloi and the Morlocks.
The Eloi are childlike, fair creatures who live a banal existence on earth. The simian Morlocks live underground and prey on Elois during moonless nights. These two races are a byproduct of unchecked capitalism where the influential, aristocratic class is gradually overshadowed by the proletariats.
The Time Machine is an imaginative piece of literature that impresses the readers with its depiction of scientific capabilities. It frees the mind of the mundane and helps explore existence across eras. The story also fulfils man’s deep-set desire to transport to a world different than his own and an inclination to move beyond and know the unknown.
The book will help you experience man’ s greatest hopes and their darkest fears. The storytelling is very compelling and the book completely captures Well’s provocative insights. The novella balances well between light and heavy subjects that keep a reader going. The potential downfalls of society are depicted very well in the volume. The book has also been adapted into two homonymous feature films, released 42 years apart (1960 and 2002). It can be regarded as the best sci-fi book of all time.
No doubt why this book launched Well’s career and crowned him as “the father of science fiction”. It remains to be competing against various other science fiction books in modern times as well. The Time Machine captivated readers of the century, it is likely to engage you as well.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is an epistolary novel written by Mary Shelley in 1818. It belongs to the genres of classics, Gothic novel and science fiction simultaneously. The novel depicts Victor Frankenstein as a scientist who creates a human-monster from his experiments. Although Victor considers himself to be playing a major role in scientific advancements, his creation ultimately leads to his doom. In a way, we can say Mary Shelley introduces us to the Artificial Intelligence way ahead of its time.
The book also presents the story from the monster’s perspective. One would find the relationship between the creator and the monster quite fascinating and feel their anguish through this piece of fiction.
One one hand, it deals with scientific creativity, on the other it questions our responsibility towards self and others. Frankenstein is the work of an author who has made the inanimate speak and also raised concerns over science running amok.
Composed by Shelley in his early teens, Frankenstein can be called to be the work of a mature writer. The book’s moral is dispensed out through Victor’s final words, to find “happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition”. The novel has been adapted into several films and is also part of comic portrayals in “Hotel Transylvania“, “Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein” etc.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction written by Douglas Adams was originally a radio broadcast on BBC Comedy Radio 4. It was published as book in 1979.
The story is about Arthur Dent who along with other unreliable aliens hitchhikes the Heart of Gold Spaceship. The earth is destroyed and Dent is the only human survivor. In the plot, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an electronic guidebook handed to him by Dent’s friend Ford Prefect. The spaceship crew decide to travel to a restaurant to the end of the universe.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy plays havoc with time and physics. It stretches logic to the extreme. There is a lot of adventure involved when they come across the planet Magrathea.
The cover of Hitchhiker’s has written “Don’t Panic” on it that reminds us to be vigilant and active but not panic when murderous aliens come hunting for you. This book is highly entertaining and lets its readers have a thrilling experience.
It is a particularly suitable for someone who is looking for comic sequences. According to the Washington Post Book World Hitchhiker’s the book is “extremely funny” and has “inspired lunacy”. For example, Arthur Dent has all the reasons for keeping a towel handy like stave off enemies and use it as a weapon by setting it on fire.
The book is read widely, is New York Times Bestseller and has been translated into 30 languages (as of 2005). Hitchhiker’s is also a multimedia phenomenon in successfully becoming a T.V series, a stage production and many more.
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian is a 2011 science fiction by Andy Weir. It has also been adapted into a film of the same name that was directed by Ridley Scott and enacted by Matt Damon in 2015. The book encapsulates the story of an American astronaut, Mark Whatney who is stranded on Mars while on a mission. His team presumes him dead and continues their journey without him.
It covers his ways of solving problems that crops up while his stay at Mars. He manages to tackle the challanges through innovation and amazing resourcefulness. Meanwhile the NASA members tirelessly work to bring him back while the crew members devise a plan for Mark’s rescue mission. This book clearly portrays courage in face of adversity.
The Martian is a gripping tale that is quite captivating. When caught in an environment for survival, one is bound to do the most bizarre things. The story of Martian has the protagonist do the most wildest things like use his excreta to grow plants on Mars. The book also tickles us which keeps the technical treatise an engaging read. The tone greatly balances humor and seriousness. The language can be deemed colorful and the conclusion is quite riveting. It is a must read for someone who is looking for a survival story packed with science.
