252 Best Sci-Fi Books and Movies of All Time
Examples of science fiction books are: Dune by Frank Herbert, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.
Most modern technology breakthroughs have probably been inspired by science fiction films. Because of the infinite possibilities, they are the most creative and innovative. They allow the filmmakers to discuss delicate topics in a non-directive manner, and they aid in the reflection of current society issues. A great science fiction work provides a single vision for the future, among many alternatives, that is grounded in reality. Science fiction challenges us to contemplate the complicated ways in which our choices and interactions contribute to the creation of the future by bridging the gap between the present and the future.
The resources you’ll find below are not entirely a database of free materials, but more of a list of reference or “what to read” or “what to watch” within the sci-fi world. This list will cover various popular titles from novels covering 17 sub-genres, short stories to movie / tv series and comic books. Goodreads and IMDB ratings and links are provided for your further reference.
- Accelerando (2005) by Charles Stross (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – The Singularity. It is the era of the posthuman. Artificial intelligences have surpassed the limits of human intellect. Biotechnological beings have rendered people all but extinct. Molecular nanotechnology runs rampant, replicating and reprogramming at will. Contact with extraterrestrial life grows more imminent with each new day.
- Babel-17 (1966) by Samuel R. Delany (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Babel-17 is all about the power of language. Humanity, which has spread throughout the universe, is involved in a war with the Invaders, who have been covertly assassinating officials and sabotaging spaceships. The only clues humanity has to go on are strange alien messages that have been intercepted in space. Poet and linguist Rydra Wong is determined to understand the language and stop the alien threat.
- Barsoom series (1912-1927) by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Barsoom is planet Mars from American Edgar Rice Burroughs. First serialized as Under the Moons of Mars in 1912, published as A Princess of Mars in 1917. Dying Mars was based on outdated scientific ideas of canals. The savage, frontier world has honor, noble sacrifice and constant struggle, where martial prowess is paramount and races fight over dwindling resources.
- Bobiverse Series (2016) by Dennis E. Taylor (Goodreads average rating – [4.35]) – Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.
- Childhood’s End (1953) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends—and then the age of Mankind begins…
- Cities in Flight (1970) by James Blish (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Originally published in four volumes nearly fifty years ago, Cities in Flight brings together the famed “Okie novels” of science fiction master James Blish. Named after the migrant workers of America’s Dust Bowl, these novels convey Blish’s “history of the future,” a brilliant and bleak look at a world where cities roam the Galaxy looking for work and a sustainable way of life.
- Contact (1985) by Carl Sagan (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – At first it seemed impossible – a radio signal that came not from Earth but from far beyond the nearest stars. But then the signal was translated, and what had been impossible became terrifying. For the signal contains the information to build a Machine that can travel to the stars. A Machine that can take a human to meet those that sent the message. They are eager to meet us: they have been watching and waiting for a long time. And now they will judge.
- Dark Matter (2016) by Blake Crouch (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters. It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
- Doorways in the Sand (1976) by Roger Zelazny (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Fred Cassidy, a perpetual student, scrounger, and acrophile, is the last known person to have seen an important stone that his friend had. Various criminals, Anglophile zealots, government agents and aliens torture, shoot, beat, trick, chase, terrorize, assault telepathically, stalk, and importune Fred in attempts to get him to tell them the location of the stone. He denies any knowledge of its whereabouts, and decides to make his own investigation.
- Dune Chronicles (1963-1994) by Frank Herbert (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.
- Embassytown (2011) by China Miéville (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.
- Expanse (2011-2019) by James S.A. Corey (Goodreads average rating – [4.17]) – Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.
- Flatland (1884) by Edwin A. Abbott (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – This masterpiece of science (and mathematical) fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than 100 years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926), it describes the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women—thin, straight lines—are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.
- Flowers for Algernon (1959) by Daniel Keyes (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie’s intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance—until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?
- Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.
- Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
- Glasshouse (2006) by Charles Stross (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn’t take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It’s the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees’ personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew.
- Home Fires (2011) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [3.3]) – Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. Chelle returns to recuperate from severe injuries, after months of service, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person—while Skip is in his forties and a wealthy businessman, but eager for her return.
- Jean le Flambeur Series (2010, 2012, 2014) by Hannu Rajaniemi (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Jean le Flambeur gets up in the morning and has to kill himself before his other self can kill him first. Just another day in the Dilemma Prison. Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is a currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turned-singularity lights the night. Meanwhile, investigator Isidore Beautrelet, called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur…
- Jem (1979) by Frederik Pohl (Goodreads average rating – [3.6]) – The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the three bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries. Subtitled, with savage irony, “The Making of a Utopia”, Jem is one of Frederik Pohl’s most powerful novels.
- Lord of Light (1967) by Roger Zelazny (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.
- Red Dwarf (1989) by Grant Naylor (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – Three million years from Earth, marooned in the wrong dimension of the wrong reality, and down to his last two cigarettes.
- Rendezvous with Rama (1973) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits—just behind a Raman airlock door.
- Roadside Picnic (1972) by Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.
- Solaris (1961) by Stanisław Lem (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. The Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, though its purpose in doing so is unknown, forcing the scientists to shift the focus of their quest and wonder if they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their hearts.
- Speaker for the Dead (1994) by Orson Scott Card (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War. Now long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth.
- Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
- Stand on Zanzibar(1968) by John Brunner (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Norman Niblock House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of a few all-powerful corporations. His work is leading General Technics to the forefront of global domination, both in the marketplace and politically—it’s about to take over a country in Africa. Donald Hogan is his roommate, a seemingly sheepish bookworm. But Hogan is a spy, and he’s about to discover a breakthrough in genetic engineering that will change the world… and kill him. These two men’s lives weave through one of science fiction’s most praised novels. Written in a way that echoes John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. trilogy, Stand on Zanzibar is a cross-section of a world overpopulated by the billions. Where society is squeezed into hive-living madness by god-like mega computers, mass-marketed psychedelic drugs, and mundane uses of genetic engineering. Though written in 1968, it speaks of 2010, and is frighteningly prescient and intensely powerful.
- Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Star Maker is a science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, published in 1937. The book describes a history of life in the universe, dwarfing in scale Stapledon’s previous book, Last and First Men (1930), a history of the human species over two billion years. Star Maker tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations. Some of the elements and themes briefly discussed prefigure later fiction concerning genetic engineering and alien life forms. Arthur C. Clarke considered Star Maker to be one of the finest works of science fiction ever written.
- The Deep Range (1957) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – A century into the future, humanity lives mostly on the sea. Gigantic whale herds are tended by submariners, and vast plankton farms feed the world. Walter Franklin, once a space engineer, now works on a submarine patrol. This novel tells the story of his adventures, including Franklin’s capture of an enormous kraken at 12,000 feet under the sea; his search for a monstrous sea serpent; and the thrilling rescue of a sunken submarine-all set against the backdrop of a futuristic world that’s both imaginative and believable.
- The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Gene Wolfe’s The Fifth Head of Cerberus is a universally acknowledged masterpiece of science fiction by one of the field’s most brilliant writers. Far out from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shapeshifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But one man believes they can still be found, somewhere in the back of the beyond.
- The Gods Themselves (1972) by Isaac Asimov (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price. The transference process itself will eventually lead to the destruction of Earth’s Sun—and of Earth itself.
- The Golden Age (2002, 2003) by John C. Wright (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – The Golden Age is 10,000 years in the future in our solar system, an interplanetary utopian society filled with immortal humans. Phaethon, of Radamanthus House, is attending a glorious party at his family mansion celebrating the thousand-year anniversary of the High Transcendence. There he meets an old man who accuses him of being an imposter, and then a being from Neptune who claims to be an old friend. The Neptunian tells him that essential parts of his memory were removed and stored by the very government that Phaethon believes to be wholly honorable. It shakes his faith. Is he indeed an exile from himself? He can’t resist investigating, even though to do so could mean the loss of his inheritance, his very place in society. His quest must be to regain his true identity and fulfill the destiny he chose for himself.
- The Ice People (1968) by René Barjavel (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – When a French expedition in Antarctica reveals ruins of a 900,000 year old civilization, scientists from all over the world flock to the site to help explore & understand. The entire planet watches via global satellite tv, mesmerized, as they uncover a chamber in which a man & a woman have been in suspended animation since, as the French title suggests, ‘the night of time’. The woman, Eléa, is awakened. Thru a translating machine she tells the story of her world, herself & her husband Paikan & how war destroyed her civilization. She also hints at an incredibly advanced knowledge her still-dormant companion possesses, knowledge that could give energy & food to all humans at no cost. But the superpowers of the world are not ready to let Eléa’s secrets spread, & show that, 900,000 years & an apocalypse later, humankind has not grown up & is ready to make the same mistakes again.
- The Invisible Man (1897) by H. G. Wells (Goodreads average rating – [3.6]) – This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.
- The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) by Ursula Le Guin (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014) by Becky Chambers (Goodreads average rating – [4.17]) – Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
- The Murderbot Diaries (2017-) by Martha Wells (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
- The Polity (1998-2018) by Neal Asher (Goodreads average rating – [4.11]) – The phrase ‘world-building’ brings immediately to mind fantasy especially places like the Middle Earth of Tolkien but we don’t hear ‘universe-building’ nearly enough. SF authors not only have to create the history and society for one place, which isn’t usually even a planet in fantasy, but for an almost unimaginable universe, which needs to be filled with a multitude of races and planets with their own technology and vast history.
- The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950) by A.E. Van Vogt (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – The book can be roughly divided into four sections corresponding to the four short stories on which it was based. In the first part, the Space Beagle is infiltrated by Coeurl, a starving, intelligent and vicious cat-like carnivore with tentacles on its shoulders. In the second, the ship is almost destroyed by internal warfare caused by telepathic contact with a race of bird-like aliens. The third features Ixtl, a scarlet alien that kidnaps several crew members in order to implant parasitic eggs in their stomachs. In the last section, the crew battles Anabis, a galaxy-spanning consciousness.
- The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Man had not yet learned to fly when H. G. Wells conceived this story of a Martian attack on England. Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines. Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come.
Hard Science Fiction
- A Deepness in the Sky (2000) by Vernor Vinge (Goodreads average rating – [4.32]) – After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. Two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds. The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, both groups must wait at the aliens’ very doorstep for their strange star to relight and for their planet to reawaken, as it does every two hundred and fifty years….
- A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) by Vernor Vinge (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – A Fire upon the Deepis the big, breakout book that fulfills the promise of Vinge’s career to date: a gripping tale of galactic war told on a cosmic scale.
- Aurora (2015) by Kim Stanley Robinson (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – A major new novel from one of science fiction’s most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system. Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers. Our voyage from Earth began generations ago. Now, we approach our new home.
- Blindsight (Firefall #1) (2006) by Peter Watts (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – It’s been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since—until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who to send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn’t want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder, and a biologist so spliced to machinery he can’t feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior, and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they’ve been sent to find—but you’d give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them.
- Diaspora (1997) by Greg Egan (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – By the end of the 30th century humanity has the capability to travel the universe, to journey beyond earth and beyond the confines of the vulnerable human frame. The descendants of centuries of scientific, cultural and physical development divide into three: fleshers—true Homo sapiens; Gleisner robots—embodying human minds within machines that interact with the physical world; and polises—supercomputers teeming with intelligent software, containing the direct copies of billions of human personalities now existing only in the virtual reality of the polis.
- Dragon’s Egg (1980) by Robert L. Forward (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent life forms—the cheela—living on Dragon’s Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time men are their diligent teachers.
- Echopraxia (Firefall #2) (2014) by Peter Watts (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Prepare for a different kind of singularity in this follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight. It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.
- Manifold series (1999-2003) by Stephen Baxter (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Each one of the main novels deals with a possible resolution to the Fermi paradox. The first, Time, is set in a universe that is completely devoid of intelligent life beyond that of mankind and its creations (i.e. A.I. and uplifted animals). The second in the series, Space, proposes the opposite: that life is endemic to the universe, and there is intelligence in nearly all possible places of the cosmos. The third novel, Origin, is set in a multiverse that is a compromise between the ideals in the first two novels: that life is only on Earth, but at the same time is everywhere.
- Nexus (2012) by Ramez Naam (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it. When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage—for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.
