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His robot stories are a huge influence on the way modern sci-fi sees artifical intellegence. It is a very convincing insight into how the world will be in the near future combined with a grand space opera style plot about danger from outer space. A typical good versus evil, post-apocalyptic novel.

The world finally succumbed to nuclear war. As a result of this final act of paranoid hatred between humans, the ultimate in evil is created. It's very hard to choose one particular book from Ian M Banks' Culture series because those I have read have all been outstanding.

Excession stands out in my memory because of the intensity of the story and the amazing concepts that fill Bank's universe such as the Culture's Minds and the artificially intelligent space ships. Incorporates everything from tarzan to sherlock holmes to dracula to wonder woman, all within a world in which our understanding of the physical universe, macro and micro alike, get both explained and questioned in equal measures. Truly visionary and splendidly realised. As with all of his first books, Egan pushes his brilliant ideas to the limit of imagination and then pushes them again in mind boggoling areas and then does it again and again.

The stories are also well constructed and engrossing. The best hard science fiction in my opinion. A brilliant look at religion, politics, race and power. I've re-read it 5 times and every time I discover whole concepts not seen before. Because you'll never read anything like it again. It's original, beautifully written, imaginative and highly thoughtful.

Really outstanding and the reason I became an SF fan in the first place. A great story with all of the needed ingredients of action, intrigue, suspense and science. This is my favourite Iain M Banks book by light years. I love his "Culture" series of novels, but "The Algebraist" story is his most complete. A complex and exciting novel based in A. Cruel warlords, invasion forces, friendships lost and remade, beautifully described worlds and a compelling detective story all go to make this book a must read for any science fiction fan.

Although I'd concur with the greatness of Neuromancer, Pavane and its sister novel Kiteworld are an exciting mix of historical and futuristic thinking from a, now, relatively unsung British writer. Perhaps it doesn't have the global ambition of the Gibson novels but it creates a logical coherent vision of an alternative Britain that is very intriguing. Having no Kurt Vonnegut on the list would be a glaring omission so why not this chilling end of the world classic.

The meaning and future of human life, intelligent life in the universe, and everything.

Before there was Cyberpunk, there was Shockwave Rider. Before there was an internet, there was Shockwave Rider. Back in the 70s, this was the book that told us the direction. When everyone was still going on about space travel, this told us what was really going to change our world. As far as I am concerned, Neuromancer which i also like is simply fan fiction for this vision. The scale and detail of this book are without compare. Realistic enough to keep you grounded yet the descriptions and scope of events are so vast that you're hooked and kept interested through the 3 books.

This is a very accessible novel that I would recommend to someone who has little experience with the genre. The story is somewhat conventional beginning, middle, end but manages to include a considerable amount of discovery and mystery. If defines what something truly 'alien' is - not some dude with two arms, two legs, one head and a load of prosthetic makeup, but alien. EE Doc Smith's Lensman series of novels is fantastic. Don't read them out of sequence or you will get confused. Not a classic as such. However a brilliantly formulated and pieced together epic, which is assured to keep you engrossed for a couple of months at least.

It has everything - Banks' Culture novels all share a great setting, but out of all of them The Player of Games just delivers that bit extra in character, adventure, epic grandeur, and a sophisticated plot that resonates on so many levels. Sci-Fi sometimes takes itself too seriously - this five some of the laughs back. Immense in scale, it crafts a entire universe of it's own and then populates it with figures and races over millions of years. It mixes philosophy, Islam, Zen, lesbianism, Cloning into a series of amazing books that stretch our minds and challenge our perceptions of reality and our perceptions of self.

A compelling glance into the future for our technological, alienated, schizoid species. If you think that cyberpunk was invented in the s, then you really need to read this book.

Combines both a vicious, futuristic war yarn and the bleeding edge of trippy, Burroughs-style SF. Abraham Lincoln is revived as an android as part of a crazy scheme to re-enact the US Civil War for entertainment only to be hijacked by big business and a darkly disturbed creator - All contribute to this tale in which the author explores his familiar themes of the nature of reality and what makes us truly human. Fantastic series of books.

It does what Asimov tried to do but never quite succeeded, despite his many achievements: The humans end up being almost the rather indulged and very much patronised pets of the AIs. Speaking of pets, David Brin's Startide Rising deserves a mention. And, for the entire body of his work up to the moment, the great Greg Egan: Better than the first volume, Hyperion, this book has a great, dramatic story, fine characters, plenty of time-twisting and some wonderful ideas about AIs, human evolution, religion and What It All Means.

