Here in no particular order are my top 5 classic science fiction novels.
Dune for those who haven’t read it is one of the greatest works in science fiction. Written in 1965 by Frank Herbert, Dune weaves a story of politicalintrigue, ecology, and religion in humanity’s distant future. The story centers on Paul Atreides, a young nobleman whose family has just become the rulers of Arrakis, aka Dune. Dune is the most important planet in the setting because it is the only source of the spice mélange which properties allow for interstellar travel. The book is very, very good and is in many ways similar to A Song of Fire and Ice in that the setting while important to the story is not the focus. Most of the focus is instead in politics, and religion. Dune marks the start of the Dune saga which is worth checking out in its entirety.
Caves of Steel is just one part of the Robot series by Isaac Asimov, but it’s easily one of the best. Caves of Steel is set in the distant future when humans are divided into two groups, Spacers who live on the planets settled by humanity, and those who live on the overcrowded Earth. The story is about Elijah Bailey, a detective in New York City who must uncover the murder of a prominent Spacer. The only hitch is that he must work with a robot, R. Daneel Olivaw, who happens to look just like his creator, the murder victim. Essentially, it’s a murder mystery, buddy cop story, IN THE FUTURE! The book is both an excellent example of science fiction and mystery. I recommend it for anyone who likes both.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein is one of those novels that sort of blurs a bit on the science fiction aspects. Basically, this book is responsible for some of the more, ahem, relaxed attitudes towards sex during the 1960s. It also started a cult kind of. Don’t let that discourage you, it’s a good book. It’s about Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised among Martians who is returned to Earth after years on the red planet. Once there, he tries to adapt to his new surroundings and spread the teachings and ideals that he learned on Mars. He also may or may not be an angel. Basically if you’re looking for a far out sort of story, this is for you.
I, Robot, no not the Will Smith one, is probably one of the best science fiction books ever written. Isaac Asimov used the setting of this book in many of his later books including the Robot and Foundation series. I, Robot is a collection of short stories chronicling the early years of robots on earth. Most of the stories involve Dr. Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, as she tries to understand and deal with the ever evolving minds of robots. It has a wide variety of stories and each is very good. The book also introduces Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics. It is a deep book and concerned with the morality behind robots and their place in human society.
We’re going old school with this last one and looking at one of the earliest examples of science fiction. It’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Now you may be thinking that Frankenstein is a horror, gothic, novel. Well it is, but it’s also one of the first examples of science in fiction. The monster is brought to life as a result of scientific experiment, not magic. It was one of the first stories to bring to light the nature of science and its role in society, for good or evil. Because it practically created the genre, it more than deserves a place on this list.
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