- Permutation City (1994) by Greg Egan (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – In the not-too-distant future, technology has given birth to a form of immortality. The human mind can be scanned and uploaded into a virtual reality program to become a perfect electronic “Copy,” aware of itself. A new Copy finds himself forced to cooperate in scientific experiments with the flesh-and-blood man he was copied from.
- Red Mars (1993) by Kim Stanley Robinson (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny. John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic “alchemists,” Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life… and death.
- Schild’s Ladder (2002) by Greg Egan (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Twenty thousand years into the future, an experiment in quantum physics has had a catastrophic result, creating an enormous, rapidly expanding vacuum that devours everything it comes in contact with. Now humans must confront this deadly expansion. Tchicaya, aboard a starship trawling the border of the vacuum, has allied himself with the Yielders—those determined to study the vacuum while allowing it to grow unchecked. But when his fiery first love, Mariama, reenters his life on the side of the Preservationists—those working to halt and destroy the vacuum—Tchicaya finds himself struggling with an inner turmoil he has known since childhood.
- The Martian (2012) by Andy Weir (Goodreads average rating – [4.4]) – Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars. Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.
- The Sands of Mars (1951) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he’s sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands on the red planet. Once there the intrepid author causes one problem after another as he stumbles upon Mars’ most carefully hidden secrets and threatens the future of an entire planet.
- Altered Carbon (2002) by Richard K. Morgan (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – It’s the twenty-fifth century, and advances in technology have redefined life itself. A person’s consciousness can now be stored in the brain and downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”,) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Onetime U.N. Envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Resleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco,) Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats existence as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning.
- Greg Mandel Series (1993, 1994, 1995) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Greg Mandel, late of the Mindstar Battalion, has been many things in his life. Commando. Freedom fighter. Assassin. Now he’s a freelance operative with a very special edge: telepathy.
- Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (1985) by Haruki Murakami (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami’s international following. Tracking one man’s descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.
- Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace. Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employers crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.
- REAMDE (2011) by Neal Stephenson (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Four decades ago, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family, fled to a wild and lonely mountainous corner of British Columbia to avoid the draft. Smuggling backpack loads of high-grade marijuana across the border into Northern Idaho, he quickly amassed an enormous and illegal fortune. With plenty of time and money to burn, he became addicted to an online fantasy game in which opposing factions battle for power and treasure in a vast cyber realm. Like many serious gamers, he began routinely purchasing virtual gold pieces and other desirables from Chinese gold farmers—young professional players in Asia who accumulated virtual weapons and armor to sell to busy American and European buyers.
- Snow Crash (1992) by Neal Stephenson (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – 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.
- The Demolished Man (1951) by Alfred Bester (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – In a world in which the police have telepathic powers, how do you get away with murder? Ben Reichs heads a huge 24th century business empire, spanning the solar system. He is also an obsessed, driven man determined to murder a rival. To avoid capture, in a society where murderers can be detected even before they commit their crime, is the greatest challenge of his life.
- The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995) by Neal Stephenson (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer is a postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It is to some extent a science fiction coming-of-age story, focused on a young girl named Nell, and set in a future world in which nanotechnology affects all aspects of life. The novel deals with themes of education, social class, ethnicity, and the nature of artificial intelligence.
- The Stars My Destination (1955) by Alfred Bester (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people “jaunte” a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men—and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable and dangerous man alive. The Stars My Destination is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledged master of science fiction.
- Thin Air (2018) by Richard K. Morgan (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. But when Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther and deeper than he had ever expected. And soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.
- Walkaway (2017) by Cory Doctorow (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – In a world of non-work, ruined by human-created climate change and pollution, and where people are under surveillance and ruled over by a mega-rich elite, Hubert, Etc, his friend Seth, and Natalie, decide that they have nothing to lose by turning their backs and walking away from the everyday world or “default reality”.
- Ware (1982-2000) by Rudy Rucker (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – Cobb Anderson created the “boppers,” sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords. But now Cobb is just an aging alcoholic waiting to die, and the big boppers are threatening to absorb all of the little boppers—and eventually every human—into a giant, melded consciousness. Some of the little boppers aren’t too keen on the idea, and a full-scale robot revolt is underway on the moon (where the boppers live). Meanwhile, bopper Ralph Numbers wants to give Cobb immortality by letting a big bopper slice up his brain and tape his “software.” It seems like a good idea to Cobb.
- The Songs of Distant Earth (1986) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Just a few islands in a planetwide ocean, Thalassa was a veritable paradise—home to one of the small colonies founded centuries before by robot Mother Ships when the Sun had gone nova and mankind had fled Earth.
- 1984 (1949) by George Orwell (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. While 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is more timely that ever. 1984 presents a “negative utopia,” that is at once a startling and haunting vision of the world—so powerful that it’s completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of entire generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
- Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…
- Dad’s Nuke (1985) by Marc Laidlaw (Goodreads average rating – [3.6]) – The US is divided into independent, heavily defended neighborhoods; Cobblestone Hill is a planned, self-sufficient community, dreamed up and secretly controlled by the mysterious Doc Edison; here Dad Johnson struggles to raise his oddball family and defend his house against potentially hostile neighbors.
- Divergent (2012) by Veronica Roth (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
- Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future. Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
- Oryx and Crake (2003, 2009, 2013) by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
- Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
- The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. Le Guin (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life—Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.
- The Man in the High Castle (1962) by Philip K. Dick (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – An alternate history novel set in 1962, fifteen years after an alternate ending to World War II which in the novel lasted until 1947, the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule.
- The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect (2002) by Roger Williams (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – In a time not far from our own, Lawrence sets out simply to build an artificial intelligence that can pass as human, and finds himself instead with one that can pass as a god. Taking the Three Laws of Robotics literally, Prime Intellect makes every human immortal and provides instantly for every stated human desire. Caroline finds no meaning in this life of purposeless ease, and forgets her emptiness only in moments of violent and profane exhibitionism. At turns shocking and humorous, Prime Intellect looks unflinchingly at extremes of human behavior that might emerge when all limits are removed.
- Wool Omnibus (2011) by Hugh Howey (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – This Omnibus Edition collects the five Wool books into a single volume. It is for those who arrived late to the party and who wish to save a dollar or two while picking up the same stories in a single package. This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.
