Best Sci Fi Detective Stories to Read

Best Sci Fi Detective Stories to Read

Sci Fi is a very popular genre on WhyToRead.com.  As are detective/thriller books.  Today our review list show cases some of the best ever sci fi detective novels ever written.  Plunge into the future with robots, androids, personality chips and lots of murders to solve.

1. The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Caves of Steel
First in the Isaac Asimov’s Robot series The Caves of Steel introduces an unusual partnership between a New York City detective Elijah Baley and a humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. These two are forced to work together after prominent Spacer, Dr. Roj Nemennuh Sarton, is murdered.
The story takes place three millennia into a future. The Earth is not a nice place to live. But the more lucky ones  live in the Outer Worlds – colonized planets known as Spacer worlds. These two worlds are polar opposites; while Earth is overpopulated and has strict rules against robots; Spacer worlds are lowly populated and use robots for everything.  Needless to say, Elijah Baley does not like either Spacers nor his assignment.

What is interesting in this story are two worlds that Asimov created and two complete opposite characters who are forced to work together and overcome their differences.  This well known, classic sci fi detective story published in 1954 is still intriguing and very interesting to read.

2. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams

Sci Fi Detective novels - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a lesser known series written by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It contains only two books. Adams wanted to add the third one to the series but unfortunately he died before he finished it.

This is a strange and funny novel. It has disparate plotlines. Actually the story contains several plots. At the beginning the reader will meet “Electric Monk” who is looking for a Door. After that the focus shifts to Professor Urban Chronotis at St. Cedd’s College in Cambridge. Soon the story is full of strange things and the only person who can make a connection between them is a Dirk Gently. Dirk Gently is Holistic Detective. In another words he understands and know that all things are interconnected. Dirk Gently is not major character, but he is definitely the central one and he is the character that make this truly unpredictable story so interesting. Funny and different this story is must read for all Douglas Adams’ fans and beyond.

3. Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

Sci Fi Detective novels - Altered Carbon
Set 500 years in the future, Altered Carbon is a hard boiled cyberpunk crime novel. The world that Morgan creates is an interesting one. It is a world in which other planets are inhabited by human beings. The United Nation Protectorate oversees these planets. In this world it is possible to digitally store a personality and downloaded it into new body. But not all humans are doing that; only the richest want to live forever by moving their personality into new body when the old one dies.

The main character is Takeshi Kovacs, ex-soldier who gets tasked to find out what happened to Laurens Bancroft. Laurens Bancroft is one of the very rich who has committed suicide to take a new body, but lost 48 hours of his memory in the process. Takeshi Kovacs’ task is to find out what happened in that 48 missing hours. Was it suicide, or actually murder?
This is brutal novel but with a very interesting premise. In 2003 it won the Philip K. Dick Award for Best Novel.

4. When Gravity Fails – George Alec Effinger

Sci Fi Detective novels - When Gravity Fails
This is a first book in the series about Marîd Audran, originally published in 1987. Set in the 22nd century in which Islamic world is prosperous while the US, Europe and Soviet Union are in decline. The main character is Marîd Audran, freelance operator and hustler. He is extremely proud to be independent and free from cybernetic modification. Still, in order to alter his mood he relies on drugs and alcohol abuse. Everything will change for Marîd when his acquaintances start dying. In order to catch the killer he is forced to undergo advanced cybernetic modification against his choice.
Effinger builds a fascinating world in which people can easily modify their personality by plugging in chips. Other chips can also enhance or bestow skills like the ability to speak a foreign language, or suppress some physical and mental functions.

A sci fi detective story with twists and turns of a great plot. Further, the story has provoking ideas about personality modification and genders. All in all very interesting read.

5. The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Demolished Man
Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man was a winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953. This is a so called inverted detective story, which means that the reader knows who the killer is from the very beginning. Therefore the story focuses on how the killer will be find and caught. Set in the 24th century where society consists of telepathic and non-telepathic humans. The murderer is an extremely smart non-telepathic human, Ben Reich. His goal is to get away with murder in a world where police officers have strong telepathic abilities. The telepathic police officer who tries to catch Ben is a Lincoln Powell. Lincoln Powell, despite of his telepathic powers cannot keep up with very clever Ben.

This is very interesting classic sci fi novel set far in the future yet does not involve aliens or robots. Definitely worth reading.

