Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, book 1) by James Corey

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Leviathan

In this first of a planned trilogy, humanity has explored and colonized as far as Neptune. The first primary character in the story is Jim Holden, who works in an ice-hauler ship between planets. While on a routine mission, his captain orders the crew of his exploratory ship to investigate a report of an abandoned ship. In the meantime, a huge warship attacks and destroys the main ship starting an interplanetary war and altering the lives of Holden and his crew of survivors forever.

5 Must-Read Dystopian Novels That Are Set In A Futuristic World

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Dystopian

Dystopian Science Fiction Books all share one central element that places them in this genre and that is that they are all set in a society in which things have gone terribly wrong. At the heart of this there is typically a grand plan for moral or social improvement that has resulted in a darker type of fiction. While it can be dark, this genre is one of my favorites to read. The backdrop of a grim social atmosphere creates a foil for the heroes of the novels and as the characters emerge it is as though they are painting color into the black and white background with their unfolding humanity. Here are some of my top picks for jumping into the world of the Dystopian Science Fiction Book.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has received much deserved critical acclaim and is the first book in a trilogy that has been made into major motion pictures. The success of this novel is based on the immediacy of the writing. The reader is immediately drawn into the world of the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, and thrown into her life in District 12. The future world that Katniss lives in (Panem), is divided into twelve districts, all of which are ruled by The Capitol . The Hunger Games are an annual gladiator-like tournament in which a pair of “tributes” from each district all battle to the death.

In The Giver, Lois Lowry’s first novel in her Giver quartet, the main character Jonas lives what seems to be a perfect existence. There is not war, disease, or suffering. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that rather than the utopian ideal that is presented, it is a dystopian society of the highest degree. Because of his intelligence Jonas is chosen to be the next Receiver of Memory in this society. When he receives the memories he experiences all that they hold, from love to pain, hot, and even color. Once he discovers this he feels that life is empty without these things and he goes on a dangerous journey.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a masterpiece of 20th century fiction and a fine example of a Dystopian Science Fiction Book. Guy Montag, the protagonist, is a fireman of the future. His job is not to put out fires but rather to burn books. In his world, the world of the future, censorship prevails, propaganda is poured into the minds of the people through their televisions, and books and literature are headed for extinction. This frightening classic is a must read.

1984 by George Orwell warns against a future totalitarian world that is ruled by warring police states. Winston Smith, the main character, longs for the truth ans secretly rebels against the government. He is arrested and reeducated by the “Thought Police” to break him of his independent thought.

Katniss Everdeen is back in Mockingjay, the third book of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy. This book wraps up the trilogy but not neatly and not before taking you on an emotional roller coaster as it follows Katniss after her second Hunger Games victory. Though she has survived the games twice she still isn’t safe and neither is anyone in the districts. This books chronicles the rebellion of the districts against the capitol and the role that Katniss plays in it.

On Basalisk Station by David Webber Reviews

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The main protagonist, Honor Harrington, is appointed the commander of a star ship commissioned to the most controversial post in the galaxy, Basilisk Station. What makes it worse is that her crew immediately hates her because they see it as all her fault. When they reach their post Harrington has more than her hands full keeping order and the book details that panoramic struggle to perfection. Join her in the chaotic mess of her life.

Best Hard Science Fiction Book Recommendation: Altered Carbon By Richard K. Morgan

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altered-carbonAltered Carbon is a novel set 500 years later in a galactic age when humans occupy a number of extra-solar planets. The scene is a “dyspotian” world rife with human beings who strive for a never-ending cycle of life. As such, there are also a number of individuals who stick to their faith yearning for an after-life instead of striving for a limitless age.

The main character of the novel, is Takeshi Kovacs, who has dual personality, which not only has sympathetic tone towards other humans but also possess the tendency to indulge in criminal activities.

In reality, Takeshi Kovacs was an elite soldier of the United Nations who was set on difficult and challenging mission by the UN to resolve active conflicts between major factions and sects. Incidentally, Kovacs got involved in criminal activity and is sentenced to a 100 year punishment before being resurrected by a powerful individual to undertake a critical mission before Kovac’s punishment is over.

