Reddit’s Favorite Stand-alone Science Fiction Novels

Stand-alone: bookshelf

On June 13, 2014, Reddit user sudevsen posed a question to the Books subredditWhat’s the best stand-alone science-fiction book of the last 25 years?

Reddit responded generously, including some titles that were older than 25 years  (science fiction readers can be passionate, and if there’s a book you should read, by god they’re going to tell you, to hell with the rules).

sudevsen  ended up with over 2,000 answers.

I was thrilled to discover dozens of new titles and authors, and my reading list probably got longer by an entire year. Which is awesome.

The Top Recommendation

 Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

The Top Author Recommendations

It’s a four-way tie with four books per author.

  • Iain M. Banks: The Algebraist, Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons
  • John Scalzi: Agent to the Stars, Old Man’s War, Redshirts, The Android’s Dream
  • Larry Niven (3 books co-authored with Jerry Pournelle): A World Out of Time, The Mote in God’s Eye, Fallen Angels, Footfall
  • Neal StephensonSnow Crash,  The Diamond Age, Anathem, Cryptonomicon

The Stand-alone List

I’ve listed the top 85 books below, in no particular order. The descriptions are from Amazon, because the ones from Wikipedia were boring. The symbols don’t mean anything, but they class up the joint a little.

Stand-alone: House of Suns
by Alastair Reynolds

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.

Stand-alone: Pushing Ice
by Alastair Reynolds

2057. Bella Lind and the crew of her nuclear-powered ship, the Rockhopper, push ice. They mine comets. But nothing can prepare them for the surprises in store when Janus, one of Saturn’s ice moons, spins out of control.

Stand-alone: Century Rain
by Alastair Reynolds

Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust.

Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose.

Stand-alone: The Martian
by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

Stand-alone: Soon I Will Be Invicible
by Austin Grossman

Doctor Impossible—evil genius, would-be world conqueror—languishes in prison. Shuffling through the cafeteria line with ordinary criminals, he wonders if the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life. After all, he’s lost every battle he’s ever fought. But this prison won’t hold him forever.

Fatale—half woman, half high-tech warrior—used to be an unemployed cyborg. Now, she’s a rookie member of the world’s most famous super-team, the Champions. But being a superhero is not all flying cars and planets in peril—she learns that in the locker rooms and dive bars of superherodom, the men and women (even mutants) behind the masks are as human as anyone.

Stand-alone: Contact
by Carl Sagan
In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who — or what — is out there?
In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future — and our own.
Stand-alone: The Mount
by Carol Emshwiler
Charley is an athlete. He wants to grow up to be the fastest runner in the world, like his father. He wants to be painted crossing the finishing line, in his racing silks, with a medal around his neck. Charley lives in a stable. He isn’t a runner, he’s a mount. He belongs to a Hoot: The Hoots are alien invaders. Charley hasn’t seen his mother for years, and his father is hiding out in the mountains somewhere, with the other Free Humans. The Hoots own the world, but the humans want it back. Charley knows how to be a good mount, but now he’s going to have to learn how to be a human being.
Stand-alone: The Killing Star
by Charles R. Pellegrino & George Zebrowski
The only survivors from Earth after an alien species attempts to wipe out all life, a small group of people frantically studies the destructor’s technology in the hopes of escaping the same fate.
Stand-alone: Glasshouse
by Charles Stross
In the twenty-seventh century, accelerated technology dictates the memories and personalities of people. With most of his own memories deleted, Robin enters The Glasshouse-an experimental polity where he finds himself at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.
Stand-alone: Singularity Sky
by Charles Stross
Four hundred years in the future, time travel has been perfected and groundbreaking developments in Artificial Intelligence have been made. But is this a great step forward for humanity–or its ultimate downfall?
Stand-alone: Accelerando
by Charles Stross

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.

