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Dune by Frank Herbert: "Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud'dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family-and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream."
If you enjoyed Dune, you may enjoy these titles because of the detailed world-building, complex politics, and fascinating characters.
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
After nuclear war, a group of monks attempt to hold on to the last vestiges of civilization.
Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
When engineer Leo Graf discovers that the genetically modified slaves he is training for an interstellar megacorporation are scheduled to be sterilized or killed, he is compelled to save them against his better judgement. He soon finds that no good deed goes unpunished!
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
"William Mandella is a soldier in Earth's elite brigade. As the war against the Taurans sends him from galaxy to galaxy, he learns to use protective body shells and sophisticated weapons. He adapts to the cultures and terrains of distant outposts. But with each month in space, years are passing on Earth. Where will he call home when (and if) the Forever War ends?"-catalog summary
The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood, Margaret Eleanor
"Set in the Republic of Gilead with declining birth rates, all young women who can bear healthy children are allocated to a powerful regime of men. This is the story of one of these young women."-catalog summary
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Seven pilgrims are invited to an audience with the Shrike - a being or machine that controls time and kills mercilessly. On the journey they share their tales, each hoping that the Shrike will answer the question they have traveled so far to ask.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Envoy Genly Ai is assigned to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His mission is to persuade the inhabitants to join the Ekumen, an intergalactic alliance of planets. He is befriended by Estraven, a local, but is not sure where Estraven's loyalties lie.
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
"John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place. So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close
enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine - and what he will become is far stranger."-summary from book jacket
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
"...New Crobuzon, is an audaciously imagined milieu: a city with the dimensions of a world, home to a polyglot civilization of wildly varied species and overlapping and interpenetrating cultures. Seeking to prove his unified energy theory as it relates to organic and mechanical forms, rogue scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin tries to restore the power of flight to Yagharek, a member of the garuda race cruelly shorn of its wings. Isaac's lover, Lin, unconsciously mimics his scientific pursuits when she takes on the seemingly impossible commission of sculpting a patron whose body is a riot of grotesquely mutated and spliced appendages. Their social life is one huge, postgraduate bull session with friends and associates--until a nightmare-inducing grub escapes from Isaac's lab and transforms into a flying monster that imperils the city. This accident precipitates a political crisis, initiates an action-packed manhunt for Isaac and introduces hordes of vividly imagined beings who inhabit the twilight zone between science and sorcery."-Publishers Weekly review
Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer
"When famous adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton dies, the last thing he expects to do is awaken naked on a foreign planet along the shores of a seemingly endless river. But that's where Burton and billions of other humans (plus a few nonhumans) find themselves as the epic Riverworld saga begins."-summary from amazon.com
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
"...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 the plague killed 99 percent of the population instead?
How would the world have changed? ... This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds -- in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions and Christianity is merely a historical footnote. Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry."-catalog summary