This month at the library, we’re celebrating the theme of “Exploring New Frontiers,” so we decided it would be fun to start the book challenge with a look at books set in the future. The following recommendations range from the recently released to old favorites, and span everything from hard science fiction to dystopian fiction to YA. Even if you’re not participating in the book challenge, give one of them a try. You might discover a new favorite!
If you’re interested in any of the books, just click on the image of the cover. Doing so will link you to our online catalog. You can search for the title from there.
Also, be sure to check out our science fiction display at the front of the library, which for the entire month of January will feature many more books set in the future.
If you enjoy hard science fiction:
Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011)
Did you enjoy the library’s recent showing of the movie, The Martian? Did you know it’s originally based on a book? Follow astronaut Mark Watney into the near future as he is part of one of the first landings on Mars. The triumph of this accomplishment soon dissipates when Mark is injured and left behind. His colleagues assumed he was dead, but he is very much alive and stranded by himself in outer space. The book functions as Mark’s journal as he chronicles his efforts to stay alive in an alien world.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora (2015)
Kim Stanley Robinson is widely considered one of the best science fiction authors writing today. His latest effort, Aurora, received widespread critical acclaim for its tale of the passengers on a generational ship en route to settle on a new planet and the challenges they face, as told by the artificial intelligence operating system that controls the space ship.
Carolyn Ives Gilman’s Dark Orbit (2015)
Another critically-praised science fiction novel from last year, Dark Orbit features Sara Callicot, who specializes in exploring and studying new worlds. Her latest mission involves traveling 58 light years to Iris, a newly-discovered planet. Her task is twofold–to investigate this planet and also to keep an eye on a fellow crew-member with a history of rebellion. Naturally, complications ensue.
Robert Repino’s Mort(e) (2015)
Admittedly not for all tastes, this celebrated debut novel depicts a familiar plot for a science fiction story–an alien force attempts to subjugate Earth. The catch? In this story, the invaders are ants, and the hero intent on stopping them is a cat. If the idea of a cat assassin saving mankind makes you smile, give this book a try.
If you prefer softer science fiction:
Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things (2015)
If you don’t particularly enjoy more technical science fiction, you might like softer science fiction, like this one. Its protagonist is Peter, a missionary selected to minister to aliens on a foreign planet. The book chronicles his struggles in converting them and maintaining peace with his human colleagues, while he learns from his wife that conditions on Earth deteriorate. Faber’s book has science fiction elements, but it is also meditative literary fiction.
Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015)
Set in the not too-distant future, The Water Knife depicts the American Southwest in the midst of a severe drought that renders water a precious commodity that people die for. The book follows Angel, a “water knife,” who finds water for the developer who employs him, as he attempts to investigate a new possible water source. Naturally, he’s not the only one interested in discovering it. Though some readers may be turned off by the book’s violent and disturbing content, others will enjoy this quickly-paced science fiction thriller.
If you like YA science fiction:
Nicole Korner-Stace’s Archivist Wasp (2015)
In the past several years, dystopian science fiction thrillers have become a hot commodity in YA fiction. If you like this genre, give this book a try. It’s the story of Wasp, an archivist (ghost hunter). However, Wasp has severe misgivings about her world and her work, and she makes a bargain with one of her intended ghost victims–she’ll help him find a long-lost friend if he’ll help her learn more about what her world was like hundreds of years in the past. This book landed on a lot of Best of 2015 lists, and a sequel is rumored to be in the works.
If you want an old favorite:
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
Discover or rediscover Bradbury’s haunting classic about Guy Montag, a fireman who burns books, which are outlawed in a futuristic America. The book follows his own blossoming intellect as he becomes interested in these forbidden items, much to the chagrin of wife, friends, and employer. My personal favorite scene has always been when Guy, fueled by righteous indignation, decides to subject his vapid wife and her friends to an illegal poetry reading, which is as awkward and disastrously funny as it sounds.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932)
Set in AF 632, Brave New World is another classic dystopian science fiction work that presents, on the surface, a world far less insidious than most others in the genre. Its residents enjoy a languid, hedonistic existence, unaware of their own ignorance. Intended as a satire on more optimistic earlier utopian novels, Brave New World is both funny and frightening.
Which of these books have you read? Which ones piqued your interest? Tell us in the comments! Don’t forget that commenting enters you into prize drawings!