To fully understand the theme of the novel, readers must understand how humans are able to lead an infinite life 500 years in the future and why would many chose not to spend an infinite life. According to the theme, most humans have cortical stacks in their spinal cords, which can be programmed to remember every experience, emotion and thought in a life. As a result, if cortical stacks are saved, it can regenerate an exact copy of the human who has died. The process of resurrection is called “sleeving” where preserved cortical stack of a dead person is sleeved into a new body. However, not everyone chooses to undergo such transformation because humans go through a full ageing process, which was not acceptable to many individuals as the regeneration process involved numerous challenges including a new human body. Still, there were also a number of people of “Catholic” faith who would prefer not to live due to the belief that their souls go to heaven, instead. Yet, there are also people called “Meths” who are able to live infinite life by acquiring replacement bodies and saving their cortical stacks in remote locations to preserve stacks from permanent damage.

Regarding the main character, Takeshi Kovac is an elite soldier serving 100-year sentence for his criminal past. Yet, he is able to resurrect his life as one of the “super rich” individuals, Laurens Bancroft who uses his power to hire Kovac as a private investigator to resolve the mystery of his own murder in the prior life. Yet, the only reason why Laurens Bancroft could not remember the cause of the murder is a 48 hour back-up schedule of the stack preventing him to remember how he died. As per the story, the police declared Bancroft’s death as suicide; however, Bancroft is convinced that there was no apparent reason why he would commit suicide in his past life. Hence, Bancroft firmly believes that he was murdered. It is Takeshi Kovac’s job to find out if Bancroft was murdered and the motive behind the murder.

Initial events in Kovac’s investigation help confirm the theory that Lauren Bancroft was indeed murdered. The events at the Al-Hendrix Hotel, were enough to corroborate theory of murder. Subsequent events also lead to a twisty plot of corruption, crime, savagery and sex, where Kovac has to utilize all his will-power and intelligence to overcome efforts to subdue him. In fact, Kovac soon finds out that the murder mystery is more intricate than anything he had experienced in his life. Facing torture, deceit and a whimsical world, Kovac finds himself teamed up with friends who are even more difficult to trust.

Overall, the novel is full of twists and sci-fi action. Perhaps, what makes “Altered Carbon” unique is the ability of its author, Richard Morgan to instill humor. Besides, the plot is also full of intrigue, hidden agendas and sex. The entire story is revealed in subsequent sequences and controlled writing where readers have the chance to understand complex terminology before proceeding to confront new twists in the plot. Reading through the passage, it also becomes clear that the author is intent to highlight the growing tension between the old and the rich class. Accordingly, the novel continues to provide reasons for a dyspotian world where the society is in the state of limbo over ethical and social issues.

Despite the extremely descriptive nature of the novel, there are a number of passages requiring additional explanation to contemplate different theories presented by the author. Despite the shortcoming, it is evident that Morgan has done a wonderful job of describing each character. The vivid description of each character, such as Takeshi Kovacs, is refined because it is difficult to describe a character that undergoes so many emotions. For instance, Takeshi is portrayed as brutally violent yet someone who is compassionate and honorable.

For Takeshi Kovacs, the investigation proves challenging as the murder mystery continues to reveal a dangerous plot that could not only end his life but also makes him vulnerable to lose his cortical stack, forever. In fact, the overall plan is so devious that it can be recounted as “diabolical” even in the world where death means little to many. In the end, unanswered questions makes the novel suited for a sequel that would keep readers engrossed in subsequent hard science fiction books involving Takeshi Kovacs. Overall, Altered Carbon is one of the best written science fiction novels in recent years.

5 Great Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Novels

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There are many theories about what lies ahead and what mankind and the Earth will look like in the not to distant future. The post-apocalyptic science fiction book allows people to gaze past the horizon of their reality and catch a glimpse of a frightening future of mankind’s making. For those who love post-apocalyptic thrillers, the following 10 books will be a feast for your mind and fuel your dreams and imaginings.

