Science fiction is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent genres in our current culture. Some of the most hyped and heavily-anticipated movies this year were science fiction (take, for example, Prometheus). And while some science fiction stories do suffer from one-dimensional characters and incomprehensible plotlines (like Prometheus), most are very thought-provoking and intelligent.
If you’ve never read any novels within this genre but have always been curious to know what’s so fascinating about aliens and robot menaces, here are seven books that will set you up on the right path. Since you’re probably busy writing papers and work right now, you might want to save the pleasure reading for winter break. Or, perhaps, read them as a study break or to escape the horrid reality of the next few weeks. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I chose seven, it’s because that’s the number of times I thought about leaving the movie theater during Prometheus.
1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – A novel that existed before the term “science fiction” was actually coined; some tend to believe that Frankenstein should actually be considered more gothic fiction. But with its speculative nature about 19th century technologies, Frankenstein’s concept of bringing life to the lifeless could be considered an early precursor to novels about robots and androids.
2. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells – One of the first novels to deal with mankind’s encounter with a hostile alien race, this is the novel to which all other alien stories owe credit. Even better, Orson Welles narrated a radio broadcast where he presented it as a news broadcast, and people actually believed him. That’s crazy, old Orson Welles for you.
3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – All the way back in 1932, authors were already contemplating future reproductive technologies. It’s also a favorite on schools’ “Most Banned Books” lists, so you know there has to be a lot of juicy stuff in there.
4. 1984 by George Orwell – A dystopian, satirical novel that defined the concept of “Big Brother.” If you want to join in on the crazy conversations your conspiracist friends are having about how the government is watching everything you do, this book is a must-read.
5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – Philip K. Dick is one of the most important science fiction writers of the last century, and more importantly, this is the book that inspired Blade Runner. And Blade Runner is awesome. While Dick has a huge catalogue of works, this is certainly one of the most accessible and easiest to understand.
6. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Don’t let the weird title fool you, this book is pretty easy to grasp. And oddly enough, it’s actually a science fiction book that kind of tells us to be wary of science and technology and promotes subjects in the humanities. I know, weird, right?
7. We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely – This graphic novel (yes, graphic novel, don’t call it a comic book) is the most adorably violent thing you’ll ever read. Its premise is pretty basic: it follows the story of a dog, a cat and a rabbit separated from their owners that are just trying to find their way home. Also, the dog, the cat and the rabbit are cyborgs designed by the military to replace humans in military combat. So yeah, pretty basic premise.
For those of you who have stuck around this far into my rambling, allow me to reward your patience with a little essay-writing tip (because if you’re like me, you have a ton of essays to write before the quarter’s over). One of the biggest complaints I’ve gotten from professors and TA’s is the use of the passive voice. There’s nothing grammatically wrong with it, but it can create sentences that are confusing and boring. Take for example this sentence:
The door was left open by Jim.
Jim is the one doing the action, but he’s the object of the sentence as opposed to the subject. Instead, write the sentence like this:
Jim left the door open.
Now the reader can clearly see that Jim is the one performing the action. It may seem small and insignificant, but trust me, it really will make a difference to the person grading your essay.
Are there any science fiction novels you’ve read recently that you just want to share with the world? Do you have any tips for writing essays that you’ve learned over the course of your college career? What did you really think of Prometheus? Comment below or tweet @dbmojo.