More Books We Like

Need a New Author?

Get printable versions of these lists by clicking on the list name.

Books We Like

Published 4/9/2015 by Lara Luck

Books We Like

Science fiction. The phrase makes some people shudder, some roll their eyes or shake their heads or snort derisively, and some jump up and down with glee. I guess you can figure out which category I fall into.

What I don’t understand is why everyone doesn’t embrace science fiction. It has given us so much: ideas that have inspired helicopters, space flight, submarines, cellphones, tasers, virtual reality, and atomic energy just to name a few. Science fiction is ideas grounded in reality or possibility, a way imagination can take flight and explore without being completely off its tether.

It is as limitless as imagination. It can predict the future, explore the past, take you to other worlds, demolish and rebuild this one, and it always leave you wanting more. Science fiction is a super-genre that can incorporate parts of any other genre out there, mystery, romance, history, politics, suspense, inspirational, etc. You name it and some sci fi author has tried it or added to it.

While I'm a self professed sci fi geek, I’m also someone who loves just about any type of book out there (as long as it’s good). And I would argue that some of the greatest literature of all time has fallen into that genre known as science fiction. H.G Wells, Jules Verne, George Orwell, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, and many others have given us iconic characters, ideas, and places that will stand the test of time. So when I tell you there is a science fiction book out there that you would like no matter what your reading preference, believe it. You just have to find it. It is out there. Waiting.

It's hard to pick a “favorite” book, and as librarians we do get asked this all the time. I think my all time favorite (laser gun to my head) is probably Pride and Prejudice. Not exactly science fiction but whatever book I’m currently devouring tends to be the one I talk about when I get asked that question.

I can safely say that my favorite that I’ve read this year is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book, which was his debut, was amazing. The premise is simple enough, a young man’s search for an elusive prize that can change his future, and possibly that of the world. Of course it’s never that simple. The story takes place in the not too distant future, and for most of humanity, that future is very bleak. Poverty, disease, overcrowding and famine are widespread and most people escape into a virtual reality called OASIS.

The billionaire creator of this virtual utopia, James Halliday, dies and leaves his fortune up for grabs as the prize in the biggest game in history. Like millions of others, Wade has spent the last six years looking for Halliday’s elusive “Easter Egg” hidden somewhere in the endless universe of OASIS when suddenly he stumbles upon the first puzzle piece and the wild ride starts. And I’m warning you, it won’t let you go. Pop culture, video games, mystery, thrills, adventure, and even romance, there is literally too much to list about what will pull you into this book and keep you up all night reading.

Okay I’m not really ranking these but another book that was a favorite this year is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This one got so much buzz from reviewers and book clubs and such that you must have heard of it. So why am I including it? Because it is worth all the hype! If any book can convert someone into a sci fi reader it would be this one. It truly transcends the typical science fiction genre and is one of those books you can’t classify as anything but great literature.

It's set in the near, and not so improbable future, where a flu pandemic has devastated human civilization, bringing life as we know it to a screeching halt. But life does go on, and so do things we hold dear, like entertainment. The story follows a travelling troupe of actors and musicians who go between the remaining small pockets of humanity trying to preserve some culture in this new world. This character-driven book deftly weaves back and forth between the past and the not so distant future tying together the characters who all have a connection, sometimes subtle and sometimes not, to an actor who tragically dies at the book’s beginning during a performance of King Lear. Like a Shakespearean play, Station Eleven takes you through the entire gamut of human emotions without being at all predictable or boring.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. This is a book I just finished reading and couldn't put down, and can’t get enough people to read.

I like zombies. There I said it and I will continue to say it probably long after The Walking Dead is off the air. Like the aforementioned TV show (based on an excellent comic book series I might add), this zombie novel defies the usual formulaic story. Melanie is special. She is kept in a special room, attends special classes, moved about in a special chair, and treated with very special care. Yes, Melanie is a special little girl who likes to learn, and laugh, and love. She even jokes that she won’t bite when her handlers take great care in strapping her into her chair, but they don’t laugh with her.

Why is Melanie so special and how will her gifts save humanity? You will have to join her for the journey to find out. (Spoiler alert: you won’t see this ending coming, but you probably will end up rooting for the zombies!)

Just a couple more mentions of some of this year’s favorite reading that will appeal to the more “real” science fiction (or hard sci fi if you prefer) fans.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown also got a lot of attention when it came out and the follow up, Golden Son, was recently released. The story follows reluctant rebel Darrow,a miner from the lowest class on Mars as he challenges the existing social hierarchy from within. This fast-paced thriller combines dystopian future society, warfare, and political intrigue in a hard to put down story. You will have to wait for the third book in this planned trilogy and that may prove to be very hard.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson is the “rise of the machines” book of the group. We are becoming more and more reliant on technology, and in the future this dependency only increases until people can’t live without it.

An A.I. (artificial intelligence) named Archos becomes self-aware and that awareness includes the knowledge that mankind is killing the planet. In an attempt to preserve the Earth and its biodiversity, Archos slowly infiltrates all technology and starts the New War, man vs. machine, a robotic apocalypse. Definitely not your typical apocalyptic novel, Robopocalypse keeps you in nail-biting suspense throughout the book.

I hope these books will inspire you to embrace your inner sci fi geek. I definitely think they will.