The best books on people adapting to changing future worlds

Who am I?

I’m proud to be Irish, from a long heritage of storytellers and poets. Science fiction grabbed me from the first Asimov books I found, and I see the genre as an exploration of possibilities. I volunteer at SF Cons, including Dublin’s Worldcon in 2019. My profession is tree surgery, with an early apprenticeship in demolition, all of which has brought me to interesting places. I also love horses and became a national standard showjumper. I’ve qualified in multimedia journalism and ecology. My novels explore the past, present, and future. I write crime, science fiction, romance, and YA stories, including the Irish Lockdown series about young people during the Pandemic.

I wrote...

Dining Out Around The Solar System

By Clare O'Beara,

Book cover of Dining Out Around The Solar System

What is my book about?

A Dublin hacker teams up with a London reporter. The future of journalism… is dangerous.

Irish hacker Donal and Cockney-Jamaican Myron form a crack team at news zine London’s Eye. In their future, Londoners are recruited to mine the asteroids, using Stansted as a spaceport for antigrav shuttles. British Space Mines has leverage over the UK Government and resents investigative reporters. London’s basic jobs are filled by arrivals from other planets in our Solar System, which were all found to be inhabited. The immigrants also run ethnic restaurants, where Donal, a literary writer and secret hacker, and Myron, a confident miner’s son, pick up some classic scoops along with their meals. Crime, property deals, politics, and giant corporations form the background to these adventures.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Green Mars

Clare O'Beara Why did I love this book?

In this future, humanity needs to terraform Mars to provide a second home to a swelling population. The Mars Trilogy follows a group of scientists and astronauts, who gain extended lifetimes through a scientific breakthrough; this device enables us to follow the same characters through more than one normal active career span. 

My favourite book is Green Mars, because as a tree surgeon, I am fascinated by the methods shown of planting miniature trees and other plants, adapted from Nordic and mountainous shrubs. The people are experimenting with frontier lifestyles using available materials, and experimenting on adapting humans to the planet. Big business and inter-planetary politics keep raising their heads, as in any colonisation effort. And a few holdout scientists are saying that Mars is beautiful, precious, and unique, and we should study the red planet as it is, not terraform it.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Green Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first 100 scientists and engineers landed on Mars in 2027, their task to "terraform" the planet, creating an atmosphere, warming the environment, building human habitats, freeing the water trapped in underground aquifiers and seeding the new landscape. This book tells their story.

Book cover of Snow Crash

Clare O'Beara Why did I love this book?

I heartily recommend Snow Crash to anyone who wants a laugh, wants to learn, and be uplifted. A young man called Hiro Protagonist who delivers pizzas and strings stories for the CIA, and a younger skate courier lady named YT, team up in the altered and partitioned suburbs of Los Angeles. 

Stephenson initially intended this as a graphic novel, so the scenes are extremely visual. We explore the Metaverse, since Hiro is a coder who helped to develop the online worlds where cool people meet and do business without leaving home. Snow Crash is a spreading computer virus that harms people using the Metaverse. We also explore the crowded suburbs run by private enterprise, and travel, unwillingly perhaps, to the Raft, a floating garbage patch of boats, junk, and human life, as overpopulated Asia spills over into the Pacific and floats with the currents. And there is still room for this to be a story about a girl and a dog. 

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Snow Crash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The “brilliantly realized” (The New York Times Book Review) breakthrough novel from visionary author Neal Stephenson, a modern classic that predicted the metaverse and inspired generations of Silicon Valley innovators

Hiro lives in a Los Angeles where franchises line the freeway as far as the eye can see. The only relief from the sea of logos is within the autonomous city-states, where law-abiding citizens don’t dare leave their mansions.

Hiro delivers pizza to the mansions for a living, defending his pies from marauders when necessary with a matched set of samurai swords. His home is a shared 20 X 30…

Book cover of Climate Change Captives 2035 and Project SAVE: Students Help Save the Earth

Clare O'Beara Why did I love this book?

In a near future, the creeping changes we already see due to warming climate, produce a sudden dystopia. Young people with rationed food, clean water, and goods, still need to go to school, help their parents and make friends. And then they get asked to help save the world. 

