Science fiction is the genre utilized by visionary writers to transcend the barriers of the mundane and imagine a completely different society wielding unimaginably complex technology or, on the contrary, broken down post apocalyptic scenarios where humanity and adjacent species revert to the cave dwellers stage.
But that is exactly what makes science fiction so great, as not being forced to adapt the storyline to match current events or recreate historically accurate scenarios opens up a world of possibilities. Following, a list of what critics, awards and the number of copies sold deem to be the best sci-fi novels of all time.
1. Frank Herbert’s “Dune”
Arguably the biggest masterpiece of the science fiction genre, Dune has been highly acclaimed by critics and fans. For its authorship, Frank Herbert received the Nebula Prize and the Hugo Award. It is necessary to mention that Dune is only the original book in the 8 novel series written by Frank Herbert and Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) in collaboration Kevin J. Anderson have released several prequels to it. The plot revolves around a desert planet inhabited by rebels of the empire and gigantic sandworms, which just happens to be the only source of mélange – a drug with invaluable properties – in the galaxy. The immersive story involves political plots, strange religions and humanity’s time old quest for a messiah.
2. Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a strange land”
This international best seller shifts the paradigm of aliens completely. Rather than view them as ruthless invaders like H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein’s tale involves the adventures of a human born among Martians who returns to his home planet. Naturally, his Martian education gives him an entirely new perception of the Earth’s society and he embarks on a journey to overcome the differences of two species and put an end to fear and jealousy between them by creating the Church of All Worlds.
3. Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars”
Many critics have associated Robinson’s Red Mars with an instruction manual for the terra-forming of new worlds, except this particular manual is packed with an immersive plot, incredibly detailed characters and much more. The story line takes us on a journey alongside the original group of Mars colonists and their adventures of creating a new society. And, the main question is whether or not this planet should be transformed into a second Earth.
4. Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation”
Just like Dune, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is part of a huge series of novels and has several sequels and prequels. However, most people are only familiar with the Foundation Trilogy, which comprises of:
• Foundation and the Empire
• Second Foundation
The genius and vision of Isaac Asimov are evident in these books, as it weaves a complex tale of human empire that stretched out so far across space that Earth, its planet of origin was nearly forgotten. The fate of all empires, corruption, bureaucracy and intrigues has finally made the empire collapse. However, thanks to one man – the psycho-historian Hari Sheldon – and his desperate attempt to preserve humanity’s achievements and help the race transcend into a new era, there is still hope.
5. Arthur C. Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama”
By all accounts, the novel “Rendezvous with Rama” can be regarded as vastly superior to the world famous “2001: A Space Odyssey”. However, because the latter has inspired the popular movie with the same title, few people – safe for the diehard Arthur C. Clarke fans – know about it. In this book, a cylindrical-shaped object enters our solar system and a team of astronauts is sent to investigate its origin and purpose. It is then when they find out that what they believed to be a strange asteroid is in fact an alien craft filled with androids who were preparing to embark on an important mission.