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.
“Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke – Life in the Endless House
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.
“To The Center Of The Earth” by Greig Beck – The Dwellers in the Core
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.
“The Philosopher’s Flight” by Tom Miller – Outsider of the Arcane Science
Tom Miller has certainly made a good decision in giving authorship a chance after working as an emergency room doctor for many years, gifting us with the very special novel The Philosopher’s Flight.
In it, we follow Robert Weekes, a young practitioner of empirical philosophy, an arcane branch of science used to accomplish the unfathomable.
After winning a scholarship to study in a famous all-women’s school, he begins struggling to find his place in the world and is soon faced with some real dangers stemming from a group of anti-philosophical radicals.
“The Philosopher’s War” by Tom Miller – The Outlawed End of Struggle
Tom Miller has truly created a unique and incomparable world of magical realism with The Philosophers Series, and the second book, titled The Philosopher’s War, continues the grandiose adventures of Robert Canderelli Weekes.
After his exploits as a pilot, he is allowed to be the first male to join the US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service.
While the outfit seems to be in shambles at first, as Robert gains the trust of his comrades he learns they are planning to end the Great War plaguing the world with the use of some outlawed philosophical methods.
“The 49th Mystic” by Ted Dekker – Prophecy for the Blind
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 49th 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.
“Rise of the Mystics” by Ted Dekker – The Final Seal
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.
“Hollywood Dead” by Richard Kadrey – New Perspectives on Life and Death
Richard Kadrey has regaled us with stories spilling well into extraordinary territory with his Sandman Slim novels, taking us to heaven, hell, and virtually everywhere in-between.
In Hollywood Dead , the tenth novel in the series, we are following our titular hero as he finds himself hunting for those who are targeting an evil power broker from hell.
The catch? His body has a time limit attached to it, and if he can’t fulfil his end of the bargain, the clock on his life expires for good.
“The Final Day” by William R. Forstchen – America Tearing at the Seams
William R. Forstchen is an expansive author whose many series have tackled a wide range of genres and ideas, often offering the kinds of perspectives on our society very few could dream up.
In The Final Day, the third book in the John Matherson series, we follow the titular hero and his community as the United States is on the brink of tearing at the seams with a new government planning to give away large portions of the country to Mexico and China.
Since the EMP strike plunged the country into the dark ages the constitution stopped taking effect, but John and his gang aren’t exactly willing to let a new autocratic regime roll in and shatter what little is left of a once-great country.
“Walkaway” by Cory Doctorow – The Utopia We’ll Never Reach
Cory Doctorow has a gift for exploring the big questions that keep us all awake at night, and he does so in the most interesting and unexpected ways possible.
Recently, he’s managed such a feat once again with his novel Walkaway that takes us into the near future and explores the kinds of societal and planetary changes our technologically-centred development will inflict.
In more precise terms, we follow two people who have become disillusioned with their lives and decide to live off the grid on their own terms.
It doesn’t take long for many other people to start following their lead, and soon those “walkaways” (as they are called) find the secret which escaped the one percent for eternities: the conquest of death.