My imagination has always been captivated and fired up by reading traditional myths and fairy tales, as well science fiction. Growing up in the ’80s, I was particularly steeped in cinematic masterpieces such as Bladerunner and The Road Warrior, but I also loved reading classic sci-fi, as well as British literature, particularly the Brontes and Jane Austen. I enjoy and write speculative fiction because I believe it offers some of the best, creative ways to explore the timeless, universal truths underlying the human experience. Whether that exploration happens in subtle scenes of interpersonal interactions, or in the epic events woven in threads of dark and light across the tapestry of history, it’s all valuable and relevant.
Echoes Through Distant Glass
S. Kirk Pierzchala,
What is my book about?
Tasked with investigating a narco-terror plot against a weakened United States, law enforcer Owen MacIntyre becomes involved with a powerful and ruthless corporate family, and is nearly killed for his efforts. But his enemies discover they have created a cyborg adversary detemined to bring their illicit biotechnology to light. Will MacIntyre’s quest for justice threaten his own humanity?
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I really loved Willis’ multilayered presentation of the narrator’s past and present. Masterfully, Willis creates a deceptively simple, haunting setting, where the common but painful event of the loss of a pet becomes a symbol for the banality of extinction itself—whether of a species or entire culture. Made me think about how, even though inevitable, loss never gets easier.
This YA story deals with the threat of apocalyptic destruction, and shows how easily a vulnerable population can be manipulated by fear and uncertainty with only a few rumors. These themes are just as valid today as ever. I like the way DePrau’s protagonist, Nickie, is a relatable character caught in a frightening situation, but trying to make the best of it by forming bonds in her community, as they all face a terrifying future. The haunting sense of dread that permeates this simple novel has stayed with me for years.
A prequel to the modern-day classic The City of Ember. This highly acclaimed adventure series has captivated kids and teachers alike for almost fifteen years and has sold over 3.5 MILLION copies!
Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she’s an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.
So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn’t what she’d anticipated. It’s a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person’s visions…
I was really drawn into James’ dark but believable premise, concerning a depopulated Earth, and the resulting instability and hopelessness of such a societal crisis. The dreariness of her depiction of a childless world is sobering and timely. The plot is not complex, but is very absorbing and fast-paced. The fact that the novel ends on a note of hope and second chances is one of the things I especially liked about it, and makes it well worth an occasional re-read.
Told with P. D. James's trademark suspense, insightful characterization, and riveting storytelling, The Children of Men is a story of a world with no children and no future. The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and…
This novel is a serious, sprawling epic that, over stages, takes the reader hundreds of years into a future where the United States is recovering from the effects of a massive nuclear war. Although I didn’t find the characters especially relatable, it was still a very engrossing read that gave me a lot to think about, as it explores the cycles of civilization, war, decay, and rebuilding, that are continually reoccurring in our species’ history.
In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter.
In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind's salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity's rebirth…
Literally one of the most ‘apocalyptic’ stories ever penned, this unusual tale follows the main character of a priest as he navigates a hostile secular culture and investigates what might finally be the arrival of the long-predicted Antichrist. The story is prescient in its predictions about technology, as well as political and cultural trends. The un-ironic steampunk vibes (which would have been cutting edge at the time of writing), are a fun plus.
Benson's dystopic vision of a near future world in which religion has, by and large, been rejected or simply fallen by the wayside. The Catholic Church has retreated to Italy and Ireland, while the majority of the rest of the world is either Humanistic or Pantheistic. There is a 'one world' government, and euthanasia is widely available. The plot follows the tale of a priest, Percy Franklin, who becomes Pope Silvester III, and a mysterious man named Julian Felsenburgh, who is identical in looks to the priest and who becomes "Lord of the World".
Not only do I love dystopian books, I write them, too! And since dystopia is all about a flawed future, it requires a lot of worldbuilding. I have a long history with worldbuilding, too. As a child, I spent a lot of time in the imaginary worlds I’d conjure up in my head. Plus, I’ve always been drawn to books with rich worldbuilding, from The Golden Compassas a child, toHarry Potteras a teenager, toThe Hunger Games in my twenties. The ability to escape reality while curled up on the sofa has a magical quality to it that I’ll never outgrow, and I hope to offer the same experience to my own readers. Happy reading!
Let me be clear: I’m talking about the book—not the TV series!
This is a dystopian classic that everyone should read. In fact, all of Atwood’s books should be read. As for The Handmaid’s Tale, I read it in a literature class in university, and it has stuck with me ever since (much like other classics—hello The Great Gatsby).
The Republic of Giliead, where the story takes place, was created when the US government was overthrown, and strips women of their rights. It’s a premise that has roots in real events—the 1979 Iranian Revolution, most notably, and so the rich worldbuilding (and powerful imagery) doesn’t feel contrived—or all that dystopian.
And while it will definitely transport you away from your day-to-day life while you read it, it’s the way the haunting Republic will stay with you afterwards that makes this book a gem.
I like the thrill of feeling like a place truly exists, whether it’s described in complete detail or sparsely sketched for the reader to take over. I’m a professional comic illustrator, most known for illustrating Transformers for IDW Publishing. In 2020 I created my own original series called The Kill Lock, also published by IDW. It was my first real stab at taking all my years of studying world building and attempting to tell an original story of my own. It was a wonderful experience to create and write, and I highly suggest anyone who has been looking to do it to take the plunge. The rewards are thrilling.
This book is a classic example of exceptional world building and detail. The lone human survivor among a word now ruled by vampires, Robert Neville’s daily existence is expertly documented by Matheson. Each meal and drink he prepares to get through his daily horror feels so real. His isolation feels so real. The descriptions of what it would actually be like to fall asleep at night when an army of vampires is patiently waiting outside your house is beyond gripping. Despite solid efforts from those involved, the film adaptation that was later made doesn’t scratch the surface of the power of this story.
An acclaimed SF novel about vampires. The last man on earth is not alone ...Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth ...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood. By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive like this?
I am both a psychologist and a novelist, with each of my professions influencing and shaping the other. Not surprisingly, I am fascinated by people- how they tick, why they do what they do- and am particularly interested in how people behave at times of medical and/or psychological crisis. The topic of organ donation had always interested me in this aspect, but particularly so after the tragic death of my brother at only 39. When the recipient of one of his kidneys reached out to my family three years later we were grateful and gratified… and the idea forI’ll Leave You With This was ignited.
Spoiler alert: this is not a novel about conventional organ donation.
Rather, it’s a rumination on humanity, morality, science, memory, and power. Following three friends as they come of age at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school, then have to face the truth of what they’re really being nurtured for.
It’s also a dystopian love story and scarily prescient science fiction, and if you don’t end the book with a lump in your throat so large that you almost can’t breathe you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.
One of the most acclaimed novels of the 21st Century, from the Nobel Prize-winning author
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense…