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Top Ten Science Fiction Novels of All Time

Tough to Pick Ten, So I Cheated, Shhh!

I once came across a list when I was in my early twenties (I'm now 49) of the top fifty greatest sci-fi novels of all time. This list was polled from the readers of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Analog. Although I had read many of the top ten already, the lesser forty or so I hadn't read, so I endeavored to track down and read all of them. This lead me to write this article the top ten science fiction novels of all time.

I did exactly that and more, and although I haven't read a good sci-fi novel in years as my interests have taken me in a different direction, I can still remember fondly the books that made the biggest impression on me.

Without further ado I give them to you with a brief reason of why I liked them.

Dune

I consider Dune the best science fiction novel of all time because it delves into the spiritual aspects of mankind's future.

I consider Dune the best science fiction novel of all time because it delves into the spiritual aspects of mankind's future.

The Top Ten

1. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

I first read Dune when I was 13 or 14 and most of the symbolism was a little over my head, but the description of the Navigators floating in a container of orange spice gas, literally immersed in the very substance they are addicted to, as they fold space to guide the heighliners (interstellar spacecraft) to their destinations, was classic concept that opened my mind to new ideas.

Growing up in the Seventies the son of an AF Officer allowed me to see the world and appreciate many cultures. Dune showed me the possibilities of a Galactic culture populated with humans while linking them to cultures from our planet. I was first introduced to the concept of a Religious Jihad and it's implications. Of the concept of becoming more than human, of evolving into a being capable of exploring the inner human and beyond.

If the complexities of the plot and the evolution of Paul Atreides from homeless refugee to Messiah wasn't enough, Dune introduced me to so many new concepts, that it left my young mind reeling with the possibilities. Considered by many to be the best science fiction novel of all time, It is the only book in my life I've ever read more than once.

This book is the first of a trilogy that includes Dune Messiah and Children of Dune and covers a story of the evolution and eventual Ascension of the human species. It was eventually made into a movie (1984) directed by David Lynch, starring Kyle MacLachlan.

The plot is your basic political intrigue, based 10,000 years in the future of humanity, and involves two royal households competing over the rights involved in the production of a drug (spice) only produced on the desert planet of Dune. This invaluable drug known as 'spice' allows for the expansion of human consciousness and the development of the folding of space that reduces the amount of time involved in travel throughout the Universe.

The book is a direct reflection of the current political paradigm on Earth in 1965 and is chalk full of symbolic innuendo but was also full of revolutionary ideas and concepts that enthralled my young expanding awareness.

Foundation Trilogy

This trilogy spans the depths of mankind's future as an intellectual mystery.

This trilogy spans the depths of mankind's future as an intellectual mystery.

Isaac Asimov

2. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (1966)

If I thought Dune was mind boggling, this trilogy (and all the other books related to it) were simple staggering. This epic tale begins with a mathematician Hari Seldon who creates his own branch of mathematics using the laws of mass action. He calls this psychohistory and as he studies it , learns that he can predict the future on a large scale. He determines the fall of the current empire will result in 30,000 years of anarchy and chaos, which will happen soon. He also foresees a possible outcome in which the anarchy will only last a thousand years. He reveals to the current Galactic Empire his findings and implores them to allow him to set up a foundation in order to preserve all the knowledge mankind has accumulated to date, and to work on preserving civilization.

The Empire agrees and hence the story begins, with the creation of the first Foundation to be run by Seldon's hand picked staff known as the Encyclopedists. He foresees the need for two Foundations and separates the two by putting their locations on opposing ends of the Galaxy. This second Foundation location is kept a secret from all even the first Foundation.

Foundation as the first book is called, simple put, shows the rise of power of the first Foundation from it's location on Terminus. The location of the first Foundation creates the need for it to become self reliant and in essence creates the momentum necessary for Seldon's predictions to bear fruition.

Foundation and Empire the second book introduces us to a whole new list of characters, all playing their part in the grand scheme of things. The first Foundation because it is a compilation of all the knowledge known to mankind, creates sophisticated technology that the rest of the Galaxy doesn't have and uses this to become so powerful that they threaten the Empire itself, War ensues and the Empire is defeated. However another powerful intelligence is thrown into the mix and due to it's ability to manipulate emotion soon begins conquering known Foundation worlds, this power is known as the Mule.

The Foundation learns of the second Foundation and sends out it's best agents to learn of it's whereabouts, knowing full well that the Mule is searching also. Upon discovering it's location the agent is killed before he can reveal it, leaving both parties still in the dark to it's location.

Second Foundation concludes the trilogy with the first Foundation thinking it has located the second and destroyed them. As the first Foundation as grown in power due to it's sophisticated technology (the physical sciences), the second Foundation is built on the mental sciences. Using telepathy they confront the Mule and convince him that he has destroyed them and to return to his kingdom of world's and reign in peace.

They also predict that the first Foundation will try to destroy them and they use the same tactics on the first Foundation, convincing them by allowing them to locate 50 of their group located on Terminus and killing them, thus insuring their anonymity.

Asimov goes on to write many more novels relating to The Foundation Trilogy and is able to use them to unify his Universe, truly a bold accomplishment. The Foundation Trilogy is in most peoples top ten sci-fi novels list and is usually number one.

Stranger In A Strange Land

This is the traditional Cover art to the Book Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

This is the traditional Cover art to the Book Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

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