Five sci-fi books that changed the way I think

Friday 5th February 2016

I was inspired to write this because I've just finished the incredible Accelerando and I'm looking for more books like it.

It's really hard to get this list down to just five books, originally I started at just three to make it more accessible but just couldn't do it!

I've bought one copy of each of these books to give away to the first five people to leave a comment. You can only have one book, so say which one you'd like, and then send me a message with your address.

Update: all books gone! Sorry.


5. Flowers For Algernon

Daniel Keyes, 1966

The moving story of a young man with an IQ of 86 whose intelligence is boosted in an experiment.

It's one of the very few books to move me to tears, and the only sci-fi novel. It gave me a glimpse into the world of intellectual disability the way that The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time helped me understand autism.

Later made into a movie called CHAЯLY but I can't bear to watch it, I can't believe it could be as good as the book.




4. Starmaker

Olaf Stapledon, 1937

Although it's only 337 pages, this is the largest scale of a book I've ever read.

Several times I had to put it down for a few days because it was making my brain hurt, it was the first sci-fi novel to give me a sense of scale of the universe and my tiny, tiny place in it.

This novel is utterly incredible, and proves that vintage sci-fi can be just as relevant - it's 80 years old!

There's no way you could make this into a film so it's safe.



3. Accelerando

Charles Stross, 2005

As the title suggests, a book about the ever-increasing pace of technological change.

Incredibly dense and filled with so many ideas that I had to stop reading every few hours and consult Wikipedia to get my head around the story.

Halfway through I realised that some of the concepts he portrays as futuristic already exist, such as the metacortex, an external part of your brain. Parts of my mind are already stored online, for example my ambitions.




2. Consider Phlebas

Iain M. Banks, 1987

I used to be a misanthrope until I read my first Culture novel!

Reading this book, and the rest of the series, made me fall in love with humanity and gave me hope that our species has a future.

If the future is anything like the way Iain M Banks tells it, I'm gutted that I was born too early.

My only problem with these novels are the character names! Using lots of Zs and Xs and apostrophes in names to make them look alien is really dated.




1. The Forever War

Joe Haldeman, 1974

An interstellar war fought between humans and aliens is the backdrop for this story of alienation of troops returning from war, said to be an analogy of the author's experiences after Vietnam.

This book made me appreciate how strange it must be come back to a country that you have fought for, only to find it changed beyond recognition.

Ridley Scott is apparently making it into a film right now, let's hope he does a good job.



What are your favourite sci-fi novels? Leave a comment below.


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