Nebula Award for Best Novel

Nebula Awards logo

Nebula Award for Best Novel

Nebula Awards logo

The Nebula Award for Best Novel is given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for science fiction or fantasy novels published in English or translated into English and released in the United States or on the internet during the previous calendar year. The award has been described as one of “the most important of the American science fiction awards” and “the science-fiction and fantasy equivalent” of the Emmy Awards.*

2017
All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world-and live up to his reputation-in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.

2016
Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. One young village woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all they value behind. Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she’s everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he takes.

2015
Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers–they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding–but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

2014
Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice is the story of a warship trapped in a human body and her search for revenge. The Radch are conquerors to be feared – resist and they’ll turn you into a ‘corpse soldier’ – one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship’s AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people. The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed – but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale. But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.

2013
2312 – Kim Stanley Robinson

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future. The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

2012
Among Others – Jo Walton

‘It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.’ Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks…She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.

2011
Blackout – Connie Willis

Blackout is the opening movement of a vast, absorbing two-volume novel that may well prove to be Connie Willis’ masterpiece. This stunning new work marries the intricate mechanics of time travel to the gritty – and dangerous – realities of human history. The narrative opens in Oxford, England in 2060, where a trio of time traveling scholars prepares to depart for various corners of the Second World War. Their mission: to observe, from a safe vantage point, the day-to-day nature of life during this critical historical moment. As the action ranges from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the manor houses of rural England to the quotidian horrors of London during the Blitz, the objective nature of their roles gradually changes. Cut off from the safety net of the future and caught up in the chaotic events that make up history, they are forced to participate, in unexpected ways, in the defining events of the era. Blackout is an ingeniously constructed time travel novel and a grand entertainment. More than that, it is a moving, exquisitely detailed portrait of a world under siege, a world dominated by chaos, uncertainty, and the threat of imminent extinction. It is the rare sort of book that transcends the limits of genre, offering pleasure, insight, and illumination on virtually every page.

All Clear – Connie Willis

Traveling back in time, from Oxford circa 2060 into the thick of World War II, was a routine excursion for three British historians eager to study firsthand the heroism and horrors of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz. But getting marooned in war-torn 1940 England has turned Michael Davies, Merope Ward, and Polly Churchill from temporal tourists into besieged citizens struggling to survive Hitler’s devastating onslaught. And now there’s more to worry about than just getting back home: The impossibility of altering past events has always been a core belief of time-travel theory – but it may be tragically wrong. When discrepancies in the historical record begin cropping up, it suggests that one or all of the future visitors have somehow changed the past – and, ultimately, the outcome of the war.

2010
The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl – the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko – now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of the rich. Engineered as slaves, soldiers and toys, they are the new underclass in a chilling near future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. And as Lake becomes increasingly obsessed with Emiko, conspiracies breed in the heat and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. Businessmen and ministry officials, wealthy foreigners and landless refugees all have their own agendas. But no one anticipates the devastating influence of the Windup Girl.

2009
Powers – Ursula K. LeGuin

Young Gav can remember the page of a book after seeing it once, and, inexplicably, he sometimes “remembers” things that are going to happen in the future. As a loyal slave, he must keep these powers secret, but when a terrible tragedy occurs, Gav, blinded by grief, flees the only world he has ever known. And in what becomes a treacherous journey for freedom, Gav’s greatest test of all is facing his powers so that he can come to understand himself and finally find a true home.

2008
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Michael Chabon

What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska – and not Israel – had become the homeland for the Jews after the Second World War? In Michael Chabon’s Yiddish-speaking ‘Alyeska’, Orthodox gangs in side-curls and knee breeches roam the streets of Sitka, where Detective Meyer Landsman discovers the corpse of a heroin-addled chess prodigy in the flophouse Meyer calls home. Marionette strings stretch back to the hands of charismatic Rebbe Gold, leader of a sect that seems to have drawn its mission statement from the Cosa Nostra. Meyer is determined to unsnarl the meaning behind the murder. Even if that means surrendering his badge and his dignity to the chief of Sitka’s homicide unit – his fearsome ex-wife Bina. A novel of colossal ambition and heart, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union interweaves a homage to the stylish menace of 1940s film noir with a bittersweet fable of identity, home and faith.