Struggling to survive and thrive in this accelerated world are three generations of the Macx clan: Manfred, an entrepreneur dealing in intelligence amplification technology whose mind is divided between his physical environment and the Internet; his daughter, Amber, on the run from her domineering mother, seeking her fortune in the outer system as an indentured astronaut; and Sirhan, Amber’s son, who finds his destiny linked to the fate of all of humanity.

Stand-alone: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
by Charles Yu
Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.
Stand-alone: Perdido Street Station
by China Mieville
Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.
Stand-alone: The City & the City
by China Mieville

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE SEATTLE TIMES, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Stand-alone: The Scar
by China Mieville
Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage—and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.
Stand-alone: Rant
by Chuck Palahniuk
Buster “Rant” Casey just may be the most efficient serial killer of our time. A high school rebel, Rant Casey escapes from his small town home for the big city where he becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. Rant Casey will die a spectacular highway death, after which his friends gather the testimony needed to build an oral history of his short, violent life. With hilarity, horror, and blazing insight, Rant is a mind-bending vision of the future, as only Chuck Palahniuk could ever imagine.
Stand-alone: Blackout
by Connie Willis
Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.
Stand-alone: Doomsday Book
by Connie Willis

For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin — barely of age herself — finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours.

Stand-alone: To Say Nothing of the Dog
by Connie Willis

Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He’s been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop’s bird stump. It’s part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.

But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right–not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.

Stand-alone: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow

Jules is a young man barely a century old. He’s lived long enough to see the cure for death and the end of scarcity, to learn ten languages and compose three symphonies…and to realize his boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World.

Disney World! The greatest artistic achievement of the long-ago twentieth century. Now in the keeping of a network of “ad-hocs” who keep the classic attractions running as they always have, enhanced with only the smallest high-tech touches.

Now, though, the “ad hocs” are under attack. A new group has taken over the Hall of the Presidents, and is replacing its venerable audioanimatronics with new, immersive direct-to-brain interfaces that give guests the illusion of being Washington, Lincoln, and all the others. For Jules, this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself.

Worse: it appears this new group has had Jules killed. This upsets him. (It’s only his fourth death and revival, after all.) Now it’s war….

Stand-alone: Makers
by Cory Doctorow
Perry and Lester invent things—seashell robots that make toast, Boogie Woogie Elmo dolls that drive cars. They also invent entirely new economic systems, like the “New Work,” a New Deal for the technological era. Barefoot bankers cross the nation, microinvesting in high-tech communal mini-startups like Perry and Lester’s. Together, they transform the country, and Andrea Fleeks, a journo-turned-blogger, is there to document it.
Stand-alone: Hyperion>
by Dan Simmons
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.
Stand-alone: Influx
by Daniel Suarez

Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century–fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common disease, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances–have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960’s failed to arrive?

Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few.

Stand-alone: Daemon
by Daniel Suarez
When a designer of computer games dies, he leaves behind a program that unravels the Internet’s interconnected world. It corrupts, kills, and runs independent of human control. It’s up to Detective Peter Sebeck to wrest the world from the malevolent virtual enemy before its ultimate purpose is realized: to dismantle society and bring about a new world order.
Stand-alone: Earth
by David Brin
By the author of the well-regarded Startide Rising and The Uplift War–an epic novel set fifty years from tomorrow, a carefully-reasoned, scientifically faithful tale of the fate of our world.

“One hell of a novel . . . has what sci-fi readers want these days; intelligence, action, and an epic scale”.
–Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Stand-alone: Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace
A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America. Set in an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are.
Stand-alone: Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
Stand-alone: The Postmortal
by Drew Magary
John Farrell is about to get “The Cure.”
Old age can never kill him now.
The only problem is, everything else still can . . .Imagine a near future where a cure for aging is discovered and-after much political and moral debate-made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems-including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors. Witty, eerie, and full of humanity, The Postmortal is an unforgettable thriller that envisions a pre-apocalyptic world so real that it is completely terrifying.
Stand-alone: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Stand-alone: Air
by Geoff Ryman
Chung Mae is the only connection her small farming village has to culture of a wider world beyond the fields and simple houses of her village. A new communications technology is sweeping the world and promises to connect everyone, everywhere without power lines, computers, or machines. This technology is Air. An initial testing of Air goes disastrously wrong and people are killed from the shock. Not to be stopped Air is arriving with or without the blessing of Mae’s village. Mae is the only one who knows how to harness Air and ready her people for it’s arrival, but will they listen before it’s too late?
Stand-alone: Queen of Angels
by Greg Bear
In a world of wonders, wealth, and “perfect” mental health, a famous poet commits gruesome murder . . . Why? That crime, that question, leads a policewoman to a jungle of torture and forgotten gods; a writer to the bohemian shadows of a vast city; and a scientist directly into the mind—the nightmare soul—of the psychopath himself . . .
Stand-alone: Diaspora
by Greg Egan