- Ancillary Justice (2013) by Ann Leckie (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
- Battlefield Earth (1982) by L. Ron Hubbard (Goodreads average rating – [3.4]) – Earth has been dominated for 1,000 years by an alien invader—and man is an endangered species. From the handful of surviving humans a courageous leader emerges—Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, who challenges the invincible might of the alien Psychlo empire in a battle of epic scale, danger and intrigue with the fate of the Earth and of the universe in the tenuous balance.
- Commonwealth Saga (2004, 2005) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some four hundred light-years in diameter, contains more than six hundred worlds, interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over one thousand light-years away, a star… vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat. In command is Wilson Kime, a five-time rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot whose glory days are centuries behind him.
- Fallen Dragon (2001) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Deploying invulnerable twenty-fifth-century soldiers called Skins, Zantiu-Braun’s corporate starships loot entire planets. But as the Skins invade bucolic Thallspring, Z-B’s strategy is about to go awry, all because of: Sgt. Lawrence Newton, a dreamer whose twenty years as a Skin have destroyed his hopes and desires; Denise Ebourn, a school teacher and resistance leader whose guerrilla tactics rival those of Che Guevara and George Washington and Simon Roderick, the director who serves Z-B with a dedication that not even he himself can understand. Grimly determined to steal, or protect, a mysterious treasure, the three players engage in a private war that will explode into unimaginable quests for personal grace… or galactic domination.
- House of Suns (2008) by Alastair Reynolds (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane—two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences—must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.
- Hyperion (1989) by Dan Simmons (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.
- Night’s Dawn Trilogy (1996, 1997, 1999) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – The trilogy is set in a universe with a wealth of worlds and artificial orbiting colonies. The plot is centered on the souls of the dead coming back from a hellish “beyond” to possess the living, and the latter fighting back. It was followed by a companion to the series, The Confederation Handbook, an informational book containing data about the universe of the Night’s Dawn trilogy. Hamilton re-set several earlier short stories in the Confederation timeline, published as the collection A Second Chance at Eden, including the newly written title novella.
- Revelation Space (2000-2018) by Alastair Reynolds (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself. With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him. Because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason — and if that reason is uncovered, the universe—and reality itself — could be irrecoverably altered…
- Salvation (2018-2020) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation–including starships–virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful…until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy…
- The Culture Series (1987-2012) by Iain M. Banks (Goodreads average rating – [4.5]) – The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
- A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.
- Borne (2017) by Jeff VanderMeer (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – In the ruins of a nameless city of the future, ruled by a giant grizzly called Mord, a woman named Rachel lives as a scavenger, collecting genetically engineered organisms and experiments created by the biotech firm the Company. Hidden in Mord’s fur, she finds a sea anemone shaped creature she calls Borne.
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans.
- Earth Abides (1949) by George R. Stewart (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he’d either dreaded or hoped for.
- Riddley Walker (1980) by Russell Hoban (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Riddley Walker is a brilliant, unique, completely realized work of fiction. One reads it again and again, discovering new wonders every time through. Set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), Hoban has imagined a humanity regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state—and invented a language to represent it. Riddley is at once the Huck Finn and the Stephen Dedalus of his culture—rebel, change agent, and artist. Read again or for the first time this masterpiece of 20th-century literature with new material by the author.
- Severance (2018) by Ling Ma (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor. Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. She barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
- The City and the Stars (1956) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Clarke’s masterful evocation of the far future of humanity, considered his finest novel. The City and the Stars takes place one billion years in the future, in the city of Diaspar. By this time, the Earth is so old that the oceans have gone and humanity has all but left. As far as the people of Diaspar know, they are the only city left on the planet. The city of Diaspar is completely enclosed. Nobody has come in or left the city for as long as anybody can remember, and everybody in Diaspar has an instinctive insular conservatism. The story behind this fear of venturing outside the city tells of a race of ruthless invaders which beat humanity back from the stars to Earth, and then made a deal that humanity could live—if they never left the planet.
- The City of Ember (2003) by Jeanne DuPrau (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…
- The Drowned World (1963) by J. G. Ballard (Goodreads average rating – [3.6]) – First published in 1962, J. G. Ballard’s mesmerizing and ferociously prescient novel imagines a terrifying future in which solar radiation and global warming have melted the ice caps and Triassic-era jungles have overrun a submerged and tropical London. Set during the year 2145, the novel follows biologist Dr. Robert Kerans and his team of scientists as they confront a surreal cityscape populated by giant iguanas, albino alligators, and endless swarms of malarial insects.
- The Machine Stops (1909) by Edward Morgan Forster (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – The story, set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity lives underground and relies on a giant machine to provide their needs, predicted new technologies such as instant messaging, and the Internet. It describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine with which people conduct their only activity: the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge.
- The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
- The Stand (1978) by Stephen King (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides—or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail—and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
- Time Storm (1977) by Gordon R. Dickson (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – A time storm has devastated the Earth, and only a small fraction of humankind remains. From the rubble, three survivors form an unlikely alliance: a young man, a young woman, and a leopard.
- Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1974) by Kate Wilhelm (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – The spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science,The spellbinding story of an isolated post-holocaust community determined to preserve itself, through a perilous experiment in cloning. Sweeping, dramatic, rich with humanity, and rigorous in its science,Where Late the Sweet Birds Sangis widely regarded as a high point of both humanistic and hard SF, winning SF’s Hugo Award and Locus Award on its first publication.
Military Science Fiction
- Armor (1984) by John Steakley (Goodreads average rating – [4.12]) – Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth’s most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man’s mind. This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat–and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all.
- Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card (Goodreads average rating – [4.3]) – In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy—Andrew “Ender” Wiggin—lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
- Frontlines Series (2013-) by Marko Kloos (Goodreads average rating – [4.05]) – The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to two thousand calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service.
- Old Man’s War (2005-2015) by John Scalzi (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Old Man’s War, The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale were each nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in their respective years. Zoe’s Tale was additionally nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy. The Ghost Brigades was nominated for the Prometheus Award. Old Man’s War was the winner of the Geffen Award in Israel; The Last Colony the recipient of the Seiun Award in Japan.
- Starship Troopers (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most frightening enemy.
