Sci-fi has always been one of my favourite genres, be it books, films or TV series. In my teenage years I used to be glued to the telly every time Star Trek was on, and I’ve been secretly dreaming ever since of joining the Starfleet, if it ever becomes a thing.
I love the bold, but often strange ideas, the epic battles, people going up against alien life forms that threaten to overtake our worlds.
It’s weird to think about the fact, that not everyone likes what I enjoy, but I hear you, and I got your back!
Whether you are a sci-fi novice and not sure where to start, or just someone who hasn’t found the right fit, I have something for you. Seasoned veterans are also welcome, of course. Come, and share your favourite reads with us!
Now let’s see what we have here.
Dry humour and wiseass characters
If you enjoy this sort of thing, try The Interdependency series by John Scalzi. The man wields sarcasm with great skill, and in the first book, The Collapsing Empire, he crafted some of his most memorable characters I’ve came across so far.
Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible — until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.
Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war — and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.
The Flow is eternal — but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals — a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency — are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.
Strange ideas, and some deep philosophical musings
If that’s your jam, you will most likely enjoy this gem from the 60’s. In Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein not only came up with an interesting story about a man who was raised by Martians, but also explored the concept of learning, integrating, and religion. It’s and oldie, but a goodie.
NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.
Intergalactic war with a twist
Ever contemplated the loss of young lives during war time? Of course, dying a violent death is never pleasant, but what if you only got enlisted in the military once you don’t have much time left anyway? This is the idea that John Scalzi explores in his series, Old Man’s War, and let me tell you, it’s thoroughly entertaining. There are some great battle scenes, interesting technology, and his trade mark dry humour to tide you over some difficult topics.
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
Detectives of the future
Sci-fi doesn’t need to be about space travel, or aliens. If you are like me, and enjoy a good murder investigation, Lock In by John Scalzi might just be right up your alley.
Body swapping and weird gadgets are just as fascinating. Coupled with questions like what makes us who we are, what would we become if we could live forever, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan is the perfect mix of cyberpunk and hard-boiled detective story.
Lock In by John Scalzi
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.
But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn’t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society.
Mind boggling science
Physics was one of my most hated subjects in high school, and yet, a lot of these books I’m enjoying are based on theories of actual physics. Of course it’s way more interesting to read about a dude going through parallel universes than trying to figure out the resistance of some dirty copper wire, or having your teacher rub your hair with a plastic stick to demonstrate electrostatic attraction to your dummy classmates. If you are with me on this, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch will surely appeal to you as well.
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
Geeks and hackers everywhere
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is not only an action packed page turner about a pizza delivery driver who ends up in the middle a deadly race against the most vicious hackers, but also a very interesting take on linguistics and how basically language is a virus.
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince.
Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.
Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.