Science fiction is an arena for exploring the possibilities of what might have been and what might someday be. It is a vision of the author and it is more than that. The author's presentation is a synthesis of all concepts coming to the author from many sources: other writers, scientists, news people, people in general, and the author's view of nature and the author's view of the manmade world. His view is mostly a product of what has been explained to him as understood by our collective wisdom. So, his vision is more a collective vision of all mankind than his own personel vision. The author is intent to produce the most profound and gratifying ideas he can conjure using insight forged from a lifetime of interaction with ideas active in humanity's collective conscious. When we apply concepts to his words and feel the author's intent, we experience an affirmation of the greatness of civilization and culture, and can revel in what prospects the future may eventually deliver.
The list below includes a brief description for a few science fiction books that seem likely to be enjoyable reads for me because of their classic status and because the descriptions that I happened to find suggest that these books, to a more than average extent, present plausible scenarios for the future. A clickable link takes you to the Barnesandnoble sales page. Some of the books may be available through your local library.
Books available through barnesandnoble.com
The Drowned World
Aurthor: J. G. Ballard
Publisher: Penguin Group Incorporated
First published: 1962
Pub. Date: 12/09/1976
Describes the earth in the middle of the twenty-first century when the temperature of the atmosphere has risen. Polar ice has melted flooding enormous areas of land. London is a swamp. Civilization has moved toward the poles, what has been abandoned has reverted to dinosaur-era-esque landscape. An expedition is sent out to survey the reminants of London. Three of the expedition members become overwhelmed by the psychological impact of their primal surroundings. The expedition heads back leaving the three behind to whatever fate awaits them.
The Sheep Look Up
Aurthor: John Brunner
Publisher: Benbella Books
First published: 1972
Pub. Date: May 2003
is a description of a world dying from enviromental degradation. It is a story told from the perspectives of an array of characters. The book can be considered as a warning that either our misuse of the earth must stop or we will deal with the chaos of climate change and water shortages.
Aurthor: Pat Cadigan
Publisher: Perseus Publishing
First published: 1991
Pub. Date: 09/12/2001
Synners are computechs skilled at obtaining images from a performer's mind. A consumer purchases a surgical implant to experience a virtual reality created from those extracted images. It's big business involving corporate/employee conflicts, moral dilemas, and struggles to maintain personal freedoms and values.
The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The World
Aurthor: Harlan Ellison
First published: 1969
Pub. Date: August 2009
$8 at barnesandnoble.com
It is 2024. The Third War hasdestroyed civilization. The only remaining cities are deep underground, away from the radiation and savagery of the surface, where gangs known as Roverpaks forage, barter and kill to survive. Vic is on his own in this desolated world, alone except for his sidekick Blood. Blood is a highly intelligent dog descendant from genetically enhanced lab animals. Depicts how brutal life is after a nuclear holocaust.
Make Room! Make Room!
Aurthor: Harry Harrison
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Pub. Date: April 2008
$14.95 plus shipping at barnesandnoble.com
The year is 1999 and New York is in chaos from over population. 35 million people are struggling to find food, and to survive. The story of a policeman hunting a killer and his involvement with the victim's girl friend. Predicts what the future could be like if population continues its current rate of increase.
Brave New World
Aurthor: Aldous Huxley
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Pub. Date: October 2006
Describes a future world in which social evils have largely been eliminated. The non satifying culture is made palitable by the pleasures of sex and psychotropic drugs. Genetic engineering produces individuals suited to various rolls in a world society operated by industrial principles. A couple of leading characters become dissatified and struggle to adopt a different mode of living.
Aurthor: Le Guin
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pub. Date: December 1994
$8 at Barnesandnoble.com
Takes place far in the future. A brillant physicist living in a anachicial society visits a world much different from his own and yearns for a way to transform both cultures. A character study and examination of what would make an ideal society.
Aurthor: Larry Niven
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
First published: 1970
Pub. Date: September 1985
A 29th century explorer's experiences in a gigantic, engineered, artificial planet and the strange ecosystems and civilizations he finds there.
Aurthor: George Orwell
Publisher: Penguin Group
First published: 1949
Pub. Date: 03/15/1985
The countries of the world merge to form 3 superstates where mind control and torture insure conformity. The three states are constantly engaged in limited warfare. Ritualized hatred and propoganda unites the citizenery. The leading character, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting newspaper articles to suit whatever is the current political stance of The Party. Thought Police and surveilance Telescreens are everywhere. Smith secretly hates The Party and is constantly worried that he will be found out and forced to undergo inhuman reindoctrination. That nightmare becomes a reality. Smith survives the agony but losses part of his self.
Aurthor: Frederik Pohl
Publisher: Orion Publishing Company
Pub. Date: 2000
Cybernetic technology enhances the human body for colonizing Mars. Ethics becomes subordinate to expediency as conditions on Earth deteriorate making a Mars colony a likely means for man's continued existance. The cybernetic additions and subtractions give the cyborg great ablilities but also cause anguish and predicament.
Aurthor: George R. Stewart
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
First published: 1949
Pub. Date: 09/28/1986
A plague destroys civilization. One of the very few survivors meanders through desolate America, finally finding a female companion. After generations of progeny, knowledge of pre plague ways is lost, and life becomes similar to that of indigenous people in America before Europeans arrived in North America.
Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang
Aurthor: Kate Wilhelm
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
First published: 1976
Pub. Date: August 1981
An epidemic leaves humans unable to procreate. Cloning becomes the only way to sustain humanity. But the clones are different than their predacessors, they begin to function as a unit, somehow developing common attitudes and pursuing common intentions. It is discovered that cloning only temporarily continues the human race - only three generation of clones can be produced. Then a normal human child is born whose individuality becomes a blessing and a possible calamity for both the clones and for survival of the human race.