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For all that Infinite Jest is hailed as a towering work of American fiction, and for its numerous literary innovations and digressions Footnotes! Circular structures! Infinite Jest is a loud, ambitious, perniciously unsettling book. There are plenty of advantages to having the lead character in a story of a strange future be a journalist. For starters, you can show a bunch of different aspects of the world and have a character with a vested interest in exploring them.

While there are clear parallels intended to, say, the rise of Tony Blair in the s, Transmetropolitan remains deeply and uncomfortably relevant to contemporary politics as well. The drama plays out in a Toronto in which infrastructure has collapsed; the affluent have fled to the suburbs, and danger remains for those who have persevered. At times, the setup for the novel reads like a half-dozen urbanist trends accelerated at a frenzied rate. Some dystopian fiction focuses on the terror that can emerge; Hopkinson leaves room for everyday joys and hope. In The Elementary Particles , the apocalypse has already hit in the form of the cultural revolutions of the s.

Raised by a psychotically vain and feckless hippie mother, the two main characters — half-brothers Michel and Bruno — wander through life utterly lonely and unhappy, in complementary ways. Michel is isolated in his mind and his work as a geneticist; Bruno is saturnine and compulsively seeks out sex. We follow the brothers and those around them across various humiliations, betrayals, and occasional horror, a forced march through the highlights of lateth century European ennui.

The characters conclude that the misery of the human condition is so all-encompassing, only a root-and-branch genetic reconstruction of humanity — one that reproduces asexually and has neurologically disassociated sexual pleasure and reproduction — could possibly improve things. The Elementary Particles is a late classic of the European reactionary literary tradition, both in terms of its unflinching evocation of the failures of modernity and in its cheap and seethingly horny provocations. Trying to describe the work of the French writer who writes under the name of Antoine Volodine among several others is nearly impossible.

His fiction often features futuristic settings and ventures down metaphysical pathways: Post Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven is set in a future where artists and writers run afoul of an oppressive government. Volodine focuses on a number of fictional writers and imagined literary movements; even as he chronicles the grim clashes between state power and artistic freedom, he also creates a sense of delight at how different creative communities affect one another, and how artistic movements transform themselves and those who participate in them.

Lord of the Flies contrasted polite British society with the Hobbesian state of nature and asked whether the two might not be so different; Battle Royale insists that the war of all against all was always already there — the scenario just formalizes the rules.

But Takami makes clear that the everyday violence of family and school primed the kids for taking on roles as victims or victimizers.


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Prepare to be equal parts disgusted and enthralled. Plenty of dystopian fiction makes memorable use of cities. Feed might have been the darkest dystopia I read as a child because the villain is amorphous and unbeatable — there is no single sinister overlord or town to escape. Anderson makes consumerism and vanity look unbearable and shallow, but also unavoidable.

Here, though, one man survives, and so do all of the women. How exactly does the world fall apart? What nations become powerful? What skills become rare? What resources become valuable? Like most dystopias, the series is also a product of its particular moment — some of its political gestures already feel a touch out of place. But it is still remarkable for how thoroughly it imagines its new world, and how well it executes its epic survival quest. In it, a group of youngsters befriend one another and their idealistic ambitions get the better of them, leading to extremely well-intentioned destruction that makes this both a dystopia and a great postapocalyptic tale.

Why this collection of short stories flew so low under the radar is a mystery. Derby is one of the masters of surrealist dystopia, weaving together big ideas and raw emotions to create a tapestry of depression and alienation that spans decades. Despite the fact that the stories are framed as being the tales of humans long lost to time, retold by a monkish order in the distant future, each tale stands on its own as a document of fallen-world—building.

Women are forced to harvest so many eggs that their hips crack, food crises lead to everyone eating just meat, children start mysteriously floating, warriors fight with sound guns … the level of imagination is staggering, but the book remains grounded in the dismal fact of human adaptation or is it resignation?

Reading The City of Ember is an experience tinged with a constant, low-grade anxiety, like the moment before a jump scare in a horror movie. Lina Mayfleet lives in a world of scarcity, with food supplies depleting and no means of getting more. Even more terrifying, she lives in a world of encroaching darkness — the sky and world beyond her underground city are black and, like the food supply, the light bulbs are running out.

When the book begins, flickers and power shortages are commonplace, and Lina never knows when an outage might be permanent. Of course, we get the standard dystopian tropes: career assigned to you in this case by picking out of a bag , no strong parental figures, a younger sibling to care for.

