Category Archives: List

23 Best Alternate History Books

Possible Earths

Possible Earths

Since the present time is just the wildly unlikely result of several trillion coincidences, it makes sense that humans would occasionally wonder what would happen if one or two events concluded differently.

Most alternate history stories are some variation of “What if Hitler had won the Civil War, and was a dinosaur?” but there are some great, well, alternatives, in the list below.

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21 Best Mars Science Fiction Books

mars

Even though Venus is the most Earth-like planet (despite it being hot enough to melt lead), Mars feels like a better neighbor. Venus is completely shrouded with khaki clouds, pale and unapproachable. In comparison, Mars is positively flirty, with its lusty red color and come-hither promise of terraforming.

It’s easier to imagine life on Mars than anywhere else, and many of the books below do exactly that.

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31 Best Soft Science Fiction Books

Soft Science Fiction

Soft science fiction tends to focus more on people and relationships than on technical details; more on humanity than technology (even though there’s usually some cool technology).

Science fiction author Poul Anderson, in Ideas for SF Writers, described H. G. Wells as the model for soft science fiction: “He concentrated on the characters, their emotions and interactions” rather than any of the science or technology behind, for example, invisible men or time machines.

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17 Best Pulp Science Fiction Books

pulp

Pulp science fiction does not try to be literature. Pulp’s lurid and ridiculous plots usually involve buxom damsels rescued by square-jawed, ray gun-toting heroes as they battle brutish monsters and spout god-awful dialogue.

You can spot pulp books by their colorful covers, often sporting women with their clothes mostly, but not completely, torn off by monstrous aliens.

One of the guiltier of guilty pleasures, pulp is great when you want action and adventure but have no patience for niceties like character development or accurate physics.

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19 Best Nanotechnology Science Fiction Books

© The Laboratory of Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine

© The Laboratory of Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine

Like all great advancements in technology, nanotechnology will eventually kill us all.

We’ll have vessel-repairing robots in our bloodstream, and drug-delivering bots in our synapses. Before long, we’ll be little more than fleshy carriers of nano-ecosystems. Actually, we’re already that for the bacteria in our gut, so maybe it won’t be so bad after all. Unless the nanobots and the bacteria have a war or something. That would suck.

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17 Best Weird Science Fiction Books

Art by Jarosław Jaśnikowski

Art by Jarosław Jasnikowski

No matter how weird science fiction gets (and it can get pretty weird), it still always feels like a pale reflection of the incessant nuttiness of the real world.

Maybe I’m looking for a mushroom-and-fusion-fueled Burning Man spaceship that crashes into itself, tossing out stars like confetti.

Barring piloting that actual machine, the books below are a good way to push your brain in new directions. Some you’ll like, and some you’ll just detest.

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