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From robots to triffids: exploring sci-fi beyond the dystopian


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For book lovers, Huxley is a household name.

It’s guaranteed that almolst everyone owns a copy of Brave New World as it’s arguably one of the best dystopian novels written in the 20th century, along with Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and Zamyatin’s We (1924). To celebrate Huxley’s 124th birthday, we’re rounding up the best sci-fi sub-genres outside of dystopia that you need to explore.

Image courtesy of DasWortgewand on Pixabay


Cheating natural order with risky science experiments is a hit for sci-fi stories. That’s why John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids is our top bioengineering trial gone wrong. When Bill Masen wakes up in hospital after being temporarily blinded by a Triffid, he is deafened by the silence that surrounds him. In the distance, he hears screams and the faint shuffling of passers-by, but silence soon envelopes him again. What he doesn’t yet know, is that the plants he used to tame (the Triffids) have now revolted against their captors after an unlikely meteor shower blinds the Earth’s population. The Day of the Triffids is a story of love, survival, and the potential dangers of a world dangling by a thread in a Cold War.

Lost worlds

The prehistoric is a perfect starter for a sci-fi novel: a world untouched by present human life but reachable through a mysterious and suspenseful story where our ancient ancestors live secretly aside us in remote Asia. John Darnton captures the prospect of clashing ages in his sci-fi adventure novel Neanderthal, where scientist James Kellicut goes missing in an expedition. Rival scientists Matt Mattison and Susan Arnot are sent to pursuit for Kellicut by the American government, where they get caught up in a war with cannibalistic Neanderthal tribes when they are captured in their search. Neanderthal is a valuable lesson in what happens when we interfere with history.

Out of this world

The possibility of life outside Earth has fascinated humankind for centuries, so if you’re bored with human society, like Lewis Gridely Wu, join him on a retreat to Ringworld. Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld is packed with adventure, mystery and wonder as his protagonist sets off on an expedition to explore nature of the planet that is similar to Earth in size, atmosphere, and centrifugal force. And, if that isn’t enough space stimulation, Niven added for sequels and four prequels to satisfy your expedition needs.


In today’s technological age, the prospect of a robot invasion looms, with advancements in robotics integrating with human life. Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot is a reminder that we shouldn’t get too complacent with our recent discoveries. Through a series of stories and essays, Dr. Susan Calvin, chief “robopsychologist” at U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, explains her work within the field and the ethics regarding robotic intelligence. I, Robot is a novel of irony because, no matter how well you think you know the robot, it’s the robot that is running this world.

Time travel

The Time Machine that follows the ‘Time Traveller’ through his journey to a distant Earth in A.D. 802, 701. In the new world he meets the Eloi, a society of child-like adults who lounge around all day eating fruit. At first, this future earth seems utopian. But day becomes night, and the Morlocks who lurk in the shadows leave their tunnel habitat underground to brutally murder and eat the Eloi. The Time Machine demonstrates Wells’ ability to interconnect various sub-genres of science fiction alongside a neat social critique of his contemporary class system, elegantly proving the dominance that science fiction would soon have over the world of literature.

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