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But what makes it unique among the bevy of early aughts young-adult books is how visceral her fear is. There is a clock running out, and we have no idea how much time is left. With the self-centeredness of just about any high-school-aged kid, narrator Kathy details the drama of a love triangle and the sexual awkwardness that comes with being young and curious. But as she grows older, it becomes apparent that Kathy and her schoolmates are meant for a different life: to be cogs in the wheel of a larger system that is so dominant, so all-consuming, that mere thoughts of rebellion never even emerge.

Here, she finds state-of-the-art fitness equipment, art and cultural materials, and a friendly staff. It all seems decidedly pleasant — except for the mandatory nature of it, and the fate of all of the residents there. The result is a powerful meditation on questions of societal obligations, families or the lack thereof , and how one best leaves a mark on the world. Instead, he zeroes in on essential questions: What does it mean to be part of a family as the world reverts to a state of nature? Is it more important to uphold some remnant of morality and idealism in this broken world, or does survival take precedence over everything else?

This is not the kind of dystopian narrative that extrapolates contemporary events far into the future, or uses fantastical or uncanny elements to heighten a mood. The novel follows the title character as she escapes from a totalitarian nation and finds herself in a series of nightmarish scenarios, from grotesque industries to urban violence. As she ventures north, she joins up with a group of like-minded women living on a farm called Carhullan. In the U. There are a few stylish flourishes that make this novel veer in unexpected ways. Hall offers plenty for sociopolitically minded readers to ponder in this haunting narrative.

Can poetry also bring the reader into a dystopian landscape? Most definitely — there are several writers whose experiments with literary forms and narratives take them into futuristic spaces and transformative narratives. The writings of Bhanu Kapil come to mind. In these poems, Hong also hearkens back to a horrific real-world incident of political oppression: the Gwangju uprising, in which South Korean citizens protested military rule and encountered a violent response.

Sometimes the dystopian narrative extrapolates contemporary trends and fears; sometimes it summons up memories of a grim moment from history. Beukes is fantastic at capturing metropolises where things have gone ever-so-slightly off. Her first novel, Moxyland , uses the lives of four characters to zero in on questions of class, commercialization, and the overlap of media and technology — urgent ones to this moment in time.

The South African author writes about pop culture better than most, both in terms of forecasting the plausible artists and trends of tomorrow and how media consumption in the future might look. The series that launched a million think pieces. Say what you will about the craze that followed, but this novel brought a new era of young readers into bookstores, had them questioning authority, and turned the braid into an act of rebellion.

While it will perhaps not be remembered for its prose, generations to come will know the international phenomenon The Hunger Games ignited. Though its most prescient social commentary was warning us how easily reality TV could take over politics. When the world is on fire, will you be a passive viewer, or will you volunteer as tribute? For all of the heightened talk of reducing societal dependence on fossil fuels in recent years, said fuels still play a significant role in our lives. The Windup Girl offers an in-depth look at a society where oil is no more and kinetic energy is abundant.

The ravages of genetic engineering is a frequent theme in science fiction — the way that the promise of science can suddenly give rise to something that brutally alters the fabric of society. Nearly everything here seems off: The rationale for the missions suggests that things are deeply wrong with this society. Shteyngart imagines a financially gutted New York City that the world has left behind, where a vaguely and aimlessly authoritarian federal government issues labels and missives with obvious typos and everyone lives in fear of their publicly readable credit score.

There is no apocalypse on the horizon, just more malaise. And yet, the next-most-operative word is love , as the romance in the foreground — however troubled it is — reminds you that common, private humanity survives in almost any fallen world. This is an epic quest of a book. It is purely fun and wacky. Relatively soft but with hard elements. It gives a glimpse into one of our many possible futures and problems we may face in the future.

The characters are nicely fitted into stereotypes and work well together and the stories are outlandish enough to keep interest but they're not too much. Classic PKD. Deranged paranoia, mind-bending ideas and lots of humour. This last point is crucial as all the Hollywood adaptations of Dick have lack his wit and irony.

Indeed, don't think any film version of Dick has really captured his tone properly. Gritty, satirical, thrilling, terrifying, mindblowing I could throw adjectives at this book for the rest of my life and make every one of them stick. Schismatrix not only helped birth what we now think of as the "New Space Opera" e. Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds , but was arguably the first novel to imagine a plausible posthuman solar system, riven by ideologies and wild economics, teeming with conflict and graft, and packed with moments of pure sensawunda.

Best of all, apart from the handful of short stories set in the same fictional universe, Sterling never felt the need to cash in on the critical success of Schismatrix with sequels; the end result is a novel that still reads as fresh and powerful to this day, more than a quarter of a century after its initial publication. While not as evidently prescient as Huxley or Orwell, Zamyatin explores a potential extrapolation of the Soviet ideal.

