Here are some of our favourite weird sci-fi books, spelling out the big stuff in life through the medium of spaceships and aliens and freaky goings-on (all of which we heartily endorse).
This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Two time-travelling secret agents in the throes of a galaxy-ending war exchange interdimensional love letters, and you get to read them all. Heartbreaking and eye-opening and unique.
The Employees, by Olga Ravn (trans. Martin Aitken)
The Employees: Olga Ravn£12.99
A fragmentary novel told through unlabeled and uncategorised statements from employees of the Six-Thousand Ship, a spaceship on an unknown task in the far-flung depths of the galaxy. Out of these interviews, Olga Ravn constructs a subtle and beguiling novel, probing questions of intimacy, humanity, and the future of human labour in a non-human future.
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
Simply put, Woman on the Edge of Time is a masterwork of feminist science-fiction. While unfairly institutionalised, Connie flits in and out of the present: from the dystopic but not-so-unfamiliar world of 1970s New York, to the possible society of “Mattapoisett”–a decentralised, classless, and gender non-conforming vision of the future.
Under The Skin, by Michael Faber
A compulsive and shocking reading experience, Faber’s modern classic about a woman who stalks the roads looking for hitch-hikers is a genre-sliding sci-fi mystery that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.
Ice, by Anna Kavan
Ice: Anna Kavan£9.99
Hallucinogenic, frosty, haunting and compelling all at once, Anna Kavan’s unique eco-dystopia is a chase of a novel that wrongfoots you at every turn. It deliberately disorients and flummoxes, using the eery quiet of the encroaching ice-scape to confuse as much as it excites.
We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Written as a letter from a spaceship engineer named D-503 to a future and potential alien race, WE depicts the world of “The One State”: a mega-city made entirely of glass whose citizens, known as numbers, live according to exacting mathematical principles. An ambitious dystopian novel that preceded and inspired both Orwell and Huxley.
Star Maker, by Olaf Stapleton
Possibly the most ambitious concept for a novel ever devised. Starmaker is a future history of the entire universe from beginning to end, as narrated by the disembodied mind of a human narrator. Merging with other enlightened minds along the way, the novel snowballs to a larger and larger scale, on route to the climax of all creation: the meeting of an all-encompassing cosmic mind and its creator, the Starmaker.
The Hopkins Manuscript, by R.C. Sherriff
The Edward Elgar of science fiction, R.C. Sherriff’s gently haunting document of one ordinary man’s way through a climate-altering disaster is stunningly prescient and beautifully written, sort of like Diary Of A Nobody meets The Drowned World.
Tower, by Bae Myung-hoon
Beyond the absolutely exquisite cover, Tower ticks all the boxes. It’s a collection of interconnected science fiction short stories, translated from Korean, all set in the fictional sovereign nation of Beanstalk, a 700-storey mega-skyscraper. It is slapstick, and farcical, and really funny but comes with a good dollop of political commentary. Most of all, Tower strikes that perfect balance that every good collection should: each story stands on its own two legs as a coherent, complete story, while the book as a whole has a narrative strand running through it that makes it read more like a novel. Perfecto!
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Lists Of Literary Distinction: Weird Sci-FiProduct on sale