What are the best one-liners from sci-fi books?

“There's something to be said for hunger: at least it lets you know you're still alive.” — Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

There's also something to be said for the beautiful pairings of words into well-shaped phrases, the meaning of which sparks joy, sadness, wisdom, and deep understanding in our hearts when we read it.

Science fiction plays an important role in forcing us to question the meaning of our day to day lives and the status quo of the world around us.

This week's poll asks for you to think of the quotes that struck fear and wonder, laughter and awe, into your heart when you read it. Add your nomination(s) below and then vote on your favorite(s).

We base our lists on the votes and nominations from this blog and our Facebook Reader group, and we want to hear your opinion!

What are the best quotes/one-liners from a sci-fi BOOK?
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Time to Choose: What are the best one-liners from sci-fi books?

Last week's poll asked for you to think of the quotes that struck fear and wonder, laughter and awe, into your heart when you read it. And you delivered with over 1,000 votes on more than 50 nominations! From the hilarious to the thought-provoking, there's something to be said for each and every one of them. (Click here to check out the complete list of nominations)

It's time to decide.

We narrowed down the list of your nominations to the ten most voted for. Now let's figure out what the best ones are out of this group!

*This list is made up by combining votes from this blog and our Facebook group.

Time to choose: What is the best one-liner/quote from a sci-fi book?

The Top 10 Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Stories of All Time

What a close call!

With hundreds of total votes, our top two titles were running neck-and-neck for the entire voting period! And we had three titles in the middle that ended up four votes apart. Who knew apocalyptic stories were so hard to judge!

To review our proposed definition of apocalyptic stories, they generally revolve around the Earth's technological civilization collapse. Sometimes there are crossovers with the dystopian genre, so a novel could be dystopian as well as apocalyptic. Overall in these votes we leave it up to you readers to determine the parameters beyond that basic definition, and if there are any concerns we love to hear about it in the comments. 

As always, these top ten lists are not meant to be all-inclusive or definitive, but give a great finger on the pulse of our communities interests and favorites. Want to see who missed out? Here's the original nomination list from the blog.

Without further ado, based on the combined nominations and votes here on the Discover Sci-Fi blog and the Facebook group, here are your top choices for the best apocalyptic tales in literary science fiction.

10. One Second After by William R. Forstchen

New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real...a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages...A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

Find One Second After  here on Amazon. 


9. Commune by Joshua Gayou 

A fantastic post-apoc series if you haven't checked it out already. Author Joshua Gayou has also posted an reader's guide to beginning the series, as there are a few aspects of the novels that might need some help explaining. 

The series starts with the title opener Commune, with Jake and Billy rescuing two women who are being kept prisoner by scavengers. At the end of their world there's a commune called Jackson, and this is where their story all begins.

Find Commune on Amazon, here.


8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Here's an example of a dystopian and post-apocalyptic story. While the apocalyptic focus is primarily on the third novel of the series, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins features a civilization coping with a collapse, a rebuild of a dystopian and classist society, and another collapse.

It opens with the story of Katniss, who steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games, an annual fight to the death on live TV between the segregated districts/classes. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Find The Hunger Games trilogy on Amazon, here.


7. The Postman by David Brin

The following three titles were nearly tied, separated by a mere four vote difference! 

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author David Brin brought us this instant classic, The Postman, a complex cup brimming with the balance of despair and redemption.

We are introduced to Gordon Krantz, who survived the Doomwar only to spend years crossing a post-apocalypse United States looking for something or someone he could believe in again. Ironically, when he's inadvertently forced to assume the made-up role of a "Restored United States" postal inspector, he becomes the very thing he's been seeking: a symbol of hope and rebirth for a desperate nation. 

Find The Postman on Amazon, here.


6. Wool by Hugh Howey

One neat thing about this title is that if you read it on a device, it uses "Kindle in Motion" which features animation, art or video features. For some readers this might be a fun feature!

Hugh Howey's Silo series has taken the hard sci-fi, apocalyptic reading world by storm.