It's not gruesome and funny like Iain M Banks I would nominate all the Culture novels as second choice but it is epic, thought-provoking and a little bit scary the Shrike. Few authors can tell a story from the view of a non human character as convincingly as C. Her worlds are well developed and it is fun to read her books. Mr Banks' science fiction is always absolutely brilliant.

The scope and size of the settings in which the plot is set is so much more than other writers. I enjoy them all, Surface Detail, being the latest developed The Culture concept further, full of dark humour and brain expanding vastness of it all. Consider Phlebas is sf at it's best. Awesome in it's scope, speculative in it's ideas, plausible and at the same time beyond what we have thought before.

Huge things in space, sentient machines, a fantastic society and a main character that is on the wrong side in a conflict makes great reading and hopefully some thinking from the reader. Absolutely terrifying, yet zany, satire of Soviet life. Written in this under-appreciated gem is the grand-daddy of all dystopia. It looks at the mechanation and production line culture that was due to rise. Fordism and a Benefactor scream 'Brave New World' and '' in equally delightful prescient horrors.

Space rather than science fiction, this is a penetrating look at humanity through an alien's eye. Lessing is prescient about so much and pulls no punches in her analysis of the human condition. An endlessly fascinating, worlds-within-worlds exploration. Original, thought-provoking and well plotted, not ruined by exposition. It illustrates the utter futility of projects like SETI - even if we did receive a message from the stars, could we ever agree what it meant.

And imagine the religious upheaval it would cause if there was any claim that there is no God. I picked it up by accident from the library and just though, "oh well, I'll read it anyway? It's hero, takeshi kovacs is very much a person who just seems to caught up in incredibly volatile and deadly situations, and he comes through them purely cos he's prepared to do whatever is necessary to survive in an outrageously coldblooded manner while still retaining enough depth of character and humanity to be sympathetic. I've read everything that Morgan's written since - several times - and I can't recommend this book highly enough.

A book that feels just as relevant now than it did in the 70s. Great plot, satisfactory presentation of inner agonies of the individuals, solid characters, irony, suspense. A s masterpiece of black humor that, although dated in the way it tackles sexuality and the place of women in society, stands as a good reflection on utopia, pacifism and personal responsibility. Once read, never forgotten. Well written and plotted - lots of strands - androids, repressed memories, ambiguous aliens, action sequences with sudden unexpected abilities, with in depth character development, and open ended.

Would make a great blockbuster film! Seventies utopian and dystopian ideas. Aged a bit, but deals with a lot of issues that never occurred to the boys. The author has given himself permission to let his imagination wander. We all need to give ourselves permission to let our imagination wander. That's the nub of it. Suppose we do get off this rock and into inter-stellar space e.

What if we did find an inhabited world, because we were following the signals received by SETI, say. Would we even recognize the aliens as living creatures when we encountered them? The sheer amount of cock, even for the sci-fi genre, is spafftacular. I watched the film first, which didn't have nearly as much cock. By God, I love the cock in the book. First it's very funny, the author has a real eye for an unexpected gag. But it's also got a serious side. It's a mix of science fiction and fantasy about a world that is like the real world except that all religions and superstations are true.

Four people go on a quest to find the soul of a dead magician that has been trapped on a computer. The characters are warm and believable book is quite thought provoking. It keeps you completely off balance the whole way through. Just when you think you know what is going on something shifts and you find out that nothing is what you thought it was. I like that especially as I realized at the end that one of the main themes is how apparently orderly systems arise out of chaotic situations.

I always think it's the sign of a good book that however many times I read it I always find something new to think about and to laugh at. Well, it's a trilogy not a single book and, next only to Olaf Stapledon's works, the most satisfying and simply enjoyable SF I have read. What I like about it is that it mixes science fiction with a good old-fashioned adventure story involving likable people. And it is brilliantly conceived and told.

A voyage into the science fiction future does not always have to be scientific. Banks excels in his nonchalant creativity, placing his main character, who is world class at his own past time of playing games, into the hands of 'special circumstances' an organisation run by super minds to put right the wrongs of the universe As an avid reader of what is know as 'the Culture series' I recommend 'Player' as the entry book to Banks's universe, this book, if you like it, will lead to all the others, 5 or 6 at the last count.

All different, but fascinating, exciting, sexy and above all optimistic about very advanced humanoid civilization, although the culture is categorically not simply us in the future. This trilogy has been the most influential of all science fiction books. Although they are three books, I see them as one long book, broken into three parts because of the nature in which they were purported to be written by a single divine force working through human agents. So even the manner of the writing is surreal and cosmological. They are filled with dictates regarding proper conduct.

