5 Great Books That Show The Range Of Science Fiction

Science fiction is a highly elastic genre, able to accommodate time travel, spaceships, aliens, alternate universes, radical new technologies, dystopian futures, and much more. What unites all these elements, ultimately, is the impulse to speculate about other realities in order to talk about the one we live in now. The books included here do just that, demonstrating what the genre has to offer at its best. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Genre-Bending Sci-Fi Books

Title Author More by the Author
Dreams Before the Start of Time Anne Charnock Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, The Enclave, Bridge 108
Famous Men Who Never Lived K. Chess Avatars Inc (contributor)
Challenges of the Gods C. Hofsetz Enemy of the Gods
Prophecy Lea Kirk Salvation, Collision
The Postman David Brin Uplift Storm Trilogy

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In Depth

When you think of science fiction, you might think of space travel or mysterious aliens. However, the category encompasses a wide variety of ideas and themes, including dystopian futures, parallel universes, and even romance. Whether you are new to the genre or are looking for a new story to read, in no particular order, here are some celebrated science fiction tales that defy expectations.

Starting off the list at #1 is Dreams Before the Start of Time, by Anne Charnock, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, considered the United Kingdom's premier prize for science fiction literature. Set in a near future London, Millie places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, while across town, her closest friend, Toni, puts her hand on a medic console for a devastating diagnosis.

Told through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations, the story explores what happens when infertility is a thing of the past. Publishers Weekly calls it a skillfully executed multigenerational saga, while Nina Allan, author of The Rift, hails it as a luminous, deftly crafted and occasionally disturbing portrait of the future we may be entering.

Told through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations, the story explores what happens when infertility is a thing of the past.

At #2 is Famous Men Who Never Lived, by K Chess. The story follows Hel, one of the thousands who fled the outbreak of nuclear war in an alternate United States. She finds herself living as a refugee in New York with her partner, Vikram, who attempts to assimilate to their new world. Rather than adapt to her current reality, Hel dedicates herself to preserving the memories of her vanished culture.

Listed among the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books by The Washington Post and Polygon, Famous Men Who Never Lived was also one of The A.V. Club's 15 Best Books of 2019. Booklist says the story offers an intriguing and fresh spin on the parallel worlds theme, and Foreword calls it magnificent and an awesome and humbling literary achievement.

Coming in at #3 is Challenges of the Gods by C. Hofsetz, which tells the story of Mike, who, after a betrayal by his fiancee, finds himself in what he thinks might be the afterlife. Instead, it's a parallel universe, mistakenly made by the gods. With both worlds in peril, they need someone from his planet to destroy the alternate, and Mike is randomly selected for the job.

Instead, it's a parallel universe, mistakenly made by the gods.

Mike accepts his mission and returns to Earth, where he meets Jane, whose passion for humanity causes his resolve to falter. Readers' Favorite gave Challenges of the Gods five stars, while Midwest Book Review calls it a riveting great read from beginning to end, and BookViral praises its intelligent musings.

Entering the list at #4 is Prophecy, by Lea Kirk, which has received recognition from several contests, such as Pages From the Heart, and On the Far Side, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. When ER nurse Alexandra Bock is imprisoned aboard an alien slave ship following an attack on Earth, she deems all aliens untrustworthy, including Gryf Helyg, the blue skinned captain who shares her cell.

Because of Helyg, Earth's inhabitants face extinction and his home world is threatened. But his plans for escape are complicated by an inexplicable attraction to Alexandra. One ancient prophecy holds the key to the freedom of their war ravaged worlds. Though they have lost everything, they must learn to trust and forgive in order to fulfill the vision.

Though they have lost everything, they must learn to trust and forgive in order to fulfill the vision.

Finishing up the list at #5 is The Postman by David Brin. The story follows Gordon, the survivor of a bio war who trades tales for food and shelter. After he borrows the jacket of a long dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold, he begins to weave the narrative of a nation on the road to recovery.

Turned into a major motion picture starring Kevin Costner, OMNI Online hailed The Postman as one of ten science fiction books that changed the genre forever. Other accolades include nominations for the 1986 Nebula and Hugo, and winner of Locus and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for best novel.