Wool'premise is titillating. It is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are allowed to go outside.

Find Wool and the sequels to it on Amazon, here.


5. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

A novel said to have inspired John Lennon, AlasBabylon​​​by Pat Frank, has been called a classic of literary and American fiction since shortly after its publication in 1959.

"Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.

Find the Kindle reprint version, or one of its many other formats, on Amazon, here.


4. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

A classic from 1959, Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz was a Hugo Award Winner in 1961 for best science fiction novel, and triggered a whole host of scholarly research based on its themes of religion, recurrence, and church versus state.

We are told the story of a monk order which seeks to preserve the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the world is again ready for it.

In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter.

In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind's salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity's rebirth from the ashes.

Find A Canticle for Leibowitz on Amazon, here.


3. Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

A near tie with the A Canticle for Leibowitz, Nicholas Sansbury Smith's Hell Divers series passed it by to reach almost the tip top of our list of ten best apocalyptic sci-fi novels. 

This New York Times and USA Today bestselling series opens two centuries after World War III, above a poisoned planet. The final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search of a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers—men and women who risk their lives by skydiving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.

When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past—something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.

Check out the Hell Divers series on Amazon, here.


2. The Stand by Stephen King

We've reached the overwhelmingly top two apocalyptic sci-fi novels of all time, according to our tasteful readers and fans of Discover Sci-Fi. The Stand by Stephen King totalled well over a hundred votes, coming in close with number one.

In 1978, Stephen King published what many believe to be his finest novel. The Stand was originally published in a much shorter form, and has since been published in its complete and uncut edition. Do any of our readers have experience reading both? What did you think of each?

According to The Stand, this is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

Check The Stand out on Amazon, here.


1. Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Closing the poll with first place is the joint effort by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer's Hammer. So many of you said you had a hard time choosing, but we commend you on your decision. 

Lucifer's Hammer was first published in 1977 and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1978 and was adapted to comic book 1993. It's only one of several fantastic novels by this formidable sci-fi duo, so if you've already read this one, check out some of their others, like The Mote In God's Eye.

Balancing suspense, humor, and interesting little lectures, Niven and Pournelle create one of the first novels to realistically describe the effects of a comet striking earth. 

Find Lucifer's Hammer on Amazon, here.


Of course, the story doesn't end here, does it?

If we asked you another year from now the literary and political scene will already look different enough that what's termed the "best" apocalyptic science fiction will be considered through a different historical lens. For now, visit us  here in our Facebook group to chime in on the debate, and then check out our most recent poll while you're there. Don't have Facebook? Feel free to add to the comments below.

*All book-related copy in this post was pulled from Amazon & Wikipedia, unless otherwise credited.

What are the Top 10 Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Books or Stories of All Time?

We have our group of ten!

All kinds of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales were suggested over the past week. Some discussion this week revolved around what exactly fit the definition of "apocalyptic." While we generally leave the decision up to you as to how to define it, there are a few parameters to genres in order to be true to the discussion.

So, a quick refresher is that apocalyptic stories, which can include sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, revolve around the Earth's technological civilization collapse. It's not quite the same as a dystopian novel, which is sometimes similar, which explores social and political structures in a dark, nightmarish world, in which everything oppression often reigns. Both subgenres are excellent fields of play for science fiction and speculative fiction, and many stories have a bit of both (for example, The Hunger Games trilogy, which starts out a bit more dystopian, and over the course of the series becomes apocalyptic). But the issue of genre is a world of greys, not black and white, so what do you think? Share your comments below.

With all of that in mind, we narrowed down the list of your nominations to the ten most voted for. Let's figure out what the best ones are out of this group!

*this list is made up by combining votes from this blog and our Facebook group​​​​

Out of these nominations, what is the best apocalyptic story of all time?

What’s the Best Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Book or Story of All Time?

It's time for the next poll!

We've been talking about apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic sci-fi recently, so let's hear what some of your top favorites are. This week you can nominate and vote for as many as you like, next week we'll do the top ten. It's true that there are some classics out there, but let's try and think outside the box a little, if we can!