Since the Introdus in the 21st century, humanity has reconfigured itself drastically. Most chose immortality, joining the polises to become conscious software.

Others opted for gleisners: Disposable, renewable robotic bodies that remain in contact with the physical world of force and friction. Many of these have left the Solar System forever in fusion drive starships.

And there are the holdouts. The fleshers left behind in the muck and jungle of Earth — some devolved into dream-apes; others cavorting in the seas or the air; while the statics and bridges try to shape out a roughly human destiny.

Stand-alone: Permutation City
by Greg Egan

The good news is that you have just awakened into Eternal Life. You are going to live forever. Immortality is a reality. A medical miracle? Not exactly.

The bad news is that you are a scrap of electronic code. The world you see around you, the you that is seeing it, has been digitized, scanned, and downloaded into a virtual reality program. You are a Copy that knows it is a copy.

The good news is that there is a way out. By law, every Copy has the option of terminating itself, and waking up to normal flesh-and-blood life again. The bail-out is on the utilities menu. You pull it down…

The bad news is that it doesn’t work. Someone has blocked the bail-out option. And you know who did it. You did. The other you. The real you. The one that wants to keep you here forever.

Stand-alone: Use of Weapons
by Iain M. Banks

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past.

Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, USE OF WEAPONS is a masterpiece of science fiction.

Stand-alone: The Algebraist
by Iain M. Banks
It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year. The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilization. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young and fighting pointless formal wars. Seconded to a military-religious order he’s barely heard of — part of the baroque hierarchy of the Mercatoria, the latest galactic hegemony — Fassin Taak has to travel again amongst the Dwellers. He is in search of a secret hidden for half a billion years. But with each day that passes a war draws closer — a war that threatens to overwhelm everything and everyone he’s ever known.
Stand-alone: Consider Phlebas
by Iain M. Banks

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.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Stand-alone: Player of Games
by Iain M. Banks
The Culture – a human/machine symbiotic society – has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game…a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life – and very possibly his death.
Stand-alone: River of Gods
by Ian MacDonald

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business — a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj — the waif, the mind-reader, the prophet — when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

Stand-alone: Leviathan Wakes
by James S.A. Corey

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Stand-alone: The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman
The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand–despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy 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 and 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…
Stand-alone: 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 alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going 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. Everybody knows 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 two years 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.

Stand-alone: Redshirts
by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Stand-alone: The Android's Dream
by John Scalzi

A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most…unusual…way. To avoid war, Earth’s government must find an equally unusual object: A type of sheep (“The Android’s Dream”), used in the alien race’s coronation ceremony.

To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinaire, who with the help of Brian Javna, a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature. And they find it, in the unknowing form of Robin Baker, pet store owner, whose genes contain traces of the sheep DNA.

But there are others with plans for the sheep as well: Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century science fiction author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.

To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off the greatest diplomatic coup in history, a grand gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There’s only one chance to get it right, to save the life of Robin Baker — and to protect the future of humanity.

Stand-alone: Agent to the Stars
by John Scalzi

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

Stand-alone: Armor
by John Steakley

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.

