The Brief History of the Dead is a fascinating, odd (in the best sense of the word), and deeply inventive book. Some parts are heartbreaking, some hilarious, some disturbing as hell. I loved every part of it.
The City is populated by people who have died but are still remembered by the living. People stay in this Earthlike afterlife until they are completely forgotten. The City usually grows to accommodate its increasing population, but some strange things are happening.
In the living world, a young woman is stuck in an Antarctic research station and cannot get help from the outside world.
Recommendation: Read it. It’s excellent. The part with the young woman takes place in the near future, but that’s as science fiction-y as it gets. No spaceships.
I’m a fan of Stephen King, and 11/22/63 is one of his best. There’s more humor than horror, and a fantastic, convoluted run-up to one of the most infamous moments in American history.
An English teacher is shown a hole in time that leads to a bright, sunny day in 1958. The teacher decides the best thing to do is travel back in time and prevent the Kennedy assassination, five years hence.
However, spending five years in the past isn’t easy, and there are complications he never could have predicted.
Recommendation: Read it. It’s a massive tome (850 pages), but King knows how to spin a story, and he’s in top form here.
Author Jeff VanderMeer is known for his surreal sci-fi Southern Reach trilogy (the first book was Annihilation, which was made into a movie).
There are plenty of old masters of science fiction, including Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Le Guin, and so on. But let’s give some of the more recent writers some props.
Discovering a new book series is a fantastic feeling. Here’s hoping you find something new below.
If none of these is enough for you, look into the Perry Rhodan series. A new novella has been published weekly since 1961, and there are currently over 2700 stories. If that’s still not enough of a challenge for you, they’re also in German.
My whole family had a ton of fun reading Ready Player One, and its sequel Ready Player Two gives more of the same (this is a good thing). There’s a hugely important, intricate puzzle to be solved that requires massive amounts of 80s pop culture knowledge, and our hero and his friends must crack it before the bad guys ruin everything.
This YA novel is surprisingly inventive with a great, trouble-causing, mouthy protagonist, the kind you can’t wait to see what she does next.
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).
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.