The best science fiction books that will mess with your head

Why am I passionate about this?

Do you remember the moment you found the thing you love most? I do. I was 9 and sitting on the floor in the corner of my neighborhood library reading Dune. That little girl is now a grown-up with a passion for books that stick with you. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and coffee lover who has graduated from Dune to other things. Genres, authors, formats. But Science Fiction is my first and truest love. Especially Science fiction that messes with your head. Now I write what I love to read and strive to give my readers what my idols gave me. An escape.

I wrote...

Parallel: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories

By K.T. Seto,

Book cover of Parallel: A Collection of Science Fiction Short Stories

What is my book about?

Parallel is a compilation of Science Fiction short stories from all of the most popular sub-genres of Science Fiction. The book is divided into three parts, with the first two featuring previously published works by the author culled from the various anthologies and websites where they first appeared. The third section features several never-before-published stories created as part of the worldbuilding for the author’s science fiction series. Parallel’s stories are at turn heartwarming and disturbing. They make you think and make you feel. The author provided a glimpse into their mind to give the reader an escape and leave them feeling that it was time well spent.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Ubik

K.T. Seto Why did I love this book?

Ubik is one of the first Sci-Fi novels I read and has stuck with me the most. Moreso than Dune and any of the others I read during my first heady introduction to the genre where I was devouring any and everything my library had in that area. Dick created such a trippy but believable world I questioned my own reality for weeks after reading this book. Set in the future (for him since he was writing in the first half of the 20th century) in a world where we have colonized the moon and psychic powers are common, death is almost always preventable. Half-life is a thing and nothing is ever as it seems. I can’t describe more without giving it away but if you like your sci-fi with a heaping helping of psychological thriller, this is one to pick up. It’s a classic for a reason folks. You won’t be disappointed.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic science fiction tale of artifical worlds by one of the great American writers of the 20th century

Glen Runciter is dead.

Or is he?

Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out.

If it hasn't already.

Readers minds have been blown by Ubik:

'Sheer craziness, a book defying any straightforward synopsis . . . a unique time travel adventure…

Book cover of Ishmael

K.T. Seto Why did I love this book?

As a child of the 80s, when Earth Day became a thing, a book set in the future that questioned human supremacy seemed a sure bet for a good time. Picking up this novel by Quinn when it was released a couple of years after I graduated high school was enough to shake the foundations of my personal system of beliefs and fire my imagination for what might be possible if only humans learned. The book itself is written as a conversation between the main character and the student he advertises for in the newspaper. The subject matter of their conversation and the asides about the world they live in make for solid speculative fiction storytelling despite its esoteric leaning roots. If anyone asks me for a book recommendation, I start with this one. It crosses genres despite belonging to the speculative fiction niche. If you haven’t picked this one up, do it. Love it or hate it after you read it you will remember it.

By Daniel Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author.

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet . . . laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.”—The New York Times Book Review

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of…

Book cover of Foe

K.T. Seto Why did I love this book?

Released in 2018, Foe is a book recommended to me by a friend who said – Oh, you like trippy fiction, check this out. The premise of the book has been done before – Invasion of the Body Snatchers et al. You got a guy who has a double he didn’t agree to or know about at first. But the twist here is something that grabs you by the throat and makes you stop after some of the chapters and go – man that’s not right- before reading on. I started reading this at night. Put it aside and finished it during the day in one sitting. It was good. But it also made my stomach clench uncomfortably and sent me down too many rabbit holes of thought. It is very entertaining and you will not be unhappy spending your time with this tale.

By Iain Reid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Foe is a tale of implacably mounting peril that feels all the more terrifying for being told in such a quiet, elegantly stripped-down voice. Iain Reid knows how to do ‘ominous’ as well as anyone I’ve ever read.” —Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan

A taut, psychological mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the…

Book cover of The Three-Body Problem

K.T. Seto Why did I love this book?

This book is so good it is insane. That being said, it will definitely mess with your head. Picture it, you’re a political prisoner doing forced labor and stumble on secret communications with aliens. Your planet is Earth. Present-day Earth. Your government is regressive and your family is all but gone because of them. The aliens only need an invitation to come. Except, there’s a possibility they might not come in peace. What would you do? I know what I would do. Not what the main character of this book did. I won’t spoil it for you as it is only the first book in a truly excellent series. Smart, compelling, and riveting. Definitely a must-read. It deserved every award it won.

By Cixin Liu, Ken Liu (translator),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Three-Body Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the award-winning, critically acclaimed, multi-million-copy-selling science-fiction phenomenon - soon to be a Netflix Original Series from the creators of Game of Thrones.

1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China's Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang's investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable…

Book cover of House of Suns

K.T. Seto Why did I love this book?

This series is set 6 million years in the future. In a universe entirely peopled by humanity and various iterations of human evolutions. Only one of which seems to be immune to the inevitable failure of their society that plagues literally every other outpost of humanity in existence. This world is rich, layered, and complex. It makes you wonder about what it means to be human and makes you fear. It definitely makes you fear. Shatterlings, man just typing the word makes me clench my teeth. I enjoyed this book and loved the rich world and vastness of the thought put into the creation of a universe that is empty but full at the same time. If you’ve made it this far down my list and have liked the others so far this is definitely in your lane.

By Alastair Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spectacular, large-scale space opera - the ultimate galaxy-spanning adventure

Six million years ago, at the very dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones: the shatterlings. Sent out into the galaxy, these shatterlings have stood aloof as they document the rise and fall of countless human empires. They meet every two hundred thousand years, to exchange news and memories of their travels with their siblings.

Campion and Purslane are not only late for their thirty-second reunion, but they have brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward…

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A Theory of Expanded Love

By Caitlin Hicks,

Book cover of A Theory of Expanded Love

Caitlin Hicks Author Of A Theory of Expanded Love

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My life and work have been profoundly affected by the central circumstance of my existence: I was born into a very large military Catholic family in the United States of America. As a child surrounded by many others in the 60s, I wrote, performed, and directed family plays with my numerous brothers and sisters. Although I fell in love with a Canadian and moved to Canada, my family of origin still exerts considerable personal influence. My central struggle, coming from that place of chaos, order, and conformity, is to have the courage to live an authentic life based on my own experience of connectedness and individuality, to speak and be heard. 

Caitlin's book list on coming-of-age books that explore belonging, identity, family, and beat with an emotional and/or humorous pulse

What is my book about?

Trapped in her enormous, devout Catholic family in 1963, Annie creates a hilarious campaign of lies when the pope dies and their family friend, Cardinal Stefanucci, is unexpectedly on the shortlist to be elected the first American pope.

Driven to elevate her family to the holiest of holy rollers in the parish, Annie is tortured by her own dishonesty. But when “The Hands” visits her in her bed and when her sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie discovers her parents will do almost anything to uphold their reputation and keep their secrets safe. 

Questioning all she has believed and torn between her own gut instinct and years of Catholic guilt, Annie takes courageous risks to wrest salvation from the tragic sequence of events set in motion by her parents’ betrayal.

A Theory of Expanded Love

By Caitlin Hicks,

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