Stand-alone: Steel Beach
by John Varley
The Eden-like lunar colony that has become humankind’s home since an alien attack had destroyed Earth, Luna is threatened by dark forces that lead reporter Hildy Johnson and other inhabitants to feelings of depression and suicide.
Stand-alone: The Golden Globe
by John Varley
All the universe is a stage…and Sparky Valentine is its itinerant thespian. He brings Shakespeare–a version of it anyway–to the outer reaches of Earth’s solar system. Sparky can transform himself from young to old, fat to thin, even male to female, by altering magnetic implants beneath his skin. Indispensible hardware for a career actor–and an interstellar con man wanted for murder…
Stand-alone: Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro

A devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. 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.

Stand-alone: Galileo's Dream
by Kim Stanley Robinson
At the heart of a provocative narrative that stretches from Renaissance Italy to the moons of Jupiter is the father of modern science: Galileo Galilei. To the inhabitants of the Jovian moons, Galileo is a revered figure whose actions will influence the subsequent history of the human race. From the summit of their distant future, a charismatic renegade named Ganymede travels to the past to bring Galileo forward in an attempt to alter history and ensure the ascendancy of science over religion. And if that means Galileo must be burned at the stake, so be it. From Galileo’s heresy trial to the politics of far-future Jupiter, Kim Stanley Robinson illuminates the parallels between a distant past and an even more remote future—in the process celebrating the human spirit and calling into question the convenient truths of our own moment in time.
Stand-alone: Gravity Dreams
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr
L.E. Modesitt, Jrs bestselling SF and fantasy novels have made him one of the leading genre writers of the 1990s. His new SF novel, Gravity Dreams, is a stand-alone action adventure. Set in the distant future, our hero, born and raised in a conservative religious culture, is exiled to a more technologically advanced space-faring civilization to which he must adjust. Fortunately, he has the rare talent required to become a space pilot. What no one expects is that he might meet God, or at least a superior being, in space.
Stand-alone: A World Out of Time
by Larry Niven

Jaybee Corbell awoke after more than 200 years as a corpsicle — in someone else’s body, and under sentence of instant annihilation if he made a wrong move while they were training him for a one-way mission to the stars.

But Corbell picked his time and made his own move. Once he was outbound, where the Society that ruled Earth could not reach him, he headed his starship toward the galactic core, where the unimaginable energies of the Universe wrenched the fabric of time and space and promised final escape from his captors.

Then he returned to an Earth eons older than the one he’d left…a planet that had had 3,000,000 years to develop perils he had never dreamed of — perils that became nightmares that he had to escape…somehow!

Stand-alone: The Mote in God's Eye
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Writing separately, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are responsible for a number of science fiction classics, such as the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ringworld, Debt of Honor, and The Integral Trees. Together they have written the critically acclaimed bestsellers Inferno, Footfall, and The Legacy of Heorot, among others.
The Mote In God’s Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind’s first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre.
Stand-alone: Fallen Angels
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
As a new Ice Age imperils the world, a lunatic fringe of the environmental movement has taken control of the U.S. government. Finding themselves abandoned by the new regime, the once-thriving space colonies must now replenish their air from scoopships that illegally dive into the atmosphere. But when Alex and Gordon’s ship is hit by a missile, they are sent tumbling to Earth–only to be hunted by authorities with ghastly plans for the two….
Stand-alone: Footfall
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world’s frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender–or death for all humans.

Stand-alone: The Giver
by Lois Lowry
[from Wikipedia – Amazon’s description was blank] A 1993 American children’s novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which is at first presented as a utopian society and gradually appears more and more dystopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. Jonas learns the truth about his dystopian society and struggles with its weight.
Stand-alone: Light
by M. John Harrison

In contemporary London, Michael Kearney is a serial killer on the run from the entity that drives him to kill. He is seeking escape in a future that doesn’ t yet exist—a quantum world that he and his physicist partner hope to access through a breach of time and space itself. In this future, Seria Mau Genlicher has already sacrificed her body to merge into the systems of her starship, the White Cat. But the “inhuman” K-ship captain has gone rogue, pirating the galaxy while playing cat and mouse with the authorities who made her what she is. In this future, Ed Chianese, a drifter and adventurer, has ridden dynaflow ships, run old alien mazes, surfed stellar envelopes. He “went deep”—and lived to tell about it. Once crazy for life, he’s now just a twink on New Venusport, addicted to the bizarre alternate realities found in the tanks—and in debt to all the wrong people.

