Science fiction is the most argued and discussed over genre in literature. Every year tons of crappy sci-fi novels get published. Sturgeon’s Law states “90% of Science Fiction is crud – 90% of everything is crud”. Sometimes the absolutely best (those remaining 10%) gets buried under this crappy pile. Here is a list of compelling yet unconventional science fiction books that you really need to read.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
The book is in the form of an autobiography of Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain. Dr. Swain lives with his pregnant granddaughter in the ruin of the Empire State Building. Dr. Swain is a gruesome man whose ugliness, along with his twin sister Eliza, led their parents to cut them off from the modern society. Both, Dr. Swain and Eliza, came to realize that, when they both are in close contact, they form immensely powerful and creative intelligence. Wilbur and Eliza combated the feelings of isolation and loneliness through reading and philosophizing together.
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
The story of book set in the year 2312 when society has expanded and spread across the solar system. The book has won Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2013. It’s technological thriller-mystery book, which bring you on a tour through the inhabited solar system of about twelve hundred years from now.
Author: Brian Francis Slattery
It’s Brian Francis Slattery’s debut and definitely it is triumph over the genre. Spaceman Blues is a literary retro-pulp-science-fiction-mystery-superhero novel. In order to find out where and why Manuel Rodrigo de Guzmán González disappeared, Wendell Apogee must struggle with parties, cock-fight, and chases. There are people living in an underground city in suspended houses from cavern ceilings. There are Alien assassins and urban weirdos; immigrants, flight, riots, the black market, religious cults, and almost everything that needs to make it one of the most cult classic and compelling science fiction books.
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
Author: Cory Doctorow
The book is more fantasy than science fiction but still I loved it as Sci-fi. The plot revolves around the life and times of Alan, whose mother is a washing machine and his father is a mountain. Alan’s one elder brother can see the future, another one is an island, younger brother is ‘undead’; and his three youngest brothers are set of Russian dolls. Alan is the most normal and looks human in his family, outwardly though, he heals at an incredible rate.
Author: Stanislaw Lem
The Cyberiad is a series of humorous short stories about AI and politics that are linked with each other. It sounds dry but it’s one of the wildest, imaginative yet funniest books you’ll read ever. Most of the characters are either robots or intelligent machines. The stories focus on problems of the society and individual; and also concerns vain search for human happiness through technological means.
It is one of the most compelling and unconventional science fiction Books.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Author: Douglas Adams
You might have read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, but you may recall there are actually five books in the series. The Restaurant at the end of the Universe is second book of the series. It has tighter plots and weirder twists and turns than the iconic first book. The book was inspired by British rock band Procol Harum’s song “Grand Hotel”.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
Author: Charles Yu
This book takes time travel and all the tropes inherent to a whole new level of emotional resonance, humor and philosophy. The plot is light on linearity and heavy on meaning. Author made this science fiction thing so deeply human that it’s no surprise he went on to write for Westworld.
Additional resources and useful info:
- Explore Arthur C. Clarke’s best works
- Inventions inspired by science fiction
- Why is Sci-Fi so relevant today