2007
Seeker – Jack McDevitt

When Alex Benedict, interstellar dealer of antiquities, examines a seemingly unremarkable artefact, he is convinced it is from the infamous Seeker – a transport ship which fled the religious dictatorship in 27th century America. With the help of his pilot, Chase Kolpath, he follows a deadly trail to the Seeker, now strangely adrift in a system barren of habitable worlds. But their discovery raises far more questions than it answers, drawing Alex and Chase into the very heart of danger.

2006
Camouflage – Joe Haldeman

Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it. Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home – but the Chameleon has decided there’s only room for one.

2005
Paladin of Souls – Lois McMaster Bujold

Follow Lois McMaster Bujold, one of the most honored authors in the field of fantasy and science fiction, to a land threatened by treacherous war and beset by demons – as a royal dowager, released from the curse of madness and manipulated by an untrustworthy god, is plunged into a desperate struggle to preserve the endangered souls of a realm.

2004
Speed of Dark – Elizabeth Moon

Lou is different to ‘normal’ people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic. One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou’s work. But now they want Lou to change – to become ‘normal’ like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark.

2003
American Gods – Neil Gaiman

After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break… Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman’s epic novel sees him on the road to the heart of America.

2002
The Quantum Rose – Catherine Asaro

Kamoj Argali is the young ruler of an impoverished province on a backward planet. To keep her people from starving, she has agreed to marry Jax Ironbridge, the boorish and brutal ruler of a prosperous province. But before Argali and Ironbridge are wed, a mysterious stranger from a distant planet sweeps in and forces Kamoj into marriage, throwing her world into utter chaos.

2001
Darwin’s Radio – Greg Bear

A terrifying disease, or the next step in human evolution? Three scientists must battle to find the truth in this heart-stopping technothriller. Mitch Rafelson makes a major discovery high in the Alps – the preserved bodies of a Neanderthal family with a human child. Kaye Lang investigates a mass grave in the Caucasus – the bodies are mutated. Christopher Dicken tracks a mysterious flu-like disease that causes pregnant women to miscarry. Together, these three scientists discover that so-called junk genes, dormant in our DNA for millions of years, are waking up. A signal from Darwin’s radio has triggered the next step in human evolution. The women who miscarry become inexplicably pregnant again. However, this time they are carriers of Homo sapiens novus. But there is mass panic, official denial, draconian measures against the terrible ‘disease’. Only Mitch, Kaye and Dicken can solve the evolutionary puzzle that will determine the future of the human race, if a future exists at all.

2000
Parable of the Talents – Octavia E. Butler

Lauren Olamina’s love is divided among her young daughter, her community, and the revelation that led Lauren to found a new faith that teaches “God Is Change.” But in the wake of environmental and economic chaos, the U.S. government turns a blind eye to violent bigots who consider the mere existence of a black female leader a threat. And soon Lauren must either sacrifice her child and her followers – or forsake the religion that can transform human destiny.

1999
Forever Peace – Joe Haldeman

In the year 2043, the Ngumi War rages. Limited nuclear strikes have been used on Atlanta and two enemy cities, but the war goes on, fought by ‘soldierboys’ – indestructible war machines operated by remote control by soldiers hundreds of miles away. Julian Class is one of these soldiers, and for him war is truly hell. The psychological strain of being jacked-in to his soldierboy – and the genocidal results – are becoming too much to bear. Now he and his companion, Dr Amelia Harding, have made a terrifying scientific discovery, which could literally take the universe back to square one. Except that for Julian, the discovery isn’t so much terrifying as tempting…

1998
The Moon and the Sun – Vonda N McIntyre

King Louis XIV believes hes found the source of immortality: a rare sea monster. But as he and his natural philosopher, Yves, prepare to experiment on it, Yvess sister is taken by the creatures gaze and exquisite singing. Dare she interfere to save the creatures life?

1997
Slow River – Nicola Griffith

She awoke in an alley to the splash of rain. She was naked, a foot-long gash in her back was still bleeding, and her identity implant was gone. Lore Van de Oest had been the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful families…and now she was nobody, and she had to hide. Then out of the rain walked Spanner, predator and thief, who took her in, cared for her wound, and taught her how to reinvent herself again and again. No one could find Lore now: not the police, not her family, and not the kidnappers who had left her in that alley to die. She had escaped…but the cost of her newfound freedom was crime and deception, and she paid it over and over again, until she had become someone she loathed. Lore had a choice: She could stay in the shadows, stay with Spanner…and risk losing herself forever. Or she could leave Spanner and find herself again by becoming someone else: stealing the identity of a dead woman, taking over her life, and inventing her future. But to start again, Lore required Spanner’s talents – Spanner, who needed her and hated her, and who always had a price. And even as Lore agreed to play Spanner’s game one final time, she found that there was still the price of being a Van de Oest to be paid.

