Science fiction offers a rich history and has gone through many changes since its birth almost 200 years ago. The genre is so much more than mere aliens, robots, and time travel. It allows us to address complex issues in an accessible way.
Steampunk is a genre that imagines what would happen in a society where technology is powered by steam instead of electricity. Many steampunk novels grapple with our fear of technology and explore what technology can do to us or make us do.
The Girl With All The Gifts, by M.R. Carey, is one of my favorite books of 2014. It's an adult science fiction novel about a 10-year-old girl named Melanie who goes to a special school. She develops a deep love for one of her teachers named Miss Justineau who has also developed a deep affection for her student. Please don’t read anything on the book’s jacket description. Instead, let the story unfold like a flower.
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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: "As in The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood has seen the future, and it isn't good: get ready for ecological devastation." (Library Journal)
If you like Oryx and Crake, you may also enjoy some of the following novels:
The Children of Men by P.D. James
The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race. (catalog description)
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
The Chyrsalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, always on the alert for any deviation from the norm of God's creation. Abnormal plants are publicly burned, with much singing of hymns. Abnormal humans (who are not really human) are also condemned to destruction--unless they succeed in fleeing to the Fringes, that Wild Country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work. (catalog description)
What would you do if you knew that a large asteroid would be hitting the Earth on a specific date just a few months in the future, with no way out, no place to hide? Would you keep working? Would your children go to school? What about food and fuel? What kind of existence would it be while everyone waited for the inevitable end? This is the terrifying dilemma facing the entire world in Ben Winters' novel Countdown City.
Technology for good and wonderful purposes is good and wonderful, right? That is the jumping off point for The Circle, by Dave Eggers. The Circle is a company that has figured out a way to link every bit of online life into one package. Banking, blogging, buying—it’s all connected. No anonymity online—everything is completely polite and nice, as well as totally secure. The company has created or invested in other awesome projects—and all of them are things that Make Life Better. Who doesn’t want to eliminate child abductions? Or, make voter registration super easy—AND immune to any fraud! Or map the entire Amazon rainforest. Or, or, or, or. The list of what the Circle is doing is endless and SO COOL AND INSANELY AWESOME.
Sometimes it takes an alien to tell us humans how to live.
The Vonnadorians are advanced beings who come to our messy, wet planet and think we, The Humans, are inferior. They believe we are not ready for more technological progress so they eliminate Professor Andrew Martin, who has made a breakthrough in mathematics which would change the course of humanity’s future. Naturally, they replace him with an alien look-alike who is ill-prepared for his mission to erase any knowledge of the Cambridge professor’s work--and to destroy anyone who knows about it.
There was a considerable gap between the releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the early 1980s. During that time, the expanding Star Wars fan base began to wonder what was happening to the characters in the meantime. What worlds did Luke, Leia, and Han visit? What schemes did Darth Vader plot to destroy the rebellion? Did Chewie ever get a decent flea bath? Two of these three questions are answered in Archie Goodwin’s The Rebel Storm (Classic Star Wars Volume Two), an anthology of comics originally published between 1981 and 1984. Although sometimes marred by a sense of discontinuity with Lucas’ universe, the best stories in this anthology deserve a place in Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.