- The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand—despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. Pvt. Mandella is willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But “home” may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries.
- The Ultramarines Omnibus (2008) by Graham Mcniell (Goodreads average rating – [3.96]) – The Ultramarines are a byword for loyalty and courage, their martial prowess is legendary and is second only to the God-Emperor. Graham Mcneill’s epic trilogy of Ultramarines novels is a masterpiece of non-stop action! Containing the novels Nightbringer, Warriors of Ultramar and Dead Sky, Black Sun, plus a connected short story, Chains of Command, the series follows the adventures of Space Marine Captain Uriel Ventris and the Ultramarines as they battle against the enemies of mankind. From their home world of Macragge, into the dreaded Eye of Terror and beyond, Graham McNeill’s prose rattles like gunfire and brings the Space Marines to life like never before.
Police Procedural Science Fiction
- Lock In (2014) by John Scalzi (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in”… including the President’s wife and daughter.
- Cryptonomicon (1999) by Neal Stephenson (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods—World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung-ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They’re part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception.
- Daemon (2006, 2010) by Daniel Suárez (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Already an underground sensation, a high-tech thriller for the wireless age that explores the unthinkable consequences of a computer program running without human control—a daemon—designed to dismantle society and bring about a new world order. Technology controls almost everything in our modern-day world, from remote entry on our cars to access to our homes, from the flight controls of our airplanes to the movements of the entire world economy. Thousands of autonomous computer programs, or daemons, make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money, and monitoring power grids. For the most part, daemons are benign, but the same can’t always be said for the people who design them.
- Sphere (1987) by Michael Crichton (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – A group of American scientists are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defines their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old…
- The Book of the Long Sun (1993, 1994, 1996) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – Set aboard a vast starship traveling for generations,Set aboard a vast starship traveling for generations,The Book of the Long Sunis a masterpiece of science fiction. The series follows the story of Patera Silk, a priest who becomes a prophet as he learns about the nature of his world and the gods he serves.
- The Book of the New Sun (1980-1987) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe’s most remarkable work, hailed as “a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis” by Publishers Weekly, and “one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century” by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
- There Are Doors (1988) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [3.6]) – There Are Doors is the story of a man who falls in love with a goddess from an alternate universe. She flees him, but he pursues her through doorways—interdimensional gateways—to the other place, determined to sacrifice his life, if necessary, for her love.
- The Bone Clocks (2014) by David Mitchell (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.
- Kiln People (2002) by David Brin (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – In a perilous future where disposable duplicate bodies fulfill every legal and illicit whim of their decadent masters, life is cheap. No one knows that better than Albert Morris, a brash investigator with a knack for trouble, who has sent his own duplicates into deadly peril more times than he cares to remember.
- Pandemic (2017) by A.G. Riddle (Goodreads average rating – [4.04]) – A deadly outbreak in Kenya. A conspiracy beyond imagination. And a race to save humanity in its darkest hour. From A.G. Riddle, the worldwide bestselling author of The Atlantis Gene and Departure, comes a novel that will change everything you think you know about pandemics.
- The Windup Girl (2009) by Paolo Bacigalupi (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.
- Anathem (2008) by Neal Stephenson (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside “saecular” world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls. Three times during history’s darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.
- Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special— and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.
- Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Here is Heinlein’s masterpiece—the brilliant spectacular and incredibly popular novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a classic in a few short years. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the man from Mars who taught humankind grokking and water-sharing. And love.
- The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a man whose job it is to range through past and present Centuries, monitoring and, where necessary, altering Time’s myriad cause-and-effect relationships. But when Harlan meets and falls for a non-Eternal woman, he seeks to use the awesome powers and techniques of the Eternals to twist time for his own purposes, so that he and his love can survive together.
- The Shrinking Man (1956) by Richard Matheson (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – While on holiday, Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of radioactive spray shortly after he accidentally ingests insecticide. The radioactivity acts as a catalyst for the bug spray, causing his body to shrink at a rate of approximately 1/7 of an inch per day. A few weeks later, Carey can no longer deny the truth: not only is he losing weight, he is also shorter than he was and deduces, to his dismay, that his body will continue to shrink.
- The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) by Kim Stanley Robinson (Goodreads average rating – [3.7]) – It is the fourteenth century and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur – the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe’s population was destroyed. But what if? What if the plague killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed?
- Behold the Man (1969) by Michael Moorcock (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Karl Glogauer is a disaffected modern professional casting about for meaning in a series of half-hearted relationships, a dead-end job, and a personal struggle. His questions of faith surrounding his father’s run-of-the-mill Christianity and his mother’s suppressed Judaism lead him to a bizarre obsession with the idea of the messiah. After the collapse of his latest affair and his introduction to a reclusive physics professor, Karl is given the opportunity to confront his obsession and take a journey that no man has taken before, and from which he knows he cannot return.
- Future Times Three (1968) by René Barjavel (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – Here is a fantastic journey that takes you from the past into the near-future—then to the year 300,000 A.D. into a world where a single female creature, the size of a mountain, gives birth to all of society!
- The Dancers at the End of Time (1977) by Michael Moorcock (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – The Dancers at the End of Time is a series of science fiction novels and short stories, the setting of which is the End of Time, an era “where entropy is king and the universe has begun collapsing upon itself.”
- The Door Into Summer (1957) by Robert A. Heinlein (Goodreads average rating – [4.0]) – It is 1970, and electronics engineer Dan Davis has finally made the invention of a lifetime: a household robot with extraordinary abilities, destined to dramatically change the landscape of everyday routine. Then, with wild success just within reach, Dan’s greedy partner and even greedier fiancée steal his work and leave him penniless, and trick him into taking the long sleep—suspended animation for thirty years.
- The Eyre Affair (2001) by Jasper Fforde (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! Hades’ real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next, the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective. With the help of her uncle Mycroft’s Prose Portal, Thursday enters the novel to rescue Jane Eyre from this heinous act of literary homicide. Can Thursday save Jane Eyre and Bronte’s masterpiece?
- The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells (Goodreads average rating – [3.8]) – With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes… and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth. There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well.
