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Getting Started in SciFi

Just starting out in Science Fiction? Or looking for something new? Try the popular titles below, or explore SciFi's many blends with other genres:

 

Foundations

http://io9.com/5626861/a-syllabus-and-book-list-for-novice-students-of-science-fiction-literature

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Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
ISBN: 9780743487580
Publication Date: 2004-05-01
A monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator. Includes illustrated notes throughout the text explaining the historical background of the story.

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The Time Machine; The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells
ISBN: 9780451530707
Publication Date: 2007-10-02
A classic novel of the future follows the Time Traveller as he hurtles one million years into the future and encounters a world populated by two distinct races, the childlike Eloi and the disgusting Morlocks who prey on the Eloi.

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The Collected John Carter of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs
ISBN: 9781423154266
Publication Date: 2012-02-07
Ex-confederate army captain John Carter finds himself unwittingly transported to Mars, while fleeing Apache Indians. This new world is populated by a race of monstrous Martians, whose culture is based on the ability to fight for their race. Fortunately for John, the gravitational difference between Mars and Earth has endowed him with the strength that he will need for survival on this hostile planet. John Carter battles ferocious Martian creatures, but gains the respect and friendship of the Barsoomians. He also encounters the beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, and earns her everlasting devotion.

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At the Mountains of Madness - H. P. Lovecraft
ISBN: 9780345329455
Publication Date: 1991-09-13
Lovecraft helped shape a popular subgenre of science fiction, the "weird tale," which blended science with horror to create moody tales of monsters from beyond the stars. This novella, written in 1931, introduces us to some of Lovecraft's most terrifying alien creatures, discovered by a team of scientists exploring Antarctica.

 

Utopias & Dystopias

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Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
ISBN: 9781449597542
Publication Date: 2009-11-12
Though Utopian fiction has been a mainstay of literature for centuries, Gilman's 1915 novel was explicitly science fictional. A team of scientists and investigators journey to the hitherto unexplored nation called Herland, an all-female country where women rule via a combination of egalitarian politics and scientific principles. The book is divided up into sections that treat different aspects of Herland's society, as well as following the misadventures of the men trying to understand it. Gilman's book is also one of the first examples of feminist science fiction, a subgenre that continues into the present day.

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Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
ISBN: 9780060850524
Publication Date: 2006-10-17
Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming and media--has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

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1984 - George Orwell
ISBN: 0452262933
Publication Date: 1983-04-01
Published in 1948, this is a classic and highly-influential novel about a future version of London which is entirely dystopian. All information is heavily-censored by the "EngSoc" or English Socialist government, and every person lives with a surveillance device called a "telescreen" in his or her home. We follow the tragic story of two people who are caught engaging in a subversive sexual relationship. Big Brother, the all-powerful figurehead for the EngSoc government, has since the novel's publication become the ultimate symbol for futuristic fascism.

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The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
ISBN: 0679740678
Publication Date: 1992-06-30
It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war--and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

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The Female Man - Joanna Russ
ISBN: 0807063134
Publication Date: 1987-02-15
In this tale of time travel and alternate universes, a female warrior from the future travels back to the present day (in this case, the late 1960s) to warn humanity about a coming war between men and women. In a narrative that jumps through time and across parallel versions of America, we encounter alternate versions of the warrior: Social circumstances made her a brave fighter in one universe, but molded her into a meek office worker in another. Challenging and intense, this novel suggests that there are many paths to a better world - and to a worse one.

 

Robots

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I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
ISBN: 9780553382563
Publication Date: 2008-04-29
This classic set of linked short stories, published in 1955, explores the nature of robot consciousness through the eyes of a "robopsychologist" who has to figure out why her company's sentient artificial creations are going crazy and breaking down.

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Neuromancer - William Gibson
ISBN: 9780441012039
Publication Date: 2004-11-02
The novel that made "cyberpunk" a household word in the early 1980s introduces us to a world where AIs interact with humans in cyberspace. Case, a burned-out computer whiz, is asked to steal a security code that is locked in the most heavily guarded databank in the solar system.

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Saturn's Children - Charles Stross
ISBN: 9780441015948
Publication Date: 2008-07-01
A recent novel by award-winning author Stross, Saturn's Children is a deceptively light-hearted story of a sexbot trying to figure out what her life really means now that the humans she was programmed to service are extinct.

 

Aliens

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Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Treasury - Martin Greenberg (Editor); Joseph Olander (Editor); Isaac Asimov
ISBN: 9780517336359
Publication Date: 1988-12-12
"Who Goes There," John W. Campbell - The short story that inspired the movie (and subsequent remakes) called The Thing, this is a tale that goes beyond the comfortably humanoid aliens of Barsoom and shows us what truly alien life would be like.

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Dawn - Octavia E. Butler
ISBN: 9780446603775
Publication Date: 1997-04-01
The human race, now infertile, fights to maintain its identity when the alien species, Oankali, offers to trade genetic material and bioengineering at the price of metamorphosing a new kind of being. The first in the "Xenogenesis" trilogy, followed by "Adulthood Rites" and "Imago"

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The Secret City - Carol Emshwiller
ISBN: 9781892391445
Publication Date: 2007-04-01
The Secret City, hidden high in a mountain range, harbors a handful of aliens stranded on Earth, waiting for rescue and running out of time. Over years of increasing poverty, an exodus to the human world has become their only chance for survival. The aliens are gradually assimilating, not as a discrete culture, but rather as a source of cheap labor. But the sudden arrival of ill-prepared rescuers will touch off divided loyalties, violent displacement, and star-crossed love. As unlikely human allies are pitted against xenophobic aliens, the stage is set for a final standoff at the Secret City.

 

Space Travel

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Triplanetary - E. E. Doc Smith
ISBN: 9780843959499
Publication Date: 2009-01-27
From the atomic age in Atlantis to a world remote in space and time, two incredible ancient races, the Arisians and the Eddorians, are in the midst of an interstellar war with Earth as the prize. The Arisians, using advanced mental technology, have foreseen the invasion of their galaxy by the corrupt and evil Eddorians, so they begin a breeding program on every planet in their universe. Their goal ... to produce super warriors who can hold off the invading Eddorians.

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Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh
ISBN: 0879975946
Publication Date: 1981-02-03
The station at Pell's Star, traditionally neutral, holds the key to victory in a struggle between the decaying stellar empire of Earth and the rebel forces of the colonies.

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The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
ISBN: 0679451501
Publication Date: 1996-09-09
Unlike space operas with their vast galactic wars and pyrotechnic battles, Russell's acclaimed novel offers us a more realistic view of space travel and alien encounters. When scientists pick up the sounds of alien music coming from a distant planet, only the Catholic Church is willing to fund a space voyage to investigate them - in the hopes that they can convert the natives to Christianity. The priest they send, along with a team of scientists, find out the truth behind where the alien music comes from. And no matter what you're expecting, you'll be unsettled by what they find.

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Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks
ISBN: 9780316005388
Publication Date: 2008-03-26
Horza, a Changer, finds himself at the center of an epic galactic confrontation between the fanatical Idirans and the communistic Culture, made up of humans ruled by the Mind machines that they have created.

 

SciFi as political commentary

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Orlando - Virginia Woolf
ISBN: 015670160X
Publication Date: 1973-10-24
Orlando emerges as a young man at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and progresses, with breathtaking ease, through three centuries until, by now a woman, she arrives in the bustle and diversions of the 1920s ... Orlando's journey, from wondrous youth barbed by love, to feted writer, settled in her femininity, is a wild and

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Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
ISBN: 0399135863
Publication Date: 1991-01-03
A nonhuman visitor brings into doubt the values and self-evident truths of Western society.

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Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany; William Gibson (Foreword by)
ISBN: 0375706682
Publication Date: 2001-05-15
Journeying to the central United States city of Bellona, where all have fled save madmen and criminals, a poet and adventurer known only as the Kid wonders at the strange portents that appear in the city's cloud-covered sky.

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Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin
ISBN: 006051275X
Publication Date: 2014-06-10
Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist moon Anarres, risks his life by traveling to the mother planet of Urras in the hope of offering wisdom to its inhabitants and to reunite the two long-alienated worlds.

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Anathem - Neal Stephenson
ISBN: 9780061474095
Publication Date: 2008-09-01
Raz, a mathematician, is among a cohort of secluded scientists and philosophers who are called upon to save the world from impending catastrophe.

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