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Recommended Reading for Science Fiction
Continuing with my book recommendations, which started with the Fantasy genre, I will now provide my top picks for Science Fiction. As a quick reminder, the list is not comprehensive, it is only my opinion and the description and hook are really just there to get you to read the book, not necessarily to give you an accurate picture of what it’s about.
Ender’s Game by
Orson Scott Card
Why I’m recommending it: When I first started asking around about good science fiction novels, Ender’s Game came up a number of times. It follows the story of a young boy who grows up in a future where parents are limited in how many children they can have. After producing two genius children, one couple is permitted to have a third child. Ender does not seem extraordinary at first glance but after he is sent off to a sort of military school, his tactical knowhow catapults him above the rest. His training sessions are the most entertaining as he leads the lowest team in a series of zero gravity games. Throw on top of that a war with space bugs that is seemingly hopeless and you’ve got a recipe for a truly memorable Science Fiction novel.
The Hook: Anti-Gravity combat.
The Time Machine by
H. G. Wells
Why I’m recommending it: This book is short; that’s why I picked it up. I don’t remember the exact page count, but it was just barely over 100. When I saw it, I wondered how a classic could be so short and still be a classic. So I read it and loved it. It isn’t much like the movie versions, but it’s a fun, well told tale that reminds us why authors like H. G. Wells are the pioneers of the genre.
The Hook: You can tell everyone you read a classic, but they won’t know it was only 100 pages long.
Hyperion by Dan
Why I’m recommending it: This book isn’t technically a compilation, but it feels like one at times. We follow a group of people going on what is called a ‘shrike pilgrimage’ where they must face a deadly robot monster on an alien world in order to gain answers. The story backtracks frequently to tell us why each character is there, giving us a colorful series of short stories that all feel right at home in a science fiction novel. One involves a child aging backwards and another follows a love affair with a non-human. You may have to purchase the second book to find out what happens.
The Hook: Sex with a robot.
Dune by Frank
Why I’m recommending it: Many people would consider this to be the grand-daddy of science fiction, or, at least, one of the pillars of the genre. I’ll admit, the first time I read Dune, a lot of the story went over my head and I gave it an amateurish review. Thankfully I revisited it later and was able to fully grasp the details a lot better. The Atreides family has been uprooted to a new planet where a special kind of spice is mined for profit. But, as if moving wasn’t hard enough, they must deal with Harkonnen politics, sand worms and a mysterious race of sand people on top of it all.
The Hook: Giant sand worms.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Why I’m recommending it: I think there are some people who wouldn’t categorize this book as science fiction, but come on; there’s time travel and aliens in it. Sure, it's possible that everything that happened was just in Billy Pilgrim's head as a way to cope with the horror of the war and his captivity, but the author still used science fiction elements to convey the story (real or not). Anyway, it can take a while to get used to Billy’s time jumping. When I first started reading it, I had a lot of trouble figuring out where he was and how he got there, but once you know how the author is doing it, each chapter is a joy to read. Definitely one that makes you think, but with enough science fiction and humor to keep you entertained as well.
The Hook: Tralfamadorians keeping humans naked in a zoo-like enclosure.
to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Why I’m recommending it: Here’s another science fiction classic, and like with the fantasy genre, I feel it is important to read humor as well as drama in each category. The Hitchhikers guide is the best choice. Following Arthur Dent and his towel as we try to figure out why the president of the universe stole the ship he was unveiling is classic from beginning to end.
The Hook: A ship that runs on improbability.