Science Fiction Books For People Who Don’t Read Science Fiction

In case you thought the genre wasn’t for you.

By Tobias Carroll


Science fiction can be an acquired taste. Some readers grew up on it; others never quite saw the appeal of stories involving time travel, alien contact, space exploration, or the ways in which these concepts can be used to explore moral and intellectual debates. But if you’re a reader who’d like to ease their way into the genre, there are a few great places to begin. Some provide a well-written introduction to key science fictional tropes and concepts, while others juxtapose intensely human stories with headier conceptual elements. Here’s a look at fourteen books that introduce big ideas in accessible ways and present readers with a host of directions they can go from there.


Use of Weapons

IainBanks UseofWeaponsMuch of Iain M. Banks’s science fiction was set in the world of The Culture, a utopian society that encompasses massive amounts of space, and includes artificial intelligence, alien species, simulated afterlives, and more. But for all of that, Banks is also adept at writing memorable characters, and at the center of Use of Weapons, readers will find exactly that, in the person of the memorably-named Cheradenine Zakalwe—along with a structurally innovative method of telling the story.

Other books include:

  • The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  • Embassytown by China Miéville
  • Elvissey by Jack Womack
  • Definitely Maybe by Arkady Strugatsky & Strugatsky Boris
  • Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany.



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Filed under 2016, books

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