Science Fiction books push our imaginations to experience possible futures that allow us to see beyond the present day and contemplate new worlds. Rather than limiting our reality, readers are exposed to science or technology that may be out of the box. It gives us countless opportunities to expand the environment in which we live by interacting with each other and creating a possible new vision of the future.
The following authors have done just that – they have let their imaginations run unrestricted and escape to innovative and unique realities and scientific developments that explain what a future would be like if different from what we already know.
A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Princess of Mars is a science fantasy novel. John Carter goes prospecting in Arizona immediately after the war’s end. Having struck a rich vein of gold, he runs afoul of the Apaches. While attempting to evade pursuit by hiding in a sacred cave, he is mysteriously transported to Mars, called “Barsoom” by its inhabitants. Carter finds that he has great strength and superhuman agility in this new environment as a result of its lesser gravity and lower atmospheric pressure. He soon falls in with a nomadic tribe of Green Martians. Thanks to his strength and martial prowess, Carter rises to a high position in the tribe and earns the respect and eventually the friendship of Tars Tarkas, one of the Thark chiefs.
Mysterious Island – Jules Verne
The story opens in Richmond, VA, 1865, during the American Civil War. A small group of Union soldiers steal a hot air balloon to escape a POW camp. They take off during a storm. The balloon is blown across continents and oceans, and they crash land on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific. It is both a shipwreck adventure and a mystery.
Dune – Frank Herbert
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud’dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family – and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. It is a stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics and won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
Macroscope – Piers Anthony
Throughout history, man has been searching for better ways to gather information about his universe. But although they may have longed for it, not even the most brilliant minds could conceive of a device as infinitely powerful or as immeasurably precise as the macroscope, until the twenty-first century. By analyzing information carried on macrons, this unbelievable tool brought the whole universe of wonders to man’s doorstep. The macroscope was seen by many as the salvation of the human race. But in the hands of the wrong man, the macroscope could be immensely destructive-infinitely more dangerous than the nuclear bomb. By searching to know too much, man could destroy the very essence of his mind. This is the powerful story of man’s struggle with technology, and also the story of his human struggle with himself. It is a story of coming of age, of sacrifice, and of love. It is the story of man’s desperate search for a compromise between his mind and his heart, between knowledge and humanity.
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Earnest and naive solicitor Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to organize the estate of the infamous Count Dracula at his crumbling castle in the ominous Carpathian Mountains. Through notes and diary entries, Harker keeps track of the horrors and terrors that beset him at the castle, telling his fiancé Mina of the Count’s supernatural powers and his own imprisonment. Although Harker eventually manages to escape and reunite with Mina, his experiences have led to a mental breakdown of sorts. Meanwhile in England, Mina’s friend Lucy has been bitten and begins to turn into a vampire. With the help of Professor Van Helsing, a previous suitor of Lucy’s, Seward, and Lucy’s fiancé Holmwood attempt to thwart Count Dracula and his attempts on Lucy and consequently Mina’s life.
Frankenstein – Mary Shelly
Frankenstein, published in 1818, is the most celebrated horror story ever written and one of the best-selling books of all time. It is the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist whose unbridled quest for the secret of life unleashes a creature that embodies our deepest fears about the moral bounds of human progress. Readers have been fascinated with the iconic image of Frankenstein’s monster and the unresolved ethical questions his creation challenges us to answer.
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all – a treasure-troving dragon named Smaug. In this fantasy classic, master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkein creates a bewitching world filled with delightful creatures and thrilling dangers.
Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.
1984 – George Orwell
In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be. Though the year 1984 now exists in the past, Orwell’s novel remains an urgent call for the individual willing to speak truth to power.
Foundation – Isaac Asimov
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humanity, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls this sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves—or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.
If you haven’t read these books, I hope you will soon. If you love books about dragons, check out my website at www.solitaireparke.com
John Hemingway once said, “there is no friend as loyal as a book.” I am a firm advocate of reading books. I believe, as both an avid reader and writer, that knowledge is power and that there is always something to learn which will in some way make you a better person or perhaps a better writer. Books can be motivational and inspiring or draw us into a magical world that takes us far from our often hectic and lackluster world. Many of us have certain books that are like an old friend we can always rely on for encouragement or allow our minds to become creative.
Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury’s favorite books that most influenced his career were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “John Carter: Warlord of Mars series“. “They entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home,” Bradbury said. “Within a short time, I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs.”
It’s interesting that Bradbury would be a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, since the same author is the one that started it all for me with the book “A Princess of Mars.” I have a very old hard cover of it sitting in my office in a glass enclosed case, in addition to a large number of his earliest paperback books that are prized possessions.
My favorite character from his books that I’ve read would have to be John Carter from the Barsoom novels. He was the most singularly minded person I’ve ever encountered. He was always in control, never faltered, was open and honest and refused to give up no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. He openly loved the heroine of the story and was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her. He inspired me as a child and the books inspired me to become an author. How much more could anyone ask out of a series of science fiction books? Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to be more like him, but I cannot in good conscience say that I find myself in that person’s character. It’s just someone that I desired to emulate. He didn’t remind me of anyone in particular. A character of his caliber was larger than life, and inadvertently caused me to raise the bar of expectation to an unhealthy degree, at least so I’m told.
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
Grab a book and Keep Reading!