Science Fiction for the Rest of Us

I’ll admit it straight up: I’ve never really liked science fiction.  I’ve never seen a single episode of Star Trek or read a book by Robert Heinlein.  But I’m a librarian, and in order to recommend books to readers of every genre, I have to read outside my comfort zone.  Thanks to a coworker, patrons, blog suggestions, and sheer luck, I’ve found sci fi that I not only like, but truly love and can recommend with sincere excitement!  So for those of you who are absolutely sure sci fi is not for you, try one of these and see if you change your mind.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I’ll admit it, I got as wrapped up in the Twilight series as everyone else.  So when Meyer’s non-Twilight book was published, I automatically checked it out.  Turns out it’s sci fi, and was easily one of the top five books I read last year.  I think I liked this book because while aliens and other worlds are a necessary part of the story, the book hinges on character development.  Before long, you’re so invested in the characters that nothing else matters.  Note: In my personal opinion, the first 75 pages of this book are a tad slow.  Please stick with the book – I promise you it’s worth it!

Eureka on DVD.  My cousin recommended this television series to me.  The concept is unique: the city of Eureka in the Pacific Northwest is the home of the most brilliant scientific minds in the country.  Founded by Einstein after World War II, the normal rules don’t apply in Eureka.  Enter the new Sheriff, Jack Carter, who is not a particularly brilliant mind, but must solve cases usually caused by science gone awry.  It’s filled with laughs, and makes you wonder what might be going on in our country in a small town somewhere.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  I was finally convinced to read this sci fi classic by a friend who doesn’t usually read sci fic either.  I grudgingly picked it up and was immediately engrossed.  By immediately, I mean by the end of the first page.  Similar to my feelings about The Host, Ender’s Game is all about the characters who happen to be set in a futuristic setting.

The Eve Dallas series by J.D. Robb.  A coworker recommended this series to me.  I was a bit hesitant, because I couldn’t imagine how Nora Roberts (aka J.D. Robb) could write convincing sci fi mysteries.  I was thrilled when I realized that, like all good mysteries, the case was at the forefront, with the futuristic sci fi setting as the backdrop.  The mysteries are fun and complex, the characters are fun, and there are some gadgets Robb has thought up that I’m thoroughly looking forward to in the future!

So please, give sci fi a try.  Those of you reading this post who also used to be sci fi-resistant, please share the sci fi gems that you’ve found in the comments area.


2 thoughts on “Science Fiction for the Rest of Us”

  1. Ender’s Game is not what I would recommend to people who aren’t science fiction fans.

    Here’s what I would recommend as science fiction that’s interesting to a non-science fiction fan:
    Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow
    Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go
    Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (or Oryx and Crake or The Year of the Flood)
    Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark
    Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
    Matt Ruff’s Set This House In Order
    China Mieville’s The City and the City

    And of course, the classics:
    Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man
    Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
    George Orwell, 1984

  2. As a librarian, you simply cannot leave out Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, “murder mysteries” that take place in an alternate “Book World”. Full of dry British humor, obscure library jokes, and a multitude of literary references, these are some of the best alternate universe books I have ever read.

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