Staff Picks

What kind of SciFi reader are you?

The Science Fiction section of the library can be intimidating for new readers.  Often, eyes fix on thick tomes and endless series of books.  However, the SciFi section is dramatically varied in tone, content, and experience.  You might find a niche of Scifi that speaks to you, and here is a quick introduction to the many species of Science Fiction.

The Companions cover

Fantasy - Game of Thrones, Sword of Shannara.  Fantasy, including all manner of magic, creatures, and swordfighting, is housed in the SciFi section.  A Game of Thrones has become a hit television show, and Sword of Shannara is being groomed for a series as well.  Classic and perennial suthors include Piers Anthony, George R. R. Martin, Terry Brooks, J. R. R. Tolkien, and R. A. Salvatore's The Companions.

Alternate History - 1636: the viennese waltz, Two Fronts.  Alternate history is also a part of SciFi.  Note, this is not Historical Fiction, but the world if historical events had been very different.  These titles are often a great exercise in critical thinking.  Herry Turtledove and Eric Flint are strong examples of this SciFi subtype.

2001 cover

Hard SciFi - The Moon is a Harsh MistressRingworld.  “Hard” SciFi is when the emphasis in on the “science” more than the “fiction.”  These stories often take recent physics or astromony discoveries and weave a story around the implications.  Don't be afraid if you're not a professor yourself, however, as they will delight the inner scientist in all of us.  Favorite authors of this subgenre include Issac Asimov and Larry Niven, and my pick of 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke.

Outerscape - Rendevouz with Rama, New Earth.  Outerscape SciFi is focused on new worlds and the vast possibilities of space.  These books are wonderful for an escape from the mundane and a thrill for the imagination.  They also examine the essential traits of humanity that perservere in these extreme environments and enormous challenges.  Ben Bova is a great Outerscape author, as well as classic contributors like Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep cover

Innerscape - Annihilation, Archetype.  Innerscape SciFi is focused on the mind and the frontier of understanding consciousness.  Our minds exist in the gaps between neurons, and Innerscape SciFi examines this tiny spaces inside our brains instead of the vast, empty space around our world.  If you're looking for a drift in perspective, or a paranoid reassessment of the self, Innerscape SciFi is for you.  M. D. Waters and Jeff VanderMeer are fresh authors in the SciFi genre, and they keep the traditions of Phillip K. Dick alive.

Cyberpunk - Neuromancer, Snow Crash.  A very specfic branch of SciFi, Cyberpunk is a mix of techonological superiority in a cultural wasteland.  Lives are only as valuable as the innummerable bits of data exchanged, and often a “David vs. Goliath” of street hacker vs megacorporation serves as a narrative core.  Cyberpunk was standardized by William Gibson, later embraced by Phillip K. Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and now revitalized by Neal Stephenson.

Politisocial - Starship Troopers, Dune.  Other worlds can serve as petri dishes for isolating political or legal ideas and examining their value or consequences.  Politisocial SciFi can explore these idea and potential change one’s view of their own world after reading about another.  Robert Heinlein made a career reexamining social norms in his novels, while Frank Herbert shaped his own galaxy of intrigue and divination.

Redshirts cover

Comedic - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Raising Steam.  Every reader needs a laugh, and these books deliver!  Some SciFi authors include sharp senses of humor in their futuristic or fantasy stories.  Slightly sarcastic and often irreverent, SciFi houses some of the funniest authors in the library.  Terry Pratchett dominates this field with his Discworld series, while Douglas Adams galvanized the sardonic tone that permeates Comedic SciFi, and John Scalzi continues the trend in Redshirts.

So, come, explore our collection, and find out what kind of SciFi reader you are!

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