“… no matter how far we travel or how fast we get there, the most profound discoveries are not necessarily beyond that next star. They’re within us, woven into the threads that bind us, all of us, to each other.”
– Captain Jonathan Archer, Star Trek: Enterprise
Science Fiction, along with Fantasy and Horror, has long been considered an unliterary genre of fiction. A genre of made-up inventions and pretend situations. A genre for nerds. And while this is certainly enough to satisfy my reading requirements, those who require morals and meaning from their fiction may be surprised by the depth this underappreciated genre has to offer. Star Trek, perhaps the most science-fictiony franchise to ever go to warp, has been challenging social norms and presenting an accepting and progressive front to the known universe since its inception. Its detachment from our current reality allows it to address difficult issues with a distance that means people don’t feel victimised for having a different opinion. People are far more open to new ideas and ways of thinking when they feel unthreatened. Star Trek is certainly not the only member of this genre to address current social and ethical issues. Becky Chambers’s novel The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Seth MacFarlane’s television series The Orville are two recent works that both subtly and overtly address current issues. One of these issues is the biological and physiological modification of both foetuses and newborn infants. A heavy topic made less-daunting through Science Fiction.
I’m pleased to say that so far this year I have read 73 books out of my target of 100 (according to Goodreads that’s 17 books ahead of schedule). I have decided that it’s time to share with you a list of my favourite reads from various categories and genres. I recommend every book on this list and absolutely insist that you immediately buy and read all of them.
Favourite New Fantasy Series
Brent Weeks is a genius. His Lightbringer series is completely refreshing and individual, the magic system is based on converting, or drafting, light to make tangible things. You can read my full review of the first book, The Black Prism, here. There are currently three books released (all over 700 pages in length) and book four is due to be release on October 25th this year! Excited doesn’t even cover it.
I have just finished the audiobook Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and narrated by the excellent Wil Wheaton. I think this book may have changed my life. It has changed the way I see both people and the world itself. Phenomenal.
I love a good series as much as the next person but stand alone novels are real gems. With a series, things are dragged out, mysteries are left unsolved and characters tend to take a while to get it together. In a stand alone you get a complete story, start to finish, in one conveniently bound, perfect package. Here are my current favourite fantasy/sci-fi stand alone novels.
The Martian by Andy Weir is an absolute triumph. I just finished listening to the unabridged audio book (narrated by the incredible R.C.Bray) and am so glad I chose to experience the book in this format. I listened to the whole thing in two days – I even cleaned my entire flat so that I would have an excuse to listen to this book.
Illuminae, co-written by Amie Kaufman (co-author of the Starbound series) and Jay Kristoff (author of The Lotus War) is the first thrilling book in The Illuminae Files. It is a work of science fiction using a series of e-mails, IMs, official reports and transcribed security footage to tell the story of two teenagers from a backwater planet.