1996
The Terminal Experiment – Robert J Sawyer

Dr. Peter Hobson’s investigations into death and afterlife lead him to create three separate electronic versions of himself: one has no memory of physical existence and represents life after death; one has no knowledge of death or aging and represents immortality; and the third is left unaltered as a control. But all three have escaped into the worldwide matrix… and one of them is a killer.

1995
Moving Mars – Greg Bear

The young may not remember Mars of old, under the yellow Sun, its cloud-streaked skies dusted pink, its soil rusty and fine, its inhabitants living in pressurized burrows and venturing Up only as rite of passage or to do maintenance or tend the ropy crops spread like nests of intensely green snakes over the wind-scoured farms. That Mars, an old and tired Mars filled with young lives, is gone forever. Now I am old and tired, and Mars is young again. Our lives are not our own, but by God, we must behave as if they are. When I was young, what I did seemed too small to be of any consequence; but the shiver of dust, we are told, expands in time to the planet-sweeping storm…. Casseia Majumdar was a daughter of one of Mars’ oldest, most conservative Binding Multiples – the extended family syndicates that had colonized the red planet. But her life was changed forever by the student protest of 2171. Those brief days of idealism forged bonds that would last a lifetime, and set the stage for a more dramatic act of revolution than anyone could have imagined. Charles Franklin, too, was caught up in those days of passionate youth. A brilliant young physicist with a deep love for his native planet, he was forced to leave his world behind to gain the training he needed. And in those years, the political distance between Earth and Mars was growing wider than the empty reaches of interplanetary space.

1994
Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson

Mars – the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind’s dreams of space conquest. From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists – hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert – Red Mars is the story of a new genesis. It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot on the red planet, factions are forming, tensions are rising and violence is brewing…for civilization can be very uncivilized.

1993
The Doomsday Book – Connie Willis

For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin – barely of age herself – finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours.

1992
Stations of the Tide – Michael Swanwick

The Jubilee Tides will drown the continents of the planet Miranda beneath the weight of her own oceans. But as the once-in-two-centuries cataclysm approaches, an even greater catastrophe threatens this dark and dangerous planet of tale-spinners, conjurers, and shapechangers. A man from the Bureau of Proscribed Technologies has been sent to investigate. For Gregorian has come, a genius renegade scientist and charismatic bush wizard. With magic and forbidden technology, he plans to remake the rotting, dying world in his own evil image – and to force whom or whatever remains on its diminishing surface toward a terrifying and astonishing confrontation with death and transcendence.

1991
Tehanu – Ursula K Le Guin

Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan — she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer’s widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own. Once, when they were young, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger and shared an adventure like no other. Now they must join forces again, to help another in need — the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny has yet to be revealed.

1990
The Healer’s War – Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Lt. Kitty McCulley, a young and inexperienced nurse tossed into a stressful and chaotic situation, is having a difficult time reconciling her duty to help and heal with the indifference and overt racism of some of her colleagues and with the horrendously damaged soldiers and Vietnamese civilians whom she encounters during her service at the China Beach medical facilities. She is unexpectedly helped by the mysterious and inexplicable properties of an amulet, given to her by one of her patients, an elderly, dying Vietnamese holy man, which allows her to see other people’s “auras” and to understand more about them as a result. This eventually leads to a strange, almost surrealistic journey through the jungle, accompanied by a one-legged boy and a battle-seasoned but crazed soldier and, by the end of the journey, McCulley has found herself and a way to live and survive through the madness and destruction.

1989
Falling Free – Lois McMaster Bujold

Leo Graf was just your average highly efficient engineer: min your own business, fix what’s wrong and move on to the next job. Everything neat and according to spec, just the way he liked it. But all that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat. Could you just stand there and allow the exploitation of hundreds of helpless children merely to enhance the bottom line of a heartless mega-corporation? Leo Graf adopted a thousand quaddies – now all he had to do was teach them to be free.

