Sci-fi is certainly one of the most popular genres of speculative fiction. This genre covers tales that tell us about science and technology of future. Fantasy and real scientific principles and theories are amalgamated to brew up science fiction. Sci-fi started gaining popularity during late 19th century thanks to pioneers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.
The books are usually set in completely different dimensions such as some new planet, an unknown galaxy, etc. Its deep and imaginative insight into the future is both enchanting and intriguing. The mind-boggling technologies, gadgets and weapons never cease to astound us as readers. Here is a list of top 10 must read sci-fi novels that every fan should have.
- 10. ‘THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS’ BY URSULA K. LE GUIN
- 9. ‘DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?’ BY PHILIP K. DICK
- 8. ‘STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND’ BY ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
- 7. ‘BRAVE NEW WORLD’ BY ALDOUS HAXLEY
- 6. ‘THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY’ BY DOUGLAS ADAMS
- 5. ‘NEUROMANCER’ BY WILLIAM GIBSON
- 4. ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’ BY GEORGE ORWELL
- 3. ‘FOUNDATION’ TRILOGY BY ISAAC ASIMOV
- 2. ‘ENDER’S GAME’ BY ORSON SCOTT CARD
- 1. ‘DUNE’ BY FRANK HERBERT
10. ‘THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS’ BY URSULA K. LE GUIN
Published in 1969, The Left Hand of Darkness is one of the first books that fall in the category of feminist science fiction. Set in the fictional Hainish universe, the readers are transported to a world which is peopled by androgynous inhabitants. The residents of planet Winter are sans gender. They randomly choose a gender for a brief span of time, as they take on sexual characteristics and later return to their initial non-sexual state of being.
A human emissary named Genly Ai is sent to this snow shrouded and remote planet, to facilitate planet Winter’s inclusiveness in the development of intergalactic civilization. The story reveals the extraordinary culture of Winter and the problems encountered by Ai due to the social and cultural antithesis.
The Left Hand of Darkness certainly stands out as a masterpiece in the history of science fiction.
9. ‘DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?’ BY PHILIP K. DICK
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is set in San Francisco in the year 2021. The world has been altered completely with the onslaught of the apocalyptic war – World War Terminus and the massive nuclear destruction as radioactive dust has blanketed the whole world. The novel explores the definition of humanity through the journey of the protagonist Rick Deckard. He further discovers how androids, contrary to humans, are devoid of any sense of empathy, and several other distinct qualities that separate humans from androids
The novel is an epic postmodernist science fiction and inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s blockbuster Blade Runner.
8. ‘STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND’ BY ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
Stranger in a Strange Land is a masterpiece by American author Robert A. Heinlein. Published in 1961, the novel unravels the tale of Valentine Michael Smith, the lone survivor of the first mission to Mars.
Mike returns to earth 25 years later, after being raised by Martians. Possessed with incredible superpowers taught by Martians, he is completely unaware of what it is to be a human. The journey of Mike on Earth provides retrospective analyses of the terrestrial culture with respect to love, sex as well as religion, and the condition of mankind.
7. ‘BRAVE NEW WORLD’ BY ALDOUS HAXLEY
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a dystopian novel that was published in 1932. The novel tells us about a futuristic London society where people are driven by excessive carnal desires without any moral repercussions.
Huxley unearths the dark side of the fast paced, uber-modern world where everyone seems to be a smug thanks to the use of some genetic engineering, brainwashing along with recreational sex and drugs.
Huxley’s ingenious work has received great acclamation and it is listed among “top 100 greatest novels of all time” by The Observer.
6. ‘THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY’ BY DOUGLAS ADAMS
The book is the first of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. First published in October 1979, the novel turned out to be an instant bestseller thanks to its unique comedy sci-fi genre.
The protagonist, Arthur Dent, wakes up one fine morning and discovers bulldozers in front of his house. The bulldozer was sent by the government officials, to demolish his house in order to make way for a bypass. As Dent struggles to save his residence, his friend, Ford Prefect, who is actually an alien, suddenly discovers that the Earth is going to be demolished that day as the officials of the Galaxy are planning to construct a hyperspace bypass there. The underlining irony becomes more than evident when we discover that the lack of empathy with which local government attempts to raze down Arthur’s home is the same that is meted out by the Galactic bureaucracy while they decide to demolish Earth.
5. ‘NEUROMANCER’ BY WILLIAM GIBSON
Neuromancer is one of the greatest works of cyberpunk genre. The book was Gibson’s debut novel. The protagonist, Case is a canny world-class hacker whose nervous system has been damaged by his former employers as an act of vengeance. He is almost about to expire when he is recruited by a mysterious employer whose target is to hack an incredibly powerful artificial intelligence orbiting planet Earth.
Neuromancer was the first book of Gibson’s immensely popular Matrix trilogy.
(P.S: Did you know that Gibson invented the word ‘cyberspace’, in his short story ‘Burning Chrome’)
4. ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’ BY GEORGE ORWELL
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a dystopian sci-fi novel that was published in 1949. Set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania, its prophecy about the future is nightmarishly brilliant.
The omnipresent government surveillance and the oppressive rule by tyrannical Party leader Big Brother make the novel a politically charged text as well.
This gripping tale reveals a haunting vision of reality in the wake of public manipulation, secret surveillance and official deception, in the most compelling manner. A must read!
3. ‘FOUNDATION’ TRILOGY BY ISAAC ASIMOV
The series is set in about 13,000 years in the future, after the human race has colonized space so thoroughly that Earth has become an almost forgotten planet, Foundation opens as the Galactic Empire is in its final years, it has ruled over the galaxy for more than 10 millennia. Scientist Hari Seldon has developed the science of psychohistory, which aims to predict the behavior of large populations over vast periods of time (similar to Marx’s idea of historic materialism). Seldon has prophesied that 30,000 years of barbarism will succeed the collapse of the Empire, unless the Encyclopedia Foundation is able to finish mammoth task of recording all human knowledge and history and preserve it.
(Did you know that the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov had won a special Hugo for best series of all time?)
2. ‘ENDER’S GAME’ BY ORSON SCOTT CARD
The book was originally penned down as a short story by the same name. It was published in 1977 in a sci-fi magazine.
The human race has sustained two deadly assaults by aliens and is about to face another massive invasion by the hostile extra-terrestrial beings. The hunt for the perfect general has been underway ever since the wars were waged against Buggers. Can Ender Wiggin, an exceptionally brilliant juvenile, turn out to be the military genius that the government needs? Will he be able to protect the human race from the aliens or end up destroying himself completely?
1. ‘DUNE’ BY FRANK HERBERT
This book is surely the unbeatable number one on our list!
Set in about 20,000 years in future amidst a complex, feudal interstellar society, Dune is the world’s best selling science fiction novel.
The story describes a futuristic society where people have spread across the universe and colonized planets to establish their dynasties. Theses planets are owned by the nobles who owe their allegiance to House Corrino. The protagonist is a boy named Paul Atreids who belongs to the noble family that owns planet Arrakis. The planet is a much coveted one due to its rich supplies of “spice”-the most valuable substance in the universe. What follows is a complex web of multi-layered interactions as the forces of the empire combat against each other to gain control over Arrakis.