Haunting them all through this maze of menace and mystery is the shadowy presence of the Shrander—and three enigmatic clues left on the barren surface of an asteroid under an ocean of light known as the Kefahuchi Tract: a deserted spaceship, a pair of bone dice, and a human skeleton.

Stand-alone: Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
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.
Stand-alone: The Sparrow
by Mary Doria Russell
[Amazon review – description was just a bunch of quotes] In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” When the lone survivor of the expedition, Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in 2059, he will try to explain what went wrong… Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.
Stand-alone: Radio Freefall
by Matthew Jarpe

In the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress but with a healthy dose of cyberpunk: Radio Freefall is about a plot to take over the Earth by power-mad, sociopathic computer-geek billionaire, Walter Cheeseman. It’s up to a strange cast of rock stars and oddballs to stop him.

Aqualung, a mysterious blues musician who also has superhuman tech skills, might be the catalyst for the resistance–or he might just be the pawn of artificial intelligences.

To thwart the takeover, the orbitals and the moon colonies secede from Earth. And then something like the Singularity happens, but no one is quite sure.

This is a novel of cyberpunk and rock and roll, of technology, artificial intelligence, and wild riffs off of Heinlein all mixed into an explosive debut.

Stand-alone: World War Z
by Max Brooks
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Stand-alone: Jurassic Park
by Michael Crichton
Oh, you know what this is about.
Stand-alone: Prey
by Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles—micro-robots—has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

Every attempt to destroy it has failed.

And we are the prey.

Stand-alone: Under the Skin
by Michael Faber
In this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory—our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion.
Stand-alone: Beggars in Spain
by Nancy Kress
This is the original novella which won the Hugo and Nebula awards. Leisha Camden is a genetically engineered ‘Sleepless.’ Her ability to stay awake all the time has not only made her more productive, but the genetic modifications have also given the ‘Sleepless’ a higher IQ and may even make them immortal. Are they the future of humanity? Or will the small community of ‘sleepless’ be hunted down as freaks by a world that has grown wary of its newest creation?
Stand-alone: Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

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.

Stand-alone: The Diamond Age
by Neal Stephenson
In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson took science fiction to dazzling new levels. Now, in The Diamond Age, he delivers another stunning tale. Set in twenty-first century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens when a state-of-the-art interactive device falls in the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life—and the entire future of humanity—is about to be decoded and reprogrammed…
Stand-alone: Anathem
by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson, imagines an alternate universe where scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians live in seclusion behind ancient monastery walls until they are called back into the world to deal with a crisis of astronomical proportions.
Stand-alone: Cryptonomicon
by Neal Stephenson

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy’s fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.

Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse’s crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a “data haven” in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe’s tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty…or to universal totalitarianism reborn.