We base our lists on the votes and nominations from this blog and our Facebook group, and we want to hear your opinion!

What’s the Best Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Book or Story of All Time?
  • Add your answer

The Top 10 (+1!) Romantic Relationships in Sci-Fi

This week, due to–ahem–unconventional nominations over on the Facebook group, we have, for the first time ever in Discover Sci-Fi history, a top 10 list with eleven selections! 

We didn't want to leave out the nomination that had the most votes and surely most spirited comments supporting it, despite it not fitting quite so well into the category of "romantic relationships." 

So, based on the combined nominations and votes here on the Discover Sci-Fi blog and the Facebook group, here are your top choices for best romance in literary science fiction.

Want to see who missed out? Here's the original nomination list from the blog.

10. Reed Beckham and Kate Lovato (The Extinction Cycle series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith)

Who would have thought about love in the apocalypse? For CDC Doctor Kate Lovato and Delta Force Operator, Master Sergeant Reed Beckham it was the last thing on their minds when a bioweapon swept across the globe, killing billions. Beckham's Delta Team, Ghost was assigned to protect Kate as she raced to find a cure. In the first months, the human race teetered toward extinction. Bonded through constant heartbreak and devastating losses, Beckham and Kate found love in the most unlikely of places--the end of the world. And maybe that's exactly what they needed to save it.

Dive into Nicholas Sansbury Smith's Extinction Cycle series available on Amazon and free to read in Kindle Unlimited. 


9. Alisa and Leonidas (Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker)

Lindsay Buroker is one of the most prolific and well-loved writers in sci-fi today. She chimed in herself on your #9 pick for Alisa and Leonidas's relationship in her Fallen Empire series...

"One of the foundations of romance (whether sci-fi romance or boy-meets-girl in your hometown) is conflict. If the reader isn’t sitting there thinking that the characters are perfect for each other but there’s no way it could work… that part of the story can fall flat. 
I’m not a big fan of characters bickering at each other because of personality conflicts; I much prefer something foundational that keeps them apart. Being from different sides of the tracks… or, in the case of science fiction, from different warring planets.
When my Fallen Empire series starts, our pilot hero, Alisa Marchenko, has just finished fighting a war against the empire and its armies of cyborg soldiers. You can imagine how keen she is to run into one of those cyborg soldiers, especially one of the high-ranking elite officers. But she has to work with him to achieve her goals, and it turns out he’s an honorable guy under his gruff exterior. But surely it would be a betrayal to the rebellion and everything she stands for to fall in love with him…" –Lindsay Buroker

The Fallen Empire series is Lindsay's most popular sci-fi series. Want a free copy of books 1-3 in the series? Join the Discover Sci-Fi community by clicking here and entering your email. We'll send you the Fallen Empire Omnibus, along with 9 other free sci-fi reads!


8. Manuel & Wyoming Knott (The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein)

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, about a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth. The novel expresses and discusses libertarian ideals. It is respected for its credible presentation of a comprehensively imagined future human society on both the Earth and the Moon.

The story is narrated by Manuel Garcia "Mannie" O'Kelly-Davis, a computer technician who discovers that HOLMES IV has achieved self-awareness and has developed a sense of humor. Mannie names it "Mike" after Mycroft Holmes, brother of Sherlock Holmes, and they become friends.

Wyoh, like many of Heinlein’s female characters, is constructed to be pleasing to what is called the “male gaze.” She also fills much more than that narrow function in the book, however—Wyoh is a dedicated and pragmatic politician. Her personal backstory is touched with tragedy, which gives the character more depth. Her relationship with Manny shows the reader the nature of marriage and romance on the lunar colony, but she also exercises agency and plays a real role in the political decisions throughout the story.

Check out The Moon is a Harsh Mistress available on Amazon.


7. Jim and Naomi (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey)

The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels (and related novellas and short stories) by James S. A. Corey, the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2012. The series as a whole was nominated for the Best Series Hugo Award in 2017.

