Literary Science Fiction Books

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Science Fiction that's recognized by those outside the genre as great literary works, usually for the visionary ideas and less so for the quality of the writing. However, for science fiction to achieve "literary" status, the writing usually has to be very good. Sub-par writing combined with visionary ideas usually doesn't have enough to propel it to status of literary outside of the genre. Basically, literary science fiction is what you get when you have a gifted writer write something speculative. Or you have a decent writer write something speculative that's truly visionary. Both how something is said is just as important as what is said in a literary work
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Slaughterhouse-five

by Kurt Vonnegut

5 avg rating
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
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Dune

by Frank Herbert

4.19 avg rating
Ecology and rebellion, death and rebirth. A LOT of themes in this wonderful novel. It\'s not necessary wonderfully written in a literary style, but the ideas are huge and it\'s a classic in the genre.
Nebula
Hugo

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Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

4.05 avg rating
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

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1984

by George Orwell

4.62 avg rating
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The Book Of The New Sun

by Gene Wolfe

4 avg rating
The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his preeminence, pure and simple. . . . The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping."--The New York Times Book Review

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The Left Hand Of Darkness

by Ursula K. Le Guin

4.17 avg rating

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards

A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

Nebula
Hugo
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Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

4.48 avg rating
Simmons uses some heavy literary conventions from classic English literature -- think Canterbury Tales in a science fiction space opera tale.
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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A Canticle For Leibowtiz

by Walter M. Miller

5 avg rating
The atomic Flame Deluge was over. The earth was dead. All knowledge was gone. In a hellish, barren desert, a humble monk unearth a fragile link to a twentieth century civilization. A hand-written document from the Blessed Saint Leibowitz reads: Pound pastrami can kraut six bagels - bring home for Emma.
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The Dispossessed

by Ursula K. Le Guin

3.6 avg rating
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
John W. Campbell
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The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

4.44 avg rating
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Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

4.47 avg rating

"Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English." —Chicago Tribune

Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

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Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

4 avg rating
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.
Arthur C. Clarke
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The Handmaid\'s Tale

by

4.1 avg rating
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Cat's Cradle

by Kurt Vonnegut

4 avg rating
Hugo
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The Illustrated Man

by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury brings wonders alive. For this peerless American storyteller, the most bewitching force in the universe is human nature. In these eighteen startling tales unfolding across a canvas of tattooed skin, living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Provocative and powerful, The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth—as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.
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The City And The City

by China Mieville

4 avg rating
Wonderfully written and has your brain straining trying to understand. Mieville knows how to write beautifully.
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