The best science fiction novels to read this winter
Science fiction as a literary genre has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past century, especially in the English-speaking world. The genre, beloved by young people and adults, has seen growth and popularity. If some novelists like HG Wells and Issac Asimov are considered geniuses of the genre, others like Phillip K. Dick and Frank Herbert have gradually established themselves as the greatest.
In this week’s Sunday special, Cashmere amount sub-editor Irfan Mehraj lists some of the best science fiction novels that can be read in winter, especially when it is snowing. Winter in Kashmir is long and harsh. Being able to snuggle up in a blanket and let your imagination take you to places is a pleasure rarely enjoyed in any other season. Most of the novels on the list fall into the popular fiction category published over the past 100 years or so.
1. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
Published at the turn of the century in 1898, the novel by famous English novelist HG Wells has, since its publication, achieved cult status in the literary world. The novel first appeared as a serial in a magazine. The novel tells the classic science fiction story of the conflict between humans and extraterritorial beings. Told in the first person account of two anonymous protagonists in England as the country is invaded by Martians. In more than two centuries of printing, the novel is the most written and cited science fiction novel to date. Such is its popularity, the novel has never been sold out, and several films, dramas, comics and TV series have been made based on the plot of the book. The novel is a must read for all science fiction enthusiasts and for those looking to develop an interest in the genre.
2. Dune by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert Dune’s brilliant novel is the best-selling science fiction novel of all time. So much so that the entire Dune series is considered one of the classics of the genre. The idea for the novel came to Herbert when he was supposed to write a magazine article about the sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes, near Florence, Oregon, United States. As was his style, the author got very involved and ended up with more material than needed for the magazine article. The novel originated when he was supposed to do a magazine article about the sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes, near Florence, Oregon. He got too involved and ended up with a lot more raw material than needed for an article. Luckily, Herbert never wrote the magazine article, but the idea germinated in what later became Dune. The novel was published in 1965. It became an instant hit upon publication and won several awards. Today, the Dune series has the distinction of being the best-selling science fiction of all time. In 2021, the film is adapted for a major Hollywood film directed by Denis Villeneuve.
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Published in 1818, Mary Shelley’s novel gained unparalleled fame. No list of the best science fiction books of all time can miss this one. The author started writing this gothic thriller when she was just 18 and over two centuries later the novel she wrote is still considered a masterpiece. The novel tells the story of a scientist, Dr. Frankestein, who creates a monster with a science experiment and is horrified by what he has done. The novel is a classic of horror and science fiction brought together for epic effect. One of the important lessons from history is that just because we can doesn’t and should perhaps sufficiently describe the current technological madness we are witnessing.
4. The Martian Chronicles of Ray Bradbury
American novelist Ray Bradbury published the novel in 1950. Since its publication, the novel has never been out of print and has met with great success, with several film adaptations to its credit. The novel is an episodic novel and is considered the author’s best work. It’s a relatively short novel that tells the epic story of the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing the soon-to-be-destroyed Earth. The novel is a classic American science fiction novel that explores the theme of post-war America in the face of a technologically advanced future.
5. The HG Wells Time Machine
HG Wells’ second novel, The Time Machine is a genre novel that has spawned hundreds of spin-offs and adaptations since its publication in 1895. It’s short story but with great depth. It is considered the first novel to popularize the concept of time travel. Set in England, the novel tells the story of a scientist who develops a machine capable of moving him forward and backward in time. What follows is an exciting adventure.
6. Me, Issac Asimov’s Robot
Published in 1950, the novel is considered to be the best-read and best-known work of American novelist Issac Asimov. Considered one of the greatest science fiction novels, the novel is prescient in its predictions of the future. It’s a must read for our time as we enter a world completely dominated by technology. The stories in the novel explore the theme of the moral and ethical implications of humanity’s ever greater push for technology. The novel influenced not only many other great science fiction writers, but scientists as well.
7. The Man from the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
This novel by American novelist Phillip K. Dick changed his career. He wrote under different pen names, but after the publication of this alternative history novel in 1962, Dick gained wide acclaim and won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The novel tells the alternate story of the Axis Powers: Germany and Japan winning World War II. It’s set in the divided United States of America ruled by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and is as intriguing as any other novel on this list. The novel has received worldwide acclaim for the author. The novel was recently adapted into a TV series by Amazon Prime.
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote his famous 2001 novel: A Space Odyssey at the same time as Stanley Kubrick’s film of the same name. Both were instant hits and deservedly rank among the greatest science fiction ever written and filmed. The novel tells the story of an astronaut who embarks on a dangerous mission that takes him far into space and puts him in contact with an alien race. The novel was written even before man set foot on the moon. The novel explores what such an exploration would mean for humanity. It’s definitely a novel that no science fiction lover can afford to miss.
9. Neuromancer by William Gibson
Published in 1984, the novel by American-Canadian Willam Gibson won numerous awards and is considered a science fiction classic today. Set in a dystopian Japanese underworld, the novel discusses aspects of futuristic technology and its impact on the human race. The novel is simply flawless. The central character of the novel is Henry Case, a hacker turned drug addict because he is doing a job as futuristic as anything written back then. The novel was Gibson’s first novel and has the distinction of winning all three major science fiction prizes: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award and the Hugo Award. It is the only novel with this distinction.
10. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein is a highly regarded science fiction writer of his generation. His novel Starship Troopers is one of the most popular and controversial books. It’s a military science fiction novel. Heinlein is said to have written the book in response to the United States’ decision to stop nuclear testing. The book has been called to glorify the military and tells the story of a group of soldiers who undergo rigorous training in order to fight aliens in the insect war. Although it has been criticized for its overt glorification of the military, the book is still one of the most important science fiction novels of the last century.