Some may call it a reductio ad absurdum but ultimately it highlights the dangers of the worship of technology, the establishment of systems and rules and progress - while it is full of allusions to the early Soviet state, it has a universal message which is certainly interesting - furthermore, its relatively inconclusive ending evades traditional dystopian SF tropes of the revolution or regime change per se. While its plot can be considered a simple adventure or mystery, Banks' real strength is in realising a genuinely alien futuristic society which at the same time uses elements of the contemporary world, at times exaggerated, in unfamiliar or extreme ways.

On a purely superficial level, the detail with which Banks describes the society depicted, and the impossibly complex alien games which form the core of the plot, ignite the imagination in a way only the best SF does. Well the answer is yes sometimes and particularly in this book albeit some unknown space drug.

Put very simply he recognises that when something or anything is looked at more closely reality and consciousness will change ultimately meaning that both are unstable. In Dicks books this manifests itself firstly in paranoia and then to transcendence. With Dick the journey to transcendence or new forms of understanding can be a very stressful one for his protagonists.

While some might consider this novel a pulp horror twist on Lord of the Flies, it is given a new dimension if read with knowledge of Japanese contemporary history and perceptions of young people. It plays on fears of juvenile delinquency and student violence, which is a common theme across popular culture youth gangs and violent schools feature prominently, another example being the recent film Confessions and then mixes it with ideas of how willing anyone is to kill for self defence or self-promotion. A challenging and interesting book best read with some understanding of the culture within which it was written although the film adaptation is also of high quality.

The cleverest Sci-Fi book i've ever read. A classicand the reason that Azimov deserves his moniker of the father of Science Fiction. This book features on every 'Best of' list at some time or other and there's a good reason: it is a hilariously perfect and lovingly absurd journey of a simple human being through the wild riot that is existence. So much of science fiction focuses on heavy subject matter without a drip of humor.

Adams wants us to laugh at it all, the pretentiousness and the craziness and never forget our towel. War as a constant theme, messed up with embryonic sleeps through hyper speed jumps across the universe, to fight in a ship that is now 10 years out of date. Multi-platform emotional relationships and an unknown foe. What's not to like? The aliens will need to know what humanity was like even if only to recreate us as a digital slave race in their virtual reality matrix , and if any single author grasps the state of our technological society today it is William Gibson.

I was 14 when I first read Neuromancer, one of the first generation to grow up hooked in to the computer-generated realities that Gibson so presciently explores. For me and for millions of others who live in the modern reality of computers and the internet, William Gibson's imagined future is closer to the truth of now than any work of realist literature. If you liked Neiromancer, you'll probably like this.

Good cyberpunk vibe to it and some literary pretentions , going with a wellpaced, nicely written, occasionally twisted little book. It has survived a damn sight longer than most 'real' scfi novels ever will. And it's a great yarn. It's got everything - essentially it's about Imperialism and Rhetoric, but it has many lessons and much wisdom for those interested in learning about Imperialism, especially the modern-day form of 'Aid' and 'helping the natives' - but then justifications for Imperialism have usually been wrapped up in fluffy-feel-good 'humanitarian' terms.

A good SF novel should be, above all things, a good novel. Sturgeon, a great short-story writer, uses the genre to explore what it is to be human, and how we can strive to be more. It is a novel of discovery, but also a novel of compassion and hope. It's also a cracking good read! One of the most accurate prediction novels I've ever read. This book is great sci-fi- offers a convincing portrayal of a science-led society where privacy and individualism are crushed with an exploration of love, conscience and desire. Despite some dubious plot points Perdido Street Station features one of the most mesmerising and terrifying monsters I've ever come across.

Described with a stunning, fluid, dreamlike intensity, in a wonderfully rendered world, the Slake Moths made Perdido Street Station the most memorable sf novel I've read. Iain M. Banks novels are great because you have to think quite hard to understand them while you're reading them. I normally read pretty fast, but I have to slow down to read an Iain M. Which is appropriate for The Algebraist because he created a whole species of creatures, The Dwellers, that are 'slow'. They live for aeons, on gas giants, and little things like having a conversation can go on for centuries for them.

When I read this book I thought that was the most wonderful idea, that we can't communicate with some entities because we're simply on a different time scale. The fun of reading Iain M. Banks novels is that somehow he manages to think of these things, that once you've got your head round make perfect sense but you might never have thought of yourself. The Laws of Robotics have been one of the guiding ethical codes of my life - and should be for any good person, I believe.

I was very surprised that not a single person mentioned Asimov as their favourite, despite him having such a wide repertoire. This is a strange little novelette in the middle of Dickson's epic "Dorsai" series. It tells the tale of a pacifist Dorsai who like all Dorsai is in the military, but whose weapon is the bagpipes.