Mockingjay (Hunger Games)

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In this the third installment of the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins takes readers in a totally unexpected direction. Through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, we see what happens to love, life, and hope in this dystopian future. Everyone must make difficult decisions and live with them while straining to maintain their sanity and their humanity amidst gut-wrenching destruction. Can love and life exist in a horrifyingly hellish reality? In Mockingjay we get the answer.

The Stand

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In The Stand by Stephen King, a human-engineered super-flu kills most of humanity and leaves the few survivors living in a desert-like world. King’s superb writing makes this an engrossing novel. It has richly drawn, unforgettable characters that confront the meaning of good and evil. The survivors embrace dreams and visions, seek solace where they can, and must confront and defeat Randall Flag and his evil minions through brave and extraordinary actions in the face of betrayal to find personal redemption.

The 5th Wave: The First Book of the 5th Wave Series

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Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave is a wildly entertaining novel. It starts with a gigantic alien ship coming into Earth’s orbit and raining down attacks in a series of waves. An electromagnetic pulse knocks out all power and is followed by tsunamis, disease, and body snatching. The action is fast and furious as humanity, led by a group of youngsters, fights to survive. Yancy’s engrossing, well-crafted tale grabs your imagination and never lets go.

Angelfall: Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1

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Set in L.A. after an apocalyptic earthquake, Susan Ee’s Angelfall is an intense, end-of-the-world fantasy adventure. The storytelling is gripping and the action often horrifying as angels and tiny demons sting, suck the life force out, and devour their human victims. Penryn, an engaging and resourceful 17 year old girl, is narrator, protagonist, and leader of a band of youth fighting to save mankind.

Wool

WoolCover-790x459This Hugh Howey novel is about humans living deep underground because earth’s surface is toxic. When Juliette, a beloved mechanic, is chosen for a suicide mission to the surface to clean the sensors that let light in, the workers rebel. Howey’s richly textured novel builds as the story swiftly moves along. His chilling words create the terrifying and claustrophobic underground world in which these earthlings live.

Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury – Dystopian Science Fiction Novel

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fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is more than worth reading for fans of any genre, because it defies it’s genre by redefining it. In this masterful piece of storytelling is the kind of thought provoking commentary on the state of humans and their affairs that people don’t usually look to Science Fiction to provide. Thats the unique magic of Farenheit 451 – it’s ability to grab the reader’s imagination while chilling them with the fear of what is all too possible. The book was scary. The book was exciting. It was unpredictable and imaginative. It was surreal and yet it seemed even then to parallel so many of the things happening around me. It was fantastical yet sobering in how very possible it seemed. It was sad. But above all else the book was a thrill.

In Fahrenheit 451 it isn’t aliens that the people need to fear nor is it necessarily technology but rather the agendas of governments and the brutal nature of humans to let fear of the unknown and misunderstood guide them to extreme acts of violence. The plot centers around a fireman named Guy Montag, who is no firefighter but rather a fire starter. Guy lives in a dystopia of the highest order though there are no food shortages or factions to speak of here – the thing the people here are deprived of is far worse. In Guy’s world the firemen burn books in an effort to keep the society vacant, unimaginative and completely non-inquisitive. Free thought is stamped out and replaced with a fear of reading and a love of constant media stimuli. Guy goes about his work dutifully and doesn’t question the way things are until his outlook is changed by a series of disturbing events. The horrors he witnesses alert him to the despondency that surrounds him. He finds hope in one encounter only to have it ripped away in a tragic and entirely unnecessary way. He sees those closest to him for who they truly are and how vapid their lives are and he becomes disillusioned with his life and angry at his circumstances. His quest to understand books and the society that has taken them away drives him throughout the rest of the book to powerful and resounding results.

