It’s been almost two hundred years ago now when Mary Shelly wrote what would become considered the first science-fiction novel in the history of all literature: Frankenstein. Sprouting from a mad scientist’s desire to animate a creature cobbled from different body parts, the genre has evolved far and wide in the couple of centuries since.
Today, the horizons of science-fiction have been opened far and wide, even reaching into the vast and infinite beyond of the cosmos; it’s a genre with a potential limited only by our imagination. For most people, science-fiction is generally about technology beyond our current understanding, generally alongside depictions of a futuristic society, inevitably criticizing our own in some fashion.
To me, however, science-fiction is about the exploration of ideas, philosophies and moral questions made possible by inserting relatable, grounded and realistic humans into scenarios which, for now, are imaginary, but might one day be made possible with our penchant for what we call progress.
In this section you will find the science-fiction books which I believe go beyond the surface of shiny gadgets and space ships, telling the kinds of stories which push us to think about and observe our very own reality.
Michael Crichton profoundly influenced the science-fiction genre decades ago with The Andromeda Strain, and over fifty years later, in 2020, the sequel titled The Andromeda Evolution, co-written with Daniel H. Wilson was posthumously published. The story takes us decades into the future, where humanity had just about forgotten about the deadly microparticle which almost brought about total extinction, when it suddenly reappears in the Brazilian jungle.
Michael Crichton will forever be remembered as one of the main pillars helping to bridge a union between literature and cinema, many of his iconic works having been turned into equally-recognized movies. The Andromeda Strain is one of them, a science-fiction novel following four elite biophysicists racing to uncover the cause behind the near-total decimation of a sleepy desert town and to contain a contagion threatening the world at large.
Robert J. Sawyer, if his long list of awards is anything to go by, is one of the most unique and passionate science-fiction authors of the modern era, qualities he certainly hasn’t run out of yet as shown in his new novel, The Oppenheimer Alternative. Taking us to the middle of the twentieth century, we are shown an alternate reality where the world’s greatest scientists must come together to find a way to save the planet from its imminent demise at the hands of the sun by 2030.
William Gibson seems concerned with humanity’s impending future and our overreliance on technology more than most, and in the second book of The Jackpot Trilogy, titled Agency, he tells a new story centred on a development most of us are already familiar with. It follows an app whisperer, Verity Jane, who takes up a job as a beta tester for a new AI assistant, soon realizing it has capabilities beyond anyone’s expectations.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes Short Summary M.R. Forbes has begun an epic and promising saga with Foresight, the first novel in the Forgotten Space series, and in the second book, titled Formation, he picks up right where he left off. Captain Nicholas Shepherd and his crew have narrowly escaped total annihilation on Earth and have been flung halfway across the universe, where they come across a mysterious distress signal, which they can only hope is somehow connected with their arrival. Read more …
Marko Kloos has evidently settled in for the long run with his grandiose and ambitious series, The Palladium Wars, and in the third book, titled Citadel, he escalates the conflict in the Gaia system even further. To begin with, Commander Dunstan Park has been given control of an experimental ship capable of turning the tides of war. Meanwhile, conflict is renewed on Gretia in the wake of a terrorist attack, the insurgents threatening the precarious peace established there.
Marko Kloos began with Aftershocks a unique and captivating hard science-fiction series called The Palladium Wars, and in the second book, Ballistic, we witness a world increasingly plunged into chaos. While Aden Jansen ventures on a long journey of self-realization and frightening discoveries, his home planet Gretia is on the brink of an uprising in the face of its occupants.
Marko Kloos found his foothold in the science-fiction genre beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with Aftershocks he begins a new series, The Palladium Wars, by taking us on an Earthlike planet in the Gaia system called Gretia. As it tries to stabilize in the wake of interplanetary war, various actors see their fates intertwined on the precipice of a massive insurrection threatening to tear Gretia apart.
M.R. Forbes has settled into the science-fiction genre like the comfortable home it ought to be for someone so immersed in the subject, having already explored quite a few interesting ideas in a relatively short amount of time. In Foresight, the first book in the Forgotten Space series, we follow the story of a test pilot desperately trying to save a tiny remnant of humanity (largely limited to his family) from an invasion, with only an experimental spaceship at his disposal.
Susanna Clarke may have taken a long time to publish her second novel, Piranesi, but it was very much worth the wait for the unique premise it carries. The story follows a young man living in a seemingly endless, ever-shifting labyrinthine house, and the immensely profound journey of discovery he ends up on when a seemingly evil entity finds its way into the home.
Greig Beck has visibly grown as an author since his first arrival on the scene, and most recently he found the motivation to tackle an ambitious project, re-telling a classic with his latest novel, To The Center Of The Earth. Following a team of cave explorers diving deep below the earth in the former Soviet Union, we witness their incredible journey following the instructions of a madwoman locked in a Russian asylum, after having travelled there herself fifty years ago.
Ted Dekker introduced us to a world of countless unimaginable wonders in his Beyond the Circle series, and with Rise of the Mystics he brings the grand adventure to a close. With three of five seals in her possession, Rachelle Matthews, the dreamer who turned out to be the prophesied 49th mystic, forges onwards to find the remaining two and hopefully prevent both worlds from plunging into total darkness.
Ted Dekker has always sought to push his novels far beyond the confines of the ordinary and expected, something he has once again achieved with his standalone book, The 49 th Mystic. Our main character is a blind little girl whose life takes a turn for the strange after a botched operation to restore her eyesight; dreams of another world begin to fill her reality. It becomes unclear to her to which of the two worlds is in fact real, but she does know a prophecy awaits her in the dream, one which will plunge both worlds into eternal darkness should she fail to fulfil it.
The apocalypse preoccupies our mind more than most other topics, and while some see it as the end of the world, there are those who take a somewhat different approach, and see it as a chance to rebuild. Stan I. S. Law explores this way of thinking in the third book of the Avatar Trilogy, titled Awakening: Event Horizon. The story of Anne, Peter and company continues as a drastic shift in the world occurs: a new ice age that kills over 90% of the Earth’s population and tears massive land chunks asunder. A new dawn awaits mankind, but what will the people to rise out of it look like?
Cold and isolation are enough to drive anyone mad, and in Matthew Iden’s “The Winter Over” forty-four engineers and researchers are faced with nine months of it on a research facility on the South Pole, isolated from the world. Cass Jennings is one of the engineers, and her efforts to rebuild a shattered life are put on hold as someone in the crew is found murdered. From there on, tensions could only rise…