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Surrounded in a fortress by hordes of clansmen on a Spanish speaking planet, he uses music to insult and infuriate the hordes and sacrifice himself to win the battle. His honour and courage and the creativity of the cultural values described make this story one my favorites of all time. Ridley Scott is working up the film project now. Superb book, though if you have seen Starship Troopers the film it can spoil it a bit. Its scary, funny and unusually for PKD its got lots of heart. Gully Foyle is a refreshing bastard of a hero.

He's agressive, selfish and mean and deserves everything he gets Very cool book goes a little freaky at the end. A beautifully simple idea a child with an invisible friend that as the book progresses becomes more intriguing and more dangerous at the same time. Also - it's an easy read that can encourage youngsters to take up SF.

Brilliant short story about the exploitation of a young gaming genius by the military, published originally in Unfortunately got expanded into a series of novels, but the original is a chillling political parable, which has gained resonance in the era of child soldiers and xbox. Not only does it have dinosaurs, humour, adventure and a loss of control of the environment in which the protagonists find themselves, but unlike the film version it examines the importance of chaos theory which is what makes it SF for me.

A pretty obvious one - Childhood's End is one of Arthur C. Clarke's best and is a science fiction classic. Any fan of the genre reading this book will instantly notice countless ways in which it has influenced subsequent work. For anyone new to the genre, this book is a good starting point.

The story itself is short, enthralling, and easy to read. Even reluctant readers could finish it in a day or so. Murakami is our greatest living writer, and whilst most of his books have flights of fancy that could loosely align them with SF, this is his full-blown masterpiece. Discovered it when I was 11 or 12, in the adult section of the local public library. It opened me up to the world of "what if" that has remained to this day.

I was hooked on Science Fiction since. Mike V. Smith is human, only he was born on Mars, and raised there. That has caused him to think a bit differently, and use more of his brain than the rest of us do. When the full version of the book was finally released, I also bought a copy of it. Using it as a way to look at life, and how we can treat one another, as opposed to how we do responded to daily life, remains fascinating. It does not cease to teach. I have given copies of it away, as gifts, to whomever asks "Why do you like to read that junk, anyway? Asimov's robot stories not only present a coherent, imaginative vision of the future, but also give us an insight into the ways in which he and others during his lifetime thought about and presented the future.

Not only that, but he writes excellent prose and the stories he conceived are always clever and illuminate the human condition. I wish very much that he was alive today to see the innovations that are happening now. It's an SF story that's really all about humanity, including man's inhumanity to man.

It's really the history of philosophy disguised as SF but don't let that put you off. Its depth and language. It rung a chord at the time, the messiah will be crucified nor what time what century and what period. Our political masters cannot handle popular uprising even if they are democratic institutions. The original world, within a world, within a world, later used frequently in the matrix inception and others. The thirteeth floor film adaptation doesn't do it justice.

I would recomend this book because it deals with exactly what science fiction means to discuss: the unknown. Lem's best novel is about epistemology, and the our absolute ignorance of what lies beyond the bounds of the earth, and how utterly unprepared we are to encounter it. Very very difficult to describe - but it's simply brilliant. It's wildly imaginative, frightening - psychedelic, even. A great, simple story boy searches for lost sister set in a future Britain seemingly viewed through early 90s ecstasy-flavoured optimism. Gods and monsters, budhism v hinduism v christianity in a fight to the finish, the worst pun ever recorded, and a joy in humanity in all of its many aspects and attributes.

And yes, it's SF, not fantasy. I used to re-read this book every couple of years; it's long, confusing at times, but has a wonderful circular narrative that invites further exploration. It's also got a fabulous sense of place even though the city of Bellona is fictional. Like early McEwan stories, Delany brilliantly captures a sense of urban ennui and although there are elements of hard sci-fi in the book, they are kept in the background, so that the characters are allowed to come through - something quite rare is SF.

I also concur with the support for Tiger, Tiger: a thrilling ride. Find it pretty remarkable that such a list would completely omit any of Dick's work. Many of his books are of a high enough standard to be chosen, but 'Flow My Tears The Policeman Said' is one of his best. Not really SF, but a world where gods actually exist counts as imaginative fiction to me. A haunting modern mythic saga. The first and best of the epic series which ultimately became too convuluted.

Characters innocent and undeveloped, I wish I could read this for the first time again. The book that kicked off the 'Foundation' saga. The dead hand of Hari Seldon and his new science, the mathematics of psycho-history unfold against a backdrop of the whole galaxy. Asimov was just so full of ideas and happily his characters were full and real people I cared about - he was THE giant of Sci-Fi and 'Foundation' one of dozens I could have chosen.

