Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Top SF Novels Of The Year

sfm_banner_02a

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Today I want to share with you my top SF novels of the year – by this I mean read this year, not necessarily published this year.

1. The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons

The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

It took me a while, but I FINALLY finished The Hyperion Cantos! Dan Simmons’ epic series ends with The Rise of Endymion, and what a finish it was. The series is huge, complex and very much timey wimey but a DEFINITE recommendation to all science fiction fans out there.

2. Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry proved to be one of my surprise hits of the year. I was sent a copy of the book by Hodder & Stoughton, and I’d not actually heard of it beforehand. I’m so glad I made the time to read it before going off to university, because it’s so damn clever and unique and I cannot emphasise how much you should read this if you’re looking for something a little bit different in your sci-fi. You can also read my review of Lexicon.

3. Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Fan of Firefly? Distraught by the fact that it only got one season? (IT’S NOT FAIR OKAY THERE ARE SO MANY SHOWS THAT SHOULD BE CANCELLED BUT NO THEY CARRY ON) Then give Retribution Falls a try, I can guarantee it has everything you miss from Mal and co.

4. Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia reminded me of a mix of Ender’s Game and Ready Player One, for young teens. Considering that these are two books I love, of course I was going to fall in love with this one! I really need to get my hands on the rest of the series. Any book involving gaming and online communities is pretty much going to grab my attention.

5. & 6. Behemoth & Goliath (Leviathan #2 & #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth and Goliath, wow WOW. Actually, the whole series, but I read the first book last year. One of my absolute favourite young adult series, this steampunk retelling of the First World War is just SENSATIONAL. Perfect story, amazing steampunk inventions, wonderful characters – plus it’s beautifully illustrated. Yes, yes and yes. You can also read my review of Behemoth.

7. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in a new ‘epic’ sci-fi series that shows a LOT of potential. I’m so glad this one was chosen by my book group because it meant I got round to it sooner. I recommended it to my dad, who is a big sci-fi fan, and he took it on holiday with him earlier this year. He texted me whilst he was away to ask if I had the second book – definitely a hit with him too! You can also read my review of Leviathan Wakes.

8. Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

Lockstep was a wonderful Netgalley find, and is one of the few standalone books on this list. For a relatively short science fiction novel (350 pages or so) it packs a lot in, and it felt huge. Definitely worth a look if you don’t want to delve into another new series at the moment and don’t know where to start!

What are your top science fiction reads of the year? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: July 2014

monthlyru16

Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

July 2014

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen, Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly, New X-Men: Childhood’s End by Craig Kyle, Uncanny X-Men Vol 5: She Lies With Angels by Chuck Austen, Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1) by Janet Edwards, Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1) by Kathryn Rose, Ultimate X-Men Vol 14: Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman, Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine, Wanted Dead or Alive by Chris Claremont, Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins..

I carried on reading more Marvel comics, although this will probably be the last month I’m able to for a while. Alias Hook was a great start to the month – a five star book as my first read of July! I also absolutely loved Marvel 1602, I mean you can’t really go wrong with Marvel and Neil Gaiman, right? Towards the end of the month I read Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene, which was kindly sent to me by Hodderscape. It’s a new epic fantasy series and WOW. Not only is the writing fantastic, but it also has a truly gorgeous cover. I also managed to fit in a re-read of Mockingjay, which I desperately wanted to do after seeing the new trailer for the film.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read six books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. I managed to recruit Cyclops and Nightcrawler, as well as successfully defeat Dr. Doom, securing extra points for my team. August’s villain is the hungriest creature in the world, Galactus!
  • I have currently read ninety-seven books towards my Goodreads goal. I may increase it to 125 for the whole year.

