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If you’ve just watched “The Expanse” and found yourself drawn to science fiction, or if a colleague has raved about the awesomeness of “Stranger Things,” and now you want some recommendations for gateway Sci-Fi, fear not! Let me be your guide and introduce you to 5 gateway novels that will keep you glued to the pages, staying up till 4 in the morning, and accumulating stacks of unread books just because they look so darn pretty.

It is okay to dabble in the future side of literature; it is a realm of possibilities, which makes it so exciting. You will be surprised at what you can do and learn about the human condition from reading science fiction. The thrill of exploring new worlds, new technologies, and new ideas is what makes science fiction so captivating.

Snow Crash
gateway Sci-Fi: Cyberpunk

Snowcrash

By Neal Stephenson

Have you ever wondered where the term Avatar came from? It came from Snow Crash, that’s where. Now, I am the first to admit that some of Snow Crash might be a little dated. But I think in Snow Crash there is all the things that make Cyberpunk such an addictive and fun genre to read: a story that melds innovation and technology with society, an interesting protagonist who just happens to be named Hiro Protagonist, and a wild cast of characters. 

An interview with Neal Stephenson, Author of Termination Shock

About Snow Crash

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous… you’ll recognize it immediately.

Honorable Mentions

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
gateway Sci-Fi: Science Fiction Humor

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

By Douglas Adams

If you haven’t read this book, you have undoubtedly heard of it probably from geeks like me who adore it. Adams the late author who created the absolutely bonkers Hitchikers series is still beloved and continues to reach new readers as the old guard passes down their books to the new ones. For an example of Adam’s writing, “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” The tone of the entire series is set with one line. If you want to Guffaw this is a great series to start with.

If you have read Hitchhikers read these next:

About Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

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Honorable Mentions

Gateway Sci-Fi: Hard Science Fiction

blindsight

by Peter Watts

Hard science fiction emphasizes scientific accuracy. This is usually done by an expert in their field who has done years of research. Its boundaries are set by what we can imagine technology to be or how we can use existing technology to tell a story. There is no lightsaber waving or deus ex machina.

About Blindsight

Two months since the stars fell…

Two months since sixty-five thousand alien objects clenched around the Earth like a luminous fist, screaming to the heavens as the atmosphere burned them to ash. Two months since that moment of brief, bright surveillance by agents unknown.

Two months of silence, while a world holds its breath.

Now some half-derelict space probe, sparking fitfully past Neptune’s orbit, hears a whisper from the edge of the solar system: a faint signal sweeping the cosmos like a lighthouse beam. Whatever’s out there isn’t talking to us. It’s talking to some distant star, perhaps. Or perhaps to something closer, something en route.

So who do you send to force introductions on an intelligence with motives unknown, maybe unknowable? Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn’t want to meet?

You send a linguist with multiple personalities, her brain surgically partitioned into separate, sentient processing cores. You send a biologist so radically interfaced with machinery that he sees x-rays and tastes ultrasound, so compromised by grafts and splices he no longer feels his own flesh. You send a pacifist warrior in the faint hope she won’t be needed, and the fainter one she’ll do any good if she is. You send a monster to command them all, an extinct hominid predator once called vampire, recalled from the grave with the voodoo of recombinant genetics and the blood of sociopaths. And you send a synthesist–an informational topologist with half his mind gone–as an interface between here and there, a conduit through which the Dead Center might hope to understand the Bleeding Edge.

You send them all to the edge of interstellar space, praying you can trust such freaks and retrofits with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they’ve been sent to find. But you’d give anything for that to be true, if you only knew what was waiting for them…

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Honorable Mentions

gateway Sci-Fi: Space Opera

Dune

by Frank Herbert

It uses futuristic storytelling to create a grand story that concentrates on the characters themselves rather than the hard science that goes with it. It is loud and brash and wonderful. Many of the science fiction stories that the general zeitgeist of culture loves love these stories.

About: Dune

Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of Paul Atreides—who would become known as Muad’Dib—and of a great family’s ambition to bring to fruition mankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

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Honorable Mentions

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