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Morally ambiguous love-story combined with grounded, 'realistic' sci-fi - i cannot believe no has turned this into a film yet I read it as a child and it has never left me. I believe it leads a young mind to explore "the other" in a different way. Most science fiction, it has been said, is driven by violent conflict; Babel avoids that, having an idea - an untranslatable language - and unpacking it, unfolding out from there. It packs in interesting and human characters, stylish writing, fascinating concepts and ideas, a manic outpouring of intelligent thought, and a great plot, managing to, even now, 45 years after its original publication, be thought-provoking and boundary-pushing.

Utterly gripping. I love the language and the way the book draws you into an "alien" perspective by the assumption that this perspective is "normal". Much like Jostein Gaarder's 'Sophie's World,' or indeed most of Stephenson's other writing, 'Anathem' is a lesson in science and philosophy wrapped in narrative. In this case, the narrative is sprawling, believable and dramatic, although the middle section feels like a lecture, the purpose of which only becomes apparent towards the end of this weighty novel.

The world Stephenson creates is rich and believable, a parallel universe in which science and philosophy are restricted to an odd, codified monastic system - at least until a global crisis places the monks centre stage. Massive, but unmissable. It was one of the first sf novels I read when I was a kid and it blew my mind. The basic idea of taking current trends, creatively extrapolating them into the future and weaving personal as well as social stories from them just stunned me. And my eldest son is called Isaac. The aliens are fascinating but it's all about the characters and getting inside the heads of flawed, damaged, normal human beings!

Not really sci-fi, more fantasy, still a great book to read that gives the world a cracking character - Druss, the Legend of the title. Displays some of the better gamut of human characteristics, without being overly poncy. Dark, satirical, laugh out loud funny, ridiculous and scathing. The book follows robot Tik Tok as he realises that he does not have to follow the Asimov laws when he kills a young innocent blind girl just for fun.

He soon gets a taste for murder and gets very good at it. Farcical in places with a whole raft of ridiculous characters it draws parallels with the slave trade and the fight for equality. His murderous exploits and cool, calm cunning takes him although way to the top at the White House, his aim: to get his hands on the big war stuff! The novel also takes swipes at celebrity culture, religion, mob mentality and pretty much everything else.


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  5. It's one of those goto books when a friend asks for a recommendation. A book that was way ahead of its time, predicting flying machines and total war. Plus it is a great read and adventure story. You believe what you are reading really happended as Martians invide Surrey and London in the late Victorian era. It also created a sub genre of its own the "Alien Invasion" story. A classic novel that stands above all others. Read this, and it's sequels, 20 years ago. Could not put the book down.

    Finished it in 2 days. Still totally abosrbs me today. Great detailed story about a lonely, little boy. Also fascinating on the military life of Battle School and the Earth's attitude to alien races. Not just this book but the whole series. Benchmark sci fi novel and whats important is the prose, the ideas expunded in the books and the fact that all my sci fi hating friends read the series on reccomendation and were completely converted.

    Amazing book. Incredible vision. Lazurus Long - how I wish to be him! I was twelve when I read Ringworld, my first adult Science Fiction novel. It sparked a life long love of SF. The central concept of the Ringworld a constructed habitat that is a ring around a star is vividly brought to life. The story moves at a pace and the aliens very well imagined - especially the Pearson's Puppeteer. This book is a prime example of why SF will always be a literary form with TV and film being very much the poor relations. I still have that battered second hand copy I read first over thirty years ago and have reread several times since.

    Becasue it's a collection of haunting short stories about what would happen when humans got to Mars, each filled with twists, turns and pathos. Like the Martians who defend themselves by changing their appearance to look like humans, to the last human left on the planet after the rest have gone back to Earth. Plus, like all good Sci Fi, it's not really about space, but about humanity. As a young boy this book fed my imagination for sci-fi. Having been originally written in the 30s the vivid pictures he paints of far away worlds with bizarre creatures in a swashbuckling story were far ahead of its time.

    As you say if current human civilization was unexpectedly destroyed, I'd like this to survive as a warning of how it could all happen again. A distant star: a group of scientists sent to examine its primitive society. An ambassador given permission to roam.

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    The discovery that the society is not really primitive and pre-industrial. The gradual realization that the society is post-atomic and that the re-discovery of machinery and science has been banned post the disaster Mary Gentle's book is in itself a voyage of discovery in which the reader starts as a comfortable alien observer and ends as a very uncomfortable but involved critic of a world that wobbles between utopia and dystopia.

