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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Top 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Books


Science fiction tried to predict the future. There are several inventions that were first seen in science fiction books and did not hit the shelves decades later. There are some science fiction books that stood out compared to their contemporaries. These titles influenced other works in pop culture such as films, video games, and TV series.

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10. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
A Canticle for Leibowitz,  Walter M. Miller Jr, Science Fiction, Novel
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A Canticle for Leibowitz is written during the heydays of the Cold War when mankind seemed to be in the total brink of destruction back in 1959. The book is set thousands of years into the future after a nuclear war, and the novel is divided into 3 novellas named  "Fiat Homo" ("Let There Be Man") "Fiat Lux" ("Let There Be Light") "Fiat Voluntas Tua" ("Thy Will Be Done"). Each of these stories has an overall theme of cyclical history, with each part spanning 600 years. The books have been cited by several critics as one of the most important works of science fiction that deals with a post-apocalyptic world or nuclear wastelands.


9. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash , Neal Stephenson, Book, Science Fiction
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This stylish classic cyberpunk tale is a modern classic in science fiction. Many criticize the book for its convoluted and often confusing plot but the overall atmosphere and action scenes carefully crafted by Neal Stephenson can leave the readers at the edge of their seat on every page. This 480-page modern science fiction classic remained stylish up to this day.


8. Neuromancer by William Gibson
Neuromancer, William Gibson, Books, Science Fiction
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This novel popularized the cyberpunk movement. High tech-low life aesthetic and overall atmosphere of the novel influenced later works such as the aforementioned title, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. The novel also popularized the cyberspace trope in science fiction, a world made of computer codes and hackers that thrive in that world. The novel won  Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award, these were the awards that cemented Neuromancer in the science fiction genre.


7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, Books, Science Fiction
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The grimdark future of Brave New World strangely mirrors our world today full of constant stimulation and excesses. The novel itself is not perfect and is often criticized for plagiarizing earlier works such as Yevgeny Zamyatin's We and is often compared to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The novel was adapted several times and is recently being adapted as a web series for Peacock an NBC subsidiary.


6. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur Clarke, Books, Science Fiction
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This science-fiction classic where the film is based on predicted the use of digital tablets and A.I assistants. The film might be more popular and influential than the novel, but the novel is a great expansion of the lore and story behind Stanley Kubrick's sublime masterpiece. The novel was followed by sequels: 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, 2061 Odyssey Three, and 3001: The Final Odyssey – 1997 novel.


5. Stranger on A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Stranger on A Strange Land, Robert Heinlein, Books, Science Fiction
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This novel like Brave New World attracted controversy at the time of its release because of its effect in the counterculture movement and it was wrongfully linked to the Manson Family Murders. Like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that explored mankind's insatiable need for stimulation, belief, and finding meaning in a meaningless society, Stranger on a Strange Land taps on the same themes but with a more elaborate explanation on how the fictional world works.


4. Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov, Books, Science Fiction
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The only book that is written as a series in the list, Foundation Trilogy unlike other books in this list created an intricate world full of conspiracies, rising and falling empires, and the concept of psychohistory. Isaac Asimov wrote a novel ahead of its time and influenced the space opera genre. Without Foundation, there would be no Star Wars and many other galaxy-spanning works of fiction.


3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, Books, Science Fiction
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This is a classic book about censorship and control of thought and information. The setting may have not aged well due to the invention of the Internet but Ray Bradbury's criticism of the control of information and literature is even disturbing up to this day. The book predicted the effect of mass media and way books might be obsolete in the future since mass media is more palatable, and thought control is more possible through the use of conditioning and propaganda.


2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, Books, Science Fiction
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The unsettling vision of a future where there is absolute government control of every facet of a person's life is what made Nineteen Eighty-Four a compelling novel. The narrative of Orwell’s dystopian classic revolves around Winston Smith, also the novel’s main protagonist. And through the eyes of Smith, we see a world shackled by an oppressive dictatorship. The way Orwell portrayed a dystopian world influenced later works such as A Handmaid's Tale, V for Vendetta, and many other works that dealt with similar themes.


1. Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune, Frank Herbert, Books, Science Fiction
Image: H. Emmanuel Figueroa
The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning classic influenced major science fiction and space opera franchise such as Star Wars. Dune is considered as the Lord of the Rings of Science Fiction because of its themes, fictional language, and overall epic atmosphere throughout. The 2020 film adaptation is something that people should look forward to.

These books are the essentials of science fiction. These books are varying in length we can read some in one sitting like Fahrenheit 451, while some might take a little time to finish such as the Foundation Trilogy. The influence of these works of science fiction will continue to induce awe and wonder to everyone with interest in science fiction and literature in general.

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