The Ten Greatest Works of Science Fiction Literature
10. Brave New World
Huxley’s future world where genetic engineering dictates the laws and structure of society is truly haunting and full of foresight. His tale is the struggle of individualism in a world where people are are literally born and raised to be a particular person and everyone is kept in line. Values are the opposite of what many may believe them to be; monogamy is forbidden for example. This is one of the greatest dystopian novels of the last century, showing the consequences of a constant pursuit for happiness which sacrifices the spirit of the individual.
9. The Forever War
One of the great advantages of using the science fiction and fantasy genres to tell a story is that the author can take a relevant theme, such as war and humanity, and can take it out of its natural setting of this world which allows us to see them from a different perspective and break those themes down and examine them further. This is what Joe Haldeman does with the Forever War, taking the current relevancy to the Vietnam War of that time and putting it in the setting of a war with an Alien race.
One of the most influential short stories ever written for the science fiction genre by one of the genres great masters. In Nightfall, Asimov describes a solar system with 6 stars, where darkness is a virtual unknown. Nightfall has been called the greatest sci-fi short story ever and helped build the foundation of modern day science fiction.
7. Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game is the story of a young genius who is being groomed as the commander of Earth’s space fleet against an invading alien race. The book follows the boy’s training while describing a world which has been very loosely united through the threat of a common alien foe. This story does come with some critical controversy; some are highly bothered by the fact that Ender’s actions have no consequences, while others describe Ender’s Game as ‘geek porn’. However, only literature with the kind of substance and magic that Ender’s Game has would be able to stir up those controversies. It is a highly engaging story and a solidly constructed piece of sci-fi storytelling.
6. Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert A. Heinlein
Stranger in a strange land was able to use science fiction to explore themes of alienation, culture clashes, and individual freedom. Heinlein’s story of a man who was born as a Martian and returns to Earth transcended the the science fiction readers and brought in readers of other literary genres. Now it is aconsiddered one of the most popular classics sci-fi has to offer and one of its greatest achievements.
5. Nineteen Eighty-Four
In a futuristic world where the government controls everything and Big Brother is always watching you, a man struggles to maintain individual freedom and creative expression. Orwell’s masterpiece plays upon the fears of mankind concerning higher powers and state control in a way that it has become ingrained our very thinking about these issues. It is a haunting look at a world set in the not-so-distant future, all the more haunting because the possibility of that world coming into being is within the realm of believability.
4. The Time Machine
H. G. Wells
H.G. Wells is often considered the father of science fiction, and The Time Machine is perhaps his most acclaimed novel. Wells uses the concept of time travel to explore the future of mankind, which has actually evolved into two different races. The reason for this may seem obvious to some and up for debate to others. The future that Wells describes and how things got to be that way is a feast of scientific speculation. The Time Machine is one of the first science fiction novels and still one of the greatest.
3. Rendezvous with Rama
Aurthur C. Clarke
Science fiction has varying degrees within the genre, and many fans describe sci-fi as being either soft or hard; hard meaning that there is a lot of emphasis on the actual science involved in the story. Clarke was a master of hard science fiction and perhaps never showed off this mastery more than with Rendezvous with Rama. The story describes Earth’s encounter with a mysterious spacecraft, delving into the mysteries of the universe beyond our own knowledge. It has been an influence on countless sci-fi stories since, the most obvious of which are the first Star Trek movie, Alien, and Michael Chrichton’s Sphere. However, most sci-fi writers have been influenced by Clarke’s genius, which shows up very strongly here with Rama.
Dune is the Lord of the Rings of science fiction. Herbert’s world is intricate in its details and extensive in its scope while the story is layered in themes. The world of Dune is rich with individual cultures, mythologies, and customs and is so descriptive it’s as though Herbert actually visited the world and recorded what he saw rather than created it from his mind. Dune deals with politics and socioeconomics as well as the depths of the human soul and how one man deals with his fate and how to cope with losing all you once had. Dune is a rich novel which will last in the higher echelon of sci-fi for many years to come.
1. The Foundation Trilogy
From the master of science fiction, Asimov’s massive and epic Foundation series has become the cornerstone of science fiction literature. It is the only series to win the Hugo all-time best series award. The story deals with the link between science and civilization and the struggle to retain and preserve knowledge. Foundation has had a huge impact and influence on all science fiction to come after in books, film, and television. It is the best and most important work of science fiction by one of the genre’s great writers.