Five Great Science Fiction Novels You Must Read before Aliens Invade!
These books are some of the best the genre has to offer
Many lovers of science fiction have their favorite books. These tales of fact and fantasy entertain and enlighten, as they project the reader into worlds that simply don’t exist at this time – but possibly could at some point in the future, either on earth or some other place. Thus, it could be said that all things are possible with science fiction, even the mystical, which could have a scientific basis, couldn’t it?
The following is a very short list of science fiction classics. Of course, it isn’t comprehensive, because who could produce such a list? Surely nobody has read them all! Anyhow, please peruse the following list, and if you haven’t read any of them, why not purchase one, two or all five?
1. The Lost World
The Lost World, written Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and published in 1912 (not to be confused with Michael Crichton’s more recent novel) is certainly a classic sci-fi novel; in fact, it may be better than or at least equal to such timeless works as War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and The Land That Time Forgot. The story takes place in South America, perhaps Venezuela, where numerous jungle plateaus are found. One of these tepuis, as they are called, is home to a surviving remnant of dinosaurs – that’s what Professor George Edward Challenger claims anyway, and he’s willing to take journalist Edward Malone there to prove it! Living among the dinosaurs is a race of ape-men and some native Indians as well, adding to the possibilities.
Many sci-fi writers can’t resist a story line that includes man vs. dinosaurs, either here on earth or another planet. With this in mind, Doyle’s book is a scrapping good yarn that every lover of dinosaurs should read. The book is only a couple hundred pages. By all means, take a day or two to read it!
2. The Gods Themselves
Written by Isaac Asimov, one of the so-called Deans of Science Fiction, this heady novel was published in 1972. The book is in three parts. The first describes scientist Frederick Hallam, who discovers a batch of plutonium 186, an isotope that cannot occur naturally in our universe. Hallam proves that the element must have been produced by beings from a parallel universe. Wow! He then invents an “electron pump,” which makes cheap inexhaustible energy by moving matter between the parallel universes. In part two, the novel takes place in the aforementioned parallel universe, where three types of beings exist – Rationals, Emotionals and Parentals. Part three takes place on the moon, where the colonists, unable to use the electron pump because of its sometimes deadly consequences, must find a different parallel universe so they can make a pump of their own.
This is science fiction for the intellectual, though not to the extent of being unreadable or at least hard to read. Who wants to bother with that stuff? By the way, Asimov said The Gods Themselves was his favorite sci-fi novel. As a good example of Asimov's work, it equates with his other classics - I, Robot and the Foundation series.
3. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Published in 2006 and penned by zombie master Max Brooks, this book may belong in the horror genre – or the zombie genre itself - though it has elements of science fiction. In this book, zombies – millions of them – have overrun earth, and the humans must destroy the zombies before they make everyone else zombies. One bite from a zombie makes you . . . one of them! What makes the book science fiction is that people around the planet must use science and technology to defeat this hideous plague, which even attacks from underwater! Incidentally, people become zombies when they’re infected by the virus the zombies carry, but the author never tells the reader what the virus is nor explains how a virus can animate people who appear to be the walking dead.
Nevertheless, Max Brooks tells a fascinating tale of how various cultures in the world struggle to destroy this zombie horde once and for all. As for the resultant movie released in 2013, Brad Pitt portrays a UN investigator who tries to keep his wife and two daughters safe while he searches for a way to defeat the zombie menace.
4. Rendezvous with Rama
Published in 1972 and written by sci-fi master, Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous with Rama is about a 30-mile-long object that enters the solar system from deep space. Scientists on earth suspect it’s an asteroid and designate it Rama, a name from Hindu mythology. However, they soon discover it is in fact a huge, cylindrical shaped interstellar spacecraft. The solar survey vessel Endeavor is sent to investigate Rama and soon gains entry. The crew of the Endeavor then explores this vast enclosed world, where cybernetic “biots,” which ignore the crew members, seem to be preparing Rama for some upcoming maneuver. Eventually Rama sling-shots around the sun and exits the solar system without anybody figuring out who built the ship and why.
Rendezvous with Rama is considered a science fiction classic and perhaps Clarke’s best. Moreover, it won just about every sci-fi book award in existence. The novel spawned a series of sequels written by Clarke and Gentry Lee. These three books, Rama II, The Garden of Rama and Rama Revealed are all very good and certainly worth a read as well. This is definitely one series of books that doesn’t peter out at any point!
Congo is Michael Crichton’s answer to Henry Rider Haggard’s novel, King Solomon’s Mines. The book is about the search for a lost city - another plot line that science fiction authors can’t resist - and the location of what could turn out to be King Solomon’s Mines. Published in 1980, Congo tells the tale of a lost expedition that went looking for boron-coated diamonds (used for semiconductors) in the rain forest of the Congo in deepest Africa. The expedition finds the diamonds near the lost city of Zinj, and then contact with the expedition suddenly ends. A video tape, sent via satellite, shows that the expedition was attacked by gorilla-like creatures. Another expedition goes in search of the first one, bringing along Amy, a gorilla that communicates with humans using sign language.
Eventually Amy learns the gorilla creatures’ language and then helps the expedition fend off an attack by them. Later the expedition discovers that the original inhabitants of Zinj had created these creatures by breeding humans with gorillas and then used them to guard the diamonds. Echoing One Million Years B.C., the climax of the story features a volcanic eruption that destroys Zinj. This book has so many exciting sci-fi clichés that you just can’t miss it!
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© 2011 Kelley
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