 

Currently reading:

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Off the blog:

I went to London Film and Comic Con/Young Adult Literature Convention on 12th July, but more on that later! I also spent three days in London with my mum and sister, which was lovely. We visited the Natural History Museum, Borough Market, London Zoo, saw lots of the sights such as Westminster, Big Ben, the Globe Theatre – and we saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy. IT WAS SO GOOD. SOOOO GOOD. My whole family absolutely love the film (can’t remember how many times I’ve watched it), and it worked so well as a musical. One word of advice – don’t buy drinks in the Savoy Theatre. £22 for three drinks? Nah.

I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which I’ve been wanting to watch since January or so – and IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT. Funniest Marvel film yet, so crazy and fun but still full of wonderfully built characters and emotions! Go watch it now.

They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!
They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!

How was July for you?

 

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #16 – Doctor Who

tottvheader

Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

The adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler – a Time Lord – from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.

I’ve covered Doctor Who in this feature before, but there are so many different books to recommend that I’m going to be featuring it several times! For now these mostly cover time travel, but in a later feature I may target specific episodes.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Although 11/22/63 by Stephen King involves something the Doctor would NEVER do – changing the course of history – it’s very much a timey-wimey novel. I also feel it fits in well with the beginning of series six in that it’s set in 1960s America, although Maine instead of Utah. Like the episode The Impossible Astronaut, it weaves the story into a major historical event – the moon landing in 1969 in the case of Doctor Who versus the assassination of JFK in 1963.

Timeline by Michael Crichton

Timeline by Michael Crichton

‘Timey wimey’ is today’s keyword. Timeline by Michael Crichton is about a group of historians who go back in time to 1357 in order to answer a distress call sent all the way to 1999. The book switches between the medieval period and the modern day (or rather, 1999), and the main idea is that quantum computers can be used to ‘fax’ people to different timelines. Ah, if only it was that easy… I was also amused to read about the ‘high tech computer game that should hit the market in 2000’ when reading about this book, so naturally I had to find a review of said game. Actual quote from IGN: “We wish we could go back in time and remake this game.”. Not to worry, the book has MUCH better reviews…

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

I can never recommend Hyperion by Dan Simmons enough. One of my favourite sci-fi books EVER, it’s got some INCREDIBLY trippy, timey-wimey content – although that’s not the only reason I’m recommending it for fans of Doctor Who. I feel like the Shrike would be a pretty good fit with the villains of the show. It’s both terrifying and horrific, but at times it actually shows sympathy or some sort of kindness towards a few people. It protects a young girl later in the series. It may be scary, but it’s also misunderstood, just like many of the Doctor’s adversaries.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #7: Doctor Who

tottvheader

Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

The adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler – a Time Lord – from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.

What, you thought I wasn’t going to do a Doctor Who version of this feature eventually?? It’s hard to pick just a few books that would appeal to fans of the show, as there are so many different events and places – so this will cover the time travel/science fiction aspect of it. I may do further installments of this feature focusing on specific episodes, as I’ve done with Supernatural.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

My review for All Our Yesterdays is full of Doctor Who GIFs, so I guess this was an obvious one. It focuses on time travel, young love and is just pretty damn amazing. Plus there’s a character called The Doctor. I kept seeing this one all over various blogs just before release, and thought it would just be ‘another YA novel’. Boy, was I wrong.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

I was kindly sent this at the end of last year by the publisher, Faber & Faber, although I have yet to read it. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells follows the story of a young woman who, after several hardships in her life, follows the advice of her doctor (yes, another one!) and takes part in a rather unusual procedure. She travels back in time: to 1918, 1941 and 1985, and witnesses how her life would have played out were she alive then. It sounds like a really interesting look at time travel and alternate worlds/lives, and would be great for fans of Doctor Who who don’t often read science fiction.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Okay maybe I recommend this book to everybody. But the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons is a truly epic science fiction series that any fan of sci-fi should try. I think it will appeal to Doctor Who fans because I could definitely see the Shrike in an episode of the show: a terrifying creature that is actually just very misunderstood. Plus there are lots of different stories set on lots of different planets, and all the technology! The Doctor would have a field day.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Top Lists

Top Ten Tuesday #4: Books Read In 2013

toptentuesday

Yes, I’m joining in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! I was planning on doing a top ten of my books read this year on December 31st anyway, and since that’s the topic of this week’s TTT, why not join in?

