Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.
Back in March, we were given the option to pick our ten favorites from any genre. I came up with two lists, but strong female characters in historical fiction won out. This week, we’re running the once-lost top ten soft science fiction books!
The way I would define the difference between “soft” and “hard” SF is the role of outer space. I consider hard SF to be stuff like Asimov, “Star Wars,” and most Bradbury, which feature spaceships, interstellar travel, robots, etc. Soft SF tends to rely on social issues inherent in science and politics, and I would say it overlaps dystopian, steampunk, and alternate-history.
This means my list is pretty loosey-goosey, and some of you more dedicated fans will probably raise hackles at my inclusion of whatever, but let’s all just keep in mind that this is about books and reading and how awesome that is. Alright?
1. “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Genetic engineers race to stay ahead of plague-devouring crops, global warming has flooded just about everything, oil is pretty much gone, and genetically-altered people work as soldiers and prostitutes.
2. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a really beautiful look at the human cost of advanced science and what it really means to be human.
3. “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville. Officially stated by Mark Oshiro to be the weirdest thing he’s ever read, which is really truly saying something. Genetic manipulation is used as a punishment, a scientist studies flying creatures in order to reattach a bird-man’s wings, and art critics fight a corrupt regime.
4. “Archangel” by Sharon Shinn. The story is set on a far-off planet which practices a Christian-esque religion, only angels are physical beings which interact, and intermarry, with humans. Then you find out that their god is actually a spaceship that delivered them to a new world when theirs was destroyed, and the prayers of angels are actually programmed to release medicine or seeds from the god-spaceship. Whaaaat.
5. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. Firemen don’t save books anymore – they burn them, per government instructions, and when Montag realizes books are actually pretty neat, he’s chased down by a giant flame-throwing tranquilizer-firing mechanical hound.
6. “Timeline” by Michael Crichton. This is probably my favorite Crichton book. A group of easily-expendable scientists time-travels to the Dark Ages on a rescue mission. Paradoxes abound, much adventure is had.
7. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Man, just reading that title again makes me shiver. This story of a totalitarian near future makes Katniss’ Panem look like Disneyland.
8. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. People are genetically modified and sorted into castes even before they’re born, and are later kept in line with drugs and orgies and drug-orgies.
9. “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton. Cloned dinosaurs run rampant and a tech-savvy teenage girl saves the day using computers.
10. “His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman. These start off as classic alternate-universe steampunk, but then delve into some seriously heavy topics, like God, parallel worlds, and particle physics. “Amber Spyglass” still makes my head explode a little.
What other soft sci-fi books would you add? Read this week’s other entries here!