The best sci-fi books you can read – here they are!
If you love not just science fiction but outstanding science fiction, then these works are definitely for you. Let’s look at the genre from a different angle? Recently, any science fiction work has undoubtedly caused a wave of comments from scientists. How would an Interstellar black hole actually work? Could the real Mark Watney survive on Mars? What’s true and what’s not in Gravity?
Everyone wants to know how the genre, which has the word “science” in its name, is actually connected with it. It is no secret that science fiction writers themselves were sometimes scientists and that many scientists were inspired by fantastic stories while working on their discoveries or inventions. These sci-fi books are some amazing literature.
“Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne
Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew Axel find and decipher a mysterious manuscript. Its author is an alchemist who claims that there is a whole separate ecosystem in the center of the planet. In search of ancient dinosaurs and outlandish plants, the heroes go to the bowels of the Earth, not suspecting what they will find there. Jules Verne is one of the founders of the science fiction genre. Since childhood, he dreamed of travel, and when he grew up, he wrote books about it that have become classics. In his work, the author did not limit himself to wandering around existing places but fantasized about those that could be outside of reality.
“The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells
The hero of the novel travels to the distant future with the help of an ingenious design. From the 19th century, he finds himself in a world where progress could not overcome social problems but only exacerbated them. Humanity was divided into two types – Morlocks and Eloi. Leaving the time machine unattended, the guest soon discovers that she is missing. This means that he is stuck here. H.G. Wells was the first to write a book on time travel using complex mechanical devices. Thanks to this novel, a subgenre of “chrono-sci-fi” appeared, where the hero has the technical ability to travel to the past or the future. It’s an example how sci-fi books have to be written.
“Aelita” by Alexey Tolstoy
Tolstoy wrote the novel Aelita 40 years before the first human-crewed flight into space. His heroes went to Mars and found a civilized humanoid society there. But they are struck by the local dictator Tuskub’s style of government and economic inequality. Soon, earthlings become the cause of unrest on the red planet. The main character’s position is aggravated by the fact that Aelita, the daughter of Tuskub, falls in love with him against the will of her father.
“Head of Professor Dowell” by Alexander Belyaev
Marie Laurent gets a job as an assistant to a successful Parisian surgeon named Kern. By chance, she reveals his secret: the doctor managed to revive the human head separately from the body during the experiment. The owner of the head, Professor Dowell, died under mysterious circumstances. Marie had known him in the past. She learns that the surgeon is actually a criminal doing terrible things and decides that he must be stopped. It’s one of the most original sci-fi books you can find.
“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
In the XXVI century, the culture of consumption has won the last victory. People no longer believe in anything other than producing products and services for which they live and work. Society is like an ant colony, where everyone has a role to play. Children no longer appear naturally. They are grown in incubators. Their role in society is predetermined in advance: some will be laborers, and some will be the elite. The only person born to a mother is trying to change the system and instill in people the concepts of freedom and beauty. But they don’t understand him. This is such a brave new world.
“I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov
“I, Robot” is nine stories-memories of the protagonist Susan Kelvin. She was born at the end of the 20th century when another world war ended, and active space exploration began. For this task, we have launched the mass production of robots with artificial intelligence. Susan discusses the interaction of intelligent but emotionless machines and humans with their complex moral dilemmas. It was here that Asimov first published the three primary laws of robotics: A robot cannot harm a person or, by its inaction, allow harm to be done to a person. A robot must obey all orders given by a human, except when these orders are contrary to the First Law. The robot must take care of its safety to the extent that it does not contradict the First or Second Laws.
“The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury
According to Ray Bradbury, we should have already colonized Mars by the beginning of the 21st century. In the chronicles, he collected works about the life of earthlings on his home planet and there, far in space. Stories are not built into one universe, and the surroundings change from story to story. Either people inhabit the red planet entirely, then the new arrivals stumble upon the locals’ resistance, then something mysterious happens to the astronauts during the expedition. The author’s humor and his peace-loving philosophy remain unchanged.
“Andromeda Nebula” by Ivan Efremov
The novel describes an ideal future with perfect people. They are healthy, friendly, efficient, and educated. Regular space flights have ceased to be dreams, and peace and understanding reign on Earth. But even in such a spotless place, there are problems. For example, there is a less pliable form of life on a neighboring planet. Efremov also described apathy in one of the main characters, symptoms reminiscent of depression or emotional burnout, when it was not yet customary to talk about them out loud.
“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes
Scientists are conducting an experiment to increase intellectual abilities on a laboratory mouse. The result was successful, and they rushed to apply the method to humans. Charlie, a dim-witted janitor, who happily agreed to a risky operation, gets to them. The subject soon grows smarter. He quickly masters new knowledge and skills, and after a while, he becomes more intelligent than those who set up this experiment. However, Charlie notices that something strange begins to happen to the mouse and fears that he may repeat her fate.
“The Land of Crimson Clouds” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Earthlings are equipping an expedition to the mysterious Venus. Previous attempts to land on it failed. The crew is faced with an uphill task: to test a new type of carrier, which should end a series of failures. In addition, the bowels of Venus hide dangerous ore, samples of which must be delivered to Earth. Fortunately, the flight is successful. The team touches the surface of the planet. But it’s too early to throw up our hands victoriously. Dangerous adventures are just beginning.
“Solaris” by Stanislav Lem
Lem’s mystery novel tells the story of a hero’s life on a space station in the distant future. Psychologist Chris Kelvin joins the research crew on the planet Solaris. Quite quickly, he realizes that something is wrong. Shortly before Chris’s arrival, one of the scientists committed suicide, another is involuntary confinement, and the third is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The reason for everything that happens lies in the mysterious Ocean of Solaris, which has the ability to create phantoms that drive people crazy.
“Stranger in a Foreign Land” by Robert Heinlein
Mike Smith is an orphan who was picked up and raised by the Martians as their own child. Having come to his native Earth for the first time, he does not feel at home. The hero does not like the rudeness and ignorance of people. Compared to the fragile and delicate inhabitants of Mars, they seem to be savages. Although Heinlein slightly exaggerated the roughness of future earthlings, much in the fantasy novel is shown accurately. Mike will now have to either come to terms with new circumstances or try to change society. He chooses the latter. There are sci-fi books more popular than this one, but it’s really great.
“Dune” by Frank Herbert
This is the first novel in a series that introduces the reader to the complex world of The Chronicle of Dune. Humanity has long gone beyond its planet and now inhabits entire galaxies. But only the external decorations have changed. Inside, the people remained the same. They are torn apart by wars, and they seek to gain power by any means and put resources above human life. The story begins with the fact that two powerful families cannot share one planet. In the meantime, they are fighting among themselves, exhausted by thirst and drought, the population finds a new ruler, for whom they are ready to go anywhere, even if it means civil war. It’s arguably one of the most essential sci-fi books in history.
“Mindswap” by Robert Sheckley
In the future, it is not necessary to leave your home to find yourself on another planet. It is enough to move your mind into the body of another creature. But, of course, it’s not that simple. Wanting to go on a journey, Marvin Flynn transmits consciousness into the body of a Martian. That, in turn, occupies the hero’s torso. Only after completing all the necessary ways, Marvin realize that he was deceived. The inhabitant of Mars is wanted on his home planet for fraud. And while the earthling is trying to figure out what to do, the intruder takes his body in an unknown direction.
“Slaughterhouse-Five: Children’s Crusade” by Kurt Vonnegut
Although the novel is considered autobiographical, to get to the point, you have to delve into the metaphors and get around the traps of the author. He mixed seemingly disparate genres – realism and science fiction. It all starts in Dresden during the Second World War. Soldier Billy Pilgrim is bombed. Aliens later abduct him from the planet Tralfamador. They reveal the secret of time: it does not flow at all, events do not follow one after another. The novel is built on the same principle. Billy seems to travel in time: now he is running ahead and somewhere in the past. And the main question remains, what is happening to him and how the war is connected with it.
These are 15 of the best sci-fi books in the history of Mankind. It’s never too late to check them out. Good luck!
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