    Very handy for hitchhikers and the best read. Introduces millions of people to to British humour and the SF genre every year. Great advert for SF and also very funny. A fantastic book that should be read by anyone planning to join the secret service as a subversive officer! It's easy to read, a great story that keeps you hooked. The characters are great and you really root for the hero. A man wakes up naked to find he has been resurrected along with every other human who ever lived during the history of earth. Their new home is a riverplanet, they are all 25, they don't age, they can't die, and it is all a big social and spiritual project, created by an alien race.

    This book and the ones that follow are staggering conceptually. They mix history, politics, pyschology, religion, and everyday life in a sublime cocktail. One of the few Sci-Fi books that you read in which that you know you are also a character. For those that go the distance with the whole Riverworld series, the final installment 'Gods of the Riverworld' cranks up the hypothetical social situations to mind boggling levels. Computers that play your whole life back to you, so you can come to terms with your wasted time, evil deeds, poor posture. A super computer that can build rooms a hundred miles wide, and produce anything from human history at request.

    A cornerstone of the sci-fy genre. Read how Paul Atriedes uncovers the secrets of Arrakis and the Fremen people. Follow Paul's journey into a dangerous world where unlocking the power of the spice melange and it's keepers transforms him into the most powerful being in the galaxy. Set in an epic universe filled with wierd and wonderul creatures, monsters and alien races. A must read for any sci-fy nut. Despite not having the easiest of openings you really have to force yourself to get past the first few pages , this really is a superb opening to a wonderful Sci-Fi trilogy.

    There are some great ideas, some excellent characters and some wonderful speculation on humanities future, but most of all it's a cracking story, and the main plot sideswipes you from left-field when you get to it as it was for me, at least totally unexpected. Cannot recommend this enough. Imaginative, well written. I really like the way the author describes a data world, and interweaves this with a broader narrative, which includes a comparison between the plight of a Jewish community in Prague during the 16th-century and the futuristic community of the future.

    Splendid stuff. So much SciFi work is seen as being written by people whose only talent was a good imagination. Alfred Bester was one a new age of writers who wrote engaging stories that happened to be along a SciFi theme. Gully Foyle is reborn on the Nomad, but is alive to revenge only, in a plot which takes us through a world where instantaneous travel with the power of the human mind is possible. His journey to discover who he is can only be compared to the greats of SciFi writing.

    A definite must read. It challenges the concept of self and individuality. It is unremittingly, violently captivating throughout and it introduces the coolest hotel ever imagined. Its simply sublime, beautiful written, and would be an epic if it was on screen. Simply the best series of SCi Fi books ever written. How was it missed out? Asimov changed our understanding of robots with his formulation of the laws governing the behavior of robots. The stories combine science fact and fiction in such a way that you almost believe the robots are humans.

    Well written interesting stories that really make the reader ponder the future of robots. It's just a feckin brilliant story apart from the end which was a bit naff imo. This fantasy doesn't include any aliens, space ships, or magic, but it's in its' own weird universe. A very Dickensian gothic tale. I agree about William Gibson. The tale is a great romp of the imagination with an insight into some physics. It is a completely worked out version of a believable future.

    It does not require the 'suspension of disbelief' normal to SF. And it is a great adventure story! Old school Silverberg before he went over to the dark side of fantasy , details human feelings of loss like no other SF tale. Very human story of the more-than-humans living amongst us.

    The enormous scale and technical details of the science fiction element of the story are breath taking whilst the story still holds the reader close to the characters of the core individuals in the story. As with all Dick's books, it explores his twin fascinations: what is human? What is real? The human side is handled with his usual tender melancholy, while the metaphysical investigations are ramped up and up as the protaganist, teleported to a colony planet where all is not as it seems, dissolves, with the aid of an LSD tipped dart, into a nightmare where reality itself seems to deconstruct.

    Wonderful language and weird world building. The protagonist - Adam Reith - a stranded earthman has many adventures, encountering the various inhabitants of Tschai, a much fought over planet. Not quite a picaresque as Reith is too honest but some of his associates are less so.

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    Charming and lovely books and, let us not forget, anyone who can title one of them vol 2 Servants of the Wankh is worthy of deep respect even if he didn't know what it means to english ears haha. Do yoursel a favour : read it and see,it will open your mind.

    The Player of Games does more than tell an exciting and engaging tale. In the empire of Azad, where the books action takes place, Iain M Banks creates a civilization which reflects the worst excesses of our own, despite its alien nature. Using the empire of Azad themes of one cultures interference in another are explored as the benign, peaceful Culture displays the lengths it will go to push a cruel empire closer to its own philosophy.

    The story revolves around a man playing a board game. Admittedly it's a vast, complex board game central to the lives of those who play it, but it's essentially just a big, complicated chess set. This sounds like rather dull stuff to relate to the reader, but the authors descriptions of the game are never less than completely involving and genuinely exciting. There is a popular misconception that Douglas Adams was responsible for bringing humour into Sci-Fi.