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books Read In 2013

I’d love to know what your top books of the year are too, or if you agree with any of my choices – so feel free to leave your list in the comments, or perhaps link to your own top ten. I’m looking forward to the selections! And now, in now particular order, my top ten books read in 2013…

1. & 2. Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #1 & #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

You’ve probably seen these books everywhere on the blogosphere, and they deserve every ounce of praise. Sarah J. Maas has crafted a brilliant fantasy world and cast of characters, and I really hope that the series encourages people who might not normally try the fantasy genre to give it a try. Plus I met the author in October, and she was absolutely lovely – she shows a lot of dedication to her fans. I told her that Throne of Glass was my favourite book of the year, and she also remembered meeting Paola and Charlene a few months and a whole continent ago!

3. All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

An incredibly fun whirlwind of a read, this Young Adult novel involves time-travel and a Doctor… but not the kind of Doctor you’d like to take a trip through time and space with. Yes there’s a love triangle, which I normally hate, but this one isn’t quite as simple – in fact nothing is. I pretty much devoured this book in one sitting and had such fun writing a review full of Doctor Who references (I just had to!).

4. Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) by Dan Simmons

Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) by Dan Simmons

Knowing I am a big fan of science fiction, my dad kept trying to get me to read his favourite series, the Hyperion Cantos. I finally picked up the first book in the series, Hyperion last year, and I read book three this year. I’m so glad I decided to read it, because it has proven to be one of my favourite sci-fi series so far – it’s epic, brilliantly written and just amazing. Now I just have book four, which I hope to read in 2014! The first book in the series has been chosen as my bookgroup’s Sci-Fi Book of the Month for January 2014.

5. The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind was the first book that my bookgroup chose to read together, and I don’t think we could have started on a better note. Rothfuss’ tale of Kvothe, the mysterious narrator, is gripping and exciting, enchanting and oh so unique. I recently discussed magic systems in fantasy novels, including that of The Name of the Wind, which is referred to as ‘sympathy’. I have book two waiting for me on my shelf and it’s definitely high priority – perhaps it will make my top reads of 2014?

6. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

If you’ve never read anything by Haruki Murakami, then you really should. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about: Murakami’s writing is weird, good weird, and incredibly imaginative. He has written many novels, and whilst some of them are perhaps more ‘normal’, this is not one of them. His writing really makes you think, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how to describe a typical Murakami book. Basically, give it a try.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I really can’t rave enough about this book! I’ve said this so many times, but I’ve never read anything quite as fun as Ready Player One. With its pop culture references and crazy online world known as the OASIS, it’s pretty much the perfect book for anyone nostalgic for the 80s, early 90s, or any avid games (particularly online gamers). Know someone who would rather play a video game than read a book? Give them a copy of this and they might change their mind…

8. Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling wins ALL the awards for being ‘Most Surprisingly Amazing YA Book’. Being part of the book blogging community, you hear a lot of good stuff about a lot of good YA books – and although I’d heard that Graceling was worth the read, it wasn’t surrounded by all the fuss that Throne of Glass was, for example. I got it out of the library on a bit of a whim and then fell in love. It’s been a great year for fantasy books apparently!

9. Leviathan (Leviathan #1) by Scott Westerfeld

leviathan cover

How close I was to returning this one to the library unread! Not because I didn’t like the look of it, but because I had so much to read and review – but luckily I caught up. Luckily, because wow. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read an alternate history before, and I’ve not read much steampunk, and Leviathan has most definitely peaked my interest in the genre. Not to mention the absolutely gorgeous illustrations that accompany the story.

