The Top 3 Sci-Fi Novels to Spur Your Imagination

Science fiction has been prominent in fantasy for well over a century.  It is used to create commentaries on our society, give thought to the future, and provide people with new worlds to explore.  If you are not a big fan of science fiction, I’d implore you to at least give these books a try.  Each has been, critically, well received, and their impact on the media that has followed is more than we can really know.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written.  All modern science fiction owes the critical attention they receive to this novel.  It set the bar for storytelling, imagination, and character development.  It has been compared to ‘Lord of the Rings’ due to the level of detail the story goes into while creating the universe its characters inhabit.  The universe avoids focusing on technology, but rather on the politics and relationships of the characters.  It pits feudal houses against each other in an arena of intrigue, war, and politics that speaks closely to the world we find ourselves in today.

The book itself is notable for featuring strong characters across the board.  You get an incredibly clear sense of the social pressures being put upon each character, and are allowed to examine their mindset as they handle it and progress in spite of that pressure.  While modern stories like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ have made their name due to an irreverence for preserving the life of main characters, ‘Dune’ had backstabbing and hard to accept deaths long before.  Overall, you walk away from the book truly understanding who the characters are.  You are opened up to different perspectives and worldviews, and walk away with new angles by which to challenge your own ethics.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

While this novel focuses on children, ‘Ender’s Game’ is a profound analysis of ethics in wartime.  The story is the tried and true humans versus aliens, with the twist being that humanities hope lies in children being groomed to be the future’s military leaders.  Ender stands out as a tactical genius, and the novel follows his attempts to understand a brutal and cruel world.  It is an honest depiction of the internal conflicts young adults experience, as well as the strict and unyielding policies of military life.  The book is so detailed in its study of perspective and thought analysis, that the US Marine Corp has even begun mandating it be made required reading for military personnel. 

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

While most people are likely only familiar with movie franchise, Star Wars has spawned more novels, toys, and video games than probably any other franchise.  Living in a world where Star Wars is so prominent, it can be easy to take it for granted as simply being a geeky world of its own.  However, prior to ‘Heir to the Empire’, the first book in the ‘Thawn’ trilogy, Star Wars had seen a bit of a dip in its prominence.  Timothy Zahn’s novel, and the two sequels that followed, were all #1 New York Times Best Sellers and largely responsible for putting the public’s attention back on the franchise, allowing for the Star Wars soaked world we have today.  Disney is even attempting to follow in the success set by this book as they take over the franchise.  Star Wars comic books, children’s literature, even the three most recent films, all owe their creation to Zahn’s novel.

As to what actually makes this worth reading, it’s a nuanced story line.  All the famous characters from the films are present, but remolded to display a kind of psychological complexity and motivations that bring the Star Wars universe into a very mature light.  The plot itself is winding and twisting, filled with mystery, political intrigue, and emotional strife that has become the standard of storytelling currently trending modern novels, television programs, and film plots.  The novel showed that you could take a fantasy franchise which is very popular, approach it seriously while still taking creative freedoms, and create a novel that can appeal to fans as well as a general audience.