Best Sci Fi Detective Stories – continued

6. The Automatic Detective – A. Lee Martinez

Sci Fi Detective novels - The Automatic Detective
This is a story about Mack Megaton. Mack is not a human; he is a robot, a massive one. He is a robot built for destruction. But Mack is not destroying anything, because he is a taxi driver. When his neighbor and her family go missing Mack becomes an amateur detective on a mission to find his neighbors.
Although set in future the first half of the book is very much classical detective novel. The only difference is the characters/ suspects who Mike meets. They are every bit sci fi classics, some of them have extra limbs while some have tentacles instead, and then there are some monsters that are very Godzilla-like.

We found the second part of the story is a more action than talk oriented. But a great fun story.

The Automatic Detective is part noir, part action story full of very colorful characters. It is fun and interesting read

7. A Philosophical Investigation – Philip Kerr

Sci Fi Detective novels - A Philosophical investigation
A Philosophical Investigation was first published in 1992 and is set in 2013.  Researchers have discovered physiological basis for the most brutal criminal tendencies in men. Names of all men diagnosed with such a tendencies are stored in the database. The problems begin when one of diagnosed man breaks into the database, removes his name from it and start to kill other men in the database. The case is taken by Chief Inspector Isadora “Jake” Jakowicz who tries to catch the killer.

The story is told from two points of view. One is the POV of the Chief Inspector, and the other is diary entries of serial killer, code named Wittgenstein.  Although Kerr’s “future” is already past this story is still an interesting read in the genre of sci fi detective fiction.

8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Philip K Dick

Sci Fi Detective novels - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a classic SF novel that was made very popular by the movie Blade Runner with Harrison Ford. Yet this sci fi detective novel was first published in 1968.

The story is set in 1992 post-apocalyptic, post nuclear war San Francisco. The biggest consequence of the nuclear war was extinction of most animal species. Therefore being an animal owner became very prestigious and a sign of empathy. In order to get a real animal and to replace his electronic sheep, Rick Deckard signs up to a mission. His mission is to find and destroy six escaped, rogue androids. Deckard’s biggest problem is that androids look exactly like humans.

The story focuses on Deckard’s hunt of the androids, but the main question of the story is about what it is to be human. This is a classic novel that asks very important questions about identity, empathy and being human.

Best Mind Bending Sci Fi Books

Best Mind Bending Sci Fi Books

Mind Bending Sci Fi is something we love at WhyToRead.

Science fiction has always pushed the boundaries of what is. Technology leaps, social structures, privacy (or no privacy), aliens – they can all challenge our lifestyle, our comfort zone and life as we know it.  But scarily, the past has shown that mind bending sci fi can become reality (think apple watches!).  So the issues raised by in these ‘fiction’ books are worth consideration today.

Today we review our top 5:-

Best Mind Bending Sci Fi books

1. The Light of Other Days – Stephen Baxter & Arthur C Clarke

Mind Bending Sci FiMind Bending Sci Fi
Imagine a not-so-distant future where worm-hole technology allows us to look at anything, anywhere, past or present. Yet many of the world’s major issues, like war and hunger, still remain. That is the world envisioned in The Light of Other Days. In our technology-driven world today, where privacy can easily be compromised, the premise and issues presented in the novel will sound very familiar. And then Baxter takes them a step further. How can you opt out from being watched 24 x 7? Even if you are not a regular sci-fi reader, this book is still a thought-provoking read on the mind bending topic of no privacy.

2. Nine Billion Names of God – Arthur C. Clarke

Mind Bending Sci FiMind Bending Sci Fi
Clarke is one of the biggest names in futuristic sci-fi, and this book is a collection of his favorite short stories, first published in 1974. Given how technology has progressed in real life, some of the stories from the bygone golden age of mass market fantasy and sci-fi may feel a bit dated. Nevertheless, many of the themes of those stories are timeless, which makes this collection an enjoyable read for anyone who loves speculative fiction, even if it’s just for the nostalgia.

3. A Fire on the Deep – Vernor Vinge

Mind Bending Sci FiMind Bending Sci Fi
Vinge created arguably one of the most ingenious visions of the future found in a sci-fi novel. His world is a colorful galaxy, filled with sophisticated technology and races of intelligent aliens like you’ve never seen before. Despite all the details and being 600-plus pages long, the book doesn’t feel crowded and confusing. It is packed with action and suspense, but will also leave a lot of food for thought by the time you’re done reading.

4. Ubik – Philip K. Dick

Mind Bending Sci FiMind Bending Sci Fi
Some humans are born with psychic powers that could invade the privacy of others. To protect themselves, some humans developed powers to counter those of psychics. A group of anti-psychics go on a mission that went horribly wrong to the point of messing up time and reality. In short, Ubik is everything one can expect from one of the most influential reality-warping sci-fi authors of all time.

