1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Booktopia synopsis: The human race faces annihilation. An alien threat is on the horizon, ready to strike. And if humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history. The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope. But first he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training programme – to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders. A saviour for mankind must be produced, through whatever means possible. But are they creating a hero or a monster?
2. World War Z by Max Brooks
Booktopia synopsis: It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.
3. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Booktopia synopsis: The year is 2312. Scientific advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer our only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system, on moons, planets and in between. But in 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront our past, present and future. The first event takes place on Mercury, in the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. For Swan Er Hong, it will change her life. Once a designer of worlds, now Swan will be led into a plot to destroy them.
4. Dust by Hugh Howey
Booktopia synopsis: The much-anticipated final instalment of the Wool trilogy. In the aftermath of the uprising, the people of Silo 18 are coming to terms with a new order. Some embrace the change, others fear the unknown; none have control of their fate. The Silo is still in danger. There are those set on its destruction. Jules knows they must be stopped. The battle has been won. The war is just beginning.
5. The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Booktopia synopsis: A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping The Long Earth – but in turn The Long Earth is shaping mankind. A new ‘America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of The Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government. Meanwhile The Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation. Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge The Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.
6. The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
Booktopia synopsis: The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilisation. An ancient people, organised on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they’ve made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilisations: they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence. Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted – dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago.
7. Proxima by Stephen Baxter
Booktopia synopsis: The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun – and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The ‘substellar point’, with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the ‘antistellar point’ on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world? Needle ships fall from Proxima IV’s sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out. Proxima tells the amazing tale of how we colonise a harsh new eden, and the secret we find there that will change our role in the Universe for ever.
8. Shaman: A Novel of the Ice Age by Kim Stanley Robinson
9. On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds
10. Lexicon by Max Barry
Booktopia synopsis: Two years ago, something terrible was unleashed in an Australian mining town called Broken Hill. Thousands died. Few people know what really happened. Emily Ruff is one of them. She belongs to an elite organisation of ‘poets’: masters of manipulation who use language to warp others to their will. She was one of their most promising recruits until she made a catastrophic mistake: she fell in love. Wil Parke knows the truth too, only he doesn’t remember it. And he doesn’t know why he’s immune to the poets’ powers. But he knows he needs to run. As their stories converge, the past is revealed, and the race is on for a deadly weapon: a word. Because the poets know that words can kill…
This article first appeared on Booktopia.