The stories document the twisted behaviors of leaders, wars of conquest, socio-political struggles, and moral themes. Among the chief features is the sado-masochistic relationship that the god in these books has with his people. I found the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter to be exemplary of the kind of brutal gamesmanship between the two parties. Additionally, divine imperatives include the extermination of entire peoples and failures to carry these out to their fullest extent results in punishments.

Though often boring and filled with cryptic platitudes, these books are worth reading, if only to look into the psychological space that they have created in billions of fans all over the planet. This, with its three sequels, is a magnificent work of linguistic and mythic imagination, deeply resonant and rewarding.

A brilliant fusion of a noir detective story set in a detailed and believable future world, its pace is relentless and like all good books leaves the reader wishing for more pages to turn. An excellent introduction to the pleasures of reading Gene Wolfe, before tackling The Shadow of the Torturer. Well worth seeking out, since other writers are to Wolfe as ketchup is to bordelaise. I love the idea of maths as a predictive tool. Also the twist where one character is not what they seem. An early post-apocalyptic novel and an excellent comment on how quickly society can collapse.

This series has everything: The Foundation series, most epsecially the first book in the series, has a beautiful vision of a galactic empire, doomed by probability to fail, and the preparations for what will replace it. It's stuck with me for years, and I still lend my copy to friends on a regular basis. This book was simply written with a theological angle, however just read literally it was very resonating for three connected ways of seeing things that are indelible to my reading and appreciation of this story: The translation of what the human says and how it is heard by the aliens.

A human seeing the appearance of two different aliens, before realizing they are actually humans. Earth is a silent planet in a Universe full of communication. There is another theory which states that this has already happened. It is quite simply the best book ever written. I grew up on this book, with my dad reading me excerpts for bedtime stories! Sit down with a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and enjoy! For those not in the know, it's like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. I read this when I was in my early 20's when it was instrumental in my becoming a life long Sci-Fi fan.

I re-read it in my 50's and enjoyed it just as much. I introduced it to the book club I belong to and they enjoyed it despite the fact that they would not normally read Science Fiction. Read this a few years ago now and the images it created while reading it have since stuck in my mind. Its a classic because it remains a terrifying novel to date. A book that simply defines everything that good sci-fi should be: Brave New World is, ahead of other classics such as , the one sci-fi novel that everyone can recognise in our own cultural infatuation with indulgence and social structure.

It is an epic that joins the distant past to the near future. It is hopeful, as expressed in the "Star Child" I cannot even think about that image without getting major goosebumps yet it contains a warning to mankind about its own folly. It is at least somewhat prescient in how HAL is portrayed. And it is a great story as well as a great film. It is exciting and even breathtaking. Furthermore, the film made brilliant use of a classical score with Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra more goosebumps and Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, both electrifying compositions.

The spellbinding quality of Wolfe's prose by itself qualifies this as an all-time SF great, as a book we can all point to when someone accuses SF of not being literature. But there's so much more happening here. Twin alien worlds, decadent, decaying French colonies, and an aboriginal, shapeshifting race that seems to have vanished like a dream.

Three narrators, but somewhere in the twists and turns of their narratives, we lose them and find we're holding someone else's hand. I've read this book ten times now and I'm still finding new things to love about it. I read this when I was a young angst ridden sixteen year old and fell in love with it. It's a great little story of going back in a time machine to the days of christ in search of a meaning to life Excellent riff on the alien invasion sub-genre with aliens we never actually meet. Add political and social satire and a mildly unreliable narrator and you've got it made.

Foresaw the dangers of the polar cap melting as well! I love the multilayered approach and the phonetic spelling, and then the main protagonist is such a nice kid! One of the great space operas. Some critics have said it's too complicated. The richest most complete creation in the whole genre. Comparisons with the contemporary Vietnam War aside, the book was quite simply un-put-down-able! A great story of grunt soldiers training and fighting aliens over a possible misunderstanding with the added concept that the great distances they need to travel to the war zone means the Earth they know goes through changes they could not have foreseen.

This is one of those novels that non sci-fi fans can read without having to think that they are reading a sci-fi story. In other words it is happy to be called 'speculative fiction'. It is funny, witty, insightful, harrowing and shocking and utterly gripping from the start to the finish. This book displays the broad spectrum of humanity from our best to just how low and evil we can stoop.

It moves through time from the past to an awesomely realised post apocalyptic future and back again showing a playful and excellent grasps of multiple literary styles along the way. This was the book I gave my girlfriend who is not a fan of sci-fi as the one example of this genre that she agreed she would read, mainly just to keep me quiet.