10. Serena by Ron Rash

Serena by Ron Rash

Seriously underrated and under-read, Serena needs more recognition! A tale of determination, this book truly shocks. I can’t even remember how I heard about it, I just know that as soon as I did I wanted to read it – and ordered myself a brand new copy, which is a rare thing. It’s also being made into a film, featuring Jennifer Lawrence (yay!) as the eponymous Serena and Bradley Cooper as her husband, George Pemberton.

And there we are, my top reads of 2013! What were yours? Share them in the comments below!

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: My Top Ten Science Fiction Novels

For my penultimate post I want to finally share with you my top ten science fiction novels! When writing this list I realised that I hadn’t read as many ‘classic’ sci-fi books as I’d thought, but *insert comment about too little time here* and I have plenty on my list to read! Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

And now, in no particular order, my top ten science fiction novels:

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane – two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences – must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

1. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds – when I was reading this for the first time, I actually almost gave up on it. But then suddenly something just clicked and I couldn’t stop reading – and it ended up being one of my favourite books. Reynolds’ writing produces such vivid imagery, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – this is one highly original, utter whirlwind of a book. Packed with pop culture references that actually have meaning within the context of the story, it is perfect for gamers, 80s pop culture fans and geeks worldwide. You can read my review or five reasons why you should read this book if you want to know more.

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

3. Hyperion by Dan Simmons – a sort of retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this space epic and the rest of the series (known as the Hyperion Cantos) is like nothing I’ve ever read. In the first book, each pilgrim tells their tale on the way to Hyperion and each tale is so varied and fantastical that you can’t help but fall in love with Simmons’ writing. My favourite story is that of the priest, Father Hoyt. I’m also really excited to read Dan Simmons’ other series, which is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Creatures once extinct now roam Jurassic Park, soon-to-be opened as a theme park. Until something goes wrong… and science proves a dangerous toy.

4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – you’ve most likely seen the film, but have you read the book? Written by Michael Crichton, this sci-fi thriller is brilliant fun and the film is actually fairly faithful – with the book you get more scientific depth. My only problem is the sequel: Crichton resurrects a deceased character because he was so popular in the film. Ugh.

In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live even called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she see it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her survival is second nature.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – this YA dystopian had me hooked from the very first chapter, and it seems to have done the same to many other readers. Now also a massive success on the big screen, with the second film having recently been released, it is a brilliant and terrifying view of a dystopian nation and corrupted government.

A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans.

6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick – if you only read one science fiction classic, I urge you to read this one. Dick’s brilliant novel of a future where animals are almost extinct, and possessing one is a symbol of status, is quite different from the film adaptation, Blade Runner, but absolutely and definitely worth the read.

Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a front assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens: but who?

Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.

Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. In simulated war games he excels. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game… right?

7. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I expect this will be a lot more widely read now there is a film version, but Scott Card’s tale of a space military school for youngsters has been around for a while. I’d been wanting to read this for ages when I spotted it at a local charity shop, and was not disappointed. It’s just a shame that the author has such disgusting views.

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

8. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – I didn’t realise this was a sci-fi novel when I started reading it, but it’s actually set on another planet and the people are settlers from Earth. This whole series is just an emotional rollercoaster, and due to Ness’ brilliant writing, had me blubbing like a baby at the very end.

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common near London. At first, naive locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag – only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat-ray as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilization is under threat, as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroy all in their path with black gas and burning rays, and feast on the warm blood of trapped, still-living human prey. The forces of the Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they at first appear.

9. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells – the mother of all alien invasion novels, this book gives me the shivers. Written long before science fiction was the genre it is today, Wells’ account of a Martian invasion is terrifying, fabulous and oh so clever.

Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

10. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – this recently released YA novel centered around time travel is a fantastic addition to the genre. It’s clever, fast-paced, well thought out and very, very emotional. I hope it also encourages people who don’t normally read science fiction to give the genre a try!

What are your favourite science fiction novels? Tell me in the comments!

