15 Interesting Sci-Fi Books Worth Reading

After writing a list of interesting horror books, I’ve decided that some of our readers could also be interested in a similar article concerning sci-fi. Would you add any titles? Please let me know in the comments. 

Interesting sci-fi books

1. Blindsight – Peter Watts

While usually associated with hard science fiction, Blindsight is also an excellent sci-fi horror. The story presented by Peter Watts is densely packed with ideas, which force the reader to wonder – how would the first contact with an alien civilization look like? Would we be even able to communicate with each other? If you like thought-provoking, well-written sci-fi horror – this one won’t disappoint you. 

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2. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is, without a doubt, one of the best weird sci-fi novels ever written. By sending us into a world harrassed by Palmer Eldritch’s disturbing visions, Philip K. Dick makes us question the reality as we know it and ask ourselves a lot of questions concerning faith, God, and possible first contact with other civilization. If you are looking for a good, ambitious novel – this one shouldn’t disappoint you.

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3. A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller Jr.

I believe A Canticle for Leibowitz is a perfect example showing that science fiction genre, often disregarded, offers much more than just lasers, spaceships, and terrifying aliens. Miller’s novel is a book about faith, science, and finding the right balance between them. Highly recommended.

You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.

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4. Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky is a profound, thought-provoking novel, forcing the reader to reflect on the nature of man and his place in the universe. The story is also a good start if you would like to get to know other sci-fi books written by those Russian authors.

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5. The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

In my opinion, The Three-Body Problem is one of the best hard sci-fi novels in recent years. The story written by Cixin Liu presents an original look at our place in the universe, while also heavily depending on science.

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6. Invisible Planets – anthology edited by Ken Liu

If you would like to get to know Chinese sci-fi better, there is no better place to start than Invisible Planets – anthology edited by Ken Liu. Apart from short stories, the book also contains some fascinating essays concerning the development of sci-fi in China.

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7. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a genuinely timeless novel, drawing our attention to the dehumanization of science and human cruelty towards the weak. Daniel Keys encourages the readers to question the world as we know it and hang to our humanity. 

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8. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is a true gem of sci-fi and in my opinion, one of the best ways to introduce someone to the genre. The short stories contained in this anthology are full of nostalgia and loneliness, which, combined with timeless problems raised by the author, make the reader wonder about the fate of our civilization. 

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9. Solaris – Stanisław Lem

Lem’s Solaris is one of the best Polish sci-fi novels and definitely an interesting proposition for any fan of the genre. Peter Watt’s Blindsight is often compared to this one, as the idea for the first contact with an alien civilization is pretty similar in both of these great books. 

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10. Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

The Earth is overpopulated; people try to escape the depressing reality by using new types of drugs, and machines are getting dangerously intelligent. John Brunner’s novel Stand on Zanzibar is definitely one of the most interesting and disturbing visions of the future, you can find in sci-fi. 

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11. Hyperion – Dan Simmons

The intergalactic war is coming, something strange is starting to happen in the Valley of Time Tombs, and a terrifying creature called Shrike is somehow connected to all of this. In the meantime, seven pilgrims decide to set out on a journey to the planet Hyperion, which might offer an answer to all their questions. In my opinion, next to Terror, this novel is one of the best Dan Simmons’ works. 

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12. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert Heinlein

Facing problems of overpopulation and hunger on the Earth, the governments decided to send their convicts to the penal colony placed on the Moon. There are no bars, no guards, the prisoners may complain about their situation, but what can they really do? Many of the themes presented in Heinlein’s books were then re-used in other sci-fi works – it’s one of the classics really worth knowing. 

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13. The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut

While Kurt Vonnegut wrote many great novels, I have a kind of special sentiment towards this one. The Sirens of Titan presents the story of Malachi Constant – rich degenerate who is offered a chance to set out on a space journey. The author encourages us to question the purpose of human life while not forgetting to lighten the mood (only a little) with his unique sense of humor. 

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14. Metro 2033 – Dmitry Glukhovsky

While right now there are dozens of novels placed in the universes created by Dmitry Glukhovsky, I think that Metro 2033 is undoubtedly the best one of them. The remnants of humanity try to survive in dangerous, dark Moscow underground, full of strange, mutated creatures. Glukhovsky’s novel is not only highly entertaining but also really well written. Great proposition for any fan of post-apocalyptic books and interesting sci-fi books in general. 

