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A&E >  Books

Water Cooler: Escape reality with science fiction

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 16, 2021

 (Pixabay)
(Pixabay)

Need a break from reality? You’re not alone. Here is some escapist reading full of imagination and fantasy that will easily transport you from this world to another.

“Stranger In A Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heinlein (1961) – We can imagine what it would be like to travel to another planet, but what if you were raised on another one only to come to Earth for the first time years later, as if Earth were the strange and distant planet? Valentine Michael Smith was raised on Mars and upon his return to Earth, he struggles to understand human nature and the societal norms it has created.

“Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick (1968) – Popularized by its film adaptation, “Blade Runner,” this story follows detective Rick Deckard on assignment to retire several rogue androids. To do so, he must carefully decipher between who is human and what is an android, as the two look identical. This raises questions about his profession and what it is to truly be human.

“The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood (1985) – Although this book was written in the 1980s, it’s recent revitalization and television adaptation flaunts its timelessness and universal appeal. Follow Offred, a Handmaid to the Republic of Gilead. She is permitted once-a-day outings to the market, relying on picture-only signs as her guide as women are now banned from reading. Offred mourns the faint memory of her forming life, living with her beloved husband and daughter with freedom to read, learn, work and be independent.

“Cat’s Cradle,” by Kurt Vonnegut (1963) – Dr. Felix Hoenikker is the inventor of the “ice-nine,” an atomic weapon capable of freezing the entire planet. His three children try to recover it from a crazed dictator, but their search may come too late.

“The Left Hand Of Darkness,” by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969) – A human emissary travels to a lone world to extend an invitation to a growing intergalactic civilization. For his diplomacy to succeed, he must find a way to understand the unique views of this world, whose inhabitants freely choose and change gender.

“Dragonflight,” by Anne McCaffrey (1968) – Lessa, a ragged kitchen girl lives in the shadow of her father’s past, when he ruled the lands on which she now serves. Her ill fate is changed however, after she meets a queen dragon. Their deep bond is put to the test when they have to combine their strengths to save the world from a destructive substance that begins to rain down on the earth.

“Childhood’s End,” by Arthur C. Clarke (1953) – Earth is suddenly met by a superior race of beings, able to dominate humanity in technology and intellect. They appear benevolent, offering humankind an end to poverty and war if humans agreed to planetary unity. Peace is enjoyed by all, but peace is eventually overcome by malaise and a feeling of captivity.

“Wild Seed,” by Octavia E. Butler (1980) – Doro fears no one, for he is able to change bodies without warning and kill its host in process. He fears no one but Anyanwu, a shapeshifter capable of absorbing bullets, effortlessly healing wounds and destroying anything that threatens her. She feared no one, until she met Anyanwu. Their meeting leads them to set off on path, altering destinies across the world.

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