It takes a deft hand to combine advanced technology and magic in a way that isn’t embarrassingly silly. These books do exactly that, or something close enough to earn a place on this list.
The word “terraforming” was first coined by Jack Williamson in a science-fiction short story (“Collision Orbit”) published during 1942 in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. Deliberately altering an entire planet’s atmosphere and environment would be, of course, the largest engineering achievement in the history of humankind, but science fiction excels at looking at such impossibly bold ambitions.
Sometimes, you’re just in a Dune mood, whether that means palace intrigue, epic quests, scheming villains, hostile planets, tough native populations, or wild aliens.
There’s a special, deep satisfaction when a great science fiction book becomes a great movie.
Most artificial intelligence in books is very similar to human intelligence, but with perfect memory and incredibly fast speed of thought. My guess is that, in reality, true artificial intelligence will feel completely alien to us. If that happens, then the first contact with an alien intelligence will happen with an alien we’ve created.
Dystopian fiction is making us scared. Stop writing it!
Or, we’re writing it because we’re already scared, so we should probably write more.
The future, like the present, can be both wonderful and terrifying.
If you find yourself drawn to dystopian stories, ask yourself, “Why?” Is it because the future looks bleak? Or does a truly fresh start sound pretty good?
It’s okay if the answer is both. Feeling strongly about two or more completely contradictory things is deeply human (annoying, but human).
I’m a big fan of the Star Wars universe, but I haven’t been drawn in by many of the latest movies or TV shows (except The Mandalorian, of course. Wow, that’s fun). But books give another entry into that universe.
There are almost four hundred Star Wars books out there, covering a wide range of quality, from exceptional, to just embarrassing. There are also two timelines: the Canon books are the ones Disney has decided “really” happened in the Star Wars universe, and the Legends books, which are the majority of the older stories, written before Disney bought Lucasfilm.
I suggest you ignore whether something is Canon or Legends or not and just enjoy a good story in a great universe.
It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with pessimism and a sense of impending doom one feels when looking at the current state of fractious politics and lack of action to battle climate change.
Solarpunk is a rebellion against all that. It’s environmentally-focused, optimistic but practical, not “la la let’s dance in the sun amidst the jolly wind turbines” but rather a pragmatic, if hopeful, look at what might be, if humanity actually gets its act together.
Unlike other “-punk” subgenres, solarpunk is also an actual movement of groups of people getting together and trying to improve the world a little bit.
Humans have worried about the end of the world ever since we made up the word “world,” and in the past twenty years or so, we’ve been really worried about it, based on how many post-apocalyptic books we’ve written. We’re stressed about war, viruses, natural global disasters, genetically modified humans, multiple flavors of zombies, computers run amok, you name it.
This list focuses on books published in the 21st century, with a number of exceptions because those books were amazing and I felt like it.
Though almost absent in the early years of science fiction, the number of black authors—and the recognition of their work—is growing year by year.
It’s impossible to talk about science fiction written by black authors as a cohesive genre because, like writers of other skin tones, black authors come from all over the world and write about a wildly diverse array of subjects in their own unique way and voice.
Despite that, I’m including this list because most other lists of science-fiction books tend to be “White and Male heavy,” and trumpeting the achievements of black authors should help balance that out a little bit.
I’m using “black” instead of “African-American” because a number of these authors are not American.