Well written, extremely good plotting and characterisation, and has elements which stay with you for years after reading it which is the whole point, isn't it? A novel which focuses on how a military-run government would look. Also gives a good description of uber-cool space suits and fighting aliens. Really makes you think about how OUR world works by looking at another. Am almost completely realised universe, very smart and incisive. I found the contrast between the connections of the culture through neural laces and the inhabitants of Yoleus to be very thought provoking, as it brought up a host of questions about the causes and effects of instant information through the internet.

I first read this book as a pre teen and found it an atypical examination of prejudice and the fear that inspires it. It is however, a very enjoyable, well written read. I have read it in every subsequent decade of my life and found no less enjoyable. I would recomend it for young and old alike. By far my favorite John Wyndham book. All books of the Robotic series together with the Foundation Series. Alternate history squared, Spinrad posits a world where Hitler went to the US in the late s and became a science fiction writer of the golden age.

A spoiler proof story and not actually a very good one, but the shock is realizing how close so much SF comes to it. Spinrad includes an academic article criticizing HItler on a literary basis to help you process the experience. It has everything, hard Sci-Fi ideas, fantasy politics, religion, philosophy, romance Sprawling SF on a vast scale, violent and hilarious in equal measure, Banks' Culture Novels are peerless, and this is one of his best. Even non-sf fans like this.

Heinlein probably created more libertarians with this book than Hyeck! The first of Smiths books and the first one I had read, picked up at random from a newsagents. From the first page you are hooked by the vivid imagery and shocking storyline. It was a lesson in how you can put wild imagination onto the page and let it run away with itself. Despite it's complex concepts the vivid imagery and flowing dialogue reall lets you enter the Culture world for the first time with a great understanidng for me the best Sci fi book ever written. Best of the 'culture' novels. Games at multiple levels, very black and very entertaining.

There was just something about this book and all the thought that author Clarke put into it that made it stand out for me. There was no wild imaginings just simple and logical prediction. The only thing that was a little hard to believe was the physical size of Rama. Given the cost and complexity of building the ISS, one has to wonder how long and how much it took to be built and sent on it's way.

A super read though. Bill is a pal of mine for starters. He was working on this book years before I met him. He let me read his rough draft when it was done and after that, I hope he will write more. I've downloaded his ebook and it's even better finished. He said that it's the kind of story he wantes to read about.

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

He's shared it with some other people I work with and everybody loves it. I think he had his brother make a video, but I'm not sure. He was talking about it. Bill can draw, too. I'm friends with him on facebook, and his characters are really cool so now you can actually see what his characters look like as he sees them. I would recommend this book even if Bill wasn't my friend, it's that good.

I thought it was too obvious, but apparently not, based upon the comments below. Dune, along with Stranger in a Strange Land, catapulted sci fi out of the "golden age", and re-defined the genre. These two books are to sci-fi what the Beatles were to rock. Everything after was different. This novel is set in a post environmental holocaust future with both a dystopia and a Utopia. It presents beautifully drawn characters in a technological wonderland with a hellishly corporate backdrop.

The novel revolves around Shira and her quest to be reunited with her son - taken from her by the company she used to work for. In her quest she is joined by a wonderful cyborg named Yod and the novel tells of their relationship and brings into question what it is to be human. The story is interspersed with the tale of the Golem in Prague which brings the questions around what is life into a longer history and gives it weight. As a science fiction novel it is so frighteningly possible - and in the not very distant future - but its real power is that we can already see how close we are to becoming a world in which corporations control private lives.

There's some really wonderful moments like when Shira and co hack into the company's computer system using their minds, but flying in the shapes of birds, and when Shira is trying to teach Yod to understand the beauty of roses. I don't want to give anything else away as there are also unseen twists. Plus there are kittens! Too dense, too pretentious, no likable characters and then for the last quarter Suddenly transformed to profound, disturbing, beautiful and lyrical. As someone else on this thread says, "Quite unlike anything else i've read". Start with the creation of a mind then follow it on a post-human diaspora through the multiverse.

Over 2 generations ahead of its time - Still a contemporary science fiction novel of the highest quality - the central tenet still stands the ravages of time as a truly inspiring and though provoking possibility. Not sure if it's SF, biography, satire, or a combination of all these and more, but it's a genius little book which I read over 20 years ago for the first time; I re-read it ocassionally, and it's still fresh to me. An amazing series detailing the interactions between a number of species includinfg humans on a grandiose scale. A must read for any true lover of SF.

