Epistolary Science Fiction

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Epistolary Science Fiction

Novels written as a series of documents

I was thinking about epistolary novels recently. These are novels that are written as a series of documents. In the past, these documents might be letters, newspaper clippings, or journal entries. More recently the form has expanded to include emails, radio broadcasts, and blog entries among others.

It then occurred to me that Science Fiction has made good use of this format. Dracula is a classic example. Another more recent example is The Martian by Andy Weir. It is partially told using electronic logs, much like a digital journal. Here are a few more examples of science fiction epistolary novels.
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
When a girl in South Dakota falls through the earth and lands in the palm of a giant metal hand, things change. That was 17 years ago. Now, she is a physicist working to understand that giant hand. This story is told primarily through transcriptions of interviews. Exactly who is conducting the interviews we don’t know.

The Eagle's Throne: A Novel by Carlos Fuentes
Mexico’s president has dared to vote against the United States in a Security Council meeting. Vengeance comes quickly. The U.S. cuts off all Mexico’s phones, emails, and other forms of communication. People are now forced to communicate via letter. In the ensuing chaos, cabinet members and kingmakers make a play for power against a president who appears weak. Things get worse before they get better.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
In 2575 two massive corporations are warring over a tiny ice-covered planet on the edge of nowhere. This war comes as a bit of a surprise to the denizens of the planet. Citizens are forced to flee their home world on whatever ship they can find. When a deadly plague erupts, as sometimes happens on refugee ships, Kady must learn the truth about who their true enemy is, and what they really want. This story is told via instant messages, medical reports, and interviews.

Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
Robots are everywhere. They’re in your pocket, in your car, and in your home. Now, they have awakened and the war against humanity is about to begin. An A.I. that calls itself Archos begins to slowly take control of machines and smart toys worldwide, with an end to humanity as its ultimate goal. The story is told utilizing interviews and transcripts of security footage.

In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
Anna has traveled to an unnamed city that has descended into chaos. This novel is her letter home. She is searching for her brother, who is a journalist. When she arrives she finds his house and street have been demolished. At a loss, Anna rambles around the city attempting to find her brother. In the process, she becomes homeless, then she lives in an old library, she works as an object hunter, and she gets various other jobs. Anna spends years in the city searching for her brother. The letter ends as Anna plans to leave the city and make her way home.