What are some great science fiction novels?

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Answered by: Huxley, An Expert in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Category
Science fiction usually talks about advancements in the future, but if you look at things a certain way we're already living there. Think about it; you can buy a device for a fairly reasonable price, put it into your pocket, and carry around a library's worth of books. If you have found yourself in possession of such a device and looking for some good science fiction novels to occupy your imagination (or if you prefer using the Mark 1 Book) here are some of the very best around.



The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov - Asimov is perhaps the most famous name in the whole of science fiction and when you read this Hugo Award-winning series you will soon see why. He is a master of both crafting a fascinating setting and of weaving a gripping story with perfectly timed twists. The eponymous Foundation uses the discipline of Psychohistory to predict the inevitable collapse of galactic civilization. They aim to restore civilization through careful guidance. The scope of the plot is tremendous and the characters are deeply memorable, most especially the Foundation's founder Hari Seldon and the mysterious Mule.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke - One of Britain's greatest authors in the genre, this book ranks alongside 2001: A Space Odyssey as a symbol of his astounding skill. In 2130 the Earth's asteroid defense system detects a massive object soon dubbed Rama. Rama proves to be a great alien construction of unknown origin and purpose, mysteries which will suck the reader in as surely as the protagonists. Clarke provides in this book an example of science fiction at its very best, a story of wonder at the universe and insatiable curiosity at its mysteries.



Ringworld by Larry Niven - Another novel about the discovery of a great alien artefact in space, in this case the titular Ringworld. It is a vast structure with the surface area of billions of Earths and is far beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced race in 'Known Space'. A small group of two humans, one mad Puppeteer, and a huge catlike kzin set out to explore this place and find its unknown builders. The Ringworld holds many wonders and many dangers for the explorers and Niven puts the reader right there among them on this titanic construction as they seek to unravel the strangeness of the place.

The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks - The sadly deceased Banks perhaps found more critical success for his non-science fiction novels but the Culture series feels like the place his heart belonged. The Culture is a highly advanced and well-meaning group of species who often find their efforts to improve the galaxy go awry. Banks tells us the stories of this utopia's errors and fears and he does so with tremendous imagination, featuring wars that destroy worlds, diverse alien races, and games with unimaginably high stakes. The Player of Games and Use of Weapons are among the best in this series, but all are hugely enjoyable and thought provoking.

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson - Red, Blue, and Green Mars. To many people only the first of these three makes any sense but a reader of Robinson's seminal work on colonizing the Red Planet will know instantly what all three mean and, chances are, they will fondly remember their first exposure to the novels. They are dense and scientifically plausible works which show a tremendous amount of research, all of which makes the end result that much more believable and engrossing. The series is not just about science and exploration though, as it moves into the political realm later when Mars, now inhabited by native Martian-born as well as Earthling immigrants, seeks to define and assert itself.

Well there you have it, five top recommendations to fill your e-reader and to keep you entertained and your imagination flexed. There is a whole galaxy of works to explore but these novels are a superb starting point if you're new to the genre, or a handy reminder of classics to re-read if you're a veteran.

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