1984 by George Orwell
The novel “1984” was written by George Orwell on 8 June 1949. It is a dystopian science fiction that is set in the future of 1984. The world is ruled by an oppressive regime that inclines towards totalitarianism, mass surveillance and brainwashing individuals. The story is depicted through the eye of the narrator Winston Smith who harbors hopes of mutiny against the tyrannical regime. This totalitarian empire is presided by the ominous ruler “Big Brother” who also founded the cult of personality.
The book is an influential one that highlights the bleak sadism of Oceania, a totalitarian super-state. Although certain reviewers claim that Orwell expressed his anguish against the left through his novel, the book is actually a satire of a regime that bans all opposition establishing absolute dictatorship in Western culture and among intellectuals.
In this book, you will come across new words that have become part of common usage like “Big Brother”, “Thought Police” “Newspeak” etc. The Ministries are named Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Love but they represent the exact opposite of such virtues. Mind control is one important theme of the novel 1984. The author’s main message is to make people aware of the brainwashing techniques employed by a sovereign power. It transports the reader to an atmosphere that is grim, nightmarish and sombre.
The Time magazine lists this novel in the 100 best English-language novels from 1923-2005. It has got several other acclamations worldwide and is on number 8 on the Big Read, a survey conducted by the BBC. Once you start reading this book, you cannot control the urge to have it completed.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is a science fiction adventure film that is also a dystopian novel. It was written by the American author Suzanne Collins in 2008. The Hunger Games is also popular as a film franchise which was released in 2012. It is the first part of a trilogy, the other two being Catching Fire and Mockingjay that is followed by a prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
The book talks about a compulsory death match competition called The Hunger Games that is participated by children from thirteen districts that are under poverty. All the districts owe their allegiances to the Capitol that controls every activities. Katniss Evergreen is the protagonist who participates in the battle and demands supplies in return to feed the impoverished in his district. As the story progresses, we can find themes that involve social status, political dominance, sacrifice, love and hatred etc.
The novel informs the reader about the possible dangers of a political framework that is ruled by the affluent people. In this dystopian world of the novel, poor children serve as baits for entertainment. The Hunger Games is also a fantasy fiction that stretches our imagination. However, its science because of the many believable products like instant hair dryers, computer-controlled, illusions etc. The book tells us about a future world which our successive generations may find relatable.
The novel won many prestigious awards like California Young Reader Medal, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award etc. In a poll conducted by NPR, The Hunger Games series ranked second after Harry Potter sequels as being one of the top 100 teen novels.
Ice, by Anna Kavan (1967)
Ice is a novel written by British author Anna Kavan. Initially, the book was named The Ice World but Peter Owen, the publisher, convinced Kavan to change the title. It was published before her death that won her massive success and popularity. It is considered to be her best work of science fiction that lured readers of her century. Ice can be classified as a Nouveau Roman that is fiction diverged from classical literary genres. It has been hailed by Brian Aldiss, the English sci-fi writer, in 1967 as the best science fiction book of the year.
Ice is set up against the backdrop of an apocalyptic situation. A massive ice shelf which is the product of a nuclear war is gradually overpowering earth and engulfing it. We get to see the male protagonist relentlessly pursuing a woman and thinking about his conflicting feelings for her. However, the worsening weather intrudes and deviates him from the chase.
The book combines autobiographical elements with fiction. It can be deemed as an extraordinary and an innovative novel. The atmosphere is a surreal one that is cryptic and unsettling in many ways. The narrative is fused with dream-like states and marked by hallucinatory transitions. Overall, this piece of literature is a haunting and underrated masterpiece that deserves to be read.
The Final Thought!
All these books listed here are the best of the sci fi books that one will come across. They are common as a work of scientific fiction but are diverse in their plotlines, characters and set ups. The dystopian environment, totalitarianism, themes of horror will grapple your mind.
So, have you decided which novel you are going to pick up and enjoy your holiday alongside? Which one does particularly piques your interest? These best of science fiction books have the best of science and fiction blended together that you will absolutely love to read.