The best science fiction books are more than lightsabers and aliens who want to “phone home”.
Basically, good science fiction fiction sets out to tackle current issues in a future setting – but there is also an opportunity for the authors to let their imaginations run wild and take readers on a fantasy adventure.
Sci-fi books are among the best books of 2021. Whether it’s a dystopian world decimated by war, a time-consuming life story that has been lived many times, of an intelligent artificial being seeking the truth about love, from a troubled guardian with the keys to a firm body or an astronaut trapped on a distant planet with no way back, each story on this list is an insightful, evocative, thrilling and empowering must.
Whether you read your books on one of the best e-readers or prefer a printed book, find out which sci-fi books we recommend you add to your stack to read today.
The best science fiction books to read in 2021
1. Klara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature focuses on what it means to love. But this being Ishiguro, the protagonist doing her best to figure this out is Klara, an artificial friend who waits in a store, observing who comes in and wanders and hoping that one of them chooses to bring her home. But has she invested too much hope in the decency of humans? A surprising, tender and beautiful story – and a fantastic book for a book club.
2. The Galaxy and the Inner Ground by Becky Chamber
The latest installment in Becky Chambers’ hugely popular Wayfarers series – a sequel to A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, A Closed And Common Orbit, and Record Of A Spaceborn Few – takes place on planet Gora, a dark place considering its absence of air, water or native life. The only advantage is its proximity to larger planets and wormholes, which makes it the perfect location for a pit stop. It’s in Gora, at an establishment called Five-Hop One-Stop, that three tired travelers meet and their lives collide. An infinitely imaginative and fantastic conclusion to a series of fascinating novels.
3. Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where Earth has made contact and declared war on the seemingly peaceful planet Qita, this novel is a provocative examination of humanity, history, and self. The titular Skyward Inn is a safe place, a sanctuary where people come to share stories from their pre-war lives. Innkeepers Jem and Isley are veterans on either side of the conflict, but each keep their battle scars deeply buried. That is, until a mysterious ancient acquaintance emerges … A completed literary reading that is as disturbing as it is captivating.
4. Spare parts by Michael Marshall Smith
First published in 1998, Spares has earned a cult following and remains a standout star in the sci-fi genre pool. Set in a wildly futuristic world of flying malls and talking fridges, it follows Jack Randall, an hapless janitor working on a human clone farm known as Spares. People are being transformed there as body part fodder for the rich and the rich, and Jack knows that is wrong. But there’s nothing he can do about it, can he? Bafflingly approaching an alternate reality that seems terribly plausible, Spares does what all great science fiction should by asking the question: what if?
5. That of John Marrs
If all it took to find your soul mate was a simple mouth swab, would you take it? That’s the ingenious premise at the heart of this thrilling thriller – whose TV adaptation is currently thrilling viewers on Netflix – and it’s juicy. The story centers on five people who have passed their test and are about to meet their Match. But it turns out that science has little to do with love – and while a gene can predict a connection, it can’t warn you of the dangers human beings can pose to each other. to others.
6. Q by Christina Dalcher
So painfully plausible that it will make you wince, this second novel from the best-selling author of Vox is set in a dystopian world obsessed with perfection. Elena Fairchild works as a teacher at one of the government’s elite schools for children with high “Q” scores, and she believes in the system. That is, until his own daughter does not succeed and is taken away from him. Elena feels that she has no choice but to follow her child to the mysterious institute, only to find that perfection really comes at a huge and horrible cost.
7. The sight of you by Holly Miller
One of the best love books but with a sci-fi slant, this pick from the Richard & Judy Book Club tells the story of Joel, who became somewhat of a recluse due to his ability to see the future of those he loves in his dreams, and Callie, the woman he falls for despite everything. When Joel learns exactly what awaits his new love, it leaves him with an impossible and heartbreaking decision. An astonishing and deeply moving novel with a strong moral catchphrase at its heart.
8. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
This multi-award winning novel was a choice of Waterstones and BBC Radio 2 Book Club and recommended reading by Richard & Judy – with good reason. No matter what Harry August does, how good or how miserable he chooses to live, he always knows what will happen at the end of his life – he will go back to childhood with all the knowledge he has accumulated over the course of his life. of his past lives. However, at the end of his eleventh life, something new happens to Harry; a girl appears at his bedside with a message about a mystery that must be unraveled. A magnificent one-of-a-kind novel.
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9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A modern historical fiction book, The Time Traveller’s Wife is both a sci-fi novel and a heart-wrenching read. Henry met his wife Clare when she was six and he was 36, but they married when she was 22 and he was 30. How this is possible and what it means for the characters is intelligently explored and heart in this original and haunting novel, which hooks from the start and doesn’t let go until its devastating final scene. A true modern classic for a reason.
10. Elsewhere by Dean Koontz
Jeff has been raising his daughter Amity on his own since his wife Michelle disappeared seven years ago, and life in their small California town isn’t that bad. One day, Jeff’s friend Ed – known locally as “Mr. Spooky” – shows up at the door with a request. He wants Jeff to take care of something for him, a box that contains the “key to everything”, which he claims is being hunted down by a bunch of demonic agents. Warned not to open the box, Jeff sets it aside. But then something came to his mind – what if he could use the key to find Michelle? Almost as soon as he lifts the lid, however, life begins to change in an extremely sinister way.
11. Andy Weir’s Martian
The best-selling book behind the great Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon is one of the best movie adaptation books. It focuses on an astronaut who finds himself stranded on Mars. Trapped in a habitat designed to last only 31 days, Mark knows he’s at risk of starving, thirst, or suffocation – and that’s if he’s lucky enough not to be destroyed. Mark has no way of communicating with Earth or the crew that left him behind believing him dead, and until he can figure out how to send a message he must find a way to survive. A thrilling pulse and gloriously rich in detail, this is a sci-fi fan’s dream read.
12. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Recently selected as a read between the covers for BBC Two, this second novel by award-winning author Costa of The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle is a historic cooler with a supernatural edge. The year is 1634 and the world’s greatest detective, Samuel Pipps, is on board a ship bound for Amsterdam where he is at risk of being executed. With him is his loyal bodyguard Arent, who believes his friend to be innocent and is desperate to save him. This is no ordinary journey – a twice-dead leper prowls around bridges, strange symbols appear on the sails, and it seems that a demon is marking souls for death. With Pipps locked up, it’s up to Arent to solve the mystery before it’s too late.
13. The Bees by Laline Paull
Flora 717 is a sanitary bee, living only to serve, obey and clean the hive. She must be ready at all times to sacrifice herself for the Queen. But unlike other mutated bees, Flora has skills that set her apart and she is ultimately allowed to feed the young before being upgraded to collecting pollen. Soon Flora finds herself in the Inner Sanctuary, cleared into the orbit of the Queen herself, and that’s when her life takes a dangerous turn. Ambitious and imaginative, The Bees demands a lot from its reader – but the rewards are miraculous.
14. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Don’t let the deadly virus pandemic at the heart of this story deter you from reading it, because Station Eleven is so much more than just a survival story. Twenty years after 99% of the population was eradicated, Kirsten is working as an actress in the Traveling Symphony, a group of artists who roam the colonies playing Shakespeare to those who remain. When the world she began to believe in is threatened, Kirsten is forced to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in order to hold on to hope. A deep and enlightening tour de force of a novel.
15. The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray
We are in 2059 and the Earth has stopped rotating. Half the planet bakes in the scorching sun while the other shivers in the freezing darkness. The only area where humans can survive is in the sparse region between the two sides, and it is here, in isolated Britain, that scientist Ellen Hopper receives a letter from a dying man. He has a secret to share, and it’s a secret those in power will stop at nothing to hide it. Thrilling, twisty, swift and clever, this dystopian yet believable tale is filled with suspense and utterly unmistakable.