1988
The Falling Woman – Pat Murphy

Elizabeth Waters, an archeologist who abandoned her husband and daughter years ago to pursue her career, can see the shadows of the past. It’s a gift she keeps secret from her colleagues and students, one that often leads her to incredible archeological discoveries – and the terrible suspicion that she might be going mad. Then on a dig in the Yucatan, the shadow of a Mayan priestess speaks to her. Suddenly Elizabeth’s daughter Diane arrives, hoping to reconnect with her mother. As Elizabeth, her daughter and the priestess fall into the mysterious world of Mayan magic, it is clear one of them will be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice…

1987
Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card

Ender Wiggin was once considered a great military leader, a saviour for mankind. But now history judges his destruction of an alien race as monstrous rather than heroic. In the aftermath of the war, Ender disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story behind the battle with the aliens. Now, years later, a second alien race has been discovered. But again they are strange and frightening – and again, humans are dying. It is only the Speaker for the Dead, secretly Ender Wiggin, who has the courage to confront the mystery… and the truth.

1986
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

The human race faces annihilation. 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. The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope. 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?

1985
Neuromancer – William Gibson

Neuromancer is the multiple award-winning novel that launched the astonishing career of William Gibson. The first fully-realized glimpse of humankind’s digital future, it is a shocking vision that has challenged our assumptions about our technology and ourselves, reinvented the way we speak and think, and forever altered the landscape of our imaginations.

1984
Startide Rising – David Brin

Brin’s tales are set in a future universe in which no species can reach sentience without being “uplifted” by a patron race. But the greatest mystery of all remains unsolved: who uplifted humankind? The Terran exploration vessel Streaker has crashed in the uncharted water world of Kithrup, bearing one of the most important discoveries in galactic history. Below, a handful of her human and dolphin crew battles armed rebellion and a hostile planet to safeguard her secret – the fate of the Progenitors, the fabled First Race who seeded wisdom throughout the stars.

1983
No Enemy But Time – Michael Bishop

Joshua Kampa is torn between two worlds – the Early Pleistocene Africa of his dreams and the 20th-century reality of his waking life. These worlds are transposed when a government experiment sends him over a million years back in time. Here, John builds a new life as part of a tribe of protohumans. But the reality of early Africa is much more challenging than his fantasies. With the landscape, the species, and John himself evolving, he reaches a temporal crossroads where he must decide whether the past or the future will be his present.

1982
The Claw of the Conciliator – Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is an extraordinary epic, set a million years in the future, on an Earth transformed in mysterious and wondrous ways, in a time when our present culture is no longer even a memory. Severian, the central character, is a torturer, exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his victims, and journeying to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner’s sword, Terminus Est. This edition contains the first two volumes of this four volume novel, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator.

1981
Timescape – Gregory Benford

1962: A young Californian scientist finds his experiments spoiled by mysterious interference. Gradually his suspicions lead him to a shattering truth: scientists from the end of the century are using subatomic particles to send a message into the past, in the hope that history can be changed and a world-threatening catastrophe averted.

1980
The Fountains of Paradise – Arthur C. Clarke

In the 22nd century visionary scientist Vannevar Morgan conceives the most grandiose engineering project of all time, and one which will revolutionize the future of humankind of space: a Space Elevator, 36,000 kilometres high, anchored to an equatorial island in the Indian Ocean.

1979
Dreamsnake – Vonda N McIntyre

Snake travels the land with her serpents, the rattlesnake Sand, the cobra Mist and the rare alien dreamsnake called Grass, whose bite can ease the fear and pain of death. But the blasted landscape of a far-future post-holocaust Earth is a dangerous place, even for such a highly regarded elite healer …especially when an unexpected death sends her on a desperate quest to reclaim her healing powers. A haunting story of an extraordinary woman on a dangerous quest in a far-future post-apocalyptic world.

1978
Gateway – Frederik Pohl

Wealth… or death. Those were the choices Gateway offered. Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee. Their destinations are preprogrammed. They are easy to operate, but impossible to control. Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable. It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers.