Stand-alone: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus
by Orson Scott Card
In one of the most powerful and thought-provoking novels of his remarkable career, Orson Scott Card interweaves a compelling portrait of Christopher Columbus with the story of a future scientist who believes she can alter human history from a tragedy of bloodshed and brutality to a world filled with hope and healing.
Stand-alone: Treason
by Orson Scott Card
Lanik Mueller’s birthright as heir to planet Treason’s most powerful rulership will never be realized. He is a “rad” — radical regenerative. A freak among people who can regenerate injured flesh… and trade extra body parts to the Offworld oppressors for iron. For, on a planet without hard metals — or the means of escape — iron is power in the race to build a spacecraft.
Iron is the promise of freedom — which may never be fulfilled as Lanik uncovers a treacherous conspiracy beyond his imagination.
Now charged with a mission of conquest — and exile — Lanik devises a bold and dangerous plan… a quest that may finally break the vicious chain of rivalry and bloodshed that enslaves the people of Treason as the Offworld never could.
Stand-alone: The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi
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.
Stand-alone: Fallen Dragon
by Peter F. Hamilton
In the distant future, corporations have become sustainable communities with their own militaries, and corporate goals have essentially replaced political ideology. On a youthful, rebellious impulse, Lawrence joined the military of a corporation that he now recognizes to be ruthless and exploitative. His only hope for escape is to earn enough money to buy his place in a better corporation. When his platoon is sent to a distant colony to quell a local resistance effort, it seems like a stroke of amazing fortune, and Lawrence plans to rob the colony of their fabled gemstone, the Fallen Dragon, to get the money he needs. However, he soon discovers that the Fallen Dragon is not a gemstone at all, but an alien life form that the local colonists have been protecting since it crashed in their area. Now, Lawrence has to decide if he will steal the alien to exploit the use of its inherent biotechnical processes — which far exceed anything humans are capable of — or if he will help the Resistance get the alien home.
Stand-alone: Great North Road
by Peter F. Hamilton

A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family—composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone “brothers” have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies.

Or maybe not so friendly. At least that’s what the murder of a North clone in the English city of Newcastle suggests to Detective Sidney Hurst. Sid is a solid investigator who’d like nothing better than to hand off this hot potato of a case. The way he figures it, whether he solves the crime or not, he’ll make enough enemies to ruin his career.

Stand-alone: Blindsight
by Peter Watts

Two months have past 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 should we 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 with machinery that 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. . . .

Stand-alone: Spin
by Robert Charles Wilson

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.

The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk—a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside—more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.

Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun—and report back on what they find.

Stand-alone: Calculating God
by Robert J. Sawyer
An alien shuttle craft lands outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A six-legged, two-armed alien emerges and says, in perfect English, “Take me to a paleontologist.”

In the distant past, Earth, the alien’s home planet, and the home planet of another alien species, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at the same time (one example: the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs). Both alien races believe this proves the existence of God: i.e., he’s obviously been playing with the evolution of life on each of these planets. From this provocative launch point, Sawyer tells a fast-paced, morally and intellectually challenging story of ambitious scope and touching humanity. Calculating God is SF on a grand scale.

Stand-alone: Grass
by Sheri S. Tepper
The first in the theme-linked “Majorie Westriding Trilogy” followed by “Raising the Stones” and “Sideshow”. The novel gives an account of a woman’s openness to the strange minds of alien creatures
Stand-alone: Manifold: Time
by Stephen Baxter
The year is 2010. More than a century of ecological damage, industrial and technological expansion, and unchecked population growth has left the Earth on the brink of devastation. As the world’s governments turn inward, one man dares to envision a bolder, brighter future. That man, Reid Malenfant, has a very different solution to the problems plaguing the planet: the exploration and colonization of space. Now Malenfant gambles the very existence of time on a single desperate throw of the dice. Battling national sabotage and international outcry, as apocalyptic riots sweep the globe, he builds a spacecraft and launches it into deep space. The odds are a trillion to one against him. Or are they?
Stand-alone: 11/22/63
by Stephen King

In Stephen King’s “most ambitious and accomplished” (NPR) and “extraordinary” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestselling novel, time travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.

President John F. Kennedy is dead.

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

Stand-alone: The Lathe of Heaven
by Ursula K. Le Guin

A classic science fiction novel by one of the greatest writers of the genre, set in a future world where one man’s dreams control the fate of humanity.

In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.

Stand-alone: A Fire Upon the Deep
by Vernor Vinge

Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.

Stand-alone: A Deepness in the Sky
by Vernor Vinge

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….

Then, following terrible treachery, the Qeng Ho must fight for their freedom and for the lives of the unsuspecting innocents on the planet below, while the aliens themselves play a role unsuspected by the Qeng Ho and Emergents alike.

More than just a great science fiction adventure, A Deepness in the Sky is a universal drama of courage, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of love.

