Can’t travel? Escape reality and get away with these Sci-Fi books

Let’s face it. 2020 has been a rough year. There’s no shortage of people looking for a way to escape into their imaginations in the face of such disarray on the global stage. 

If you count yourself among them, a great science fiction book might be the answer. A genre that has continuously examined and predicted the progress of human civilization; it’s the perfect form of art to escape into parallel universes or alternative realities that are similar yet different to our own. Good science fiction has readers inhabit a compelling and utterly convincing fictional world that can have a cathartic effect for many reasons.

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If we’re honest with ourselves, exploring the fake problems of fictional worlds can be more relaxing than dealing with the very real and daunting problems that are presented to us day in and day out by the media. Let’s explore a few of the most memorable and transporting sci-fi books to replace our pressing day-to-day problems with some fictional ones. After reading one, you might just be able to come back to reality with fresh eyes and a renewed sense of purpose. 

Wanna Get Away? Escape 2020 Reality with These Transporting Sci-Fi Books

  1. Ender’s Game

Ender’s Game is a 1985 novel written by Orson Scott Card that follows a teenage boy named Ender that is handpicked to participate in an intergalactic military training camp. Ender captured the minds of young people and adults alike because of the coming-of-age story is told about a well-intentioned yet imperfect hero that finds himself being used and manipulated by an unforgiving, violent world. 

The book is set in a future version of Earth in which human civilization faces an impending invasion of an alien species. The brightest military minds convene to vet and train the next generation of military geniuses that will be needed to fight off the alien species. Ender is one of the most promising recruits. 

Throughout his training, Ender is forced to come to terms with the dread of an impending invasion and to navigate the tricky social politics of fellow recruits. Ender shines as an up-and-upcoming military mastermind, but all is not as it seems. Throughout his journey, Ender peels back one layer of illusion after another until making contact with the reality of his position in this volatile world at the end of the book.

It has become a science fiction classic that was adapted into a movie in 2013. It’s a great book that will allow readers to engage with social, strategic, and civilizational problems in its fictional world. The novel even made the list of best science fiction books from Cool Things Chicago

  1. Dune

Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert in 1965. The novel is set in a distant foreign galaxy for many years in the future. In the enchanting world that the novel takes place, the galaxy is ruled by a number of royal families. 

The novel follows its main character Paul Atreides, a young member of a royal family that has accepted the responsibility of ruling a planet called Arrakis. Arrakis is a desert-like, barren planet that proves to be a primitive and unforgiving environment. However, it contains a vitally important natural resource called melange, or “spice” as it’s regularly referred to in the novel.

Melange is the most valuable resource in the fictional Dune universe because it enables navigation in space as well as other mysterious abilities in users that consume it as a drug. The nature of dust, as well as the abilities it provides, becomes more clear through the story of Paul Atreides and his rulership over Arrakis. 

Dune is a terrific book that explores themes around politics, environmentalism, and religion. It continues to find an audience of new readers even today, as talked about in this piece from the New York Times.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a science fiction novel written by Margaret Atwood that is set in the United States after a future totalitarian takeover of the country orchestrated by a fanatical religious group. Infertility has become a widespread condition in this dystopian universe and has given rise to practices of ritualistic rape and impregnation by members of this totalitarian regime.

In response to a kind of moral panic that took hold after widespread infertility, a quasi-religious, fascist group takes power and proceeds the role back much of the moral progress and human rights enjoyed by the Western world. The group called the Sons of Jacob in the novel, strip women of their human rights and force them to live subjugated lives purely focused on bearing children. Fertile women are dubbed handmaids and are forced into lives of indentured servitude for rich families for which they bear children after being raped. 

The book is a staunch and sober look at the fragility of moral progress and human rights that we take for granted and how easily they can be eroded in the face of crisis and fascism. It follows the life of handmaiden Offred as she navigates this dismal, masochistic world after being stripped of her rights and forced to be raped and bear children for powerful families. This piece by the Washington Post explores how the book, later adapted into a TV series, reflects or exaggerates existing patterns in our current civilization.

  1. A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly is a semi-autobiographical novel written by renowned author Philip K. Dick. The book follows Bob Arctor, a drug addict that lives in a household of other addicts. 

Arctor leads a double life. In secret, he is an undercover police agent that is attempting to crack down on illegal drugs. Through his undercover work, pretending to be a drug user, he becomes addicted to a drug called Substance D that is known for its dangerous qualities. 

Arctor falls in love with Donna, a drug dealer and a fellow addict. Due to his addiction, Arctor’s superiors realized that he isn’t fit to continue his duties. 

The book’s author, Philip K. Dick, is known to have struggled with drug addiction, and the story draws inspiration from some of his darkest moments. This piece by the LA Times explores Dick’s history and many of the themes that ultimately ended up in the book.  

  1. The Martian

The Martian is a science fiction novel written by Andy Weir that follows the life of an astronaut that is stranded on Mars after his entire crew is killed in an accident. Believed to be dead by all of the civilization after his long-range radio fails, the protagonist of the book is forced to come to terms with surviving in solitude on Mars. 

The novel immerses the reader into the loneliness of being marooned on Mars but does so with surprising wit and a comedic narrative. The book is loved by many die-hard science fiction readers because of its accurate inclusion of real science. It’s a testament to Weir’s commitment to researching the science related to his story. 

The novel features many more references to pop culture than is found in many science fiction books, and some readers may find they need to be up-to-date with the latest lifestyle narratives and pop culture trivia to truly enjoy its humor.

Hopefully, this list will offer some suggestions that will help readers transport themselves, if even for a few hours, away from their daily concerns and into a fictional world that is captivating and thought-provoking.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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