I've long been a fan of classic science fiction novels. There's something ineffable about a book that sticks with generation after generation of new readers. It's the closest thing we have to time travel, and the stories that have aged well are worth remembering, and even revisiting from time to time.
This guest post from Emmanual Nataf, co-founder of author services marketplace Reedsy, reviews six of the most impactful science fiction novels of the 20th century from a 2019 point of view.
Red and Slim found the two strange little animals the morning after they heard the thunder sounds. They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents. "Youth" is a short story by Isaac Asimov in the public domain.
After a full weekend enjoying the company of family and friends, taking care of some errands, and writing a chapter of Translocator 3, I’m winding down for the night by checking out some science fiction mystery novels I haven’t read yet, and thinking back on the ones I’ve enjoyed.
I’ve always loved sci-fi and speculative mystery, everything from Ghostbusters to the TV show Fringe to the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to almost everything Isaac Asimov ever wrote. I immediately fell in love with Minority Report when I was a kid, and of course Blade Runner is a classic and Philip K. Dick did SF noir like no one else.
But there are a ton of science fiction mystery books I plain didn’t know about, or that I missed because I was busy doing something else.
You can always count on Goodreads for a good starter list. I’ll be checking out a bunch of these in an effort to get to know the genre better: Science Fiction Detective Novels.
I also want to give a shout out to these three novels from writers I admire. I read two of them recently, and I’m in the middle of the Asimov book, but so confident of its stature as canon in the SF mystery field that I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, too
This is the classic science fiction detective novel on which most of the fascination with Asimov’s work is based. Set a millennium into the future, Detective Lije Baley is forced to work with a Spacer robot detective…who is practically indistinguishable from a real person. This fascinates and disgusts him, and it gets worse when his orders go beyond work and begin to infringe on his delicate family life.
The concept of this book hooked me from the start. Here it is from the book page:
“One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone—999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.”
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher. When his friend and colleague goes missing, Tony gets involuntarily pulled into a missing person’s investigation.
While Sanderson is known for writing epic fantasy, this incredible short novel shows he’s got SF detective mystery chops, too.
Police have the ability to take a snapshot of a day, and relive it. They use it to solve crimes. “Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz” relive May 1st in an attempt to solve a crime.
If that sounds surprising, just wait until you read what happens next.
As I was putting this blog post together, I saw at the bottom of the Snapshot page that the film rights have been options for this story. Here’s to hoping that means sequels, because I enjoyed the hell out of this book.
Click on the book covers or titles above to check the books out on Amazon. (Those are affiliate links, which means I get a few pennies if you buy the book. That money goes back into this blog, which means more books by me like the ones you see above. Thanks in advance for your support!)
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”
– Isaac Asimov, “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)