When the author tries to explain what a twelve dimensional planet might look like in an alternative universe it boggles my poor little four dimensional mind, but in that giddy, vertigionous way Stephen Hawking sometimes managed in a Brief History of Time. Except theres no spaceships, aliens, virtual realities in Hawkings book, which makes this book quite a lot better. Diapsora is a novel of big ideas. From the birth of a gender neutral new mind in a virtual reality where most of humanity live in the near future AD to exploration of the galaxy and on to other universes of increasing multidimensional complexity to the ultimate fate of our species and others, all in a pursuit of a mystery - how does the universe hmm, multiverse really work?

How can we survive its indifferent violence? And where are the mysterious species who left microscopic clues behind in the structure of an alien planet warning of galaxy wide catastrophe? As the book progresses the relative importance of these questions and answers change.

GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI: 1934–1963

What happens when the answers are complete? It does take a while to get going particularly if you're not familiar with 'hard sci-fi' but there are no 'cheats' used in traditional sci fi. No transporters, FTL travel and the intelligent aliens are so utterly unlike the 'human' heroes they need several layers of 'relay-team' interpreters even to communicate.

I look forward to the day mind wipes become more widely available so I can read it again for the first time. Like the best science fiction, it portrayed a plausible world growing out of our present - and the central figure is a believable human being doing currently-unbelievable things who grows, over the course of the book. And totally gratuitously, it led to a number of sequels as rich and believable, in their way, as the first in the series was itself. Larry Niven is mainly know for his Ringworld series books. Generally his books are set in "known space" - a universe not too distant in the future - or close parallels to this creation.

In "World of Ptavvs", Larry brings an alien known in "known space" as being extinct for millions of years to the present day. The alien a Slaver had been in stasis and is unintentionally released and then sets about trying to enslave the earth. Fortunately Larry Greenberg, who had been trying to reach the alien telepathically whilst in stasis, is here to save the day. Without giving too much away, humans are related to the Slaver race, meaning of course that the World of the Ptavvs is earth. Some Slavers that have lost all their family rather than committing suicide will decide to protect the whole Slaver species.

If only Larry knew someone like that to protect earth from this Slaver What I like about the book is that the complete story spans from years into past and future. Space Opera it is not as the books are far too easy to read a couple hours to read this book but none-the-less Larry Niven creates a rich and compelling universe. It is prescient in its understanding of memes, no one else has come close. Not neccesarily the best SF book ever-that would in my opinion be one of Iain M. Banks's 'Culture' novels-but quite possibly the weirdest. If you thought the end of Herbert's Dune series was getting a bit strange, it has nothing on this-truly out there WTF!

By the way, are we including the Gormenghast trilogy in this? It's a beautiful balance of drama, speculation, humor, and the PKD's own special brand of paranoia. Well written, wll thought out, great plot develpoment, and all around awesome!!!! This book so beautifully demonstrates the point that what falls between two opposing, hard-held points of view is truth.

Not science fiction by the contemporary definition. This novel deals with what has been coined "inner space" rather than the more outer-space oriented, Le Guinesque fantasies. JG Ballard was a prominent figure of the new wave of science fiction: This was a time when events of the so-called real world began to seem stranger than fiction. As a result, novelists of this era began to write about dystopian near-futures rather than settings vastly remote in time and distance.

High Rise deals with the effects of the man-made, physical landscape, in this case an east London aparment block - on the physcology of the tenants. The rigidly defined social structure, too-easy access to amenities and desire of the tenants to resign from their lives as mindless functionaries, sets in motion a descent into a microcosmic catastrophe. Ballard's ruthless imagination is on show here in all its glory. This book changed my life. Strictly not Sci-Fi, but a theological meditation on perception, sanity and counterculture.

One of my favourite books, up there with Camus and Satre in my opinion. The protaginist is a man undergoing a nervous breakdown who interprets his psychosis as religious revelations. Astoundingly well-written, profound and funny. Refutes the view of science fiction as 'Cowboys and Indians in Space. The author is a bit of a nutter, but the Mission Earth books are an excellent read.

And, the hero grows up a little. Eurasia including Britain has been conquered by Bolshevism. All because Adolf Hitler emigrated to New York in to become a science-fiction writer. That's the framing story. LOTS tells of a mythologized Germany "Heldon" in a future post-nuclear world that rose up to defeat the evil mutant forces of Zind and their humanity-destroying rulers the Dominators.

The only reason it's not more popular is because it's too real in many respects. It lacks that warm and fuzzy Hollywood-like ending needed for today's pop culture. Still, it's a brilliant series of books.


