Science fiction and fantasy have always been near and dear to my heart. While most people I knew growing up veered towards the R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike horror novel phenomenon (and let’s be honest, I enjoyed those too), I was perfectly happy reading J. R. R. Tolkien or Robert Jordan.
You see, when I was a child I thought book size equaled maturity level, and there weren’t many books bigger than that of science fiction and fantasy. Even when I didn’t quite grasp what was happening because I had picked up the fourth book in a ten part series, I read. I read long into the night and I read well over my recommended age level. I found new authors from those little review blurbs on books and thought “if Mr. Terry Pratchett also enjoyed this, then he must have good taste! I should check out what he’s written.”
And so it went. I’d put one book down and have three more in its place. Eventually I became more choosey with what I read and realized that the best place to start a series was with the first book! If you are new and interested in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, I want to provide a list of some great novels I think you’ll be swept away in.
by: John Scalzi
As a standalone novel, Redshirts is a great way to get caught up in the humor and wit of science fiction without committing yourself to a large series of novels. Redshirts is a humorous take on why low ranking ensigns aboard a “starship” seem to die on missions in much larger numbers simply if they are wearing a red shirt. With nods to popular science fiction culture like Star Trek and concepts like multiple universes and space travel, Redshirts is sure to make you think, and laugh.
by: Ken Grimwood
The idea of reliving your life and making up for past mistakes or taking the road less traveled is an enticing one that I’m sure we have all pondered from time to time. Our protagonist, Jeff Winston does just that. Dying at age 43, he discovers he is back where he started at the age of 18 with all of the memories of his previous life still intact. What would you do differently if you had that kind of knowledge?
Ready Player One
It’s the year 2044 and Wade Watts is often found on the OASIS, a virtual reality experience that is better than anything reality has to offer. For most of his life he’s been studying the life and interests of the creator of this world in hopes of one day completing the hidden puzzles within the OASIS to win a prize that could propel him out of poverty into a decent life. When the game gets heated though, it’s more than just a prize on the line, but Wade’s life that’s at stake.
Soon I Will Be Invincible
by: Austin Grossman
A superhero and super-villain novel told from two alternating points of view. One is the villain, dangerous and powerful, the other is a new hero on their first day with a “Justice League-esque” organization full of big name heroes. Yes, it is as fun as it sounds, and surprisingly carries a lot more depth than first glance would suggest.
by: Andy Weir
Put the science back into science fiction with a novel that is well grounded in science fact. Surviving on Mars, terraforming the land to grow sustainable crops, using available technology to stay alive until a rescue party can come and get you, and the suspense of not knowing if anything is going to work. I knew when this book first came out that someone would turn it into a movie, and am pleased to say my instincts were correct!
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Book one of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence)
by: Scott Lynch
Growing up an orphan, Locke Lamora rises through the ranks of his band of thieves to eventually rule them. He is responsible for many heists through the city, creating a mysterious name for himself along the way. The writing is spot on, the characters are sharp and witty and hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Though the novel may be large and look intimidating, I finished it in only a few sittings, ultimately wanting more.
by: Naomi Novik
Told almost like a fairy tale, this stand alone novel has an interesting magic system, a broody, cranky main character, and a young girl on the verge of tapping into her very powerful inner magic. Together they work towards holding back a dark magic in the forest, and as the vines creep ever forward, wanting to devour their world they must learn to work together in order to save it. Without sounding like a pun, this book was magical!
A Darker Shade of Magic
by: V. E. Schwab
First in a trilogy, we meet Kell, one of the last of the travelers, those who possess the magic to move between worlds. Kell is from Red London, where magic flows through all things and is one with its people. As he travels to Grey London (our London) he meets Delilah Bard, a girl with a rough past whose determination and wit gets her in and out of trouble. Together, their adventures through the various Londons will leave you scrambling for the rest of the trilogy.
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
by: Marie Brennan
What do you get when you cross the fantasy of dragons with Victorian travel diaries? Lady Trent’s memoirs of course! A scientifically minded woman makes a name for herself documenting the lives of different dragons in a society that frowns upon that sort of thing from the female population. She has the heart of an adventurer, and the mind of a professor. First in a series of equally absorbing novels, Lady Trent is sure to please.