What’s the best science fiction book? Peruse our summer reading list
Who knows what awaits us in the future? Science fiction hopes to explore many potential futures, but the best science fiction books reflect the problems & concerns of their era through a dark mirror. The future is constantly shifting & rearranging itself in front of us.
These page-turning science fiction books represent some of the best of the genre. Some are classics while others are fresh & exciting new visions of an unknowable eternity.
The Three-Body Problem
Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem is one of the best science fiction books of the past fifteen years. The book presents a near future where humanity is anticipating an invasion by lifeforms from another star system. Readers learn the history of the interactions between humanity & the mysterious Trisolarans.
The Three-Body Problem spawned two sequels, The Dark Forest and Death’s End. This epic science fiction series is an incredibly detailed & intricate thriller. Despite tackling some truly massive concepts, Cixin’s prose is dazzling & elegant.
The Mote in God’s Eye
The Mote in God’s Eye is a collaboration between veteran science fiction authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It is one of the best contact stories ever conceived. Set in humanity’s far future, it describes mankind’s first contact with an alien species.
This book is a scintillating mystery. The reader must unravel the secrets of the strange alien race known as the Moties to learn the terrible fate of the future of the universe.
Bubble is a science fiction adventure graphic novel written by Jordan Morris and Sarah Morgan. Humanity in the world of Bubble is confined to domed cities to protect against the mutant imps that run amok. Hipster urbanites hire protection from the mutant hordes on an app called “Huntr”.
Bubble features kinetic fight sequences illustrated by Tony Cliff. Morris and Morgan supply their cast of characters with hilarious one-liners as well as a smart critique of our exploitation at the hands of an uncaring gig economy.
The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe’s masterpiece The Book of the New Sun is actually a series of four novels. The first two books are now commonly available condensed into one volume called Shadow & Claw. Wolfe is sometimes referred to as the James Joyce of science fiction. His complex & difficult prose isn’t for everyone, but he retains a cult following that’s obsessed with interpreting his work.
The books follow Severian, an apprentice of the Seekers for Truth & Penitence, also known as the Torturers’ Guild. The series tracks Severian’s bizarre journey, from boyhood to becoming the savior of his dying planet.
Many know & love William Gibson for his legendary cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Gibson’s later novel Pattern Recognition presents a more realistic vision of our near future. It is part detective story & part political espionage thriller.
Cayce Pollard is an advertising consultant. She is given a job by her boss, a tech billionaire named Hubertus Bigend, to discover the meaning behind a series of mysterious internet videos. Pollard’s investigation draws the attention of an internet community dedicated to the videos, the National Security Agency, and the Russian mafia.
Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash may be the best cyberpunk book ever written. It presents a world where people interact with one another in a shared virtual world called the Metaverse. This world is altered forever when users who look at a corrupted image file suffer death in both the digital & physical world.
Our main characters uncover a vast conspiracy that has ties to the very origin of humanity. Snow Crash is an exhilarating thriller that also serves as a poignant critique of science fiction conventions & the future of capitalism.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic science fiction book. It’s one of the greatest post-apocalyptic stories ever written. Told in three parts, A Canticle for Leibowitz chronicles the cyclical path of human history as it recovers from a nuclear war.
Miller Jr.’s bleak view of humanity’s self-destructive nature is as fresh & vibrant as when it was first published in the 1950s.
Ancillary Justice was written by Ann Lecke. It is a space opera set thousands of years in the future. Powerful artificial intelligence units control human bodies called “ancillaries” to do their bidding. In Lecke’s future, these AIs do not distinguish people by gender.
Lecke’s ambitious novel is not for everyone. Her complicated weaving of past & present events may prove impenetrable for some audiences. Those who are able to maneuver through the prose will uncover an engrossing & fully realized world.
What are some of your favorite science fiction books? Share with us in the comments below!