In a year that is stranger than fiction, with pandemics, mass rioting and new space explorations, it might be time to take a break from the real world stuff and delve into some fictional worlds created by some of the sci-fi's most famous works.
1. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
2. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
Billy Pilgrim Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller - these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world's great anti-war books.
Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.
3. Dune by Frank Herbert
Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written. Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's life-span to making intersteller travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis' second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands.
In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them. And his journey will change the universe.
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together, this dynamic pair began a journey through space aided by a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!
5. 1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell's dystopian vision of a world enslaved by doublethink and thoughtcrime is as terrifying now as it was on its initial publication in 1949. One of the great classics of the twentieth century, 1984 is a startlingly original and arresting novel about tyranny and the universal struggle of the individual against the malevolent tendencies of the modern state.