Last week was Sci Fi & Fantasy week at Goodreads. As a lifelong SFF fan, I was inspired to celebrate some of the best Science Fiction and Fantasy books and series I’ve read over the years. Here are some all-time-favourites:
1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
SERIES: Ender Saga
GENRE: Sci Fi
PUBLICATION: 1985, Tor Books
BLURB: An alien threat is on the horizon, ready to strike. And if humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history.
Ender Wiggin is the youngest son in a family of three child geniuses. After years of monitoring, the government decides he might just be the person they’re looking for. But first, he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training program – to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders.
A saviour for mankind must be produced through whatever means possible. But are they creating a hero or a monster?
2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
GENRE: High Fantasy
PUBLICATION: 1954, Allen & Unwin (Part One)
BLURB: Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as the Ring is entrusted to his care. He must leave his home and make a perilous journey across the realms of Middle-earth to the Crack of Doom, deep inside the territories of the Dark Lord. There he must destroy the Ring forever and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose. (x)
3. The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown
FAVOURITE BOOK: Golden Son
GENRE: Sci Fi
PUBLICATION: 2014, Del Ray Books (Red Rising)
BLURB: Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (x)
4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
FAVOURITE BOOK: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
GENRES: Fantasy, YA
PUBLICATION: 1997, Bloomsbury UK (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
BLURB: Harry Potter is an English boy living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin – the Dursleys – who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, though he lives in the world of non-magical people known as Muggles. The wizarding world exists parallel to the Muggle world, albeit in secret.
Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a wizarding academy in Scotland where most of the events in the series take place. As Harry moves through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him — magical, social and emotional — including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships, romantic relationships, schoolwork, anxiety, and depression, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation that lies ahead in Britain’s increasingly-violent second wizarding war. (x)
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
GENRE: Sci Fi, Dark Comedy, Satire, Postmodernism
PUBLICATION: 1969, Delacorte
BLURB: Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Slaughterhouse-Five is not only Vonnegut’s most powerful book, it is also as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy – and humor. (x)
6. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
FAVOURITE BOOK: The Amber Spyglass
GENRE: High Fantasy, Science Fantasy
PUBLICATION: 1995, Scholastic (Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass)
BLURB: Northern Lights introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are intertwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. In The Subtle Knife, she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in The Amber Spyglass. The epic story Pullman tells is not only a spellbinding adventure featuring armoured polar bears, magical devices, witches and daemons, it is also an audacious and profound reimagining of Milton’s Paradise Lost. An utterly entrancing blend of metaphysical speculation and bravura storytelling, “His Dark Materials” is a monumental and enduring achievement. (x)
7. The Percy Jackson & The Olympians and Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
FAVOURITE BOOK: Any of them except The Sea of Monsters. Nothing in particular against it – I just didn’t love it quite as much as the others.
GENRE: Fantasy, Mythological Fiction, Children’s Fiction
PUBLICATION: 2006, Miramax Books (The Lightning Thief) (later Disney Hyperion)
BLURB: Set in the modern world, Rick Riordan’s books focus on groups of demi-god teenagers, and features many characters from Greek and Roman mythology. The first series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, follows the adventures of a teen named Percy Jackson at a summer camp for Greek demigods. The second series, The Heroes of Olympus, introduces several more lead characters and a second camp for Roman demigods.
Do you share my love for any of these books? Have I missed some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below!