Ten Gateway Science Fiction Books
Posted November 9, 2013on:
Thanks to the amazing organization skills of Rinn over at Rinn Reads, we’re right in the heart of Science Fiction Month. And I’ve noticed something. Something wonderful: lots of folks who are participating in SciFi Month are completely new to science fiction.
This is fantastic! That so many people who have never picked up a science fiction book are interested in giving some weird stuff a try, it warms my heart. Getting into science fiction isn’t always easy. Strange names, alien planets, technobabble, far future technologies. . . it can be a bit much. Luckily, there are plenty (countless, actually) of “gate way” books, books that take place right now, or maybe a few years in the future, or even a few years in past. Books that don’t leave the solar system, maybe don’t even leave the Earth. You don’t need to be fluent in technobabble or have a degree in astronomy to enjoy these. You just need to turn the first page. . .
to help you on your journey into scifi, I’ve linked the titles to my reviews. If you have any suggestions for other gateway books, let everyone know in the comments!
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett – After her parent’s death, Mona inherits her Mom’s old house in a sleepy town in the southwest. It’s one of those old fashioned towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the oldsters remember all the family secrets. there are family secrets, and then there are Family Secrets. How will Mona react when she learns her own?
In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. I love Kage Baker, it’s as simple as that. This novel is the first of her Company Series. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you won’t feel sucked into reading another long series. Mendoza is an operative with a company that collects historical artifacts, and they’ve turned her into an immortal cyborg, of sorts. She spies on people, but can’t tell anyone who or what she is. Really sucks, when she falls in love with someone on her first mission. This book is as heartbreaking as it is funny. By the way, I’ve got a review of some Kage Baker Company short stories that’ll be posting in a few days.
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline – In the near future, we spend most of our lives online, playing in huge MMO worlds. The designers of a famous game was a huge fan of pop culture from the 80s, and he left all sorts of Easter Eggs in his games. Collect all the eggs, and win the prize. A fun read, especially if you grew up in the 80s.
Three Days to Never, by Tim Powers – one of my favorite Powers books. Time travel, secret history, Einstein’s secret daughter who followed in his professional footsteps, ghosts who talk backwards. I’m not sure if this qualifies as straight up science fiction, but you can’t go wrong with Tim Powers.
Makers by Cory Doctorow – Doctorow has the uncanny ability to tell the future. Taking place a few years from now, 3-D printers are all the rage, people post printer programs online, and big businesses go nuts trying to get copyrighted stuff off the interwebs. It’s hackers vs antipiracy lawyers, with more characterization and social commentary than you can shake a stick at.
vN by Madeline Ashby – Androids walk among us. von Neumann machines are self replicating androids, Companies use them as cheap labor, and many families use them as additions to their family. Designed to always be self replicating, the only way to stop their growth is a starvation diet. Amy is just a kid, she didn’t mean to do anything, she didn’t mean to hurt her grandma. But Amy was so hungry, she was starving, and her grandma attacked someone, so Amy ate her. And grew up.
Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh – speed dating is different in the future. Especially when the beautiful women are mostly frozen corpiscles defrosted when they’ve scored a “date”. Rob is responsible for a woman’s death, and when she wakes up at the Cryomed Dating Center, he vows to free her. The situation quickly complicated itself.
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – In this alternate world, every jail sentence is a life sentence, no matter what. When you commit a crime, your animal comes for you. Not a totem and not a familiar, the animal brings a special talent with it, and being separated from your animal causes physical pain and death in some cases. Zinzi is one of the animalled, and she has a talent for finding lost things. She needs to make ends meet, but this new case could be the end of her.
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn- Ok, I lied. This one takes place long ago in a galaxy far away. Luke, Han, and Leia together again? Of course you want to know what happened after episode six! Timothy Zahn’s writing is fun and easy, this book will bring back the joy you remember from experiencing Star Wars for the first time.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – a classic of First Contact stories. Yes, there are aliens in this one too. it is, after all, a first contact story. A varied crew of Earthlings funded by a religious order meet an alien race who seems so friendly and benign at first. But the planet has predators, and societal norms we don’t understand until it’s too late.