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I recommend them all. Like all great science fiction Shikasta and its four companion volumes has a serious philosphical core; It is beautifully written, and is a cracking read. It is plausible and utopic, offering a glimpse of a future of equality and sexual freedom with humankind and nature in balance, while pointing at the frailties of current reality and pertinently criticising organised religion, ideology, and colonialism.

Lessing's imagination runs riot, and the fourth volume, although slim, has one of the finest takes on survival in a hostile environment I have ever read. One of the most compelling compendium of five book s. Fast paced, excellently written and many thought provoking ideas playing merry hell with history, time, space and logic. Not to mention a great cliffhanger ending.

This is not a book, it is a short story, a very short story, but it was the inspiration for Clarke And Kubrick's collaborative epic It sums up humanities constant desire to discover 'someone else, out there. We are so lonely, like a kid who has lost it's mom. So much SF is devoted to our quest for contact, but the original short sums up the anticipation so well.

This collection of short stories is full of wit humour and dystopian futures. Book bindings that rewrite books, aliens infiltrating society as four foot high VW mechanics and faulty time travellers taking part in their own autopsy and ticker tape parade. This book is the most imaginative i have ever read and i'm overwhelmed by its brilliance whenever I read it. I have laughed, cried almost and felt almost every emotion in between and if one person reads it because of me i shall be happy. Most people read the dystopia - Brave New World, but Island was a utopian dream - one of the first books that really affected me.

Also anything by John Wyndham - many of his books successfully made it to films, Day of the Triffids and Village of the Damned. I also loved The Chrysalids - never understood why it didn't become a film. But the sci-fi crown must go to Peter F Hamilton - he has the ability to create entire universes and includes the entire shebang of sci-fi within each series - aliens, technologies, societies, superhuman abilities, etc. I'd just like to put in a moan about the way bookshops display Sci-Fi - they integrate it into Fantasy. I've nothing against fairies, elves and goblins, but this genre tends to look backwards to times when knights were armed and everyone else was nervous.

Sci-fi generally looks forward to the future with technology or societies or takes alternative universes and extrapolates. So why do bookshops display them together? Do they have no concept of either genre? Moan of the day over. Serves up visual imagery of technological advances that we have now attained or on the way to achieving. God, what gorgeous prose. Like, Pacific Rim -sized monsters.

There were always jokes, but Pratchett was an even better storyteller than he was a satirist. In Thief of Time , time is something manufactured by the Monks of History. They allocate it as they see fit until some upstart gets it into his mind that time should just be stopped dead in its tracks. Following the very first through-the-portal Fairyland adventures of the too-smart-by-half pre-teen September and her new best Wyverary friend, A-through-L, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is an achingly true meditation on the confusing, exciting pain of growing up, all wrapped up in pure cleverness and whimsy.

And while the plot may at times feel too lullingly gentle, the characters and settings are so thoroughly, gorgeously drawn, and each sentence so meticulously, luminously crafted, that a discerning reader is unlikely to get bored. Adults will find a thousand things to love in this world, but a voracious book-loving kid, for whom this series will feel like a gift from the Universe, will find one billion and four.

novels everyone must read: Science Fiction & Fantasy (part one) | Books | The Guardian

Harry Potter was already for grown-ups. Despite its magical school setting, the series owed more to the wonder of C. Magic corrupts as much as it helps pull its practitioners out of their melancholic existences. The loss of that innocence—getting expelled from his own fantastical Garden of Eden—sends Quentin spiraling out of control in a convoluted sequence of events that end up weaving together in unexpected ways. Maybe lying is itself a kind of art.

I think about that more than I should. The Clankers Germans and other Central Powers rely on steam-powered robots and futuristic machines to battle the fabricated animals Darwinists the UK, France, Russia and their allies employ as weapons in the war. Written for young adults, Leviathan and its sequels Behemoth and Goliath are entertaining for all ages. And if Six of Crows is the heist, then Crooked Kingdom is the glorious getaway drive. Want to read about a grand scheme, involving magic, fighting, and all the joys of fantasy? These books are for you. The first volume in The Dandelion Dynasty series, Grace of Kings follows the diminutive Kuni Garu, a charming bandit, and the towering Mata Zyndu, the resolute son of a deposed family lineage, as they suffer under—and eventually help topple—a tyrannical ruler.

Liu, who also translated the first volume of the wildly popular Chinese sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem , draws from Asian inspirations but creates a fantasy world that feels wholly original, not like an amalgamation of existing cultures. From the music to the balls to the swoon-filled romances, this is a gorgeous series the YA community is sad to see go. A Dance with Dragons by George R. It took 11 years for Martin to publish the pair of books that span a single timeline.

