The best sci-fi to pique your sense of wonder and cure your dystopian blues

Dylan James Quarles Author Of The Ruins of Mars
By Dylan James Quarles

The Books I Picked & Why

Rendezvous with Rama

By Arthur C. Clarke

Book cover of Rendezvous with Rama

Why this book?

I feel that Rendezvous with Rama perfectly encapsulates the very theme of piquing your sense of wonder and curing your dystopian blues. It has a wonderful mix of mystery, awe, adventure, and even hopefulness! I can still remember the thrill I got reading about an ancient alien spaceship hurtling through our solar system. Clarke’s handling of "first contact" is so gripping and thought out that it feels almost real. 


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I, Robot

By Isaac Asimov

Book cover of I, Robot

Why this book?

I, Robot was the first piece of science fiction to really opened my mind to the subject of artificial intelligence. It presented such a wonderful blend of sci-fi, psychology, and philosophy that I instantly fell in love. Far from the killer robots of Terminator, Asimov’s I, Robot instead takes a more measured, hopeful approach to the subject. In the end, it is the perfect book for the intellectual science fiction fan. 


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The Fountains of Paradise

By Arthur C. Clarke

Book cover of The Fountains of Paradise

Why this book?

I know I’m not supposed to double-dip, but Arthur C. Clarke is a man of many masterpieces, and this is another one. The idea of the space elevator is brilliant and believable. But it is Clarke’s handling of "first contact" that has me recommending the novel. Without spoiling anything, he crafts a scenario wholly different from his other books, yet equally believable and fascinating. 


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Mars

By Ben Bova

Book cover of Mars

Why this book?

Mars was the first book about humans visiting Mars that felt believable to me. There is something inspiring and satisfying about a cast of characters forced to solve complex issues with real science and teamwork. By setting the novel in the "not too distant" future, Bova makes it feel lived in and relatable. And, the fact that it hints at an ancient alien mystery only serves to make it more exciting.


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Chariots of the Gods

By Erich von Däniken

Book cover of Chariots of the Gods

Why this book?

This might seem like an odd choice, but I’m recommending Chariots of the Gods because, while technically a non-fiction book, it turns our own ancient history into sci-fi! My mother, of all people, gave me my first copy of this book in high school, thus starting my lifelong fascination with the ancient astronaut theory. I’ve never been able to look at a pyramid the same way since! 


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