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Common Concepts in Science Fiction

scifipostheader2

Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
 
There are some factors that just make a science fiction book. That’s not to say that all sci-fi novels have to contain all, or even any, of these points, but they’re often found within works of the genre. In the style of my very first Fantasy Friday post, I’m going to do a similar post with science fiction and talk about common concepts in the genre. You’re more than welcome to join in, if you make your own post there is an InLinks widget at the bottom where you can share your post URL.
 

 
Time travel is something that has always fascinated humankind. I know some people do not get along with it in books, but personally I love it. There are series like Doctor Who where it is one of the main elements, or books like All Our Yesterdays. It opens up so many possibilities: parts of history can appear in a futuristic novel, historical figures can be brought to life – or civilisations even further ahead in time can be imagined. There are so many elements of time travel – alternate timelines, the grandfather paradox, many elements that would take a great deal more space to discuss!

See also: Doctor Who, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, The Time Machine by H.G Wells, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Looper, Back to the Future, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

 
Space travel is another big factor, often hand-in-hand with time travel. What makes it so exciting is that it’s something we can already do – albeit on a smaller scale than appears in most science fiction – so events in many books could be ones we have yet to look forward to! In some cases spaceships are able to travel in hyperspace and reach destinations very quickly, but some works of science fiction show space travel in a different way. For example, in the Mass Effect game universe, the player can find objects called mass relays (shown above), which form an enormous network allowing interstellar travel. In the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, there is a price to pay for space travel. Certain characters are able to travel through space at such a speed that it kills them – but they are resurrected on the other side. It’s every bit as painful as it sounds, much to the dismay of one particular character who has to make several journeys in a short period of time!
 
See also: the Mass Effect video game series, the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons, House of Suns by Alistair Reynolds, Firefly, Sunshine, Star TrekStar Wars – in fact there are so many different books, TV series, films and games I could mention!

 
Aliens appear in so many works of science fiction, in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally they are friendly and help the human race, but most of the time… well you really don’t want to cross them. The Alien franchise (well, some of it) is a fantastic example of hostile alien races terrorising humans. I think they’re so popular because, admit it, we love the idea of there being some other form of intelligent life out there. There have been so many UFO spottings, abduction reports and other alien eyewitnesses that just prove we are obsessed. I for one am both really excited and kind of absolutely terrified by the idea of extra-terrestrial life. On one hand, they could be like the turians from Mass Effect (I’m a big Garrus fan), but on the other hand they might just be something like the creatures from Alien. And I don’t fancy meeting a facehugger, thank you very much.

See also: the Alien film series, the Mass Effect video game series, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Doctor Who, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 
This is one thing that makes me kind of sad when I read or watch sci-fi. I can’t remember ever seeing physical copies of books represented: characters always use ebooks or tablets to read or study. In fact it’s often some sort of multi-use device, for reading, communicating, studying and looking up information. I really hope that this is not our future; as much as I see the uses of an e-reader I would hate to live in a world without paperbacks.
 
See also: Acid by Emma Pass, the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Star Trek

 
It’s not just extraterrestrial life that fascinates us, but also artificial life. And like extraterrestrial life, it can be scary. In many examples, life created by humankind gets its own back on its creators – but in some cases, androids or cyborgs are seen as lesser citizens. One such example is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, also adapted into the film Blade Runner, where a bounty hunter has to dispose of several androids who have defied orders. As for YA fiction, there is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, where the eponymous character would be shunned from society were she to reveal her true status. In many cases, androids and cyborgs are indistinguishable from humans, which can be all the more dangerous. **Alien spoilers ahead** Think how shocked the crew of the Nostromo were when they discovered Ash was an android all along. **end spoilers** So maybe you should think about thanking that ATM next time it spits your cash out. Because one day, the machines might rebel against us!
 
See also: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Artificial Intelligence

What concepts do you often see cropping up in science fiction? I can think of plenty more but have chosen only to cover a few. Which are your favourites?