The best speculative fiction books to explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything

Who am I?

I grew up believing that all men are brothers and that in our hearts we all hold the same values. It’s not true. It presumes that western cultural values are the best mankind can aspire to. In fact, it’s an act of aggression to project my values onto others. I love to explore other cultures by living amongst them or reading a good book about them. As a religious, trained anthropologist, I try to discern their big questions about life, the universe, and everything. Do they have any bearing on my questions?  After all, the quest is for better questions, rather than comfortable answers (like ‘42’ - see Hitchhiker’s Guide…).

I wrote...

Quantum Cannibals

By Nathan Elberg,

Book cover of Quantum Cannibals

What is my book about?

Reincarnation and time travel are the scaffold of a five-thousand-year saga of exile, love, and loss. In an Arctic wasteland, a quantum biologist is transformed into a vengeful warrior when her husband is butchered and served at a feast. In Bronze-Age Mesopotamia she is a teacher and community leader trying to cope with the violent animosity between tribes. In a modern city, before she is born her father is expected to stop an invasion by demons holding a five-thousand-year-old grudge.

Greed and bigotry challenge grace, generosity, and empathy. It’s a struggle fought with humor, magic, lasers, stone knives, and nuclear weapons. It’s a struggle worth immersing yourself in.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Five Novels in One Outrageous Volume

Why did I love this book?

There are several “big questions” that have long been contemplated by prophets, philosophers, and me. “Does life have meaning? What’s my place in the universe? How can God do all those things people say He’s done?” Even though Douglas Adams was a dedicated atheist, his trilogy provides answers to these and more while keeping his readers laughing. The atheist helped me understand God.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First a legendary radio series, then a bestselling book, now a blockbuser movie, the immensely successful Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy needs no introduction. Reissued to coincide with the film's release, this hardback omnibus edition include all five parts of the trilogy, incorporating for the first time, Mostly Harmless, along with a guide to the guide and essential notes on how to leave the planet.

This single hardback edition is indispensable for any would-be galactic traveller and for old and new fans of Douglas Adams, Doctor Who and bestselling science fiction books.


By Matthew Stover,

Book cover of Traitor

Why did I love this book?

The Star Wars universe started as one movie, then three, then six. It then experienced its own “big bang,” exploding with books, movies, television shows…  My favorite is one small part of that universe, which hardly anyone pays attention to. Traitor is Book 13 of the New Jedi Order series. I expected normal good guy/bad guy, dark side/light side dichotomies, but my expectations were overturned. Jacen, previously a good guy Jedi, comes under the tutelage of Vergere, a mysterious creature of indeterminate allegiance. I couldn’t tell whether she was Jacen’s teacher, protector, torturer, or captor. I was fascinated that all these concepts were meaningless here. There are many great stories in Star Wars and the New Jedi Order. This one outshines them all in what it teaches me about good and evil.

By Matthew Stover,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the depths of catastrophe, a glimmer of hope.

After the capture of Coruscant, the mighty heart of the New Republic, a stunned galaxy fears that nothing can stop the Yuuzhan Vong. Still, that crushing defeat produces one small miracle: Jacen Solo is alive. Yet he can scarcely imagine himself in stranger circumstances.

The young Jedi Knight is in the care of Vergere, a fascinating creature of mystery and power, her intentions hard to fathom, her cruelties rarely concealed. But this master of inscrutable arts has much to teach the young Jedi...for she holds the key to a new way…

Faith of the Fallen

By Terry Goodkind,

Book cover of Faith of the Fallen

Why did I love this book?

I like books that entertain, but also inspire me on how to better live my life. Faith of the Fallen (Book 6 of the Sword of Truth series) is a riveting story right from the first sentence. It’s full of homilies that sync with my worldview on how to live with yourself, and how to live with others. “Your life is your own. Rise up and live it,” argues against passivity. “Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent” is a call for justice. The author echoes the philosopher Hannah Arendt in saying, “Evil is not one large entity, but a collection of countless, small depravities brought up from the muck by petty men.”

Above all, Faith of the Fallen is a gripping, action-filled story.

By Terry Goodkind,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Faith of the Fallen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOUL OF THE FIRE saw the political machinations that have dogged the midlands reach new heights as the Chimes ran free and threatened magic everywhere. As the novel ended Kahlan has narrowly avoided death and now she and Richard Rahl, the Seeker, must strive again to save the world from the resurgent armies of the Emperor Jagang. From the very first page FAITH OF THE FALLEN PITCHES Richard and Kahlan into their most desperate fight yet, a fight where worlds once again hang in the balance. Richard must embark on a course of action that will leave his people feeling…

Book cover of Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos

Why did I love this book?

The word ‘fantasy' comes from the Greek ϕαντασία, meaning ‘making visible.’ There are many peoples who are invisible to western civilization. I was trained as an anthropologist; seeing the mysteries of different cultures holds a special attraction for me. The book Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos is anthropology, not fiction, which makes visible a way of life unimaginable to modern man. The people it describes are real, which makes their stories all the more compelling. In one instance, Rasmussen (who was half-Eskimo) grilled a shaman named Aua about the meaning of all their beliefs and rituals. The shaman turned the questions back on Rasmussen and said, “All our customs come from life and turn towards life; we explain nothing, we believe nothing, but in what I have just shown you lies our answer to all you ask.” Aua didn’t answer all that I ask about life; he helped me understand my questions.

By Knud Rasmussen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excerpt from Intellectual Culture of the Iglulik Eskimos

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books.

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.…

Brave New World

By Aldous Huxley,

Book cover of Brave New World

Why did I love this book?

I grew up in the 60’s & 70’s (though some people say I never grew up). Drugs and sex were seen as panaceas to most of what ails the world. “Make love, not war,” would bring an era of peace and prosperity, a messianic wonderland. Uh-uh. Brave New World raised a red flag: is such a utopia possible? In our present reality “free love” has diminished the idea of obligation. Recreational drugs have led to terrible addictions. In the novel unlimited sex and always-available drugs made for a dystopian world. Freedom unfettered by responsibility became an oppressive weapon. There are unforeseen consequences to the actions of people, of a society. “The nightmare of total organization has emerged from the safe, remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.”

By Aldous Huxley,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Brave New World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**One of the BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World**

EVERYONE BELONGS TO EVERYONE ELSE. Read the dystopian classic that inspired the hit Sky TV series.

'A masterpiece of speculation... As vibrant, fresh, and somehow shocking as it was when I first read it' Margaret Atwood, bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale.

Welcome to New London. Everybody is happy here. Our perfect society achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself. Now everyone belongs.

You can be happy too. All you need to do is take your Soma pills.

Discover the brave new…

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