Books Reviews

Top 10 Science Fiction Books for Geeks

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Ready Player_One
Written by Sukena Rizvi

Presenting a List of must-have Science Fiction Books!


Is science fiction literature just a meaningless escape for a couple of hours, or is there something more profound about it? Seth Godin, famous American author and speaker is of the opinion that Science Fiction is important (but not because its right):

 

Sci-fi is no longer a tradition synonymous to the nerd circles only. Over the years, it has emerged as a distinctive form of literature, popular amongst tech fanatics and art lovers alike.

Ready to plunge in this world and escape into the realms of the future? Without further ado, here’s our list of top 10 sci-fi titles (after being extremely picky, mind you!) that have been enthralling geeks in the last couple of decades.

Start off with these intriguing classics (in no particular order) and you’ll definitely be itching to get more of these on your shelf.

Earnest Cline – Ready Player One

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Ready Player_One

   

Enter the year 2044 – the world has changed, and the people have changed with it.

Orphan Wade Watts can only find solace in OASIS – a virtual universe comprising of thousands of worlds, each more fascinating than the other. There is a contest going on in this unique utopia – a hunt to search for an Easter Egg. The conqueror of the egg will be crowned with total control and power over OASIS, as well as real life riches and fortunes. Wade, desperate to change his destiny, enters the race and puts everything on stake, only to find himself competing against both his enemies and allies.

John Scalzi (See Redshirts further down) coined the book a ‘Nerdgasm’ – filled with hundreds of culture and game references about the 80s. READY PLAYER ONE looks at a future where most of humanity is connected to a Second-Life-like Virtual Reality environment. You don’t have to be a VR fan, gamer or an 80s nostalgic to enjoy the book. At heart it is a thrilling adventure story filled with nostalgia about what was.

Production of a film adaptation of the novel will begin in Spring 2016. Sci-fi veteran Steven Spielberg will direct the movie and Tye Sheridan will play the role of Wade.

Rating and Reviews: 4.3 on GoodReads

Trivia: For the movie, Steven Spielburg has attempted to remove himself from all the 80s references used in the book. He is of the opinion that it would have been to “self-referential”.

Scott Meyer – Off to be the Wizard

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks

Reality is merely an illusion.

Not for Martin Banks though, the main protagonist in this novel by Scott Meyer. The coding genius Martin discovers he has the ability to manipulate reality, and it’s about as easy as modifying a computer program. Braced with this new found knowledge he starts experimenting with the present, but it soon gathers attention and he finds himself knee-deep in trouble. Fearing prosecution, the American hacker escapes the present and lands in the Middle Ages, posing as a wizard in a King’s court. Can he pull out magic tricks out his sleeve and save his neck in the court? Read now to find out!

In the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate a panel of prominent physicists, philosophers and cosmologists attempted to present proof that the universe is not a simulation. None of them could come up with anything substantial. Similarly, in Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series, the main character discovers that our universe is indeed nothing but an elaborate (computer) program, and that he can manipulate reality by hacking his host application.

What distinguishes this story from similar ones like the Matrix, is that Scott Meyer uses this premise to then steer the story into a classic high-fantasy direction by having his characters time-travel to the past. Here the magicians use sorcery which is in essence computer hack “macros” to manipulate their host application.

Rating and Reviews: 3.9 on GoodReads

Stephen King – 11/22/63

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks 11.22.63

What if you could go back in time and change the most momentous moment in history?

This is exactly what happens in this Stephen King Classic – this, and more. High School Teacher Jake Epping discovers a portal to travel back in time. Before long, he finds himself part of an expedition to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Will everything go to plan? Or would the repercussions of even the teeniest of meddling in the past come to haunt Jake forever in present?

Not in recent memory has a novel gripped me like this one. The author managed to tone the (Tommyknocker-like) horror schmaltz down to bring us a human and touching story about time travel to the 60s that was so vivid that I could almost touch it. A really good book will, once finished, sometimes leave you with a void of emptiness, as if you are leaving a memory behind or saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t be seeing again.

A must read when it comes to science fiction books, you shouldn’t miss this one at any cost!

Rating and Reviews: 4.3 on GoodReads

Trivia: A Mini TV Series on the novel 11/22/63, starring James Franco, started airing on Hulu from February 15, 2016.

Dan Simmons – Hyperion

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Hyperion

Penned by Dan Simmons, the Hugo Award winning Hyperion is part of a series of science fiction novels – The Hyperion Cantos. The plot is somewhat like this – the entire Galaxy is at war, and in a world called Hyperion, there awaits a powerful and menacing creature Shrike, who is worshiped and feared by many. Seven pilgrims set out on a journey to Hyperion, seeking answers to the riddles of their lives and taking with them a terrible secret. As the fate of entire humanity is at stake, will hope be sufficient to survive?

The Hyperion Cantos is viewed by many as the best Sci-Fi ever written. It is set in a universe where intelligent machines have taken over and are calling the shots. Dan Simmons manages to create a universe in these books that immersed me in its reality to a degree I have not encountered in other Sci-Fi or fantasy.

Rating and Reviews: 4.19 on GoodReads

John Scalzi – Redshirts

Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Redshirts

Andrew Dahl thinks he is the luckiest man in the universe when he is assigned to the prestigious Xenobiology lab on Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since 2456.