Book 1, Leviathan Wakes, introduces Captain James Holden and his crew, which includes Naomi Nagata, an extremely talented engineer...and the only woman in the crew. The story weaves their budding relationship throughout, with more than a few rocky points along the way.

 Check out Leviathan Wakes on Amazon. 


6. Eve Dallas and Roarke (In Death series by J.D. Robb)

At #6 comes J.D. Robb's In Death series and the torrid relationship of Eve Dallas and Roarke.

 Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

Find out what happens by starting the In Death series with book 1, Naked in Death, available on Amazon.


5. Zeb and Deety, Jake and Hilda (The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein)

The Number of the Beast is a science fiction novel by someone who is no stranger to our top 10 polls, and already listed at #8 in this one: American writer Robert A. Heinlein.

It's cover blurb reads, "When two male and two female supremely sensual, unspeakably cerebral humans find themselves under attack from aliens who want their awesome quantum breakthrough, they take to the skies -- and zoom into the cosmos on a rocket roller coaster ride of adventure and danger, ecstasy and peril."

It is one of the 'Lazarus Long' set of books, involving time travel, parallel dimensions, free love, voluntary incest, and a concept that Heinlein named pantheistic solipsism  - the theory that universes are created by the act of imagining them so that somewhere Oz is real.

Opinion is divided among science fiction fans as to whether this and other late Heinlein novels are brilliant, creative and original, or simply the wish fulfillment of a man in his second childhood.

Check out The Number of the Beast available on Amazon and see which camp you fall into.


4. Tyler Barron and Andi Lafarge (Blood on the Stars series by Jay Allan)

Jay Allan is no stranger to our top 10 polls. His books have previously placed in over 4 of our previous top 10 lists, including best Space Opera and best Starship Captains. And coming in at #4 today is the relationship between Tyler Barron and Andi Lafarge.

Tyler Barron, the grandson of the Confederation's greatest military commander, a man born to duty...born to be a hero.  Tyler has carried the burden of his grandfather's legacy since childhood, and he has come into his own as a renowned leader and a skilled officer.

Andromeda Lafarge, an orphan born in the Gut, the most notorious and violent slum in all of the Rim.  Andi escapes the poverty and misery of her birth world to become one of the brashest and most notorious old tech prospectors in the Badlands, dancing perpetually on the knife's edge between being a rogue...or and outlaw.

They are entirely different, born into vastly divergent circumstances.  They meet as rivals... but it isn't long before they discover something almost inexplicable.  Beneath the vast differences, the opposing viewpoints that seem destined to keep them forever on opposite sides, it isn't long before the heat between them takes control...and two loners, two warriors who've struggled all their lives in vastly different ways, discover something they've never known.  A true partner and lover, a companion spirit in the continuing fight against their legions of enemies.

Meet Tyler Barron in the Blood on the Stars series available on Amazon (and free to read in Kindle Unlimited). And then learn about Andi Lafarge's epic backstory in the Andromeda Chronicles.


3. Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan (Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold)

At #2 is Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan's tumultuous love affair in the Vorkosigan seres by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Bujold is no stranger to our top 10 polls. In fact, this same series placed in one of our past polls about the Top 10 Bio-Tech in Sci-Fi. She is one of the most acclaimed writers in her field, having won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, matching Robert A. Heinlein's record (not counting his Retro Hugos). 

"Bujold began her galaxy-spanning series in the 1980s with a pair of novels, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, about a young starship captain named Cordelia Naismith from the planet Beta. A peaceful, politically progressive planet—basically, Copenhagen in space—Beta sends out scientist-explorers like Cordelia to gather data for its exoplanetary "geological survey." While studying a supposedly uninhabited planet, Cordelia meets the military officer Aral Vorkosigan, from the patriarchal, conservative planet Barrayar, where women tend to be housewives and men destroy themselves on the battlefield. Against all odds, and in the midst of a deadly war, the two fall in love." – Annalee Newitz via. Ars Technica

Dive into the Vorkosigan series with Falling Free available on Amazon.


