“What if?” Typically, that’s the one question that starts off a series of fanciful imaginations and otherworldly ideas in a writer’s mind. Sometimes those imaginations lead to the creation of new worlds, worlds where reality can be strained, situations can be contrived, chance occurrences turn into adventures of a lifetime. Throw in some space travel, some futuristic ideas combined with the human psychology and some philosophy and you can be tripping the light fantastic on a different world that emerged out of an author’s fevered dream. That’s what this list of 13 science fiction books is all about.
Are you ready for a trippy time-travelling ride around the universe and new worlds?
If yes, strap on your seat belts and as Douglas Adams said in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t forget to bring a towel”.
The Martian by Andy Weir
A celebration of scientific ingenuity and man’s unfailing spirit to survive, The Martian will leave you astounded and exhilarated. It’ll make you laugh, think, and hope, and along the way, capture your imagination and heart. The book follows Mark Watney – the first man to walk on Mars – as he finds himself stranded on the Red Planet due to a freak accident. He’s sure he’ll be the first man to die on the hostile planet.
Ready Player One by Ernie Cline
The year is 2044 and reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
It’s Willy Wonka meets The Matrix in the near future online game age.
The Dirk Gently Omnibus by Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently is a detective – well, a sort of detective. There is a long and honourable tradition of great detectives and Dirk Gently does not belong to it.
What do a dead cat, a computer whizz-kid, an electric monk, quantum mechanics, a chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and pizza have in common? Apparently not much, until Dirk Gently begins his investigation.
Deep, dark and deliciously funny. A holistic whodunit in Douglas Adams’ inimitable style.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect. Thus starts an intergalactic odyssey of Arthur Dent’s adventures. Accompanying him are Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian; Marvin, a paranoid, depressed robot.
Absurdity at its finest.
The Great Dune Trilogy by Frank Herbert
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, the Dune Trilogy are evocative, epic tales. Arrakis is the focus for a complex political and military struggle with galaxy-wide repercussions.
Breadth, depth and epic. The spice must flow.
The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price.
One of the Holy Grails of science-fiction writing.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guinn
Embracing aspects of psychology, society, and human emotions on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
“If civilization has an opposite, it is war.”
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
The war for survival of the planet Lusitania will be fought in the heart of a child named Gloriously Bright.
One of the most profoundly philosophical science fiction books that you’ll ever read.
One scientific and psychological insight after another.
Ubik by Philip K Dick
The story is set in a future 1992 where psychic powers are utilized in corporate espionage, while cryonic technology allows recently deceased people to be maintained in a lengthy state of hibernation.
A clever, original and often very funny sci-fi story. It is about psychic power battles, the nature of death, alternative reality and changing the past. Or not.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
16 short sci-fi, horror and/or fantasy stories, linked by the concept that each story is represented by the animated tattoos on the Illustrated Man’s body.
Bradbury picks the bones of society clean; he gnaws at them until he exposes the reality of the marrow beneath. Each story in here has a piece of wisdom to share, a resolution or disaster that could have been easily avoided if man was not so corrupt in his ways.
3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
The mysteries of the monoliths are revealed in this inspired conclusion to the Hugo Award–winning Space Odyssey series—“there are marvels aplenty”
3001 is not just a page-turner, plugged in to the great icons of the supercomputer HAL and the monoliths, but a book of wisdom too, pithy and provocative.
The Space Trilogy by CS Lewis
CS Lewis didn’t just create alternative worlds in the Narnia series. He also created the Space Trilogy, or the Cosmic Trilogy, which narrates the interplanetary travels of Ransom, the ill-informed and terrified philologist who leaves Earth much against his will.
The journeys by backyard rocket, coffin, and… erm… coffin, found in Space Trilogy is a dystopian space travel Fantasy/ Sci-fi classic.
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