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Dan Danko

Professional Children's Books Expert

Sci Fi Books

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Looking to be teleported to alien lands without leaving the comfort of your own home? Well dig out your lightsaber and get ready for adventures in the future, both near and distant, courtesy of some groundbreaking authors and their boundless imaginations.

The Best Of The Best:

Whether it be a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a planet ruled by “damn dirty apes,” or just some wrinkled-up little guy phoning home, all great science fiction has one thing in common: It is the mythology of the modern age and catapults us to frontiers far beyond our imagination.

At its best, science fiction is much more than laser guns and space cruisers. It is a commentary on society, ethics, and the nature of humanity… bursting at the seams with the aforementioned laser guns and space cruisers. The selection of published science fiction is as endless as space itself. Regardless of existing fervent fan loyalty, like any genre, the greats are those that transcend, those that innovate or shatter, and those that, dare I say, boldly go where no man has gone before. And that makes them much more than sci-fi…

It makes them timeless.

Best Sci Fi Books for Teens by Dan Danko

The Best You Can Get

  • Dune

    Dan says: Widely considered to be the greatest science fiction novel ever written, “Dune” is set in the distant future where planets are controlled by competing noble families, much like feudal Europe. The novel tells the story of young Paul Atreides as he and his family move to the desert planet Arrakis, the most coveted planet in the empire. Backstabbing political intrigue is mixed with religion and human greed against a backdrop of mythology and empire-shattering prophecy. Herbert does an amazing job creating a detailed, intricate world and mythos unlike any before or since.

    • Written by Frank Herbert
    • Hugo Award winner
    • Nebula Award winner
    • Best-selling sci-fi novel of all time
    • First published in 1965
  • The White Mountains

    Dan says: In the near future, Earth has been conquered by an alien race and all humans are forced to go through a process called “capping” once they turn fourteen, making them into happy, docile, slaves. When Will realizes he has less than a year before he’ll be forced to undergo the process, he decides to make a run for it. All that stands between him and the apparently last stronghold of free humans hidden in the “White Mountains” are the dreaded alien overlords and their deadly, ubiquitous, Tripods. The writing style is very straightforward with a younger audience in mind, making Will’s coming-of-age story in a post-apocalyptic world accessible to all readers.

    • Written by John Christopher
    • Golden Duck Award winner
    • Movie in pre-production
    • First published in 1967
  • Armor

    Dan says: Okay, some critics say this book owes something to Heinlein's “Starship Troopers” and Haldeman’s “Forever War”. That may be so, but Steakley himself said “Armor” was a “tribute” to “Starship Troopers” where he set out to accomplish what he felt Heinlein could not: write great action scenes. I’m sure he meant that as a compliment. Tribute or no, Steakley has delivered a 432-page adrenaline rush. Distant future. Giant alien “bugs”. Exo-skeleton-wearing commandos. A death planet named “Banshee”. What else do you need to know?

    • Written by John Steakley
    • Military themes
    • Sequel in the works
    • First published in 1984
  • Enders Game

    Dan says: One of the best-loved science fiction novels of all-time, Orson Scott Card’s prose won’t blow you away, but his complex characters and enthralling plot will keep you turning the pages. When a war-torn Earth faces an inevitable third invasion from alien “Buggers”, the world government pins its hopes on a brilliant tactician and strategist… who also happens to be a child, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. The captivating novel follows Ender’s journey as his “normal” childhood ends and he becomes Earth last hope.

    • Written by Orson Scott Card
    • Nebula Award winner
    • Hugo Award winner
    • Margaret Edwards Award winner
    • First published in 1985
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Dan says: Part of a five-book “trilogy”, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is based on Douglas Adams’ BBC radio series from the late 1970s and follows the comedic adventures of Arthur Dent, the last human alive. After Earth is destroyed for a hyperspace bypass, Dent learns that his brain contains the “Question” to the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Everyone already knows that the Answer is “42”, but sadly no one has a clue what the Question is and thus Dent’s brain is highly coveted by a race of hyper-intelligent, pan-dimensional mice determined to learn the Question. If that sounds like a bunch of nonsense, it is, and that’s the whole point! Adams has delivered a satirically hilarious book that pokes fun at pretty much, well, Life, the Universe and Everything.

