The old bones of science fiction

Time to read:

3 minutes

Five of the best classic science fiction books y’all should read.

Recently, I listened to REM and entered a wormhole of nostalgia. 

It took me straight back to being a kid, finding things out for the first time, and of growing up on science fiction books. The sort of books that immersed me in something so vast and new that every question peeled away to become a shining gem of murky knowledge, dragging me in deeper and instilling in me a sort of obsession with exploring these new worlds. Science fiction books were a window into our own world, a mirror helping me make sense of things, or destroying what I thought I knew. They left me both satisfied and curious, and these were things that helped me to grow, to learn, to keep an open mind. And for me they provided an important form of escapism. 

And there were certain books that stood out for me, books where I’d stay up late, hidden under the blankets or watching for shadows on the landing to see if my nocturnal habits had been rumbled. Not that my parents would mind, I was lucky in that I grew up in in a family of readers and writers, so books were part of the norm. And these books, in some ways, formed the reading and writing inspiration in my adult writerly life. Something which makes me hugely happy. 

So here’s the top five classic science fiction books that, for me at least, made a formative core; a selection of seeds that grew in me and through me and encouraged me to write better and write harder and read more. And to ask questions. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, I present my own personal top five classic science fiction books. If you’re looking for classic science fiction, I would whole-heartedly suggest you start with any and all of these. 

1. Dune by Frank Herbert 

This book felt vast as a kid, and the prospect of the new film coming out is absolutely floating my boat. In an entirely unrelated point, Tremors is also one of my favourite ever films.

2. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein 

I’m not sure I could do a classic science fiction list without including some Heinlein, and Stranger in a Strange Land, an exploration of humanity through the eyes of a human raised by Martians, makes the cut this time. 

3. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham 

The Chrysalids was simultaneously scary and incredibly sad. I picked up a second-hand copy a few years ago and turns out the feelings are still the same. 

4. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell 

Maybe not the most well-known of science fiction books, but this story about first contact is both beautiful and horrific. 

5. Neuromancer by William Gibson 

The Godfather of Cyberpunk, Gibson’s work always blurs the lines between reality and possible futures. If you’re looking for a place to start with his impressive back catalogue this would be a great place to start.  

What would scratch your classic science fiction itch? What books inspired you as a kid? It’s going to be different for everyone, and there’s so many to choose from – share the classic science fiction love below or on Twitter. 

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2 responses to “The old bones of science fiction”

    • Thought you’d approve! Any particular ones you reckon you’d add? Starting to think I should have gone for a top ten list, there’s a lot of great suggestions going on on Twitter


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