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15. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

The novels start when the Earth is about to be demolished in order to make way for a galactic freeway. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, armed with the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, leave the planet and set off on a crazy journey during which they will, for example, find the answer for the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Light, funny, and thought-provoking, Douglas Adams’ book is a must-have for any sci-fi fan and an obvious choice on any list of interesting sci-fi books.

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That’s it then – my list of interesting sci-fi books. Have you read all of them? What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments.

Samuel R. Delany - "Dhalgren"

“Dhalgren” Samuel R. Delany – review

Some time ago, during shopping for books on Amazon, I stumbled upon the series called SF Masterworks. One of the titles immediately picked my curiosity — Dhalgren by Samuel Delany. Science fiction novel with weird fiction elements? Count me in! Was it worth reading? Let’s find out.

PS. You might also want to check out our previous reviews – The Fisherman by John Langan and Borne by Jeff VanderMeer.

"Dhalgren" Samuel R. Delany - review

Dhalgren is one of the most controversial sci-fi novels I have heard of — some call it a masterpiece, while others consider it to be incomprehensible gibberish (for instance Philip K. Dick thought so). Well, I think it’s a little bit of both.

You have confused the true and real

First of all, let’s take a look at the times in which Dhalgren was created (1974). Those were really intense year in the United States — protests against war, the fight for human rights or the possibility of nuclear annihilation. Also, shortly before writing his most know novel, Samuel Delany suffered a serious nervous breakdown. All aforementioned factors inspired a book, which William Gibson, the author of, for instance, Neuromancer) called a riddle not meant to be solved

The action takes place in a ruined, fallen city called Bellona, which brings to mind associations with the nightmarish Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hill. Due to some disaster, the town’s population fell from two million to about a thousand. The remaining inhabitants created bizarre communities, they don’t have even the slightest idea what year is his (tho local newspaper changes the randomly changes the dates every day), two moons are visible in the sky, and in many places, you can see posters of some well know rapist. Moral principles don’t exist anymore. The picture of destroyed, mysterious Bellona is, in my opinion, the most impressive element of this novel and it stayed with me for a long time after I had finished Dhalgren. 

The main character of Samuel Delany’s novel is a man in his late twenties, schizophrenic who does not remember his name. The author repeatedly shows us ambiguities concerning him — a hero and criminal, gentle and brutal, poet and a cheater or the fact, that he looks much younger than he actually is. While reading Dhalgren you can notice some similarities between the main character and Samuel Delany himself — for instance, mental illness or problems with determining his sexual orientation. How will the stay in surreal Bellona end for the man? Well, the novel doesn’t really offer the answer to this question, or at least not in the traditional sense.

Dhalgren also reminded me of the works of David Lynch. In the novel, you can find the overwhelming, oneiric atmosphere, strange, even absurd at times dialogues and dream-like visions, natural for this director. However, when it comes to accessibility, Delany’s book is much more like Inland Empire than for example first two seasons of Twin Peaks. Despite their absurdity, most Lynch films tell a story and in one way or another, reward the patient viewer who decided to make an effort and delve into the world depicted in the movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way with Dhalgren.  

There is no articulate resonance. The common problem, I suppose, is to have more to say than vocabulary and syntax can bear. That is why I am hunting in these desiccated streets. The smoke hides the sky’s variety, stains consciousness, covers the holocaust with something safe and insubstantial. It protects from greater flame. It indicates fire, but obscures the source. This is not a useful city. Very little here approaches any eidolon of the beautiful.

I definitely agree with William Gibson and his opinion, that Delany’s novel is a mystery without solution and after finishing it, we fall into the loop which leads us straight to the beginning of the book. The disturbing vision of the world without rules, overexaggerating the events which took place in the 1960s and 70s, elements of various mythologies, distorting people and their sense of morality allowed Delany to create a place, where weird feels known and normal, while the reality as we know it seems strange and distant. 

There are many theories trying to solve Dhalgren’s riddle. Which one is correct? Well, in my opinion, there is no one right answer to this question. I think that Delany’s main goal was to give us certain weird experience and if it’s true — he definitely succeeded. 

Summing up:

Despite the fact that during my adventure with Dhalgren I often doubted if I will be able to finish the book (especially in the second half which is really brutal) and no real answer to the novel’s riddle, I don’t regret reading it. As I said, Delany’s book is a piece of art, it’s aim is to leave us with a certain feeling. For me, the fallen city of Bellona is one of the most haunting literary experiences and a real treat for every weird fiction fan. I think, that Dhalgren is at worst worth giving it a try.

Grade: 7/10

Have you read this book? What do you think about Dhalgren? Please let us know in the comments.

You can buy the book here:

Samuel R. Delany - "Dhalgren"

“Dhalgren” Samuel R. Delany – book review

Some time ago, during shopping for books on Amazon, I stumbled upon the series called SF Masterworks. One of the titles immediately picked my curiosity — Dhalgren by Samuel Delany. Science fiction novel with weird fiction elements? Count me in! Was it worth reading? Let’s find out.

PS. You might also want to check out our previous reviews – The Fisherman by John Langan and Borne by Jeff VanderMeer.

"Dhalgren" Samuel R. Delany - review

Dhalgren is one of the most controversial sci-fi novels I have heard of — some call it a masterpiece, while others consider it to be incomprehensible gibberish (for instance Philip K. Dick thought so). Well, I think it’s a little bit of both.

You have confused the true and real

First of all, let’s take a look at the times in which Dhalgren was created (1974). Those were really intense year in the United States — protests against war, the fight for human rights or the possibility of nuclear annihilation. Also, shortly before writing his most know novel, Samuel Delany suffered a serious nervous breakdown. All aforementioned factors inspired a book, which William Gibson, the author of, for instance, Neuromancer) called a riddle not meant to be solved

The action takes place in a ruined, fallen city called Bellona, which brings to mind associations with the nightmarish Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hill. Due to some disaster, the town’s population fell from two million to about a thousand. The remaining inhabitants created bizarre communities, they don’t have even the slightest idea what year is his (tho local newspaper changes the randomly changes the dates every day), two moons are visible in the sky, and in many places, you can see posters of some well know rapist. Moral principles don’t exist anymore. The picture of destroyed, mysterious Bellona is, in my opinion, the most impressive element of this novel and it stayed with me for a long time after I had finished Dhalgren. 

The main character of Samuel Delany’s novel is a man in his late twenties, schizophrenic who does not remember his name. The author repeatedly shows us ambiguities concerning him — a hero and criminal, gentle and brutal, poet and a cheater or the fact, that he looks much younger than he actually is. While reading Dhalgren you can notice some similarities between the main character and Samuel Delany himself — for instance, mental illness or problems with determining his sexual orientation. How will the stay in surreal Bellona end for the man? Well, the novel doesn’t really offer the answer to this question, or at least not in the traditional sense.

Dhalgren also reminded me of the works of David Lynch. In the novel, you can find the overwhelming, oneiric atmosphere, strange, even absurd at times dialogues and dream-like visions, natural for this director. However, when it comes to accessibility, Delany’s book is much more like Inland Empire than for example first two seasons of Twin Peaks. Despite their absurdity, most Lynch films tell a story and in one way or another, reward the patient viewer who decided to make an effort and delve into the world depicted in the movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way with Dhalgren.  

There is no articulate resonance. The common problem, I suppose, is to have more to say than vocabulary and syntax can bear. That is why I am hunting in these desiccated streets. The smoke hides the sky’s variety, stains consciousness, covers the holocaust with something safe and insubstantial. It protects from greater flame. It indicates fire, but obscures the source. This is not a useful city. Very little here approaches any eidolon of the beautiful.

I definitely agree with William Gibson and his opinion, that Delany’s novel is a mystery without solution and after finishing it, we fall into the loop which leads us straight to the beginning of the book. The disturbing vision of the world without rules, overexaggerating the events which took place in the 1960s and 70s, elements of various mythologies, distorting people and their sense of morality allowed Delany to create a place, where weird feels known and normal, while the reality as we know it seems strange and distant. 

There are many theories trying to solve Dhalgren’s riddle. Which one is correct? Well, in my opinion, there is no one right answer to this question. I think that Delany’s main goal was to give us certain weird experience and if it’s true — he definitely succeeded. 

Summing up:

Despite the fact that during my adventure with Dhalgren I often doubted if I will be able to finish the book (especially in the second half which is really brutal) and no real answer to the novel’s riddle, I don’t regret reading it. As I said, Delany’s book is a piece of art, it’s aim is to leave us with a certain feeling. For me, the fallen city of Bellona is one of the most haunting literary experiences and a real treat for every weird fiction fan. I think, that Dhalgren is at worst worth giving it a try.

Grade: 7/10

Have you read this book? What do you think about Dhalgren? Please let us know in the comments.

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