    • Written by Douglas Adams
    • Named one of the “One Hundred Greatest Books of the Century” by Waterstone Books
    • Ranked #4 in BBC’s “Best-Loved Books” survey
    • First published in 1979

You will be happy with any of these

  • Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

    Dan says: When most people think of “Frankenstein”, images of Boris Karloff and neck bolts usually come to mind. What many people don’t realize is that “Frankenstein” is in fact one of the most beautifully written books in all of literature. Corrupted by Hollywood in its various incarnations, Shelley’s masterpiece is rife with allegory and details the broken relationship between creator and creation. After Victor Frankenstein turns his back on the Monster of his own making, the two mens’ destinies are doomed to collide as the Monster is driven ever forward by revenge, hatred, and an insatiable desire to know who he really is and why his “father” abandoned him. Originally published almost 200 years ago(!), the novel’s timeless themes maintain their power even in today’s digital age.

    • Written by Mary Shelley at age 18
    • Considered the first “fully realized” science fiction novel
    • Gothic and romantic elements
    • First published anonymously in 1818
  • 1984

    Dan says: Rarely does a book come along that transcends the medium like George Orwell’s terrifyingly prophetic "1984". Whether it be terms like "Big Brother", "Thought Police", or "Orwellian", "1984" has left an indelible mark on our culture – and Hollywood. While the occasionally dense prose may turn off some readers, what waits within these pages is the benchmark for dystopian futures and, amazingly, is possibly more relevant in today’s post 9/11 world as it was nearly 50 years ago when first released. Each read will reveal something new amidst its complex themes and detailed world, but at its core, "1984" is the tale of one man’s pursuit of forbidden love in a nightmare world where the individual has been dissolved by groupthink, paranoia, and the soul-crushing Big Brother… who is always watching.

    • Written by George Orwell
    • Time Magazine top-100 novels (since 1923)
    • Banned in the USSR until 1988
    • First published in 1949
  • The Time Machine

    Dan says: The story follows The Time Traveler, whose real name we never learn, as he travels into the future, finally stopping to explore Earth in the year 802,701. What awaits him is a planet divided into two distinct classes: the docile and childlike Eloi live in a seeming utopia, totally free of technology, poverty, and disease, while the spider-like Morlocks live underground in a nightmarish machine world which appears to be the exact opposite of the Eloi’s paradise. The Eloi certainly seem to have the better end of the deal until The Time Traveler realizes the Morlocks work to keep the Eloi’s life pleasant and plentiful because the Eloi are their food. Things only get worse for our hero once the Morlocks steal the time machine and he must journey underground to retrieve it if he ever hopes to return to his own time.

    • Written by H.G. Wells
    • Voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame
    • Coined the term “Time Machine”
    • First published in 1895
  • Feed

    Dan says: A satire of corporate power, consumerism, and the Information Age, “Feed” depicts a dystopian future where the Internet has evolved into the “Feednet”. Rather than accessing the web via computers, people now have implanted computer chips that allow them to interface using their own brains. It’s all fun and games except for the mental pop-up ads in your head! Anderson does a wonderful job taking today’s YouTube generation to the extreme and creating a world where privacy is non-existent and corporations monitor your every thought to create the next hot trend as ubiquitous, customized whispers in peoples’ brains encourage people to buy, buy, buy.

    • Written by M.T. Anderson
    • Winner of the Golden Duck Award
    • Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Award
    • Finalist National Book Award for Young People's Literature
    • First published in 2002
  • The Golden Compass

    Dan says: Pullman has pulled off a mighty feat: he’s written a novel that transcends genre. While containing fantasy elements aimed at younger readers, its complex characters and epic story will appeal to readers young and old. Pullman never writes down to his audience, nor does he avoid darker moments. As one review stated, “There is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it.” What starts out as a tale of a girl searching for her kidnapped best friend spins into an adventure where science meets magic, doorways to parallel universes are opened, and the very fate of reality hangs in the balance. Released as “The Northern Lights” in the U.K., the author claims the book was re-titled to “The Golden Compass” in the U.S. because the publishers mistakenly believed the book’s alethiometer – a device that allows the main character Lyra to measure the truth – to be a navigational compass.

    • Written by Philip Pullman
    • Winner of the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction
    • Ranked as one of the 100 best novels of all time by the British Observer
    • First published in 1995

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