What Makes This Book So Great: Re-Reading the Classics of Fantasy and SF

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There's descriptions of how to fertilise potatoes with your own excrement, and hack a life-support system for a Martian rover — in levels of detail that the movie adaptation starring Matt Damon came nowhere near to reaching.

The sassy, pop-culture laden writing style won't be to everyone's taste — this book probably won't get taught in English Literature lessons — but the first-person perspective makes sense for this story of an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet with no way to get home. Buy on Amazon.

Re-Reading the Classics of Science Fiction and Fantasy

The book follows main character Hiro Protagonist yes, really , an elite hacker and swordsman, as he tries to stop the spread of a dangerous virus being propagated by a religious cult. It combines neurolinguistics, ancient mythology and computer science, and eerily predicts social networks, cryptocurrency and Google Earth. Asimov was a prolific writer, but many of his best works are classic short stories such as Nightfall , or The Last Question , which play out like long jokes with a punchline twist at the end.

The Foundation series follows Hari Seldon, who is the architect of psychohistory — a branch of mathematics that can make accurate predictions thousands of years in advance, and which Seldon believes is necessary to save the human race from the dark ages. This landmark novel begins with a simple proposition — what if humans could teleport? First published as Tiger! In , Wired US readers voted Dune the best science-fiction novel of all time. A hopefully better effort is currently in production, directed by Denis Villeneuve.

Where To Start With Young Adult Science Fiction

The series is set 20, years in the future in galaxies stuck in the feudal ages, where computers are banned for religious reasons and noble families rule whole planets. We focus on the planet Arrakis, which holds a material used as a currency throughout the Universe for its rarity and mind-enhancing powers.


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Lots of giant sandworms, too. Le Guin alternated between genres during her prolific career, and this intricate novel came out the year after the classic fantasy book A Wizard of Earthsea. It was one of the first novels to touch on ideas of androgyny — which is viewed from the lens of protagonist Genly Ai, a visitor from Earth who struggles to understand this alien culture. It is a remarkable achievement, a necessary read like Dune or The Lord of the Rings.

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When young Elmer hears the tale of a baby dragon imprisoned on a faraway island, he undertakes a journey to free the dragon, and encounters incredible sights and creatures along the way. The book is unsurpassably charming, and the illustrations iconic. While the story itself has all of the cliches and tropes that make up high fantasy, Rothfuss has managed to write an engaging tale with beautiful prose and musical words.

Orphaned when his parents are killed by the Chandrian, Kvothe tells the tale of his rise from the streets of Tarbean to the University and beyond as he hunts for the ways of revenge. One of the most important books of the last quarter century. A mysterious circus serves as the backdrop of a years-long duel between two magicians, who have always known they must compete against one another, despite not knowing their competitor or the reason behind the competition.

The classic tale by T. The book that began the TV series phenomonon. Complex characters. Great storytelling. And all set amidst historical backgrounds that the reader becomes swept away within. Claire Randall is a former British combat nurse who finds herself pulled into a past that threatens her life even as it threatens the love in her heart. An amazing story of time travel and romance. A book that, when published, showed the world how weird and beautiful fantasy can be. Filled with marvelously different characters and rife with scientific splendor, the magic that Mieville writes with is unparalleled in the genre.

Isaac has spent a lifetime at research in New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. An amazing tale for those who love the written word.


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  • The fantasy genre is constantly evolving. Prince of Thorns is a part of that evolution, one of the most important grimdark pieces to the overall puzzle. Jorg is a young prince who has lost everything and is on a quest for revenge, no matter what it takes and the lives he must kill to gain his goal.

    Gruesome, dark, and bloody, take a quest with the Road Brothers. What happens when a man tells a story to blind children at their school? He paints with words, words that would ultimately become Redwall , a wonderful first novel that would become a bestselling series.

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    Jacques tells the story of the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey, who must defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats. If only they had the sword of Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance…. Technically a set of three books contained in one volume, Patricia A. In a world where wizards have vanished, leaving behind their knowledge in the form of riddles, a young prince travels through this strange land in search of his destiny.

    Rosemary and Rue tracks the origins of urban fantasy legend October Daye, a half-human half-Fae woman drawn back into the immortal world by a horrendous murder. One of the first an best examples of modern urban fantasy. Nest Freemark is an Illinois teenager with a secret—she can do magic. A masterpiece of dark contemporary fantasy.

    In the scope of the fantasy genre, urban fantasy has become a heavyweight in readership. The long-running story of Harry Dresden begins with a grisly double-murder in Chicago, one that thrusts Harry into the darkest depths of magic, fairies, and Courts. Readers love Harry and the numerous characters and creatures he comes into contact with—and it only gets better with each published novel! Political ambitions, swashbuckling battles, and amorous affairs infuse this novel with a sense of thrilling urgency and just pure fun. Frankenstein ; or, The Modern Prometheus explores themes of isolation, prejudice, and a hubristic desire to play god, which are pretty evergreen as themes go.

    A landmark of Romantic and Gothic fiction, Frankenstein is a solid sci-fi classic, even two hundred years later. This post-apocalyptic journey explores the survival of human culture in the aftermath of a devastating disease by following a traveling troupe of actors in the Great Lakes region. Emily St.