Stand-alone: A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller, Jr

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature — a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.

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. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.

Stand-alone: Bloom
by Wil McCarthy

Mycora: technogenic life. Fast-reproducing, fast-mutating, and endlessly voracious. In the year 2106, these microscopic machine/creatures have escaped their creators to populate the inner solar system with a wild, deadly ecology all their own, pushing the tattered remnants of humanity out into the cold and dark of the outer planets. Even huddled beneath the ice of Jupiter’s moons, protected by a defensive system known as the Immunity, survivors face the constant risk of mycospores finding their way to the warmth and brightness inside the habitats, resulting in a calamitous “bloom.”

But the human race still has a trick or two up its sleeves; in a ship specially designed to penetrate the deadly Mycosystem, seven astronauts are about to embark on mankind’s boldest venture yet–the perilous journey home to infected Earth!

Yet it is in these remote conditions, against a virtually omnipotent foe, that we discover how human nature plays the greatest role in humanity’s future.

Stand-alone: Neuromancer
by William Gibson

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 employees 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.

Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century’s most potent visions of the future.


 

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20 thoughts on “Reddit’s Favorite Stand-alone Science Fiction Novels

  1. Very well done! I appreciate the amount of work you put into condensing all the comments on reddit into this fine list of literature. I will tell the readers of my blog about it and will surely come back from time to time for recommendations.

    1. Thanks! What other kind of things do your blog readers like? I tried to find out for myself, but my German is not so good.

      1. There is no real focus I guess. My last review was about Metro 2033 and 2034 and I am currently reading “The Forever War” so there might be a slight SciFi focus at the moment.

  2. Bad enough that he only has one book on the list, but putting Queen of Angels under Greg Egan instead of its actual author, Greg Bear… Shameful.

    Also, I’m not sure how you’re defining “stand alone” but several of the above books have sequels, frequently more than one. Not that it diminishes their quality at all.

    1. Good catch on Queen of Angels. Thanks! I fixed it.

      The books on this list are what I culled from a Reddit post, and not all the commenters played by the rules. You’re absolutely right in that there are books in this list that are definitely not stand-alone, and others are older than 25 years (A Canticle for Leibowitz was published in 1959). I decided to keep the most-upvoted recommendations as they were in the interest of accurately portraying what Reddit voted for.

  3. great list but where was Paul Hardy and his fabulous Inquisitor’s Progress and the Last Man on Earth Club? Original, literary, incredible characters (a rarity in scifi) and not derivative,

    1. I was surprised by that, too. The population of Reddit seems to be pretty young, so maybe they haven’t spent as much time with the grand masters as we have.

  4. I read a scifi as a young man, it spoke of a city like new york where a second ice age appear,s to be coming but it turns out to be a failed military experiment at climate control but i can find anyone who,s ever heard of it

  5. Please remove Hyperion. It is book one of 4 book series. I highly recommend the book, but not to someone looking for a single book. Hyperion ends in a rather brutal cliffhanger. I’m almost through the sequel “Fall of Hyperion” right now. I’ve seen some people say to just stop there, but I’m sure I’ll finish up the series.

    Also, I have not read it yet, but Old Man’s war is also the first in a series of 6 books so far.

  6. Hi, you may be able to help me. I am looking for a book I read years ago. Author and title unknown. I only remember scraps of the story – maybe you might be able to point me in the right direction?

    What I remember of the story:
    Premise was that humanity as a civilisation is bouncing between Mars and Earth but each time there’s some disaster than means we loose our historical knowledge of the other planet and assume we evolved on the one we happen to be on.
    It has a female protagonist but multiple story lines and/or timeliness covering both planets.
    At some point of the female protagonist falls in love with an android that subsequently ends up just being a head in some accident or attack.
    At one point the protagonist is in some club where there’s a description of a woman who has had surgery to remove one leg in order to make sex better… That bit was weird.

    That’s about all I remember.

    Can anyone think of the title?

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