Science Fiction is a huge genre and at its best it not only tickles, titillates and excites but also gives us a glimpse of what the future could hold for all of us. Provided below are a list of some of my favorite Science Fiction series and sets (there are many individual books also that deserve mention but I’ll get that list done for you another time!)
Probably THE quintessential Science Fiction book. DUNE is to Science Fiction what the Lord of the Rings is to Fantasy. An epic story with murder, mystery and mayhem along with grand conspiracies galore, the tale of mankind in a far future time is engrossing and enthralling.
DUNE tells the story of a human empire spread across the stars. Travel between planets is only possible through specially modified humans – guild navigators – in a time after a long past machine war ensured humanity unwilling to depend upon and rely on machines and calculating devices for anything. In this universe, the guild navigators are not the only type of people that have been modified – with Mentats acting as human calculating machines and the Bene Gesserit sisterhood breeding humanity to find their chosen one. Enabling these experiments and new breeds of humanity however is a very special substance – Spice. The spice is only available on the planet DUNE – a desert world circled by vicious storms and infested with giant worms that are large enough to swallow a starship whole!
DUNE can be split into two major chapters – the first series of six books written by Frank Herbert being the best by a far, far margin and then a second set that is both prequel and sequel to the original six. These books were written jointly by Brian Herbert (Frank Herberts son) and Kevin J. Anderson. While the second series is interesting and enjoyable for finishing the story that fans of DUNE have been waiting decades for, it does not in any way have the grandeur of the original.
Isaac Asimov is perhaps most well known for his three laws of robotics (yes it actually was a Science Fiction writer who devised these laws!), however in Foundation he has created a sweeping and epic story that tells of a time far, far in the future and the coming of a new dark age.
In this far future time, the second Galactic Empire has ruled humanity for over 12,000 years, however there are chinks in the fabric and only Hari Seldon can see that this empire is doomed to fail. Hari Seldon is the first Psycho-historian and is able to utilize this new science to predict the actions of masses. While Psychohistory is a science that will not work on any one individual person, humanity as a whole can be patterned and Seldon is able to determine that not only is the end of the Empire inevitable, but that the Dark Age that will follow will be measured in millennia. Deciding to do something about this Hari Seldon sets out to create a Foundation that while it will be unable to stop the decline and end of the Empire, it can ensure that even though he will not be around to see it, the Dark Age that follows is as short as possible.
While not as far removed in the future as Foundation, in the Nights Dawn Trilogy, Peter F. Hamilton introduces us to a Human Confederation of nations spread over 900 different planets. With Humanity split into two different factions – Adamists and Edenists – the Confederation is at relative peace.
Unfortunately this peace is about to be shattered by a rift in realities allowing the dead to return and take possession of humanity. While being possessed is bad in itself, the unfortunate fact is that when the dead return they come with some sort of energistic power that makes them immune to almost any normal attack. In addition they are forced to continually increase their numbers by the calling of the souls still left on the other side of the rift.
In a horror/scifi combination, Nights Dawn portrays a future that while admirable in many ways seems oh so fragile and ready to fall.
The Saga of Pliocene Exile is a set of four books starting with The Many Colored Land. It tells the story of a one way hole in time discovered in a remote village in France that leads back to the Pliocene era and the misfits and malcontents that travel through this rift in search for a new life.
Once on the other side of the rift though, they find that the bucolic paradise that they were expecting and promised is not all that it seems. In fact they are in the midst of a war, a war between different races of Aliens that are able to utilize the power of the mind in new and frightening ways and in fact some of these Aliens have taken control of the land and have enslaved the humans that have been coming through the time portal.
However our travellers are not what you would expect and each of them will have a different and important part to play in the struggle for survival and freedom that ensues.
For believable and realistic Science Fiction the Seafort Saga is a complete stand out hit. Faster than light travel is not possible, and the cost of that travel is a rigid militaristic society built around Christian ideals. Nicholas Seafort is an 18 year old midshipman but due to fate and circumstances he is thrust into the leadership position of the Starship Hibernia when all the senior officers on board are killed. When the Hibernia is confronted by a malignant alien species that has been destroying the ships traveling through the void, Nicholas’ problems really begin.
Nicholas is a driven and deeply flawed character with such a rigid moral compass that his decisions while always made for what seems to be the right reasons at the time are decisions that anyone without such a strong sense of right and wrong would often question. Seafort never takes the easy way out, regardless of the impact to himself, his friends or his family and and this character really is on the side of the angels and a hero that you want to follow and win.
