Science fiction and fantasy are the gateway into expressing some of our most creative and imaginative ideas. It’s exciting, intriguing, and a possible look into the what could be and what we want to be. We here at the University Press love to delve into those fascinating and surreal worlds. Here are some of our favorite sci-fi and fantasy books that you should add to your reading list! Leave us a comment, visit us on facebook, or follow us on twitter to share your thoughts about what other sci-fi and fantasy books everyone should be reading!
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, Offred reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain hierarchies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions.
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of 10,000 planets. Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. Somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win.
World War Z – Max Brooks
The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the record that preserves these horrifying accounts.
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here, an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne. A child is lost in the twilight between life and death, and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: The Game of Thrones.
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blacklyfatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best.
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. This fantasy novel delves into a post-apocalyptic world with no government, no society, and not a lot of hope. With a very eclectic writing style and captivating storyline, Cormac McCarthy brings us to a new and different world from the one that we all know.