5. Blindsight – Peter Watts

Mind Bending Sci FiMind Bending Sci Fi
The plot of Blindsight centers on an expedition to investigate the arrival of a superior alien race in the Solar System. Told through the eyes of the autistic protagonist Siri Keeton, readers get a good look at the alien race and also Siri’s personal life. Blindsight is an intelligent novel that will have you questioning the concept of consciousness and how we perceive the world around us. If this book isn’t mind bending enough on its own, it does have a sequel to finish the job.

This list of Best Mind Bending Sci Fi books will be continued next week.

10 Best Ever Comedy Sci Fi Novels

10 Best Ever Comedy Sci Fi Novels

Continued on from our last post we finish reviewing the best ever comedy sci fi novels.

Laughter is healing.  Laughter is relaxing. Laughter lowers your blood pressure.  Laugh out loud with these funny novels.

Give the gift of laughter this Christmas with a good book (or two) from the rest of our list.

10 All Time Best Comedy Sci Fi Novels – continued

See 1-5 here.

6. Job: A Comedy of Justice – Robert Heinlein

Comedy Sci Fi Novels

Would you leave Heaven and go through Hell to find your find your beloved? Don’t assume what Heinlein’s novel is about because of the biblical title; it is more than a Sci-Fi twist on the Book of Job. Sure, the plot is based on its source of inspiration, where a man made a wager with his Creator and was put through a series of trials. But what we have here is a character-driven story of personal transformation and lessons learned.

7. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas – John Scalzi

Comedy Sci Fi Novels

In Scalzi’s novel, the Redshirts refer to crew members abroad a flagship whose mission is predetermined by a Narrative. Fans of the TV series, Star Trek will find the premise familiar. That does not mean the novel is just a knockoff of the highly acclaimed TV show. The novel is made up of the principle story, followed by the three codas – short stories focused on the minor characters, told in first, second and third-person, respectively. Overall, the plot is uncomplicated, filled with sardonic wit, and touches lightly on some serious themes.

8. Equal Rites (Discworld series) – Terry Pratchett

Comedy Sci Fi Novels

The plot and characters of each Discworld book can stand on their own, which makes reading them in order not really necessary. Equal Rites is the third book in the series, but could very well work as an introductory book. It is very funny, has better characterization and more depth than the two that came before it. The plot may be a little slow in places, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with a satisfying conclusion.

9. Bored of the Rings: A Parody – The Harvard Lampoon

Comedy Sci Fi Novels
As a parody, this book has unfortunately not aged perfectly, since it contains many pop culture references relevant in the late 60s to the early 70s. Some of its humor may be considered irrelevant or even inappropriate today. However older fans of Tolkien’s iconic fantasy novels are likely to find Bored of the Rings very funny. For true-blue Tolkien fans though, this book is a worthwhile read, even if it is just for the sake of nostalgia, just keep in mind the era which it was first published.

10. A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, Book 1) – Piers Anthony

Comedy Sci Fi Novels

There are currently over 20 Xanth novels, all featuring stories of heroic characters with magical abilities that are set in the fantasy land of Xanth – a clever allusion to Florida. What makes the Xanth novels stand out from your typical fantasy is Anthony’s witty use of puns and innuendos in his writings. A Spell for Chameleon is the first, and considered by many to be the best of the pun-filled series. The plot is solidly developed and worth reading while one enjoys the humor from its smart writing.

10 Best Ever Sci Fi Comedy Novels

10 Best Ever Sci Fi Comedy Novels

With Christmas around the corner, finding gifts for people who have everything can be hard. This book list of comedy Sci Fi (science fiction) will appeal to anyone with a sense of humor. Even for non-readers, good comedy novels are hard to go past. Add in some sci fi and you have a hilarious opportunity.

Whether you like puns (see Xanth series) or more high tech wizardry; these funny sci fi books will have you rolling in the aisles. Generally light and entertaining they are ideal for relaxing before bed, over breakfast or even the middle of Christmas lunch.

Start a tradition of fun gifts at Christmas and enjoy a good laugh with comedy sci fi novels.

10 All Time Best Sci Fi Comedy novels

1. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

sci fi comedy

It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that Adams’ Sci-Fi comedy classic is the holy grail of the genre. Written with delightful humor, wit and sarcasm, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is filled with social commentary and philosophical musings, wonderfully dressed up in the guise of entertaining Sci-Fi. It is a book where you will want to read it more than once, with each re-reading bringing to light some new philosophical insight about life. It can certainly be a wonderful pick-me-up book when you are having a bad day and looking for a few doses of laughter. If in doubt, the answer is always 42.

