The recent resurgence in popularity of science fiction, with the release of new Star Wars and Star Trek movies and the successful Planet of the Apes franchise, has reignited interest in the genre. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of ten science fiction books that I think are definitely worth reading.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Set in a future where the world is on the brink of collapse, this book follows the story of Wade Watts as he searches for a digital Easter egg hidden in a virtual reality game by its creator, who promised his fortune to whoever found it. This book has won numerous awards and has been adapted into a successful film. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrilling ride through the world of video games. However, it is better to read this before watching the movie as Speilberg makes a lot of changes to the games played and the gaming characters mentioned in the book.
Artemis by Andy Weir
Artemis is set on the moon in a five-dome moonbase. The story follows a young woman named Jazz, who is a porter on the moonbase and struggles to make ends meet. The plot involves Jazz getting involved in a criminal commission and things not going as planned, leading to a battle for a new technology that could revolutionize Earth’s communication system. The book is a quick read with plenty of action and characters, and the protagonist has a relatable charm and includes lots of useful information about the moon.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This book tells the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who is stranded on Mars after his team is forced to evacuate. With only limited supplies, Watney must use his knowledge and resourcefulness to survive until a rescue mission can reach him. This book will blow your mind as the protagonist simply doesn’t give up and find way after way to survive from growing plants from his own sh*t to speaking to earth using whiteboards. Just amazing!
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
Wow! I loved this series and have read it multiple times since. We Are Legion (We are Bob) is the first book that follows the story of Bob, a software engineer who is uploaded into a self-replicating spaceship after an accident. As he navigates the galaxy, he must confront the ethical dilemmas of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human whilst seeding himself around the universe. Funny, clever and so much fun.
When the Sparrow Falls by Neil Sharpson
When the Sparrow Falls is a fantastic novel that explores the themes of technology, complicity, and authoritarianism in a future where Artificial Intelligence dominates every nation except for the Caspian Republic (Eastern Europe). The story follows Security Agent Nikolai South, who starts his narrative with an execution, and is then assigned to chaperone the widow of the executed man, a machine that looks like South’s late wife. Through this plot, Sharpson navigates themes of AI consciousness and human supremacy, as South uncovers a conspiracy that could shatter the Caspian Republic.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Project Hail Mary follows the story of Ryland Grace, a middle school teacher turned astronaut, who wakes up from a coma with amnesia. He gradually remembers that he was sent to the Tau Ceti solar system, 12 light-years from Earth, to find a means of reversing a solar dimming event that could cause the extinction of humanity. The story is split into two storylines, one on board the spacecraft Hail Mary where Ryland regains his memory and the other is flashbacks of earlier events leading up to the launch of the Hail Mary. The story is really fun and written in a light-hearted way that I personally really enjoyed.
Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre
Bedlam is like Tron on steroids with a kind of “who dunnit” twist at the end. The story mirrors my own childhood growing up in the early years of gaming and is a nostalgic read. The story follows a normal guy who wakes up trapped in Starfire – a video game he played as a child – with no explanation, no backup and, most terrifyingly, no way out. The book is filled with funny jokes, characters you can empathise with more swear words than you can shake a stick at. It is not necessary to know about gaming to enjoy the book.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Children of Time follows the journey of the last remaining members of the human race as they leave a dying Earth in search of a new home among the stars. They discover a planet that has been prepared for human life, but upon arrival, they find that the planet has been taken over by new masters and is no longer the haven they had hoped for. The story centers around the conflict between the two civilizations and the lengths they will go to in order to survive. As the two civilizations confront each other, they must grapple with the ethical implications of their actions and the fate of humanity.
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
This book tells the story of Cara, a woman who is able to travel between parallel worlds. As she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens the multiverse, she must decide where her loyalties lie. The book almost has two distinct halves and mid-way through, you’ll be forgiven to think you have reached a conclusion before it draws you back in for part 2. The characters are well-written and there is a clear difference between those who live in the luxury towers compared to those who survive in the wastelands.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This book follows the story of Andrew (Ender), a young boy who is recruited to attend a military academy in space. The journey is far from easy but over time he becomes a skilled strategist rising to the top of the class. But as he trains to obliterate the alien scourge, he must confront the moral implications of his actions and the fate of humanity.
These ten science fiction books are just a small sampling of the great stories that the genre has to offer. With the renewed interest in science fiction, we are excited to see what the future holds for both science fiction books and films. We hope that this list has inspired you to pick up one of these books, or perhaps discover a new favorite science fiction story.
We would love to know what science fiction books you would recommend. Let us know in the comments below!