- Magic 2.0 Series (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017) by Scott Meyer (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) by Douglas Adams (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
- The Laundry Series (2004) by Charles Stross (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob’s under a desk restoring lost data. His world was dull and safe – but then he went and got Noticed. Now, Bob is up to his neck in spycraft, parallel universes, dimension-hopping terrorists, monstrous elder gods and the end of the world. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than a full system reboot to sort this mess out …This is the first novel in the Laundry Files.
- House of Leaves (2000) by Mark Z. Danielewski (Goodreads average rating – [4.12]) – Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth—musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies—the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.
Short Story Collections
- Axiomatic (1995) by Greg Egan (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – Axiomatic is a collection of Greg Egan’s short stories that appeared in various science fiction magazines (mostly Interzone and Asimov’s) between 1989 and 1992. Like most of Egan’s work, the stories focus on science and ideas, sometimes at the expense of the writing. But although Egan may lack a certain stylistic flair, he more than makes up for it with his wonderful visions of the future.
- City (1952) by Clifford D. Simak (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Simak’s “City” is a series of connected stories, a series of legends, myths, and campfire stories told by Dogs about the end of human civilization, centering on the Webster family, who, among their other accomplishments, designed the ships that took Men to the stars and gave Dogs the gift of speech and robots to be their hands.
- I, Robot (1950) by Isaac Asimov (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world—all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asimov’s trademark.
- Manhattan in Reverse (2011) by Peter F. Hamilton (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – This is a collection of short stories from the master of space opera. Peter F. Hamilton takes us on a journey from a murder mystery in an alternative Oxford in the 1800s to a story featuring Paula Mayo, deputy director of the Intersolar Commonwealth’s Serious Crimes Directorate.
- Of Time and Stars (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – Of Time and Stars is a collection of short stories by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. The stories all originally appeared in a number of different publications including the periodicals Dude, The Evening Standard, Lilliput, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Future, New Worlds, Startling Stories, Astounding, Fantasy, King’s College Review, Satellite, Amazing Stories, London Evening News, Infinity Science Fiction and Ten Story Fantasy as well as the anthologies Star Science Fiction Stories No.1 edited by Frederik Pohl and Time to Come edited by August Derleth.
- Stories of Your Life and Others (2002) by Ted Chiang (Goodreads average rating – [4.4]) – What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven—and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life… and others.
- The Illustrated Man (1951) by Ray Bradbury (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – In an ingenious framework to open and close the book, Bradbury presents himself as a nameless narrator who meets the Illustrated Man—a wanderer whose entire body is a living canvas of exotic tattoos. What’s even more remarkable, and increasingly disturbing, is that the illustrations are themselves magically alive, and each proceeds to unfold its own story, such as “The Veldt,” wherein rowdy children take a game of virtual reality way over the edge.
- The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980) by Gene Wolfe (Goodreads average rating – [4.1]) – A superb collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories is a book that transcends all genre definitions. The stories within are mined with depth charges, explosions of meaning and illumination that will keep you thinking and feeling long after you have finished reading.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (IMDB average rating – [8.3]) – Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.
- A Clockwork Orange (1971) (IMDB average rating – [8.4]) – In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society’s crime problem—but not all goes according to plan.
- A Scanner Darkly (2006) (IMDB average rating – [7.1]) – An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.
- Akira (1988) (IMDB average rating – [8.1]) – A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop.
- Arrival (2016) (IMDB average rating – [8.3]) – When 12 mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
- Blade Runner (1982) (IMDB average rating – [8.2]) – A blade runner must pursue and try to terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.
- Brazil (1985) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state.
- Cargo (2009) (IMDB average rating – [6.2]) – In 2270, Earth is completely depleted and no one lives there anymore. Those that have money move to Rhea; but most of the population lives in orbit in space stations. Dr. Laura Portmann decides to work in the cargo ship Kassandra in an eight year travel to Station 42 that is in orbit of RH278 to raise money to meet her sister Arianne in Rhea.
- Chappie (2015) (IMDB average rating – [7.1]) – In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
- Children of Men (2006) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.
- Cloud Atlas (2012) (IMDB average rating – [7.5]) – An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
- Coherence (2013) (IMDB average rating – [7.1]) – Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
- Contact (1997) (IMDB average rating – [7.4]) – Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.
- Dark City (1998) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun.
- District 9 (2009) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.
- Dune (1984) (IMDB average rating – [6.6]) – A Duke’s son leads desert warriors against the galactic emperor and his father’s evil nemesis when they assassinate his father and free their desert world from the emperor’s rule.
- Edge of Tomorrow (2014) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – A military officer is brought into an alien war against an extraterrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future. When this officer is enabled with the same power, he teams up with a Special Forces warrior to try and end the war.
- Eraserhead (1977) (IMDB average rating – [7.4]) – Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
- Europa Report (2013) (IMDB average rating – [6.5]) – An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.
- Ex Machina (2015) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.
- eXistenZ (1999) (IMDB average rating – [6.8]) – A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.
- Forbidden Planet (1956) (IMDB average rating – [7.6]) – A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet’s colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
- Galaxy Quest (1999) (IMDB average rating – [7.3]) – The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help.
- Gattaca (1997) (IMDB average rating – [7.8]) – A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.
- Ghost in the Shell (1995) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – A female cyborg cop and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.
- Godzilla (1954) (IMDB average rating – [7.5]) – American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.
- Hackers (1995) (IMDB average rating – [6.2]) – A young boy is arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for writing a computer virus and is banned from using a computer until his 18th birthday. Years later, he and his new-found friends discover a plot to unleash a dangerous computer virus, but they must use their computer skills to find the evidence while being pursued by the Secret Service and the evil computer genius behind the virus.
- Her (2014) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.
- I Origins (2014) (IMDB average rating – [7.3]) – A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.
- I, Robot (2004) (IMDB average rating – [7.1]) – In 2035, a technophobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.
- Inception (2010) (IMDB average rating – [8.8]) – A thief who steals corporate secrets through use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.
- Interstellar (2014) (IMDB average rating – [8.7]) – A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival.
- La Jetée (1962) (IMDB average rating – [8.4]) – Time travel, still images, a past, present and future and the aftermath of World War III. The tale of a man, a slave, sent back and forth, in and out of time, to find a solution to the world’s fate. To replenish its decreasing stocks of food, medicine and energies, and in doing so, resulting in a perpetual memory of a lone female, life, death and past events that are recreated on an airports jetée.
