Why So Curious? Look a Little Deeper with These Sci-Fi Titles
With its eerily familiar settings and relatable protagonists, sci-fi keeps us questioning the nature of our political and technological reality
There’s no other genre that commands our curiosity and fuels our sense of wonder quite like science fiction. But what is it about the sci-fi genre that we find so compelling? Is it the heady mix of far-flung destinations and sleek starships? Is it the variety of alien worlds and the exotic creatures who inhabit them?
Or do people come back to sci-fi’s most popular audiobooks because of their eerie ability to turn the focus of the story back on ourselves? People love science fiction because it shines a light on the nature of humanity with protagonists that share our concerns and live in settings that feel just close enough to our realities. These characters often make us wonder how we got here, what comes next and what society will look like in the near and distant future.
With big budget versions of several science fiction classics coming to the big screen this year, science fiction is on everyone’s mind. While you wait for the next big blockbuster, we’ve put together this list of sci-fi titles to pique your curiosity and get you listening to some of the genre’s best.
Show Me a Hero
The greatest sci-fi writers have known for years that human stories capture human imaginations. Science fiction isn’t always about star fleet captains and cosmonauts — some of the genre’s best titles offer us protagonists who are just enough like us that their struggles seem both familiar and unreal at the same time.
Released 34 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s sequel continues the story of the tyrannical patriarchy of Gilead and the Resistance operatives who oppose it.
Just as female audiences in 1985 connected with Offred’s struggles to reclaim an identity that was being stripped away from her, the 2019 sequel follows the lives of several women still living under the shadow of the oppressive regime. Readers will instantly connect with Daisy, a teenager living within the Canadian resistance, who discovers her true identity and is swept up in a political struggle much larger than anything she could have imagined — putting her own life on the line to ensure the freedom of dozens of other women.
As with its predecessor, Margaret Atwood has managed to capture lightning in a bottle with a sequel the author claims to have thought up only after it had become obvious that “we were going towards the world of The Handmaid’s Tale rather than away from it.”
If you’re curious to see what has transpired in Atwood’s dystopia since you last checked in, be sure to give this incredible story a listen.
And if you’re looking for other riveting, thought-provoking contemporary sci-fi titles to explore, stick with Audible — your source for the most diverse selection of sci-fi stories.
Frank Herbert’s Dune might seem like a sweeping science fiction epic that has nothing to do with our day-to-day. In reality it’s an example of how science fiction encourages introspection, studies humanity in a new context and spotlights what defines us as people — no matter the setting. If you’re curious about the human condition and what happens when we’re pushed to the edge, this sci-fi title can shed some light.
While the plot is about a young Paul Atreides rising to meet his destiny and unite the disparate Fremen tribes of Dune against several treacherous houses, it also functions as a mirror to the issues we face in our own world.
The causes Paul supports are similar to those many fight for today. His alliance with the Fremen people represents the struggle for Indigenous representation, while the desert planet of Dune itself represents the plight of the environment and the need for ecological awareness and preservation.
If you’re curious to see how one person can inspire political change — even on a sci-fi stage — this title is for you. You can find the Audie award-winning Dune — as well as its four sequels — here on Audible. And with the first of a two-part film version hitting theatres at the end of 2020, now is the perfect time to reconnect with the story and re-live the adventure before experiencing the silver screen adaptation.
What Does the Future Hold?
Besides giving us incredible, relatable protagonists, sci-fi authors also satisfy our curiosity by making bold speculations about where they see our world headed in the years to come, and sometimes those speculations come true. If you’re curious to see how close sci-fi writers have come to accurately predicting the future, consider these uncanny titles that hit very close to the mark.
Everyone knows about the 1969 lunar landing. When the historic Apollo 11 flew astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon, it captured an incredible moment in human history. But did you know science fiction master Jules Verne predicted the event 104 years earlier?
Listening to this gripping story, you’ll be amazed at how similar the events are to what would happen a century later, including the nature of the mission, the three-man crew and the spaceport they take off from in Florida.
If you listen closely as this Ray Bradbury classic unfolds, you’ll realize it’s not just a poignant tale of a repressive government and the essential value of learning, but a strangely accurate portrayal of technology in the 21st century — 50 years ahead of its time.
Characters like reluctant fireman Guy Montag and the villainous Captain Beatty wear "seashells" and "thimble radios" — inner ear buds that allow communication at a distance, resembling the Bluetooth technology we enjoy today.
Another invention Bradbury predicted? His “talking walls” that allow people to keep their friends and co-workers updated on their day-to-day bear a striking resemblance to social platforms like Skype and Hangouts, further revealing Bradbury to be an oracle of future technology.
Not only have sci-fi writers predicted future technology, but many of today’s most common gadgets (including self-driving cars and cell phones) were inspired by their appearance in science fiction. Great science fiction writers don’t just imagine the future, they actually shape it.
Whether you’re curious about the nature of our world’s politics, philosophies or technological trends, sci-fi is the perfect genre to pique your curiosity about where we are and where we’re headed.
Audible’s comprehensive library of titles makes it easy to find the best sci-fi audiobooks to check out and enjoy. And be sure to re-visit our blog to find more recommendations on the best-selling audiobooks.
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