2. John Crichton and Aeryn Sun (Farscape series by DeCandido, Dymond, and Bischoff)

Based on the fan-favorite science fiction television show, the Farscape series of books follows John Crichton, lost and alone in unknown territory, finding refuge of sorts aboard Moya, a vast living starship sheltering a fractious band of bizarre alien fugitives. Adventure awaits!

And, coming in as your #2 pick for most romantic relationship in science fiction is the explosive relationship between John Crichton and Aeryn Sun.

"Farscape’s John Crichton and Aeryn Sun should be on the cover of a book called “How to Do Romance Right in Storytelling For All the Times Ever."
For those who know next to nothing about the show, the crux of John and Aeryn’s tale is not too complex; he’s an astronaut from Earth who’s flung across the universe, where he meets a flight jockey named Aeryn Sun, member of an elite, galaxy-dominating military force known as the Peacekeepers. The brief time she spends with him in the first episode has her dubbed “irreversibly contaminated” by her commanding officer, and she is forced to flee with the very escaped criminals who have cost her the only life she has ever known and everything she previously held dear. Problem is, this odd “human” as he calls himself has really blue eyes, and he’s all full of emotions and caring and terrible advice…
Despite all the craziness, John and Aeryn are the spacefaring equivalent of a superteam. Their road was full of pitfalls and trauma and laughter and explosions. They are everything we want love to be only moreso, at the highest clarity and sharpest relief we can stand. Every other love story goes to Ten—theirs goes to Eleven." – Emily Asher-Perrin via TOR.com

Dive into the books starting with Farscape: House of Cards available on Amazon.


1. F'lar and Lessa (Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey)

Coming in at #1, Anne McCaffrey's Pern is one of the most memorable worlds in science fiction and fantasy. Humans and their flying dragon companions live in fear of thread, a caustic, deadly material that falls sporadically from space. But when the thread doesn't fall for a long time, people become complacent, forgetting that it is the brave dragonriders who can save them from the periodic threat. But when the thread falls, human and dragon heroes must fight the scourge.

The love story of Lessa and Flar becomes the problem-solving story of ridding the planet of "thread" (destructive spores that rain from the sky). As time passes, the two of them come to appreciate one another's intelligence and strength. They begin to trust one another. And then, as you can imagine, they fall madly in love.

Check out books 1-3 in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series bundled into a discounted box set available on Amazon.


Honorable Mention: Joe Bishop and his Shower (Expeditionary Force series by Craig Alanson)

While the relationship between a man and his shower doesn't quite qualify as a romantic relationship (at least not in how we define it!) we had no choice but to include Craig Alanson's ExForce series thanks to hundreds of his readers coming out to support this *ahem* unconventional romance.

As captain of the UN starship Flying Dutchman, Joe is forbidden by regulations from having a romantic relationship with his subordinates. With the Dutchman away from Earth for months or years on each mission, the only humans Joe encounters are his subordinates, so the poor guy is desperately lonely. The ship’s AI named ‘Skippy’ is unsympathetic to Joe’s plight, teasing Joe that his only ‘relief' is while he’s in the privacy of his shower, reminding Joe that he should buy his shower something special for Valentine’s Day, etc.

Being the only one of his kind, Skippy is also desperately lonely, so teasing Joe is a way of expressing his own anguish.

Also, Skippy is an asshole.

Check out book 1 in Craig Alanson's ExForce series, Columbus Dayavailable on Amazon (and free to read in Kindle Unlimited).


There you have it. 10 + 1 romantic relationships that have capture the hearts and minds of readers everywhere.

What do you think of that list? Do you agree, or do you feel as though your most-loved military sci-fi book/series is missing/didn't place as you think it deserved? Feel free to join us here in our Facebook group to chime in on the debate, and then check out our most recent poll while you're there. Don't have Facebook? Feel free to add to the comments below.

*All book-related copy in this post was pulled from Amazon & Wikipedia, unless otherwise credited.