Book Two avoids the sophomore slump, prioritizing character development and increasingly insane stakes to keep your adrenaline pumping. And Tahir continues to tackle serious topics like slavery and government corruption with strength, proving that compelling fantasy stories exploring real-world issues are not only entertaining but essential when done right. The harrowing climax is frustratingly predictable, but the beautiful, strange journey here is what matters. The Obelisk Gate by N.

Jemisin The Hugo Award-winning second book in N. The Obelisk Gate boasts everything that made The Fifth Season phenomenal—a brilliant magic system, three-dimensional female characters, world-ending stakes—and ratchets it up to Jemisin consistently pairs fascinating character development with intense action, continuing a fantasy epic that demands your undivided attention. Jonathan Strange serves as apprentice to Mr.

The page novel includes copious footnotes following one rabbit hole after the next. The second expedition discovers that Martians regard them as insane hallucinations. A member of the fourth expedition realizes how wonderful Martian civilization is, and turns against his fellow Earthlings. Back on Earth, a hardware store owner attempts to prevent an African American man who owes him money from emigrating to Mars. A settler opens a hot dog stand, even as a devastating atomic war breaks out back on Earth. The episodes are thrilling and chilling, funny and sad, and always poetic and powerful.

Alise resorts to drastic measures to prevent Partre from publishing anything else. Tragedy strikes when Chloe develops a water lily in her lung; in the face of her impending death, how will Colin choose to live? Our narrator, the psychologist Dr. Castle, a philosopher colleague, and others to visit Walden Two, an experimental community — founded in the s by T. Over four days, the visitors marvel at a community where nobody works more than four hours per day; children are raised by the collective and incentivized, through a system of rewards and punishments, to behave well ; advanced technology has been developed to facilitate domestic chores; and everybody gets along.

The author was an esteemed behavioral psychologist at Harvard. Oceania is perpetually at war with one of the other two superstates. Winston and Julia are apprehended by the Thought Police: Will their love, idealism, and critical thinking survive, or will they crack? It has given us such terms as Big Brother , doublethink , and thoughtcrime ; and a real-life or fictional political order characterized by official deception is often described as Orwellian.

Ish Williams, a student of ecology and geology, survives a plague that wipes out most of America. Making his way home first to Berkeley, Calif. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are more interested in hunting than learning how to read, much less study science or medicine; the men and women who built the infrastructure which the younger members of the tribe view as marvels are regarded as semi-mythological beings.

Brian W Aldiss: Non-Stop (1958)

The title is from Ecclesiastes 1: Winton, you see, is a science fiction editor in the John Campbell mold — that is, he despises Space Opera, which he considers corny. A YA adventure set on Mars. Aided by the Martians, the colonists rebel against the Corporation and proclaim their independence. But what will become of Willis?

They inhabit two planes of existence simultaneously; revere freedom; and possess terrible powers. Carse becomes a galley slave, then leads a mutiny. Arriving at the realm of the Sea-Kings, Carse discovers that his mind has been possessed by Rhiannon himself, who seeks atonement for his ancient crimes.

For those who enjoy science fantasy, this is entertaining stuff complete with a reluctant villainess: Ywain, the fierce warrior princess-heir of Sark, who sorry longs to be dominated by the manly Carse. Navigating a London gone haywire, Masen rescues Josella Playton, a wealthy novelist, from a blind man who has forced her to serve as his guide… and the two of them plan to join a colony of the sighted outside London.

Instead, they are kidnapped by a group that chains sighted men and women to groups of the blind, and forces them to scavenge for food and supplies. Masen eventually escapes and helps establish a self-sufficient colony in Sussex… which, unfortunately, is menaced not only by hordes of triffids but by a militarized rival colony! Even as the Old Man directs government efforts to combat the invasion of these body-snatchers, Sam is puppetized by a slug! Originally serialized in Galaxy September, October, November The disarmament movement has split into two factions: During WWIII, while the American male workforce was fighting overseas, out of necessity American engineers made tremendous strides in automating most manual labor.

Today in the near future , most Americans are either busy and fulfilled engineers and managers, on the one hand, or discontented idlers, on the other. An anthropologist and Episcopalian minister, Reverend Lasher, persuades Paul that life without meaningful work is boring and inhuman; Paul begins to fantasize about quitting his job and living off the grid.

What will transpire when the revolution begins? So are the detectives Thomson and Thompson, and a spy working for a foreign power! The rocket-landing artwork is superb. Someone will have to die, if the others are to survive. A thrilling, semi-serious, semi-humorous sci-fi adventure. Jacobs, who had recently enjoyed success with a sci-fi comic, The Secret of the Swordfish. Elon Musk is a fan. In the final section of the book, Lt. Barrows, a gifted engineer who worked for the US Air Force until he apparently went insane, discovers that he was a victim of the gestalt — who wanted to prevent him from discovering the secret of their antigrav device, not to mention their very existence.

