Oryx and Crake tells the story of Snowman, a strange, bedraggled loner who lives outside of what remains of human society as he struggles to stave off hunger and survive. To say much more would be to spoil the story, but Oryx and Crake is one of the most intelligent, clearly defined works of dystopian — or is it utopian? — science-fiction I’ve ever read. Atwood clearly understands not only the science of genetics in some depth, but also the worrying implications for the development of the human race.
I’m reading a lot of Philip K. Dick at the moment — so far A Scanner Darkly made me a real fan; Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said made me a devotee; and Ubik…well…it’s just amazing.
Carl Sagan’s contact is the purest form of speculative science-fiction. It takes a present-day world and imposes on it a remote but completely plausible scientific premise. In Contact, Carl Sagan asks, how would the human race react if we suddenly received a message from an alien civilisation.
After an extended mission to Mars, six astronauts re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Understandably, they’re overwhelmed with excitement for the celebrations that await their arrival and desperate to see their families after so long away from home.
Flowers for Algernon tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a man of low IQ who is volunteered to take part in an experimental treatment to increase his intelligence. But the treatment works too well, turning Charlie into an unparalleled genius and giving him a window into the soul of humanity.