The best science fiction novels revealing tragic human emotion

Carlos Alvarado Author Of Tujunga
By Carlos Alvarado

Who am I?

In fifth grade, Sister Eugene had once required us to choose from a collage of Life magazine front covers she pinned to the blackboard. The flaming red sunset shining behind a medieval castle became my fiction-writing assignment: the martyrdom of St. Joan of Arc. Not only did that exercise reveal my joy in writing, but also that my attention was focused on contriving plots based on the feminine strength that influences the course of men. Furthermore, throughout my medical career, I reacted to the complex and often confounding emotions of my patients and their loved ones. It is why I prefer medical thrillers that are heavily character driven. 


I wrote...

Tujunga

By Carlos Alvarado,

Book cover of Tujunga

What is my book about?

A 1972 secret mission to the dark side of the moon liberates an astronaut’s suppressed emotions, but a tragic earthly pandemic ensues. It is a conspiracy tale that is romantically told and follows two stories of love filled with loss, passion, pain, and desire, intertwined with one another even when occurring decades apart.

After the mysterious death of Xochi, her fiancé Robert begins to suspect that this tragedy is far more sinister than it first appears, and he wanders if Xochi’s genetic research could have led to her murder. Through a series of seamless flashbacks, the reality of Xochi’s discoveries comes to light as she had begun to question the possibility of a military cover-up of a catastrophic 1972 space mission to the moon.

The books I picked & why

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The Martian

By Andy Weir,

Book cover of The Martian

Why this book?

It is from the power of human passions that we often find ourselves in conflict, yet it is because of passion we can ultimately find the wherewithal to escape that struggle. In The Martian, Andy Weir remarkably detailed the scientific fantasies that took his characters to Mars; but also beautifully narrated the spirited passion that invigorated the protagonist’s will to survive. It is because of the quality of his scientific descriptions and the emotions of his protagonist that I heartily enjoyed this book. 

The Martian

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Martian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old human error are…


The Gospel of Judas

By Simon Mawer,

Book cover of The Gospel of Judas

Why this book?

Anthropology is the science of culture, as much as that of religion. In The Gospel of Judas, Mr. Mawer contrived the discovery of ancient Jewish scrolls that set the morals for this exceptionally intelligent fiction. In this story, the author challenged the protagonist’s need for intimacy with the societal limitations imposed through religion. Beyond the plot, the author’s description of the passions that drove his characters were insightful and beautiful.  

The Gospel of Judas

By Simon Mawer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gospel of Judas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amongst the ancient papyri of the Dead Sea, a remarkable scroll is discovered. Written in the first century AD, it purports to be the true account of the life of Jesus, as told by Youdas the sicarios - Judas Iscariot: the missing Gospel of Judas. If authentic, it will be one of the most incendiary documents in the history of humankind. The task of proving - or disproving - its validity falls to Father Leo Newman, one of the world's leading experts in Koine, the demotic Greek of the Roman Empire, and a man the newspapers like to call a…


Gravity

By Tess Gerritsen,

Book cover of Gravity

Why this book?

I have a prejudiced preference for physician writers and the insightful medical fantasies they (we) write about. In her novel Gravity, Tess Gerritsen inspired my own imagination for the writing of my book. Her extensive background research is evident in the out-of-this-world gory scenes that leaves no doubt of the plausibility of a deadly microbe.  

Gravity

By Tess Gerritsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Top Ten bestselling author Tess Gerritsen delivers a thoroughly menacing new thriller. A brilliantly compulsive page-turner from the author of The Surgeon.

Dr Emma Watson, a brilliant research physician, has been training for the mission of a lifetime: to study living organisms in space. Jack McCallum, Emma's estranged husband, has shared her dream of space travel, but a medical condition has grounded him. Now he must watch from the sidelines...

The mission aboard the space station turns into a nightmare when a culture of single-celled organisms begins to regenerate out of control - and infects the crew with agonising and…


The Andromeda Strain

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of The Andromeda Strain

Why this book?

‘Write of what you know best’ is a caveat often shared to aspiring writers, but in Andromeda Strain, Mr. Crichton stepped far beyond this by incorporating research and imagination to create an alien villain that challenged human sensibilities. The suspense in the novel is more to do with the emotional vulnerabilities of its characters than the transformation of the alien matter that threatened them.

The Andromeda Strain

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Andromeda Strain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes a captivating thriller about a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism, which threatens to annihilate human life.
 
Five prominent biophysicists have warned the United States government that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere. Two years later, a probe satellite falls to the earth and lands in a desolate region of northeastern Arizona. Nearby, in the town of Piedmont, bodies lie heaped and flung across the ground, faces locked in frozen surprise. What could cause such shock and fear? The terror has begun, and…


Coma

By Robin Cook,

Book cover of Coma

Why this book?

I began medical school a year after Coma’s publication, and soon it was the rave among my classmates. Through a unique and imaginative plotline, Mr. Cook explored the possibility of what we as medical students feared becoming vulnerable to: the thought a physician could invoke god-like powers by means of advance medical knowledge and an idolizing patient population.  

Coma

By Robin Cook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The blockbuster bestseller that kickstarted a new genre--the medical thriller--is now available in trade paperback for the first time.
They called it "minor surgery," but Nancy Greenly, Sean Berman and a dozen others--all admitted to Boston Memorial Hospital for routine procedures--were victims of the same inexplicable, hideous tragedy on the operating table. They never woke up.
Susan Wheeler is a third-year medical student working as a trainee at Boston Memorial Hospital. Two patients during her residency mysteriously go into comas immediately after their operations due to complications from anesthesia. Susan begins to investigate the causes behind both of these alarming…


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