Essential Science Fiction for the Modern World

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With Game of Thrones not around for a while, and the current nerd offerings on television and in film only as epic as Donald Sutherland’s totalitarian beard (why is Mockingjay two films anyway?), it has become necessary to plug into some other rich veins of nerd awesomeness. This summer, delve into the (new and old) classic sci-fi that has made all of your current nerdiness even close to possible.

Below are some of the most important pieces of science fiction (books, TV, movies, what have you) for your nerding pleasure. These works are awesome and super fun, but also prove whether or not you love the shit out of the stuff people say is nerdy for the correct reasons.

Dune (Frank Herbert, 1965)

Anyone who drooled over Lord of the Rings needs to read this massive, epic book about “spice” and giant sand worms. Not convinced by giant sand worms? There’s also the Kwisatz Haderach.

Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card, 1985)

If you saw the movie and were like, “This is stupid 3D nonsense,” then think again and read this ridiculously awesome sci-fi book about a genius kid and Heinlein style insect aliens. It’s brutal as only vicious wartime children can be.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Kubrick’s adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel of the same name and year is haunting and moves at a beautifully glacial pace. People who love any of the Transformers films should shut their mouths, find a comfy chair, and stare wide-eyed at one of cinema’s most gorgeously rendered sci-fi adventures. I can let you do that, Dave.

Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke, 1953)

This is one of the most classic and awesome sci-fi books ever, featuring a crazy utopia and alien invasion that may or may be an allusion to the devil or something epic like that. Read this to have your mind pulverized into a smiling singularity.

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Anyone who likes space adventures and hemorrhaging spinal fluid in fear will love this simplistic and dark take on the great meeting point of horror, thriller and sci-fi. Still one of the best creature designs in all of cinema.

Passage (Connie Willis, 2001)

A modern classic, this intellectually enlightening novel about near death experiences is heartbreaking and a marvel of what you can do with science fiction when you don’t focus on robots and aliens. Willis proves that sci-fi can be epic and emotionally stimulating all at once.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick, 1968)

The reason why Blade Runner is a thing, Dick’s novel contemplating the robot soul is trippy as all hell (well, not nearly as much as his other titles) and the gateway drug to many, many, sleepless nights binging on this writer’s insanity.

Foundation (Isaac Asimov, 1951)

Asimov was the granddaddy of all fantastic sci-fi (well, after H.G. Wells, of course), invented the three laws of robotics and made galactic empires look totally wicked. Read this to truly understand what having a nerd brain requires.

The Time Machine (H.G. Wells, 1895)

Speaking of Wells, read this incredible little book about everyone’s favorite sci-fi machine and a future society split into wee nymph creatures and scary ass trolls that secretly control much if not all of life.

Really, this list only scratches the surface of where you could go in your imagination while you get shit-faced on the beach this summer (some of these require a backyard projector). Ursula K. LeGuin and William Gibson are two other names to knock off your list (oh my god Neuromancer oh my god), as well as infinite episodes of Battlestar Galactica. So get summer nerding, my Internet friends.

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