I used to be really into the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but I transferred to non-fiction books on art, science, and history. However, I recently ordered a ton of books on Amazon and started watching Altered Carbon, a cyber-punk book adaptation, on Netflix. I started reading A Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s one of the most famous sci-fi books of all time, written in 1961. I chose it to be the book that would christen my return to the science fiction genre.
I don’t want to give too much away or put thoughts in your head, but the book is about a human raised on Mars. He is the sole owner of the planet and has trouble adapting to the culture and environment on Earth. The book offers ethical and moral dilemmas and is both very progressive and very backward.
Back to my specific order on Amazon. When I decided I wanted to get back into science fiction, I figured I better start with the classics. I read many articles and lists of what were deemed to be the best and most important sci-fi novels of all time. These were my findings, in no particular order.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)
“Case was the sharpest data-thief in the matrix—until he crossed the wrong people and they crippled his nervous system, banishing him from cyberspace. Now a mysterious new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run at an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case is ready for the adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.”
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1931)
“Aldous Huxley’s tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a “utopian” future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.”
- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1948)
“Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…”
- Enders Game and The Ender Quintet by Orson Scott Card (1985)
“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.”
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
“Billy Pilgrim returns home from World War II only to be kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who teach him that time is an eternal present.”
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)
“By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans. Immigrants to Mars receive androids so sophisticated they are indistinguishable from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans can wreak, the government bans them from Earth. Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back—with lethal force.”
- Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
“Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides—who would become known as Muad’Dib—and of a great family’s ambition to bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.”
These are the top books on my bucket list, yet there are many more that can give you a greater understanding of this fascinating genre. I find sci-fi so interesting because it gives us a glimpse of the future. I’m not talking about aliens or dangerous technology. But it lets us asks the only questions that really matter.
Who are we? What are we? Where are we going?