    But before him there was already the brilliant Stanislaw Lem, whose humour can be often anarchic and deeply satirical. This is a good example of his satirical humour at its most razor sharp. If the idea of Sci-Fi combined with Swiftean satire sounds appealing then this book is definitely for you. Supremely imaginative, and enjoyable at some level at almost any age.

    Written in the 50s, it creates a remarkably believable portrayal of modern life, before continuing an escape into an equally believable future. It asks all the important questions about human beings and society. I'm using UoW as my choice but really any of Banks' culture novels fit the bill. Banks' stands astride 21st century science fiction as a giant. He not only manages to excel in world building, The Culture has to be one of the greatest realised sci-fi universes in print, but also manages something that virtually all other sci-fi authors fail at; the evolution of psychology over time.

    The inhabitants of Banks' worlds are existentially flawed and carry with them a melancholy created by pitting emotional psychology against the vast backdrop and advanced science they have foisted upon them. The scale of his stories could leave the protagonists dwarfed by the spectacle but they end up dovetailing perfectly into the situations thought up by Banks by allowing us to connect to the madness of existance, whether they're human or alien.

    Each of his new novels are events in the genre and allow their readers to conduct thought experiments of what it would be like to exist in such a reality surely the goal of any sci-fi? I read it as a teenager and the sheer scale of the technological achievement of building the Ring has stayed with me - even though I cant remember much of the details of the story today! Totally influenced and encouraged me to pursue my dream of working in the building industry which I don't regret, even today.

    Atmospheric blend of fantasy and s decadence, with a consumptive, sexually ambiguous heroine whom I'd love to see Tilda Swinton play! It realistically sets out an anarchist society from an anthropological background; it's a hard life but it actually works! AND it also provides the alien's perspective on humanity!

    Not just the best SF. But best novel Ive ever read. Impossible to explain its importance so briefly. Art irrelevant? SF escapist pap? Orwell lays it out. It is appropriated by literary fiction like most great SF. It's a thousand pages of wonder and awe at how mindboggling complex the universe is and the joy and fascination there is in trying to understand it with just the human brain.

    This is how physics and philosophy should be taught - at the same time and with multi-dimensional spaceships. An Epic Story, with a dark plot. Donaldson creates a very beleiveable universe. As Soon as I finished the 1st book, I was online ordering the remaining 4 stories. This is the third book in C. Lewis's science fiction trilogy. It combines themes of mythology, allegory and religion with some great characters and moments of true horror.

    It's a great story that keeps you gripped all the way through. This book is about the simple acts of kindness that can make immense and profound differences to the future. The main character is Shevik: physicist and great scientist who is nearly close to ending up with a great scientific theory that he knows will change the world forever.

    He makes a difficult decision to travel to the neighbouring planet of Urras to try and use their expertise to piece it together. The novel weaves around in time: Shevik's present and past are explored: his strength is buoyed by the love he finds from the woman he loves, but also the limitations of living in a real communist world where there aren't enough resources for the people, are both explored. Back on Urras, Shevik begins to realise he is becoming a small pawn in a powerful government's game and has to reconcile himself with the fact that he may never have been able to go home in the first place and may never go home now.

    At its centre is Shevik: complicated, resilient, brave and fiercely intelligent. It remains one of the best characters I can remember in any book - at the end the final twist of the twin narratives meets into one of the best endings I have read in any book. It's a different kind of science fiction that allows the reader to be an active creator of the "other timely" world introduced by Koontz. It's not about zombies or aliens or space but it does represent something maybe even more bone-chilling: the answer to the question "what if?

    The epic scope of the book, showing the terrifying yet exciting possibilities of the human race as an multi planetary starship faring bunch of brilliently flawed individuals, and organsiations. A really rare find these days as I think it is out of print. Witty and engaging, it draws parralels with life on earth in a profound and imaginative alien galaxy.

    First published in , the book documents the many highs and lows of man's struggle for survival. The book contains the first mention of genetic engineering in a sci fi novel, a compelling and truly eye-opening read. So maybe it is the outer fringes of SF where myth and fantasy meets "steam punk" but it does have futuristic dimensions albeit in a retro kinda way. It is the way the characters seem unbelievable yet real which gets me in all of his books by the way and sucks me in to a reading time vortex - as all good books should. Bradbury's Mars keeps shifting its identity, becoming a symbol of the dreams and fears of America itself.

    No attempt is made at scientific accuracy this Mars is hot, for example , and the stories reflect the Cold War era in which they were written. Bradbury could overwrite, but he keeps this tendency under control here, and the book has a haunting resonance. It has the fastest start I can recollect any book having, The Affront are hilarious and the Culture ships superb. I also appreciate that the nature of the excession is never defined. Hard sci-fi at its best.