- Metropolis (1927) (IMDB average rating – [8.3]) – In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.
- Minority Report (2002) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.
- Moon (2009) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems.
- Mr. Nobody (2009) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible.
- Oblivion (2013) (IMDB average rating – [7.0]) – A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.
- Open Your Eyes (1997) (IMDB average rating – [7.8]) – A very handsome man finds the love of his life, but he suffers an accident and needs to have his face rebuilt by surgery after it is severely disfigured.
- Paprika (2006) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams is stolen, all hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist can stop it: Paprika.
- Possible Worlds (2000) (IMDB average rating – [6.9]) – A man lives in parallel worlds, falling in love with the same woman, while the police hunt down a serial killer who steals brains.
- Predestination (2014) (IMDB average rating – [7.5]) – The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.
- Primer (2004) (IMDB average rating – [7.0]) – Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.
- Serenity (Firefly) (2005) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – The crew of the ship Serenity tries to evade an assassin sent to recapture one of their number who is telepathic.
- Snowpiercer (2013) (IMDB average rating – [7.0]) – Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.
- Solaris (1972) (IMDB average rating – [8.1]) – A psychologist is sent to a station orbiting a distant planet in order to discover what has caused the crew to go insane.
- Solaris (2002) (IMDB average rating – [6.2]) – A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.
- Source Code (2011) (IMDB average rating – [7.5]) – A soldier wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers he’s part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete.
- Stalker (1979) (IMDB average rating – [8.2]) – Near a gray and unnamed city is the Zone, an alien place guarded by barbed wire and soldiers. Over his wife’s objections, a man rises in the early morning and leaves her with their disabled daughter to meet two men. He’s a Stalker, one of a handful who have the mental gifts (and who risk imprisonment) to lead people into the Zone to the Room, a place where one’s secret hopes come true.
- Sunshine (2007) (IMDB average rating – [7.3]) – A team of international astronauts is sent on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057.
- The City of Lost Children (1995) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – A scientist in a surrealist society kidnaps children to steal their dreams, hoping that they slow his aging process.
- The Fifth Element (1997) (IMDB average rating – [7.6]) – In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) (IMDB average rating – [6.8]) – Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
- The Island (2005) (IMDB average rating – [6.9]) – Lincoln Six-Echo is a resident of a seemingly Utopian but contained facility in the year 2019. Like all of the inhabitants of this carefully controlled environment, Lincoln hopes to be chosen to go to the “The Island” – reportedly the last uncontaminated spot on the planet. But Lincoln soon discovers that everything about his existence is a lie. He and all of the other inhabitants of the facility are actually human clones. Lincoln makes a daring escape with a beautiful fellow resident named Jordan Two-Delta. Relentlessly pursued by the forces of the sinister institute that once housed them, Lincoln and Jordan engage in a race for their lives to literally meet their makers.
- The Man from Earth (2007) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he never ages and has walked the earth for 14,000 years.
- The Martian (2015) (IMDB average rating – [8.2]) – During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
- The Matrix (1999) (IMDB average rating – [8.7]) – A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
- The Signal (2014) (IMDB average rating – [6.2]) – On a road trip, Nic and two friends are drawn to an isolated area by a computer genius. When everything suddenly goes dark, Nic regains consciousness – only to find himself in a waking nightmare.
- The Thirteenth Floor (1999) (IMDB average rating – [7.0]) – Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He’s about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall, but knowing someone is after him, the old man leaves a letter in the computer generated parallel world his company has created (which looks like the 30’s with seemingly real people with real emotions). Fuller is murdered in our real world the same night, and his colleague is suspected. Douglas discovers a bloody shirt in his bathroom and he cannot recall what he was doing the night Fuller was murdered. He logs into the system in order to find the letter, but has to confront the unexpected. The truth is harsher than he could ever imagine…
- The Time Machine (2002) (IMDB average rating – [4.2]) – Hoping to alter the events of the past, a 19th century inventor instead travels 800,000 years into the future, where he finds humankind divided into two warring races.
- Transcendence (2014) (IMDB average rating – [6.3]) – A scientist’s drive for artificial intelligence, takes on dangerous implications when his consciousness is uploaded into one such program.
- Twelve Monkeys (1996) (IMDB average rating – [8.1]) – In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
- Vanilla Sky (2001) (IMDB average rating – [6.9]) – A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – With the assistance of the Enterprise crew, Admiral Kirk must stop an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, from using his son’s life-generating device, the Genesis Device, as the ultimate weapon.
- Babylon 5 (1994–1998) (IMDB average rating – [8.2]) – A space station in neutral territory is the focus of a unique five year saga.
- Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009) (IMDB average rating – [8.8]) – When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurfaces and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protects a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony of Earth.
- Black Mirror (2011– ) (IMDB average rating – [8.8]) – A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.
- Blakes 7 (1978–1981) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – A group of convicts and outcasts fight a guerrilla war against the totalitarian Terran Federation from a highly advanced alien spaceship.
- Children of Dune (2003) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – The twins of Paul “Muad’dib” Atreides become embroiled in the political landscape of Arrakis (“Dune”) and the rest of the universe.
- Continuum (2012–2015) (IMDB average rating – [7.8]) – A detective from the year 2077 finds herself trapped in present day Vancouver and searching for ruthless criminals from the future.
- Doctor Who (1964-1989, 2005– ) (IMDB average rating – [8.9]) – The further adventures of the time traveling alien adventurer and his companions.
- Dune (2000) (IMDB average rating – [7.1]) – A three-part miniseries on politics, betrayal, lust, greed and the coming of a Messiah. Based on Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel.
- Eureka (2006-2012) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – A U.S. Marshall becomes the sheriff of a remote cozy little Northwestern town of Eureka where the best minds in the US have secretly been tucked away to build futuristic inventions for the government which often go disastrously wrong.
- Farscape (1999–2003) (IMDB average rating – [8.4]) – Thrown into a distant part of the universe, an Earth astronaut finds himself part of a fugitive alien starship crew.
- Firefly (2002–2003) (IMDB average rating – [9.2]) – Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.