Written by David Feintuch Midshipman’s Hope is the first in the 7 book Seafort Saga and is an exceptionally gripping read.
No list on Science Fiction would really be complete without the Hitchhikers Guide included. Douglas Adams proved that Science Fiction does not have to always be a world ending (although I guess an intergalactic bypass through the Earth is somewhat world ending!) and dour place but that you could always laugh! The Hitchhikers Guide is a completely bizarre and weird story that takes us throughout the universe and finally answers the age old question about the meaning of life (42).
With talking dolphins and a whale that philosophizes plus the most down trodden robot in the galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide takes us from Earth to the ends of the Universe and back. The cast of characters are some of the most memorable in Science Fiction and as you read through the story, you might look at that little white mouse, just slightly differently – after all they could really be our overlords!
Don’t take the Hitchhikers’ Guide seriously … but … do make sure you’ve always got a towel in your backpack, because … hey you just never know!
The Chronicles of the Lensmen is considered Space Opera and if you are interested in huge (and I mean HUGE) space battles between fleets of awesome size along with weapons that can destroy planets then this is the book that you need to read.
In the Lensmen series, the elder race of our galaxy the Arisians are at war with the Eddorians. The Eddorians are a dictatorial, power hungry race that has arrived in our galaxy from elsewhere, who realize that when the rest of the races in our galaxy develop they will have supreme power over them all.
The Arisians being a benevolent race that is extremely advanced realizes that they will not be strong enough to defeat the Eddorians by themselves and come up with a plan to develop the warriors that they need through a millenia long breeding plan with all the intelligent races of our galaxy. In an effort to combat the Eddorians the Arisian agents develop the Galactic Patrol and as the series progresses, the scope of the battles between the Arisian forces and the Eddorian forces gradually increase.
In the Legacy of the Aldenata, John Ringo introduces us to the Posleen – a race of centaur like aliens with crocodile faces for heads with an insatiable appetite are attacking the planets of the peaceful confederation. The Posleen are a force that require no baggage train in their attacks as they have been engineered to eat anything and everything. All races are but food to them and even if they get killed in battle, it simply means more food for the larder!
The races of the confederation are unable to fight the invading foes and contact the humans to join them in their struggle for freedom. As the humans are gradually incorporated into the confederation forces and dispatched to planets around the confederation they realize that the confederation is not as benevolent as it initially supposed and there are forces at play within it that might not be as interested in the welfare of the human race as they would like.
Unfortunately, the Posleen are not just attacking the planets of the confederation. On there plan of attack is another planet. Earth is next and the humans just are not prepared for it is about to land on them.
The Matador series of novels by Steve Perry tell of the end of the declining and corrupt human empire and the man who takes it down. In the first novel – The Man who Never Missed – the hero of the story sets out by himself to become a legend and one man army.
Emile Khadaji deserts from the imperial army after a particularly brutal battle. Realizing that the empire he serves does not deserve to exist he sets out on a path to ensure its downfall.
In the subsequent books of the series, Emile builds up a force of mercenaries that is able to influence policy and decision making in the empire until he can ensure its complete and total destruction.
The Mote in God’s Eye and the Gripping Hand are two books in the Codominium series that tell the story of the “Moties”. A race of aliens on a planet hidden behind a nebula, the alien Moties are radically different to humans and humanity.
When an alien spacecraft travels to a human inhabited world with the use of a solar sail, the humans set out to find where they came from. What they find is a planet and a race of aliens that are innovators and builders supremely more powerful than the human empire. A race that has advanced and degenerated over the epochs and has only been trapped due to the location that they are in.
If the Moties escape the Empire dies and humanity dies with them.
I know you’re probably surprised that I have not included the Enderverse Saga – especially Ender’s Game. Rest assured, it is definitely one of my top books and one that I will definitely be including in future lists but like I said at the start, there are many, many books out there that are worth a read and hopefully there are some on this list that have piqued your interest!
Hutch is joining the team as a book and comic blogger, primarily focusing on non-YA fantasy and scifi. Hutch has been blogging on several websites, including personal blogs, for quite some time now — offering reviews, opinions, and feedback on the latest fantasy and scifi. We’re happy to have him on board!