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Teens who appreciate authentic science fiction will love these classic sci-fi novels which originally inspired, and continue to influence, the entire sci-fi genre.
Science fiction fans who enjoy modern sci-fi like The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Artificial Intelligence will really get into the classic sci-fi novels that inspired modern science fiction. The original sci-fi novels were so well crafted that they influenced entire outcroppings of literary and cinematic science-fiction and fantasy works.
Classic Android and Cyberpunk Science Fiction
'Neuromancer' by William Gibson (Ace, 1984)
This original novel popularized the “cyberpunk” genre. Originally published in '80s, this novel's use of unprecedented powerful imagery caused a sensation that may have inspired The Matrix and similar cyberpunk sci-fi books and movies which followed. Case, a “console cowboy,” can use his brain to merge with and tap into any computer in order to pirate data kept in a cyberspace matrix: a worldwide database with a crippled nervous system. With the aid of concealed-weapon toting Molly, Case embarks on a violent adventure in a futuristic cyberworld. Age 14+
'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' by Phillip K Dick (Signet, 1969)
This classic science fiction novel, originally published in 1968, was the inspiration for the wildly popular movie Blade Runner. In the future after the World War had obliterated millions and wiped out entire species, humans are forced to seek out a new home planet. Large corporations build artificial animals which look convincingly realistic, and they also successfully manufacture artificial humans for slave labor. The rise of androids crates great fear among the human populations and androids are banned. The ruthless bounty hunter Rick Deckard is brought in to “retire” the escapees. Age 16+
Classic Alien Science Fiction
'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card (Tor Books, 1985)
In order to prevent the earth's total inhalation by predatory insect-like aliens, the Earth's best and brightest children must make the ultimate sacrifice. Ender, taken from home at the tender age of 7, is the Earth's last hope and is put to the task of leading the earth's defensive attack against the aliens. Engaging dialogue and high impact imagery draw the reader into an unforgettable story. Age 12+
'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglass Adams (Harmony, 25th Anniversary ed 2004)
This charming and offbeat sci-fi comedy series features Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman who escapes the demolition of earth thanks to a bureaucratic alien race called Vogons. Aboard a stolen spaceship the crew and passengers embark on a quest to find the legendary planet called Magrathea and find the Question to the Ultimate Answer. Age 12+
Classic Post-Apocalypse Science Fiction
'Dune' by Frank Hebert (Ace Trade, 40th Anniversary ed. 2005)
Originally published in 1965 and frequently cited as the best selling sci-fi novel in history, Dune is not-to-miss. Set far in the future with a feudal caste system echoing distant past, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides and his family as they relocate to the planet Arrakis, the only source of the most important and valuable substance in the universe: the spice melange. Dune explores complexities of technology, ecology, politics, religion, and human emotion, as new planet and its allies are drawn into a confrontation that will change the course of humanity. Age 14+
'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham (Doubleday, 1951)
Although post-apocalyptic sci-fi lit abounds, The Day of the Triffids, written more than 50 years ago, still rules as king of this genre. The day after a mysterious comet fills the sky, everyone who witnessed the eerie green comet-stars is struck blind. William Masen is one of the few who can still see. Survival in the post apocalypse won't be easy: there are triffids (poisonous plants which walk) and humans, perhaps just as poisonous, who want to rebuild the world their own “special” way. Age 14+
Science fiction is a unique genre because it is both a complete detachment from reality (set in futuristic worlds or otherworldly lands) but, paradoxically, is also firmly rooted in realistic fiction (featuring realistic characters and relatable issues).
Sci-fi can be light, humorous, and entertaining fare or it can be intellectually stimulating social commentary cleverly disguised as entertainment. Sci-fi is usually a highly visual genre, richly satisfying to readers who appreciate powerful imagery along with page-flipping plot lines.
Author — Johnnie McArdle is a writer at apps promotion service and a coffee enthusiast.