* Sci-Fi has always gone naturally with series literature
* Read these classic sci-fi series on an appropriately sci-fi medium, the Kindle
* From comic genius to meditative futurism
With its grand scope and hugely involved world building tropes, the sci-fi genre naturally lends itself to series works.
The best of these are sophisticated, funny and re-readable masterpieces, far from their humble origins as the “dime novels,” of the past. Here are 9 of the best sci-fi book series available for Amazon Kindle right now. So if you like your futurism in a Star Trek-inspired format, these books have got you covered.
“Foundation,” the epic work that helped propel Isaac Asimov to international sci-fi stardom, was first published in 1951 and remains one of the must-read sci-fi classics to this day. Loosely based on ideas of cyclical history developed in Edward Gibbon’s, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” “Foundation” is a series of truly cosmic scope, and its ambitious ideas drawing from the fields of mathematics, probability, psychology and sociology, have influenced countless real life scientists. Economist Paul Krugman credits the “Foundation” series with helping to develop his worldview and policy ideals.
Tad Williams’ prescient epic contains one of the most fully realized sci-fi treatments of the internet ever written. Published between 1996 and 2001, it invasions a late 21st-century world in which virtual reality and the internet have merged to form vast networked artificial worlds, and where the goings on are unpredictable even to the computer scientists on the outside.
3. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This beloved sci-fi comedy series started life as a BBC Radio program way back in 1978. Now most often found in book form, Douglas Adams’ absurdist tale of hapless humans saved by an alien writer to contribute to the eponymous “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” has become a pop culture phenomenon. Don’t miss the origin of the phrase “Paranoid Android,” copious Looney Tunes and Lewis Carroll references, and of course, don’t forget to bring a towel.
Memorably adapted for the big screen by some of the strangest pop culture bedfellows ever to converge on a single project–think David Lynch, Sting, David Bowie, as well as an unbelievable early version by Alejandro Jodorowsky– this epic introduces the sand world of Dune, where, despite all the advanced space technology, the social structure resembles that of Bronze Age Greece, where clans of hereditary nobles hoard all power. This turns out to be a brilliant conceit allowing the “Dune” series its unique vantage point to tell a rousing heroic narrative while at the same time critiquing the ways in which such narratives can be used as a tool to gain power. Drawing on Near Eastern and Mediterranean culture, many of “Dune’s” “aliens” bear names only lightly changed from their ancient Hebrew, Persian or Greek forms.
5. Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” series is also credited with a substantial degree of technological and social prescience. Its premise is familiar: a kid is singled out for his video game prowess and recruited for an interplanetary military. In recognition of its significance, “Ender’s Game” won a nebula award in 1985 and has frequently been selected for school and military training reading lists. “Ender’s Game” has since inspired two comic book series and a film.
6. Remembrance of Earth’s Past
The “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” trilogy, often referred to, like the Proust work referenced in its title, by the title of its first book, “The Three Body Problem,” for short, is widely recognized as one of earth’s most thoughtful sci-fi adventure masterpieces. A story that takes full advantage of Liu’s cosmological knowledge, the trilogy is an endlessly quotable, profound meditation on loss and change.
7. Out of the Silent Planet
In “Out of the Silent Planet,” C.S. Lewis, an author famed for meditative nonfiction and the epoch-making “Narnia” fantasy series, trades the wardrobe for the spaceship and gives us an exciting, eminently readable adventure story that nonetheless contains profound musings about society, morals and the limits of human knowledge.
8. Mars Trilogy
Treating, as the title suggests, the subject of Mars colonization, this futuristic trilogy won the 1994 Locus Award for science fiction. Starting from the Beginning, it details the lives of the “first hundred” charged with terraforming the red planet.
9. Zone of Thought
This vast interstellar “Space Opera” shared the 1993 Hugo Award with Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book. It features a dizzyingly diverse array of alien species and some of the most original ideas about technology and the galactic environment. In the zones of thought there are super intelligent AI beings who have, it is implied, helped humanity beyond “the Singularity.” It also features a faster-than-light network called “The Net” (no relation to the Sandra Bullock film) which recalls 1990s Usenet protocols.[caption id="attachment_96660" align="aligncenter" width="331"] Image courtesy of Amazon[/caption]