Make your choice: Best Romantic Relationship in Sci-fi Books?

This week, due to–ahem–unconventional nominations over on the Facebook group, we have, for the first time ever in Discover Sci-Fi history, a top 10 poll with eleven options! Not wanting to leave out the strongest nomination which is, not exactly aligned with the parameters of “romantic relationship” we had in mind, we are stretching our own rules a bit. Nevertheless! The readers and fans have spoken! Whether or not they are of sound mind is to be determined in the comments below!

So, based on the combined nominations here on the Discover Sci-Fi blog and the Facebook group, here are the top choices for best romance in literary science fiction. This week you'll only be able to choose one, so make it count!

Click here to see the full list of nominations on the blog, or here to see the full list of nominations on the Facebook group.

Out of these nominations, what's the best romantic relationship in a science fiction book, short story, or series?

What’s the best romantic relationship in a sci-fi story?

Not all science fiction is big on character development, and that's our bag too, but for this week let's talk about the best romantic relationships in a sci-fi book, short story, or series? Many of the titles we've talked about in the past have focused on solo characters, or military men and their machines, but some tales have an exciting romance to them, even if they don't work out in the end.

So what do you think the best romantic relationship or dynamic is that you've ever read in sci-fi? Maybe it's sappy, maybe it's two really well-developed characters, maybe there's a really great particular scene? Nominate some couples and the story titles below, and tell us in the comments why you chose that one.

What's the best romantic relationship in a science fiction book, short story, or series?
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The Top 10 Title Names in Science Fiction

Funniest titles, most provocative titles, or titles that just sum up a book or story's contents really well, you nominated dozens of great science fiction titles that are all worth reading their full contents (here's the original nomination list from the blog, and the original nomination list from the Facebook group, with well over 80 titles!). After meanly forcing a choice between the top 10 selections from the combined lists, we have the top 10 title names Discover Sci Fi readers and fans enjoy. Happy reading!

10. Have Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

At tenth place we have Robert A. Heinlein‘s Have Space Suit–Will Travel. It's a short book for young readers, as well as old, which some of you on our Facebook site shared was your first science fiction read! Heinlein's presence is also closer to the top of our list as you scroll down, but this title is certainly charming.

The story follows Kip Russell who wants nothing more than to go to the moon. But after entering a contest to help realize his dream, he is thrust into a space adventure he could never have imagined—with the most unlikely of friends and enemies.

9. (a) The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

We had a tie for ninth place!

By far the oldest title on this list, The War of the Worlds was written by H.G. Wells in 1898. It's been adapated to other media, including film, but also to radio drama by Orson Welles in 1938. That live broadcast became a bit famous for having incited panic in listeners who allegedly believed it was a real newscast, but that panic seems to have been hyperbolized over the years.

In the original novel, Earth is invaded by Martians and is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. In first-person narrative we follow an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and his younger brother in London as southern England is invaded. Apparently, Wells said that the plot arose from a discussion with his brother Frank about the catastrophic impact of the British on indigenous Tasmanians. He wondered what would happen if Martians did to Britain what the British had done to the Tasmanians. (Although the Tasmanians did not have the lethal pathogens that Britain is armed with in the novel!)

Not only did this work numerous adaptations it even influenced the work of scientists, notably Robert H. Goddard, who, inspired by the book, invented both the liquid fuelled rocket and multistage rocket, which resulted in the Apollo 11 Moon landing!

9. (b) So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams

Coming in tied for ninth place is So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. This is the fourth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy (not a typo) by Douglas Adams. It continues to follow Arthur Dent, who we met in the first book of the series, who is now back on earth. He wonders whether the last few years of his life were a complete figment of his imagination. But then he receives a mysterious fishbowl and realizes all the earth's dolphins have disappeared. When he uncovers his badly battered copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy he begins to realize something really did happen, and God left a Final Message of explanation as to what it all means.

7. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury has a number of curious titles, so it's interesting that this is the one that made the cut. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a slightly unsettling story of friendship and balances dualities like childhood versus the old, dark versus light, and good versus evil. A strange show comes to town one week before Halloween. Two boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, soon discover the evil of this carnival, which promises to make your every wish and dream come true. But with those wishes and dreams comes a price that must be paid. Behind the mirrors and the mazes is the nightmare of a lifetime.

6. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

A creepy title for an appropriately creepy shorty story by Harlan Ellison! One of our Facebook members read it as a fairly young child and still shudders thinking of it.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is set in a post-apocalyptic world where four men and one woman are all that remain of the human race. Programmed to wage war on behalf of its creators, AI became self-aware and turned against all humanity. The five survivors are prisoners, kept alive and subjected to brutal torture by the hateful and sadistic machine in an endless cycle of violence.

5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The original title that the 2004 movie is based on, I, Robot is a short story collection by Isaac Asimov. It covers a number of robots of all kinds: funny ones, insane ones, and ones with a cult-personality complex. Many of the stories are rooted in the often-referenced “Three Laws of Robotics:”

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Another title that was adapted to film is this novel with this curious title, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by one of the masters of curious titles, Philip K. Dick (PKD). Another of his interesting titles that was discussed was Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. Of course, the movie adaptation is a bit different.

Simulacra of humans are built and sent along with immigrants to Mars to take the place of the millions of humans that have died after the World War in 2021. The governments on Earth become fearful of these androids abilities to blend in, and ban them from Earth. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them.

3. Stranger In a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This is only Robert Heinlein's second title that made it to the top 10 titles list here at Discover Sci-Fi (yep, wait for it, there's one more). Stranger In a Strange Land is a Hugo Award-winning novel about a man raised by Martians on Mars. He has never seen another member of his species. When he is sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever.

This title comes from the Biblical book of Exodus 2:22 “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land” (King James Version). The verb “grok” became part of our English vernacular, thanks to Heinlein. It roughly means to understand (something) intuitively or by empathy.

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Yep, it's the titular series-opener by Douglas Adams. Not only is this series featured twice in this list, it's also been nominated several times in other lists here at Discover Sci-Fi, including as a top film sci-fi book-to-film adaptation, and as the source of a most iconic character, Arthur Dent.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy‘s title is based off a book within the story itself. Ford Prefect, a friend of Arthur Dent, reveals himself to be a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and has been, for the last fifteen years, posing as an out-of-work actor. The contents of The Guide have all sorts of advice, including drinks recommendations. It also is the source of the famously supreme utility of the towel:

… a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

(The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, chapter 3.)

1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein.

Discover Sci-Fi readers are smitten with Heinlein! The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is Heinlein's third title in our top 10 titles list, threading his way to the very top. It really is an evocative title name, as well as one of Heinlein's greatest works.

In this novel we witness a revolution on a lunar penal colony—aided by a self-aware supercomputer. This is the framework for a story of a diverse group of men and women grappling with the ever-changing definitions of humanity, technology, and free will—themes that resonate just as strongly today as they did when the novel was first published.

So, did your favorite title make through the nominations and to the top ten list? There are so many great titles out there! Some of the runners-up include The Lefthand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison. Share some of your favorites below and let us know what you thought of some of the winners of this list.

And don't forget to make your voice heard during future nominations round to be sure your vote can be considered for the top 10 finale.

*Some copy in this post was pulled from Amazon & Wikipedia.

What are the best title names of science fiction stories, books or series?

Science-fiction authors are tremendously innovative thinkers. But some title names are definitely better than others. There are funny ones, thoughtful ones, spoiler alerts but there are also some kind of bland ones. Just considering the titles, what are some of your favorites? And let us know what your criteria are! Is the title that you nominated just a really epic one? Does it have one of your favorite made-up technologies in it?

This week you can nominate as many as you like, next week we will narrow down to the top 10. You can check out how people are voting over on the Discover Sci-Fi Facebook group here.

What are some of the best science-fiction story, book or series *titles*?
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