    The attention to detail and depth of knowledge of the author make this a compelling and inspirational book to read. This is a strange, compelling and beautifully written story. I'd defy anyone from the most hard-nosed SF aficionado on up not to enjoy reading it. If can get into the language, you'll enter a plausible yet mythical world where you'll get your first knowin from the eyes of a dog and learn the secrets of the master chaynjis.

    Can't believe that none of these magnificent books were chosen. Some better than others, but all full of wonderful prose, deep imagination, gripping stories and interesting characters. One of the few books I've read in one sitting. Set in a wonderfully imagined dystopic America, it's very bleak but also savagely funny, always brilliant, and ultimately heartbreaking.

    This book is a positive, hopeful contemplation of mankind's possible next step. How we might evolve into something better than we are now. The first hint of this next evolutionary step is not evidenced by those we conventionally think of as brighter, stronger or more beautiful, but by the supposed freaks and invalids that just might come together in some way to become, collectively, something Ringworld is SF on a grand scale in many respects.

    Set far into the future, it is scientifically well researched and utterly believable, with "alien" characters that are lifelike and convincing: the story is entertaining yet the concept is original and thought-provoking. A fantastic novel, one of many well-written books by Larry Niven. Excellent book using Sci-fi construct of time dilation to show futility of war. Written after he server in Vietnam. The sheer scope of the imagination: the predatory Kzin and the cowardly puppeteer.

    The gradual unfolding of the driving force of the novel: all the time you are thinking it is the major characters and the incredible world while in reality it is the minor character and her luck. My son and I discussed it for days. Farmer is woefully under-rated, and really only known for his Riverworld series, but the World of Tiers is, I think, his masterwork. It contains so much of why I read SF - it has terrific characters, it's overflowing with ideas, it has marvellous set pieces and it engenders a sense of awe and wonder at the possibilities of our universe or, rather, the multiverse.

    If I had the money I'd personally bankroll a film of the books, now that we have the technology to do justice to them. Writers in this tradition have a history not just of imagining the future as is might be, but of inspiring others to make it a reality. In , Smithsonian. Goddard's liquid-fuelled rocket to the cell phone.

    Wells society. No less a writer than Joseph Conrad agreed. Impressed is the word, O Realist of the Fantastic! Here are some of the incredible H. Wells predictions that have come true, as well as some that haven't—at least not yet. In Men Like Gods , Wells invites readers to a futuristic utopia that's essentially Earth after thousands of years of progress. In this alternate reality, people communicate exclusively with wireless systems that employ a kind of co-mingling of voicemail and email-like properties.

    And any that one wishes to repeat can be repeated. Then he talks back to the senders and dispatches any other messages he wishes. The transmission is wireless. Wells also imagined forms of future entertainment. In When the Sleeper Wakes , the protagonist rouses from two centuries of slumber to a dystopian London in which citizens use wondrous forms of technology like the audio book, airplane and television—yet suffer systematic oppression and social injustice. Visitors to The Island of Dr. Moreau were confronted with a menagerie of bizarre creatures including Leopard-Man and Fox-Bear Witch, created by the titular madman doctor in human-animal hybrid experiments that may presage the age of genetic engineering.

    Though Moreau created his Frankenbeasts through more crude techniques, like surgical transplants and blood transfusions, the theme of humans playing God by tinkering with nature has become a reality. Scientists are working towards the day when a nimal organs could serve as long-term transplants for human patients , though today human immune systems still ultimately reject such efforts. And controversial experiments known as chimera studies create human-animal hybrids by adding human stem cells to animal embryos. Notably, the human-animal hybrids Moreau creates eventually do the doctor in, and that ending echoes another common Wells theme.

    Martians in The War of the Worlds unleash what Wells called a Heat-Ray, a super weapon capable of incinerating helpless humans with a noiseless flash of light. It would be more than six decades before Theodore Maiman fired up the first operational laser at California's Hughes Research Laboratory on May 16, , but military thinkers had been hoping to weaponize the conceptual laser even before it was even proven practical.

    Typically, Wells was more interested in what the effects of his future ideas might be, rather than working out the technical details, James stresses. So in The Time Machine , if you think of time as the fourth dimension, what if you could travel in time as freely as in the other three? Or, in The First Men in the Moon , what if you could make a material [Wells called it Cavorite] as impervious to gravity as other materials are impervious to heat? Today's leading science fiction authors still use this technique while at work shaping the future of tomorrow. Wells reveled in the potential benefits of technology but also feared their dark side.