High 5: Sci-fi books to check out

KATIE MCCOY, Contributor

Looking for some quality books to read over the summer? Here are five sci-fi books that are sure to keep your attention and take you on a thoughtful, fulfilling journey.

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built”

Author: Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is incredibly talented, and a lot of her books focus on allowing the reader to follow characters who are dealing with philosophical issues in a peaceful way. 

In “A Psalm for the Wild-Built,” she comforts the reader with a story about a society where robots gained sentience and decided to go on strike, not wanting to be laborers anymore. The humans granted their request, and the robots undertook a quest to understand themselves.

Centuries later, a tea-brewing monk who has a dream of hearing the songs of crickets takes off into the wilderness and meets one of these robots. Through their conversations, they explore various topics, including ecology, philosophy and history. 

Chambers has a way of investigating these topics that leaves you thinking about them in your personal life. The topics can be scary sometimes, but it’s less daunting to inspect in Chambers’ comforting world. She is definitely my favorite sci-fi author, and I want to be her friend in real life.

“The Martian”

Author: Andy Weir

Two things drew me to Weir’s style of writing: his ability to mix the current world with science fiction and the way he captured the authenticity of his characters’ thought processes in stressful situations. 

“The Martian” drove me headlong into a plausible adventure of space travel and what it would be like to live on Mars. With the ongoing NASA project “Artemis,” a mission to establish a permanent base on the moon in order to facilitate future missions to Mars, this storyline doesn’t seem so science fiction anymore. 

Weir’s enthralling storyline about a botanist astronaut who gets left behind on Mars and is faced with challenges to survive until he is able to contact Earth for help is truly a masterpiece. 

Weir’s depiction of resourcefulness became a quiet symphony as he described the astronaut’s ability to endure the arduous journey of sustaining his basic needs in a small habitation. This book is a wonderful bridge into sci-fi for those who are interested in space travel. 

It is also witty and fairly scientifically accurate.

“The Murderbot Diaries”

Author: Martha Wells

I had to add The Murderbot Diaries to this list because, honestly, I had never read a series quite like it. The series focuses on a security robot that was able to hack its governor. 

The governor is the piece of hardware that restricts the security robot’s actions and keeps it from, well, murdering things. 

Curiously enough, it continues on as if it hadn’t hacked its governor for the purpose of consuming media. Its favorite is a TV series called “Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon,” which the bot regularly devours. 

The books are filled with the witty dialog of a robot pretending to still be a robot while becoming more humanlike.


“This Is How You Lose the Time War”

Authors: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Red and Blue, the main characters in this story, are two time-traveling agents who can exchange letters in very peculiar ways throughout time. The entire story is about how they build a relationship while their warring factions try to take each other out for disrupting the timeline. I love this book because it is extremely imaginative.

“The Past is Red”

Author: Catherynne Valente

This book tells the tale of life after an apocalypse that flooded Earth and left people living on a giant floating patch of trash. Its focus is on a young girl who just tries to do what’s right, but ends up being hated by everyone for it. There are a multitude of twists and turns as she shambles her way through life, and I ended this book hoping for a sequel.