All’s well, until he begins to notice a pattern of how low ranked members almost always get killed during an away mission, usually involving a lethal confrontation with Alien forces. Being a low ranking crew member himself, Dahl fears for his life as the next away mission draws closer, and starts exploring the real storyline before his time comes calling.

Although the book pokes fun at the older iterations of Star Trek where extras died in every episode, it still creates its own reality with vivid, detailed characters.  Redshirts won the coveted Hugo Award for best novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2013.

Rating and Reviews: 3.82 on GoodReads

Trivia: Will Wheaton was the narrator for the audio version of the book.

Alastair Reynolds – Revelation Space

Top_10_Science_Fiction_Books_Revelation_Space

It’s the year 2551. Archaeologist Dan Sylveste discovers the remains of the now-extinct Amarantin race, who were seemingly more technologically advanced than anticipated of their time. Nine hundred thousand years ago, the Amarantins and their planet Resurgam was destroyed while they were on the verge of conquering space travel. Fast forward to present day, Sylveste fears that history may repeat itself again. He seeks help and forms a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of star ship Nostalgia for Infinity to uncover the mystery of why, and by whom, were the Amarantins annihilated.

Alastair Reynolds has a dry, somewhat “documentary” style of writing Sci-Fi, but despite this he still manages to create vivid, lifelike detail with believable characters that are very three dimensional and thoroughly engrossing.

Rating and Reviews: 3.96 on GoodReads

Peter F Hamilton – The Reality DysfunctionTop 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Reality Dysfunction

First published in the year 1996, The Reality Dysfunction is the first volume in Peter Hamilton’s The Night’s Dawn Trilogy. It’s one of the best selling science fiction books in our list. A timeline of the evolution of human race is shown in the beginning, depicting a Golden Age where all mankind is split in two strands – the classic human Adamists and the genetically advanced Edenists. The year 2600 is the year for the human race to finally come to terms with its full potential. It’s no more just about the Planet Earth – others in the Galaxy play host to a number of diverse cultures and prosperous communities. The battle against chronic diseases, and human limitation has been thwarted through genetic engineering. All’s going well, until one dark day, everyone’s worst nightmare comes to life in the form of an extinct race, one that inhabited the galaxy millions of years ago.

Peter Hamilton is not only good with pen in hand, but as a futurist and visioneer of where tech is headed, he is second to none. He can get carried away with expansive stories and layers of political strife in his fiction (think Game of Thrones) but the Sci-Fi he writes is truly epic and awe inspiring.

Rating and Reviews: 4.13 on GoodReads

Timothy Zahn – Heir to the Empire: Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy Book 1Top 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Heir Empire

Unless you’re not from Planet Earth you’ve definitely read, watched or at least heard about Star Wars – the undisputed king in the world of science fiction books. Part of the expanded Universe of Star Wars, Heir to the Empire is from The Thrawn Trilogy, and it covers events five years after those in The Return of Jedi.

Although movie #7 has now officially arrived and established the Holy Canon, the Thrawn series are viewed by many as the best direction the official Star Wars story line could have headed in. There were even calls back in the day to make this the official story line.

In this series – Darth Vader has been defeated and the Death Star has been destroyed. Luke Skywalker is the new, long-awaited Jedi Knight in shining armor. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins. But thousands of light years away from the New Republic, Grand Admiral Thrawn is raising an army after taking control of the shattered Imperial Fleet. All he needs is a Dark Jedi to restore the empire once again.

Sounds almost similar…

Rating and Reviews: 4.1 on GoodReads

Iain M. Banks – Consider PhlebasTop 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Consider Phlebas

The main protagonist of the novel is Bora Horza, a mercenary who can change his appearance at will. Committed to Idirans, the humanoid Horza hates the Culture and is joined by both Machine and Human mercenaries in his quest to find the Mind. But will finding the Mind mean Horza’s own destruction? Read and find out soon, as Banks’ work might start to feel dated in another decade from now. 

Published in the late eighties, this ground breaking sci-fi opera novel by Ian Banks features a universe where AI have evolved past humanity – but as opposed to Hyperion above they coexist peacefully with their inferior bipedal creators. Banks’ universe is filled with “Minds”, large AI entities that reside in interstellar cruisers. It also Banks who introduced the idea of ships Avatars, an idea that we see these days in every second sci-fi series and movie.

 

Rating and Reviews: 3.84 on GoodReads

Pierce Brown – Red RisingTop 10 Science Fiction Books For Geeks Red Rising

700 years have passed since mankind started colonizing other plantets in the galaxy, mars being one of them. But the ruling class has set up a rigid color based social hierarchy – the Reds being one of them. Darrow and the Reds work under the surface of Mars all day, believing they are mining Helium-3 and making the planet habitable for future generations. Until one day, when they realize that humanity reached the surface years ago and Darrow and his kind are nothing more than slaves to the ruling class. From then on begins Darrow’s journey for justice and equality, and he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies.

Cited as one of the best science fiction books of 2014 by many noteworthy critics, the Red Rising is the first book in a series of 3 by Pierce Brown and follows the life of lowborn minor Darrow as he stands up against the elite Gods in Mars.

Rating and Reviews: 4.23 on GoodReads

Trivia: Universal Pictures picked up the novel for a film adaptation in 2014. As of now, the film is still under production, and is being directed by Marc Foster.

 

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Sukena Rizvi

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