With exciting short story collections Far Orbit and Far Orbit Apogee, and the newest upcoming release of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions, World Weaver Press is obviously no stranger to the exciting world of science-fiction. I decided to do some research into the genre, mostly because I was curious: what’s the first sci-fi novel? Well, I answered that question, but along the way I also came across more intriguing novels than I could count, an entire timeline of sci-fi novels that can be read in order to track the developments of the genre.
So, of course, I decided to pick out some of my favorites. Who doesn’t love adding books to their TBR?
First, a very brief paragraph of fun facts about the science-fiction genre: science-fiction isn’t really a “modern” genre, given that its elements can be traced back to the epics of ancient Greece. However, the term “science fiction” wasn’t used in print until 1851, and the first novel to be considered “modern” science fiction—thus setting the stage for literature’s early launch of the genre—was Mary Shelley’s 1818 work, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. Shelley’s work cites the use of a “mad scientist” and features the consequences/fears of man-made technology being used to meddle where it doesn’t belong, both of which became extremely common elements in defining the genre, today.
Which means that the science-fiction genre as well know it today has only been around for roughly 200 years.
If you’re interested in a much more detailed history, check out this article on the early history of science fiction, written by Rutgers professor H. Bruce Franklin. And, as promised, here’s my own personal list of must-read sci-fi classics:
- Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
- The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells (1897)
- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1932)
- 1984, George Orwell (1949)
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick (1968)
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
- The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (1979)
- Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
- Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (1985)
- The Martian, Andy Weir (2011)
Want to check out more classic sci-fi? Check out Abebook’s 50 Essential Science Fiction Books for a list of the fundamental novels you might want to get under your belt. And be sure to share your favorite sci-fi’s in the comments!
Rae Oestreich has a B.A. in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University and a self-expressed love of all things literature. She’s addicted to drinking coffee, and she focuses her time on writing YA speculative fiction and reading anything she can get her hands on. An admitted grammar nerd, she edits for REUTS Publications and interns for World Weaver Press, and can normally be found talking about books and writing on her website or Twitter.