1977
Man Plus – Frederik Pohl

Ill luck made Roger Torraway the subject of the Man Plus Programe, but it was deliberate biological engineering which turned him into a monster – a machine perfectly adapted to survive on Mars. For according to computer predictions, Mars is humankind’s only alternative to extinction. But beneath his monstrous exterior, Torraway still carries a man’s capacity for suffering.

1976
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman

The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand–despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But “home” may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries…

1975
The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin

The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous communication. It is the life work of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the arid anarchist world of Anarres. But Shevek’s work is being stifled by jealous colleagues, so he travels to Anarres’s sister-planet Urras, hoping to find more liberty and tolerance there. But he soon finds himself being used as a pawn in a deadly political game.

1974
Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke

At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredible, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits – just behind a Raman airlock door.

1973
The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov

In the year 2100, the invention of the Electron Pump – an apparently inexhaustible supply of free energy – has enabled humanity to devote its time and energies to more than the struggle for survival, finally breaking free of the Earth. But the Electron Pump works by exchanging materials with a parallel universe, and such unbalancing of the cosmos has consequences. Humans and aliens alike must race to prevent a vast nuclear explosion in the heart of the Sun – and the vaporisation of the Earth exactly eight minutes later…

1972
A Time of Changes – Robert Silverberg

In the far future, Earth is a worn-out backwater and humanity is spread across the galaxy on worlds that began as colonies, but now feel like home, each with its own long history of a thousand years or more, and each with its own unique culture. One of the strangest is on Borthan, where the founding settlers established the Covenant, which teaches that the self is to be despised, and forbids anyone to reveal his innermost thoughts or feelings to another. On Borthan, the filthiest obscenities imaginable are the words “I” and “me”. For the heinous crime of “self-baring”, apostates have always paid with exile or death, but after his eyes are opened by a visitor from Earth, Kinnall Darival, prince of Salla, risks everything to teach his people the real meaning of being human.

1971
Ringworld – Larry Niven

Pierson’s puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. The artefact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its centre – the Ringworld. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of the Ringworld’s surface.

1970
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter is an Earth-like planet with two major differences: conditions are semi artic even at the warmest time of the year, and the inhabitants are all of the same sex. Tucked away in a remote corner of the universe, they have no knowledge of space travel or of life beyond their own world. And when a strange envoy from space brings news of a vast coalition of planets which they are invited to join, he is met with fear, mistrust and disbelief…’The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a groundbreaking work of feminist science fiction, an imaginative masterpiece which poses challenging questions about sexuality, sexism and the organisation of society.

1969
Rite of Passage – Alexei Panshin

In 2198, one hundred and fifty years after the desperate wars that destroyed an overpopulated Earth, Man lives precariously on a hundred hastily-established colony worlds and in the seven giant Ships that once ferried men to the stars. Mia Havero’s Ship is a small closed society. It tests its children by casting them out to live or die in a month of Trial in the hostile wilds of a colony world. Mia Havero’s Trial is fast approaching and in the meantime she must learn not only the skills that will keep her alive but the deeper courage to face herself and her world. Published originally in 1968, Alexei Panshin’s Nebula Award-winning classic has lost none of its relevance, with its keen exploration of societal stagnation and the resilience of youth.

1968
The Einstein Intersection – Samuel R. Delany

The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are ‘different’ must deal with the dominant cultural ideology. The tale follows Lobey’s mythic quest for his lost love, Friza. In luminous and hallucinated language, it explores what new myths might emerge from the detritus of the human world as those who are ‘different’ try to seize history and the day.

1967
Babel-17 – Samuel R. Delany

In the far future, after human civilization has spread through the galaxy, communications begin to arrive in an apparently alien language. They appear to threaten invasion, but in order to counter the threat, the messages must first be understood.

1966
Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone’s jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental tranformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.

1965
Dune – Frank Herbert

The Duke of Atreides has been manoeuvred by his arch-enemy, Baron Harkonnen, into administering the desert planet of Dune. Although it is almost completely without water, Dune is a planet of fabulous wealth, for it is the only source of a drug prized throughout the Galactic Empire. The Duke and his son, Paul, are expecting treachery, and it duly comes – but from a shockingly unexpected place. Then Paul succeeds his father, and he becomes a catalyst for the native people of Dune, whose knowledge of the ecology of the planet gives them vast power. They have been waiting for a leader like Paul Atreides, a leader who can harness that force.

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When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.
Erasmus