I love the energy of this recent publication. The science has been well researched, such as poison ivy thriving in a warmer climate. Middle-grade readers will identify with the characters, and I was delighted by the inclusion of a family in Ireland, chatting over the interwebs with the American schoolkids. Society is visibly shutting down, with resources provided to those in central locations, so anyone outside a city experiences a fast backslide. A few wealthy people are resource hoarders. The determination of the students to learn, share and develop solutions for everyone, leaves me with hope for a positive outcome.

By Carolyn Wilhelm, Pieter Els (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Climate Change Captives 2035 and Project SAVE as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Climate Change Captives 2035 and Project Save is for ages 10 and up with a Lexile reading level of 820L. What would life be like if you were 11 or 12 years old in 2035? If climate change had been a problem, how would people be living? Would schools be different? Would people be living as they do today? What transportation would be available? Think about how people may have adjusted to new hotter temperatures. This story tells what changes people may have had to make and how they adapted to a new normal with less travel. In this story,…

Book cover of Dune

Clare O'Beara Why did I love this book?

Dune is a classic for many reasons. We have a clear view of good and bad people, power plays, several strongly contrasting worlds, culture clash, and a spacefaring society which has banned intelligent computers. 

I read Dune first in my early teens and could identify with Paul Atreides, who had so many skills yet so much to learn. The ecological aspect made a strong impact on me, as I was already a nature lover. Paul travels from Caladan, a temperate planet, to Arrakis, a desert world where water is currency among the original inhabitants. The exploitation of the valuable Spice mined here, has clear parallels with resource exploitation around our own planet. Herbert provided women who were strong characters, yet set them up as having influence and personal standing, rather than power. When the book was written, power around the world still resided with men, but Herbert did not write a story all about men.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

51 authors picked Dune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

Book cover of Golden Witchbreed

Clare O'Beara Why did I love this book?

An Earth Ambassador visits the planet Orthe to try to persuade the human-like inhabitants to join an interplanetary union. Christie’s blonde hair makes the suspicious native people associate her with their former ruling class, the Witchbreed, now overthrown, to the detriment of technological advance. 

While no listing would be complete without Ursula leGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, I am sure that has been a popular choice, so I’m taking a step further to a similar and later novel. I like the Ambassador being female this time; and her discovery that the Orthe people are derived from reptiles can account for many differences – but Gentle still conveys a universal humanity. The planet is splendidly realised with changes of scene around the globe and glimpses of the former glories – but dangers – developed by the Witchbreed. We see adaptation away from colonisation to diplomacy, which is a win in itself.

By Mary Gentle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Golden Witchbreed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orthe - half-civilized, half-barbaric, home to human-like beings who live and die by the code of the sword. Earth envoy Lynne Christie has been sent here to establish contact and to determine whether this is a world worth developing. But first Christie must come to understand that human-like is not and never can be human, and that not even Orthe's leaders can stop the spread of rumors about her, dark whisperings that could cost Christie her life.And on a goodwill tour to the outlying provinces, these evil rumors turn to deadly accusations. Christie is no offworlder, Church officials charge: she…

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Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

Book cover of Through Any Window

Deb Richardson-Moore Author Of Murder, Forgotten

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Mystery aficionado Beach lover Mother Gardener Housing advocate

Deb's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Riley Masterson has moved to Greenbrier, SC, anxious to escape the chaos that has overwhelmed her life.

Questioned in a murder in Alabama, she has spent eighteen months under suspicion by a sheriff’s office, unable to make an arrest. But things in gentrifying Greenbrier are not as they seem. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood where glitzy new homes rise alongside crumbling mill houses, and everyone, it seems, can peer into a neighbor’s window.

When murder explodes, someone unexpected is caught in the crossfire. Detectives are left to ponder: Are the deaths personal or the result of rich and poor living in such close proximity? And will Riley take the blame as someone so meticulously planned?

Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

What is this book about?

After being questioned in a murder investigation, Riley Masterson has spent eighteen months under suspicion by the sheriff’s office. Anxious to escape accusing eyes, she finally decides to leave Alabama and move to South Carolina.

But Greenbrier isn’t the stabilizing influence she hopes for, as her neighborhood is slowly being gentrified, with homeless people living in the shadows of mansions. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood as glitzy new homes rise beside crumbling mill houses, and everyone is able and willing to peer into a neighbor’s window.

When a ghastly crime…

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