Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 1818
The novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, in my opinion, is the very first science fiction novel written. It is, without a doubt, the first transhumanist one (though who knows what Shelley would have made of that term). Instead than focusing on the technical methods that the doctor employed to create the monster, it dives into the humanity of the monster and people around him. A total of 500 copies were printed after Shelley released it anonymously in 1818.
It wasn’t until 1831 that the “popular” edition of the book (which is most likely what you’ve been reading) was released. Shelley made major edits to the work in response to pressure to make the book more politically conservative. Many historians believe that the 1818 version is more faithful to Shelley’s original spirit than the later version.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – 1961
While he and his wife Virginia were brainstorming one evening in 1948, Heinlein came up with the idea for this story. She proposed a new version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894), but with a child reared by Martians instead of wolves, as an alternative to the original. He decided to pursue the idea further and worked on it on and off for more than a decade, mostly in his own time. Mars is only mentioned in passing in this novel, and the reader is never taken there himself.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, Stranger in a Strange Land was awarded the 1962 Hugo Award for Best Novel and went on to become the first science fiction novel to appear on the best-seller list of The New York Times Book Review.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – 1992
Hiro Protagonist works as a pizza delivery driver for Uncle Enzo’s Cosa Nostra Inc. in the normal world, but in the Metaverse, he is a warrior prince. He dives headfirst into the enigma of a new computer virus that is wreaking havoc on hackers all around the world, racing through the neon-lit streets in quest of the dark virtual villain who is threatening to bring about the infocalypse. “It was brilliantly realized… Ultimately, Stephenson proves to be an entertaining guide to an impending tomorrow.”
The New York Times Book Review included this quote:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 1953
Guy Montag worked as a firefighter, and one of his responsibilities was to cause fires…
The system was straightforward. Everyone was on the same page. Aside from the books themselves, the residences in which they had been hidden were also set ablaze.
Guy Montag had a good time at his job. In his ten years as a firefighter, he’d never questioned the pleasure of making midnight runs or the satisfaction of witnessing pages being engulfed by flames. A seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a time when people were not terrified changed his life. Before meeting her, he had never questioned anything.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 1985
Ender’s Game is a film that has been criticized for its violence (and may have become popular as a result of it), and it depicts youngsters on a military space station, playing combat games and training for the fight against the wicked alien Buggers.
Despite the fact that the plot resembled a “grade Z, made-for-television, science-fiction rip-off movie,” it was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards, according to the New York Times.
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke – 1968
This story, which is an allegory about humanity’s exploration of the universe and the universe’s response to humanity, is one of the best examples of storytelling. It follows the crew of the spacecraft Discovery as they go on a mission to Saturn. It is run by HAL 9000, a supercomputer that is artificially intelligent and can do things that humans can’t do. This makes their vessel even more powerful than humans.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 2011
If you were born in the 1980s, reading Ready Player One is like taking a heroin-like high. So much fun that I often imagined author Ernest Cline laughing and saying to himself, “I can’t believe I can get away with this! :D”
This is what happens in the future: Wade Watts, a teenager, looks for an unknown Easter egg in a game called the OASIS, which is played all over the world. The person who finds the Easter egg will get the ownership of the OASIS and a lot of money. Of course, he isn’t the only one who wants it. In the audiobook version of Ready Player One, I really liked it. The narrator, Wil Wheaton, did a great job with the story. “Ridiculously fun and kind.” It’s rare for a writer to be able to turn his own “nerdy” interests into a piece of writing that’s both funny and heartfelt. Cline is one of those writers.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 1979
For a happy afternoon, you can read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with your toes in the sand (or by the fire) and maybe a nearby Mai Tai (or hot chocolate).
I think this is one of the funniest books that has been written in English. It starts with the destruction of Earth, and things get worse from there. Don’t read this book in front of other people, because you will make them angry by laughing so much.
The Martian by Andy Weir – 2011
If you like science fiction, you should read The Martian. It’s one of the best books I have read. He has to live alone for more than a year without help from anyone else. He has to use his own intelligence and what other people left behind. Author Weir did a great job of making Mark Watney, his smart, likable, and very real character. There are a lot of hard facts in The Martian, and they make the science seem as real as stone. As Jack London did, this book is a great mix of man versus nature as well as MacGyver’s inventiveness, moments of humor, fast pace, and twists that make sense in hindsight, but which still surprise you at the time of reading.
“A very good first book.” Weir adds enough wit and cleverness to the technical details to please both hard sci-fi fans and the general public, and he keeps the story moving to a gripping end.
—Publishers Weekly, with a star review.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – 1963
Cat’s Cradle is a satirical look at modern man and his madness by Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote the book. It’s an apocalyptic story about what will happen to this planet in the end. It features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology written by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is both blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
“A free-wheeling vehicle… a ride you’ll never forget!”