Science Fiction for Beginners

Anacostia LibraryStaff Picks

Science Fiction for Beginners

Books for People (Like Me) Who Are Inexperienced Sci-Fi Readers

I've never had a particularly strong interest in science fiction, but over the last few years I've become more intrigued. These are a few of the titles that grabbed my attention through strong reviews, word-of-mouth, or talking with other DC library employees. I hope that these titles open up new avenues for you, or remind you of a time when you were just getting into science fiction as well.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

The first of the “MadAddam” trilogy by Atwood, this book begins the story of Snowman, our point-of-view character. When we start, Snowman is living in the wilderness, worried about all manner of danger in his environment. As we go along, we learn much more about how Snowman found himself in this situation, and much more about the co-inhabitants of the beach where he lives. This book is paced extremely well, giving out hints about the narrative at a speed that keeps the reader both satisfied and still wanting more. I haven’t read the other two books in the trilogy yet, but if they are similar in quality to this one, I’ll be very excited to do so.

The Ocean At The End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I’m not a Neil Gaiman expert by any means, but this book seems to me to be a great introduction to the prolific and diverse author. It tells the story of a man who returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral, and remembers some incredible experiences that he had forgotten. We learn about his friendship with a young girl who lived nearby to him in his youth, and the profound effect that she had on him. I think that this book appeals to both adult and young adult readers, particularly younger readers who enjoyed Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Gaiman’s beautiful language tells a story that is elemental, magical, and beautiful.

On Such A Full Sea, by Chang-Rae Lee

In the near future, the people living in B-Mor are citizens of a labor colony. They work, largely, to improve the lives of people living elsewhere and rarely leave the confines of the city. This changes, however, when Fan disappears from the city to try and find the young man that she loves. As we follow Fan further and further from B-Mor, we are introduced to new worlds and new dangers. This is an enthralling book, and one in which the readers feels like they can’t quite figure out all of the mysteries.

The Area X Trilogy, by Jeff VanderMeer

Originally self-published, this set of books is interesting because although it keeps a similar tone throughout, the style of the writing is a bit more flexible. The first book of the three, Annihilation, is mysterious and supernatural, and I would compare it somewhat to the television show Lost. The second, Authority, feels somewhat more like a spy novel as we learn more about the environment of the trilogy. The last title, Acceptance, features more of the history of the world of the story and answers many of the questions brought up by the first two titles.  The melding of styles makes this a good selection for readers who want to dip their toe in the science-fiction waters.