- Fringe (2008–2013) (IMDB average rating – [8.5]) – A television drama centered around a female FBI agent who is forced to work with an institutionalized scientist in order to rationalize a brewing storm of unexplained phenomena.
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981) (IMDB average rating – [8.0]) – An Earth man and his alien friend escape Earth’s destruction and go on a truly strange adventure as space hitchhikers.
- Mr. Robot (2015- ) (IMDB average rating – [8.6]) – Elliot, a brilliant but highly unstable young cyber-security engineer and vigilante hacker, becomes a key figure in a complex game of global dominance when he and his shadowy allies try to take down the corrupt corporation he works for.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995–1996) (IMDB average rating – [8.6]) – 15 years after the enormous catastrophe that killed half of the world population, another crisis has come—the unidentified invaders called “Angels” begin to attack human-kind. Mankind’s only hope lies with giant organic mecha and their teenage pilots.
- Person of Interest (2011-2016) (IMDB average rating – [8.5]) – An ex-assassin and a wealthy programmer save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. However, the details of the crimes–including the civilians’ roles–are left a mystery.
- Red Dwarf (1988–1999, 2009– ) (IMDB average rating – [8.5]) – The adventures of the last human alive and his friends, stranded three million years into deep space on the mining ship Red Dwarf.
- Rick and Morty (2013-) (IMDB average rating – [9.3]) – An animated series that follows the exploits of a super scientist and his not-so-bright grandson.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – Orbiting the liberated planet of Bajor, a Federation space station guards the opening of a stable wormhole to the far side of the galaxy.
- Star Trek: Discovery (2017-) (IMDB average rating – [7.3]) – Ten years before Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise, the USS Discovery discovers new worlds and lifeforms as one Starfleet officer learns to understand all things alien.
- Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005) (IMDB average rating – [7.5]) – A century before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission, Jonathan Archer captains Earth ship Enterprise NX-01 during the early years of Starfleet leading up to the formation of the Federation and the Earth-Romulan War.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994) (IMDB average rating – [8.7]) – Set decades after Captain James T. Kirk’s 5-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers in a new Enterprise set off on their own mission to go where no one has gone before.
- Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969) (IMDB average rating – [8.4]) – Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise explore the Galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.
- Stargate Atlantis (2004–2009) (IMDB average rating – [8.1]) – An international team of scientists and military personnel discover a Stargate network in the Pegasus Galaxy and come face-to-face with a new, powerful enemy, The Wraith.
- Stargate SG1 (1997–2007) (IMDB average rating – [8.5]) – A secret military team, SG-1, is formed to explore the recently discovered Stargates.
- Stargate Universe (2009–2011) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – Trapped on an Ancient spaceship billions of light years from home, a group of soldiers and civilians struggle to survive and find their way back to Earth.
- The 100 (2014–) (IMDB average rating – [7.7]) – Set ninety-seven years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends one hundred juvenile delinquents back to Earth, in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.
- The Orville (2017–) (IMDB average rating – [7.9]) – Follows the crew of the not-so-functional exploratory ship in the Earth’s interstellar fleet, 400 years in the future.
- The Prisoner (1967–1968) (IMDB average rating – [8.8]) – After resigning, a secret agent is abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. His warders demand information. He gives them nothing, but only tries to escape.
- The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016- ) (IMDB average rating – [8.8]) – Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.
- Twilight Zone (1959–1964) (IMDB average rating – [9.0]) – Rod Serling’s seminal anthology series focused on ordinary folks who suddenly found themselves in extraordinary, usually supernatural, situations. The stories would typically end with an ironic twist that would see the guilty punished.
- Alex + Ada (2013-2015) by Jonathan Luna,Sarah Vaughn (Goodreads average rating – [4.11]) – The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot. Alex takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android.
- Arzach(1975) by Moebius (Goodreads average rating – [4.06]) – One of the most influential french sci-fi comics. It inspired a lot of what became Heavy Metal Magazine. Moebius in this onirical tale uses no words to this graphical prose. – @matheusteixeira
- Black Science (2014) by Rick Remender (Goodreads average rating – [3.93]) – Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again?
- Global Frequency (2002-2004) by Warren Ellis (Goodreads average rating – [4.05]) – Global Frequency is a worldwide rescue organization that offers the last shred of hope when all other options have failed. Manned by 1001 operatives, the Frequency is made up of experts in fields as diverse as bio-weapon engineering and Le Parkour Running. Each agent-equipped with a special mobile vid-phone-is speciffically chosen by Miranda Zero, enigmatic leader of the Global Frequency, based on proximity, expertise, and, in some cases, sheer desperation!
- Saga (2014-) by Brian K. Vaughan (Goodreads average rating – [4.56]) – Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, published monthly by Image Comics. The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series.
- The Incal (1981) by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mœbius (Goodreads average rating – [4.2]) – John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called “The Incal.” Difool’s adventures will bring him into conflict with the galaxy’s greatest warrior, the Metabaron, and will pit him against the awesome powers of the Technopope. These encounters and many more make up a tale of comic and cosmic proportions that has Difool fighting for not only his very survival, but also the survival of the entire universe.
- The Manhattan Projects (2015-) by Jonathan Hickman (Goodreads average rating – [3.9]) – What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs?
- Transmetropolitan (1998) by Warren Ellis (Goodreads average rating – [4.23]) – After years of self-imposed exile from a civilization rife with degradation and indecency, cynical journalist Spider Jerusalem is forced to return to a job that he hates and a city that he loathes. Working as an investigative reporter for the newspaper The Word, Spider attacks the injustices of his surreal 23rd Century surroundings. Combining black humor, life-threatening situations, and moral ambiguity, this book is the first look into the mind of an outlaw journalist and the world he seeks to destroy.
- We3 (2005) by Grant Morrison (Goodreads average rating – [3.95]) – Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely tell the unforgettable story of three innocent pets-a dog, a cat and a rabbit-who have been converted into deadly cyborgs by a sinister military weapons program.With nervous systems amplified to match their terrifying mechanical exoskeletons, the members of Animal Weapon 3 have the firepower of a battalion between them.
- Y: The Last Man (2003-2008) by Brian K. Vaughan (Goodreads average rating – [4.33]) – The series is about the only man to survive the apparent simultaneous death of every male mammal (barring the same man’s pet monkey) on Earth.
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