Fahrenheit 451 is told in a third person narrative and follows Guy’s story without going into anyone else’s. The voice is reliable and trustworthy, telling Guy’s story without bias or any attempt to glorify him or his actions. None of the other characters seem like just words on a page; the reader feels with them because they’re written so vividly that they come alive in the imagination. The narrative is that of a man becoming aware of his surroundings and the result is a dystopian science fiction book that stands out in people’s minds as a modern classic. Unlike 1984, Farenheit 451 isn’t about a government overtly trying to control the people it rather how they manipulate the people into becoming mindless sheep and then control them subconsciously.

The book is set at some point in the distant future, no year or location is directly specified but rather implied by the surroundings and gadgets described. Its setting is essential to it’s theme of the dangers of giving in to special interests at the expense of the people and it’s warning against allowing ourselves to be consumed by media that doesn’t foster intelligence or social interaction and the exchange of ideas is eerily troubling and especially so given the state of our society today. It’s hard not to read of the nonsensical shows constantly playing on the giant screens and the audio of the shells and think of how strikingly similar they are to our gigantic tv’s and portable touch screen devices.

This book grabbed me from the very first page and didn’t let go even after I’d finished. The scenes of suspense – whether from glimpses of people living with the secret of hiding books or from the firemen themselves preparing to go on a raid – had me on the edge of my seat eagerly devouring the words until I reached the end. I never knew what to expect from Guy or any of the other characters and everytime I had a theory of what would happen nex I was surprised yet again by the unfailingly unpredictable manuscript.
My favorite character is a girl named Clarisse who befriends Guy and sets him on the path that changes how he sees everything. She is sweet and innocent, brilliant and inquisitive and her presence provides a happy moment and a breath of fresh air in an otherwise uninteresting world. Her kind nature and youth are presented as hope and she is a great influence on Guy.

I also love that the warning in Fahrenheit 451 hasn’t aged and it’s imaginative ideas of the future don’t seem simplistic or farfetched in our modern society.Unlike other sci-fi works that rely on technology to tell the story of the future this book uses it as a way to get us to appreciate the past. The takeover of the society described by the mindlessness of technology driven lives is contrasted by the peace and determination that the few people who decide to defy the laws of the time poses. They’ve kept their individuality by holding on to the past which is interesting to me because usually in these kinds of books clinging to the past isn’t helpful to characters or a noble thing to do.

Still the real thrill of the book is how timeless it is and how possible it all seems. Its author, Ray Bradbury, wrote books of science fiction and fantasy but did not see himself as limited by either genre. Bradbury simply wanted his books to be remembered as remarkably ‘fantastical and unreal’. It seems ironic that an author who was so imaginative and who so clearly thought outside of any box could write such an eerily prophetic work as Fahrenheit 451, but the Pulitzer Prize winner’s books are often haunting in their ability to come alive in the minds of readers, capturing their imaginations with their creativity and their suspense and the fact that they seem just well written and thought out enough to be completely possible.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

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Scalzi classic, Old Man’s War, was published in 2007. It gives us a huge picture of the future in which humanity is exploring the far reaches of space and battling the malevolent aliens he encounters. Join the Colonial Defense Force as they blaze new galactic trails and claim new planetary land. In this new world, science has made for people to live extraordinarily long lives so all of our protagonists are really old.

Pandora’s Star by Peter Hamilton

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This is the first of a two book series. Like most of Hamilton’s books, Pandora’s Box is a huge book with lots of room to imagine is even more huge galaxy. Hamilton’s writings also carry the masterful air of one of the classic authors of old. Although Pandora’s Star is so big, the many interweaving stories never get confusing and the characters never get lost in the mix.

Caliban’s War (Expanse, book 2)

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This second book in the trilogy opens with an earth politician fighting to hold back the
tide of oncoming war. We are also reintroduced to Jim Holden and his crew who since being the sole survivors of the first attack by a massive warship have been tasked with being the peacekeepers in the Outer Planets Alliance. For them the job is Herculean. In fact, preventing the threatening conflict proves to be much harder than anyone ever imagined.