2. The Stainless Steel Rate – Harry Harrison

sci fi comedy

If you appreciate the lighthearted, albeit somewhat cheesy, retro pulp fiction styled adventure stories, Harrison’s book will be an entertaining read for you. The Stainless Steel Rat follows the space adventures of the title character as he pursues a stolen battleship. What makes the book fun is that it does not take itself too seriously. Plus, the futuristic world it is set in has enough vagueness to accommodate readers’ imaginations and prevents the book from being outdated.

3. The Flying Sorcerers – Larry Niven & David Gerrold

sci fi comedy

Judging by the title, one has to wonder how much of The Flying Sorcerers can be taken seriously. Well, the book was never intended to be taken seriously at all. The story is basically about a technologically advanced traveler visiting a primitive world, told from the primative’s perspective. The comedy element lies in the authors’ hilarious treatment of Clark’s Three Laws, making it suitable for some fun light reading that won’t leave you wondering if there is any deeper meaning behind its humor.

4. The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut

sci fi comedy

If you do not mind a Sci Fi that does not take its science seriously, you may enjoy Vonnegut’s novel for its satirical value. Fans of hard Sci Fi may argue that The Sirens of Titan has some scientific inaccuracies and plot holes, but if one overlooks those details, this is a brilliant work with underlying philosophical message that is easily relatable for anyone. Simply put, this is a serious work of satire, made readable in a highly enjoyable manner within a Sci-Fi context.

5. Smallworld – Dominic Green

sci fi comedy

For readers who are tired of stale sci-fi epics and want to be swept into an unusual world, Smallworld could be the book to take you there. This is a collection of episodic short stories that make up a larger story. Set in a world made up of tiny planetoids, the book starts off rather bland, but the intrigue builds up with each subsequent chapter. Stick with it and you will not want to put it down.

See Books 6-10 here soon.

Sci-Fi Short Stories: 8 Sci-Fi Short Story Collections That Will Blow Your Mind

Sci-Fi Short Stories: 8 Sci-Fi Short Story Collections That Will Blow Your Mind

For Sci-Fi book fans who have too many things going on in their life to be able to sit down for hours at a time, the solution is a great short story book. The Sci-Fi short story collections in this list are the best ever written, based on user reviews and sales figures.

Sci-Fi Short Stories

1. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

Sci-Fi books

Isaac Asimov wrote this classic collection of stories as the first in his Robot novel series. It deals with the relationships between human and robot. It introduced the Three Laws of Robotics that have set the standard for the use of robots in science fiction. In fact, Asimov was the acknowledged creator of the term “robotics.”

2. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

Sci-Fi books

Ray Bradbury wrote these short stories in the late 1940s at a time when we knew almost nothing about Mars. This book is not a novel per se, but rather a collection of separately linked stories that chronicle, in about as many ways as you can imagine, Man’s experiences with Mars

3. Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang

Sci-Fi books

Stories of Your Life and Others is a wonderful collection of short stories. It’s engaging, intelligent, well researched, creative, and puzzling among many other reasons why you should read this book.

4. Burning Chrome – William Gibson

Sci-Fi books

This is an amazing short story collection whose common denominator is the quality of the writing. This collection really shows just how much William Gibson has done to take Science Fiction to a whole new level.

5. Dangerous Visions: 33 Original Stories – Harlan Ellison

Sci-Fi books

Some of these stories are downright shocking, some are bizarre, and some have the great social commentary and human drama that most sci-fi writers would kill to be capable of.

6. Axiomatic: Short Stories of Science Fiction – Greg Egan

Sci-Fi books

Axiomatic is utterly fascinating and mind-blowing. The stories are wonderfully original and distinct, but two philosophic threads tie them together. The stories explore questions of determinism and free will or questions of where our identity resides and what are its irreducible components.

7. Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories – Kurt Vonnegut

Sci-Fi books

This is a collection of rich, wonderfully written stories about a wide assortment of subjects. Kurt Vonnegut is a great writer, pure and simple. Many of the stories deal with the future and the state of society, and blended with Vonneguts somewhat cynical yet witty view of the subject.

8. Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick – Philip K. Dick

Sci-Fi books

Philip K. Dick manages to incorporate the fears and projections of his era (such as the angst of nuclear holocaust) and distill it all in a remarkable collection of short stories. The stories are dynamic and this collection is an excellent way to get to know the works of Phillip K. Dick.