Science fiction is a vast, expansive genre with many, many great stories from giant robots to alien invasions to exploring distant stars. And while we've all probably seen a few episodes of Star Trek, there's a mulitude of fantastic written works in the genre that chances are you've missed out on.
So here's a short list of some fantastic science fiction books you should definitely add to your collection of Star Wars DVDs or at least check out from your local library!
This Hugo Award winning novel tells the story of a soldier named Breq, who was was once the consciousness of a massive starship linked to hundreds and thousands of soldiers in the service of a vast interstellar empire. Now trapped into a single human body, Breq is drawn into a vast conspiracy spanning the stars while she seeks revenge against those who destroyed her other selves.Advertisement
Probably legendary writer Robert A. Heinlein’s most well-known work, Starship Troopers is a military sci-fi novel that’s actually pretty light on the action (unlike the movie). Focusing on the life of Juan “Johnnie” Rico and his career in the Mobile Infantry, the novel discusses the philosophy of war and civic virtue with an galaxy-wide war between humanity and an arachnoid species as the backdrop.
One of the earliest books in the cyberpunk genre of science fiction, Neuromancer is the story of Henry Case, a drug-addicted, down-on-his luck computer hacker hired to pull off the ultimate digital heist in a dystopian future.
John Dies at the End
More of a sci-fi horror comedy, this novel stars John and Dave, two friends who end up getting drawn into the weird, wacky, and downright horrifying paranormal craziness of their unnamed midwestern town. You’ll never look at soy sauce the same way again after this one.
War of the Worlds
One of the oldest (and probably most well known) alien invasion stories of all time, War of the Worlds depicts the fall of London under the onslaught of Martian war machines, and the collapse of civilization as humanity struggles to repel the invaders.
Now you’re probably wondering, “Why is a book based off the Warhammer 40,000 board game on this list?” and I’ll tell you - because this trilogy by Dan Abnett is really, really good. Far from your typical 40k book (most of them seem to center on space marines shooting and stabbing stuff), Eisenhorn focuses on the secret espionage and political intrigue of the Imperium, and follows the rise and downfall of an imperial agent as he tries to root out treachery and evil within the Imperium’s ranks.
One of my personal favorites, Blindsight is a unique take on how humanity would make first contact with an alien life form. In the post-singularity future, a team of transhuman specialists are sent to investigate an unknown radio signal in the outskirts of our solar system, and encounter an extraterrestrial life form of terrifying intelligence. This novel delves deep into what it means to have free will, game theory and evolution, and is a great read for anyone who appreciates science fiction that forgos laser pistols and warp drives for hard science.
This classic sci-fi novel presents a grim future where humanity has been dragged into a war with an insectoid species apparently bent on our annihilation. A group of childen, including the story's protaganist Ender Wiggen, are drafted into the elite Battle School in the hopes of preparing them to defend against an invasion by a numerous, powerful foe.
No best science fiction list is ever complete without mention of Frank Herbet's grand epic. A huge cast of characters, intergalactic political intrigue, giant sandworms - there's a lot going on and it's all a great read.
Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas
A tounge-in-cheek look at the infamous "redshirt" trope of the original Star Trek series, Redshirts follows Ensign Andrew Dahl as he tries to stay alive while accompanying the starship Intrepid'sbridge crew on increasingly more dangerous away missions to alien worlds.
The Hyperion Cantos
Hyperion (and its sequel The Fall of Hyperion) tells the stories of a strange group of travelers who have been sent on a pilgrimage to the planet Hyperion, home to the mysterious Shrike - a violent creature that appears to be unbound by time.
The Forever War
This award-winning military sci-fi novel details the life of William Mandella, who is drafted to fight against an enemy known as the Taurans. Unfortunately, due to the relativistic effects of space travel, Mandella finds himself aging only a few scant years compared to the decades and centuries passing on Earth, and having to deal with the extreme cultural shifts and technological advances made by both humanity and its alien foes.
An extensive examination of what humanity's future may be like among the stars, Seveneves begins with the destruction of Earth's moon, followed by humanity's attempt to evacuate into space and then flash forwards thousands of years later to the struggles of a genetically engineering humanity as it attempts to recolonize a newly terraformed Earth.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Most famously known as the novel inspiring the classic film Blade Runner, this novel by Phillip K. Dick explores what it means to be human as it follows the story of a bounty hunter on a mission to eliminate a group of rogue androids in a post-apocalyptic future.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Seriously, if you haven't read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, stop what you're doing right now and go pick it up. A fantastic, comedic read about a poor hapless human named Arthur Dent as he traverses the odd corners of the universe with alien explorer Ford Prefect, this novel is just a flat-out entertaining read and a must-have for any sci-fi fan.
What are your favorite sci-fi novels? Let us know in the comments!