These novels contain technology that doesn’t really exist or other things not possible in real life.
Sci-Fi or Fantastical Novels
The War of the Worlds | H. G. Wells
A Martian ship lands on earth, creating a crater, and there is a noise inside. A crowd gathers around and then scatters when a hatch opens. Martians emerge but seem unable to climb up the crater walls. The humans wave a white flag, but the Martians fire a Heat-Ray.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court | Mark Twain
Mark Twain meets a man who claims to have been in England at the time of King Arthur. He produces a manuscript of his experience, which starts with him finding it’s the year 513. He is taken captive by a knight and brought to the palace. He uses his advance knowledge to feign magical powers, and is accepted as a magician in King Arthur’s court. He becomes involved in a series of ridiculous and humorous adventures.
Flowers for Algernon | Daniel Keyes
Charlie Gordon has an IQ of 68. He’s going to undergo a surgical procedure to vastly increase his intelligence. He records his experience in a series of diary style “Progress Reports”. He describes how he is treated by his workmates, his interpersonal interactions, and his childhood.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Philip K. Dick
After a war the earth is covered with radioactive dust and many plants and animals are extinct. Lots of people have moved to Mars. Real and artificial animals are expensive. Androids are given to the Mars colonists to serve as slaves, and sometimes they rebel and flee to earth. A bounty hunter, Rick Deckard, is assigned to find and “retire” six escaped androids.
Ender’s Game | Orson Scott Card
Ender is six when he has a government monitoring device removed, a year later than usual. He is the third child in his family; usually, families are only allowed two children. Ender is recruited for Battle School. Earth has been invaded twice by the Buggers, insectoid aliens, and they were barely repelled. Ender shows promise as a military leader. He excels at the training scenarios, but he has many conflicts with the other boys.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | Douglas Adams
Arthur Dent finds out that his house is going to be torn down and a freeway will be built. Later, Arthur’s friend Ford Prefect tells Arthur that earth is about to be destroyed. He knows because he’s a researcher for a travel guide to the galaxy. Earth has to be destroyed to make room for a space freeway. This leads to a series of space adventures as Arthur hitchhikes across the galaxy.
The Time Machine | H. G. Wells
The Time Traveler explains time to his dinner guests. When they disagree, he gets a small machine, pushes a lever, and it disappears, supposedly traveling thru time. He says he will use a large version of this machine to travel thru time himself. He returns with stories of his travels.
Kindred | Octavia Butler
Dana, twenty-six, finds herself at a river bank where a boy is drowning. She saves him and then finds herself back in her home. While trying to figure out what’s going on, she appears next to the same boy, Rufus, in a burning room. The year is 1815 (her present is 1976) and she realizes that she is transported when Rufus is in trouble. Rufus is her ancestor. She continues to jump in time to participate in pivotal moments in his life.
The Left Hand of Darkness | Ursula K. Le Guin
Genly Ai is an envoy from EKumen, which includes earth, whose purpose is to open relations with other planets. He is on a mission to Gethen, a planet in an Ice Age and with an androgynous population. They only have sexual feelings a few days per month. They also have a custom of avoiding confrontation called shifgrethor.
On the Beach | Nevil Shute
It has been one year since a nuclear war has devastated most of the world. Australia is the last safe zone from the radiation, but not for long. Naval officers Holmes and Towers go on a mission looking for life, and to find the source of a radio signal.
Stranger in a Strange Land | Robert A. Heinlein
A space ship, the Champion, returns to Earth from Mars with a man, Mike, who was born on Mars and raised by Martians. A previous ship, the Envoy, had crashed; a pregnant crew member gave birth before dying. Mike is considered the legal owner of Mars, and owns the patents of all the deceased crew members, making him the richest person on Earth. When the government shows a stand-in for Mike on television, a nurse who befriended him becomes concerned for his safety.
Patternmaster | Octavia Butler
The Patternists are mutated humans with telepathic ability. They are in conflict with the Clayarks, mutated humans with cat-like bodies. The Patternists are served by mutes, humans who haven’t developed telepathic ability. Society is strictly divided along class lines. Teray is a young, powerful Patternist who is going to become an apprentice in the House of Joachim.
Dune | Frank Herbert
It is far in the future and humans live on many different planets, all ruled by Great Houses who, in turn, answer to Emperor Shadam. Computers are forbidden and technology is limited. The Emperor gives control of Arrakis to the Atreides family. Arrakis is the only planet that produces geriatric spice – a highly sought commodity. Meanwhile, the Harkonnen family is scheming to wrest control from the Atreides family.
Journey to the Center of the Earth | Jules Verne
It is 1863 in Germany at the home of Professor Lidenbrock. He shows his neprew, Axel, a 700-year-old book he bought. A parchment falls out of it containing Runic letters, which Lidenbrock figures must be some sort of code. He and Axel eventually solve it – it tells how a person can reach the center of the earth. Lidenbrock immediately makes plans to make the trip, enlisting Axel’s assistance.
Something Wicked This Way Comes | Ray Bradbury
Jim and Will are fourteen-years-old and best friends. While out walking, Jim thinks he can hear music , a store owner seems to be listening for something and, later, the barber smells cotton candy. They see a flyer advertising a carnival. Late at night they hear a train approaching, so they sneak out to watch but it’s unsettling – the crew sets up in silence and some things seem to be happening without any human effort. When they go to the carnival the next day everything looks normal. Their teacher gets frightened in the Mirror Maze; they boys witness increasingly bizarre events at the carnival.
Feed | M.T. Anderson
Titus, a teenager from a wealthy family, lives in a time when everyone is connected to feednet – like the internet but with a chip planted directly in the brain. He and some friends are on a trip to the moon. He meets a girl, violet, who is from a poorer family. On their way to a club, they see a group of protesters. At the club, one of them storms in and causes a disturbance.
I, Robot | Isaac Asimov
Susan Calvin is retiring from her position as a robopsychologist. She is interviewed by a journalist. She remembers some notable incidents from her career, tracing the development of robots from the earliest model that couldn’t speak to highly advanced models that are similar to humans.
Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro
Kathy H, thirty-one, tells the story of her life, particularly her time at Hailsham, a private English school. Now she is a “carer” who works with “donors”, but she doesn’t explain what these terms mean. Her friend Tommy had temper tantrums in school and was teased for it. She had an up and down relationship with her other friend Ruth. Tommy and Ruth become a couple in their teens. The students are occasionally visited by Madame, a woman who reacts to them like she might be afraid. The students aren’t told what their role is.
Cat’s Cradle | Kurt Vonnegut
John is doing research for a book about the day Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bomb. In particular he looks into the Hoeniker family, whose patriarch, Dr. Felix Hoeniker, was one of the scientists who developed the atomic bomb. John discovers the existence of a potentially greater threat–ice-nine, a seed that could freeze all of earth’s water.
Martian Time-Slip | Philip K. Dick
Humans have colonized Mars. Businesses are vying for a large share of the profits, and there is black market activity. The natives, Bleekmen, are used as laborers in the mines and treated as sub-human by many. When a black market dealer kills himself, it sets events in motion that affect many of the planets residents.
This novel satirizes the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of big-business and politicians, labor unions, as well as the emptiness of daily life.
The Devil’s Arithmetic | Jane Yolen
Hannah, a Jewish girl living in New York, is attending a Passover Seder. She is bored by her grandparents’ talk of the Nazi’s during World War II. As part of the ceremony, she opens the door for the prophet Elijah; she finds herself in 1942 Poland. She is sent to a concentration camp.