Will Hip fight back against the mutants… or join them? A cartoonish but gripping police procedural. Winner of the first Hugo Award. His application was denied. Frederik Pohl and C. Venus, meanwhile, is a hellhole — it will take generations before colonists can live there in anything but harsh conditions. What will Courtenay do? Originally published in Galaxy June—August as a serial with a better title: A gentle teenager, who loves to walk everywhere, in a car-dominated culture, and who asks probing questions, is killed senselessly, by a speeding driver.

Once his own wife betrays him, Montag goes on the run. Fahrenheit is often described as the first sci-fi novel to cross over from genre writing to the mainstream of American literature. A Stapledonian epic in which an alien invasion is merely the prelude! The aliens, who call themselves the Overlords, and who decline to reveal their physical forms, announce that they have arrived to usher in an era of peace and prosperity for all humankind. Fast-forward five decades, and Earth truly is a peaceful and prosperous place.

But some curious souls demand to know what the Overlords look like, where they come from, and what their ultimate purpose really is. Visiting Earthmen lose a valuable scientific probe, somewhere on Mesklin, so Barlennan, an adventurous Mesklinite sea trader, is recruited to go on a dangerous voyage in order to retrieve it; they are guided in their quest by the god-like voice of the Earthmen, orbiting above them. As the action proceeds, Clement, a high-school science teacher, rather unsubtly reminds readers of the importance of the scientific method. Father Ruiz-Sanchez, a biologist, doctor, and Jesuit priest, is one of four astronauts sent on a reconnaissance mission to the planet Lithia; the team is tasked with studying the native population and determining whether the planet is suitable for human colonization.

It turns out that the Lithians, a race of high intelligent kangaroo-like reptiles, have developed a peaceful, rational society. In fact, Ruiz-Sanchez decides that the planet is a snare, set by the Devil, in order to tempt humankind to abandon any religious framework. However, he does take a Lithian egg with him back to Earth, where humankind lives in fallout shelters and longs for a political savior…. Since the Cretaceous period, it seems, the Earth has existed in a neural-dampening field; when it emerges from this field, every person and animal on the planet becomes five times more intelligent.

Unintelligent people become geniuses; smart people become super-geniuses and go bonkers ; animals develop the ability to speak. Which sounds great, but it turns out that the hierarchical structures through which society functions is no longer sustainable! In the USA, unskilled workers quit their monotonous jobs; white-collar professionals reject the rat race; and animals refuse to be mastered and used as resources by humankind.

Africans rebel against colonial rule; the Chinese populace rises up against the authoritarian Communist government. The book begins with a description of a rabbit, caught in a trap, suddenly developing the ability to reason its way out — a metaphor for the invisible prison within which humankind has been trapped for millennia. But can humankind survive this upheaval? First serialized in Space Science Fiction in He is hampered, in his efforts, by the contempt that Earthmen who live in the titular caves of steel — i. Baley is also prejudiced against robots, whom Earthmen resent because they have taken away jobs from humans.

So it comes as an unpleasant surprise when he is partnered with R. First serialized in Galaxy , October to December Soon, he becomes embroiled in an epic showdown: He and his ex-girlfriend, along with others convinced that something uncanny is going on, begin to wonder whether there is an alien invasion going on. And if so, who can they trust? How much evidence of the impossible is required until we see the truth?

Serialized in Colliers in Though it has inspired more thrilling novels Stephen King is a Matheson fan and movies, I Am Legend is less an adventure than it is a novel of ideas about the psychology of social isolation , a bleak Robinsonade set in a vampire-infested Los Angeles of , with no hope of rescue , and a scientific mystery valorizing painstaking inductive reasoning. Still, there is much to enjoy here. Neville stakes vampires by day, and by night — as the vampires howl outside his door — he attempts to unravel the cause of the plague are the vampires physically, or just psychologically transformed?

Or is she something else? Are there non-feral vampires? Is he, himself, a legend? Other movie adaptations have been less entertaining. Anyone who attempts to unearth such dangerous knowledge faces punishment — up to and including being stoned to death. Len and Esau discover that legends of Bartorstown — a thriving technological utopia — may in fact be true. So they head out, on a long journey, to find it. Traveling down the Ohio River to the Mississippi, our heroes encounter dangers and marvels… but will Bartorstown be everything they hope?