Getting started with sci-fi

So you want to read sci-fi

But you don’t know where to get started. Or you’re overwhelmed by the expansive genre and don’t want to waste your time on duds. After all why risk spending time on something new when you can read your comforting favorites? Never fear, this one post will introduce you to a strategy for effectively exploring the genre and finding new favorites.

Short Stories

Your time is limited. Your attention span even further limited. That’s why short stories will be your friend. Short stories convey everything beautifully and, well, shortly. Sci-fi short stories often answer a “what-if” question succinctly but still leave you wondering. Their brevity will leave you wanting more.

What if the stars only appeared one night every thousand years? How would people react? What would society look like? Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

Anthologies, Anthologies, Anthologies

Now that you’ve (hopefully!) clicked the above link and read your first sci-fi short story. You’re raring to go. Go to your library and check out any “best of sci fi” or similarly titled anthology. Maybe even this one. Pick a story at random and get going! You’ll quickly get a feel for what you like and don’t like.

The Best of the Best 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels Edited by Gardner Dozois

Novel Recommendations

I won’t bore you with summaries–you can find those on your own. The following are some well written novels, novellas, and series that got me into sci-fi–and I think they’ll get you into it too.

If you want something that explores ideas and logic without being bogged down by characters, try I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

For a gripping tale on space travel and the effects of biological evolution on patriarchy, that begs the question: what makes us human? try Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

If you want to get into a series that has it all from futuristic military strategy, biological terraforming, intricate political plots, and good old-fashioned sibling rivalry, try The Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card

For a dystopia series full of hope, engaging characters, and enough mystery to keep you guessing, try The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau

If you want to get into a series set in a highly plausible future, with realistically flawed characters, that explores the lives of families and children under a tyrannical government, try the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

And bonus: for a gut wrenching short story that creates a beautifully harsh allegory for women and werewolves–and will stay with you forever, try Gestella by Susan Palwick

One comment

  1. I am not a huge fan of sci-fi but I have read a few. And Asimov has the best sci-fi short stories. I love Hitchhiker;s guide to the Galaxy as well. I hope you have a great week ahead.


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