Adult Sci-Fi that is easy to read?
December 15, 2010 5:17 PM   Subscribe

What easy and entertaining fiction books can I buy? The genre is teen/adult sci-fi/Magic/Mysterious, for example Swan Song, The Hunger Games...

More books would be Twilight, Harry Potter, Enders Game. Basically, these books that are easy to read, entertaining and tend direction Sci-Fiction. I don't like fantasy (stuff with elves or hobbits or such things). What I'm looking for are good sci-fi books that are not too intricate or arty, and not designed to be funny (no Pratchet). Dark stuff is good.

Any recommendations?
posted by ChabonJabon to Writing & Language (32 answers total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
Lev Grossman's The Magicians is like Harry Potter for adults.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:30 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some of these might seem aimed at a younger audience, but it's my opinion that well written sf aimed at teens and even younger works just as well when written by adults.

The entire Mortal Engines series is great, and matches some of the stuff you said.

The Maze Runner fits right in if you liked The Hunger Games.

If you end up liking Mortal Engines, the Airborn trilogy is pretty awesome too. Add in Leviathan as well, and you have a pretty full list!
posted by adamwolf at 5:38 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

This list is pretty decent. I'd check out, in particular, Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series and how i live now by Meg Rosoff.
posted by cider at 5:39 PM on December 15, 2010

in YA, check out The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness), The House of the Scorpion (Nancy Farmer) and Across the Universe (Beth Revis; comes out in January)
posted by changeling at 5:40 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Cool Papa Bell, I put The Magicians in my post and then took it out about 3 times. It's not happy, but the OP did say "Dark stuff is good."

On the other hand, The Magicians is one of my absolute favorites.

tl;dr The Magicians, seconded.
posted by adamwolf at 5:40 PM on December 15, 2010

OH AND -- how could I forget my all-time favorite YA SF, FEED? it's genius.
posted by changeling at 5:41 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've heard really good things about the Uglies trilogy, but haven't read them myself yet. Also, I enjoyed The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and I thought that it was better-written than the Twilight books (which I did also enjoy, shamefully :)
posted by purlgurly at 5:41 PM on December 15, 2010

You can't go wrong with Ursula K. LeGuin. The Earthsea series is a great place to start. The first one is A Wizard of Earthsea. But really, I have read a lot of LeGuin and I've yet to read a bad one.
posted by Kattullus at 5:43 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I haven't read them since the 80's, but remember the Majipoor cycle by Robert Silverberg to fit your description quite nicely - - it starts off with Lord Valentine's Castle.
posted by fairmettle at 5:44 PM on December 15, 2010

Neil Gaiman's stuff, like American Gods and Neverwhere.

Philip Pullman, definitely.

Some of Charles DeLint's stuff would be good, too, especially The Little Country.
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:45 PM on December 15, 2010

Oh I love this, thanks for this post! Also try:
- Most things by Kage Baker (I enjoyed the Company series - some humor, some dark)
- Maybe some Nancy Kress, starting with Beggars in Spain.
- Nthing the Uglies trilogy (Uglies, Pretties, Specials)!!! Scott Westerfeld has also written Leviathan which is part scifi part alternative history.

More magical:
- Golden Compass (His Dark Materials trilogy)
- If you liked Harry Potter, but like something a bit darker (possibly more adult in later books) then try the Wizard of Earthsea
posted by SarahbytheSea at 5:52 PM on December 15, 2010

Diana Wynne Jones has written a lot of stuff that might appeal to you - I read a lot of her books over and over. They're mostly kidlit and/or YA, but I think if you like Hunger Games and Harry Potter you would probably like her stuff. The Dalemark books (first book is Cart and Cwidder, which I know sounds a little elf-and-hobbitish, but I swear it's not) and the Chrestomanci books (first book is Charmed Life) might be good places to start. Howl's Moving Castle and its sequel are set in a sort of fairy-tale kingdom, so, fantasy, but not hobbity fantasy.

Her standalone books like Dogsbody and Fire and Hemlock and The Time of the Ghost are a little darker, or at least sadder.

I think Neil Gaiman is a good recommendation but I would say stay away from American Gods, at least at first. A lot of people hate it, even people who like his other books. Neverwhere's a good choice, though, and Stardust (which is mostly fairy-tale fantasy, low on the elves and hobbits though I can't guarantee that it's completely hobbit-free).

And I like Philip Pullman but I find the writing in the His Dark Materials books significantly more challenging than in the books the OP mentions. I had to look up at least one word in The Amber Spyglass! I never have to look up words! (Mephitic, for the record.)
posted by mskyle at 6:08 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the Night Watch series of 4 books. They're adult, and sort of vampire/magician related, but with a focus on the personal relationships. They're also set in Moscow, so a change of scenery.
posted by bizzyb at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2010

PS - some scifi classics read in high school:
- The Giver (haven't read myself)
- The Chrysalids
- Fahrenheit 451 and in general Ray Bradbury short fiction is great

Also go into your local public library - the Young Adult librarian will have more recommendations.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2010

The Uglies series is fantastic, as is the Hunger Games series. In the YA magic-y (with bonus Southern friedness) vein, I just finished Beautiful Creatures and its sequel Beautiful Darkness, both of which were worth reading.
posted by timetoevolve at 6:15 PM on December 15, 2010

Everything by Connie Willis. I love To Say Nothing of the Dog.
Oops, you didn't want funny. Sorry.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2010

Also, for some awesome dystopian world-building, check out Inside Out. (Ignore the Harlequin Teen marque; it's definitely not a romance novel.)
posted by timetoevolve at 6:18 PM on December 15, 2010

Invitation to the Game. Great YA sci-fi.
posted by katopotato at 6:27 PM on December 15, 2010

Nthing Diana Wynne Jones.
posted by smoke at 6:32 PM on December 15, 2010

Thanks for this question, as winter + pregnancy means all I am doing lately is reading and rereading books like this. If I can find my battered copies, I plan to reread Stephen R. Donaldson's two part series "Mirror of Her Dreams" and "A Man Rides Through." I think these could satisfy; they're easy, fast, absorbing reads, and while magic-y, they are elf and hobbit free.
posted by girl scientist at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2010

It's not really "sci fi" but I think it qualifies about as much as The Hunger Games: Stephen King's The Stand. If you like post-apocalyptic/dystopia stories, it's an amazing read. Very long but easy reading.
posted by telegraph at 6:42 PM on December 15, 2010

I came in here to check that someone had said Diana Wynne Jones, too. And I agree that the Mortal Engines quartet (Philip Reeve) could be just what you're looking for. A bunch of other good things have also been mentioned already.

One person who hasn't appeared yet, I don't think, is Jan Mark, a writer of phenomenally varied talents. Your sort of thing: The Ennead, Eclipse of the Century, Useful Idiots.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 6:45 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. It came out around the same time as Hunger Games, and is just as good.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:24 PM on December 15, 2010

Listen to changeling. I'd highly recommend Feed, Across the Universe, and The Knife of Never Letting Go. I kind of hated Scott Westerfeld's Uglies books, but if you like hoverboards and goofy face tattoos, you might dig them. I'd also add Pamela Sargent's Farseed and Earthseed, which are preposterously dark and wonderful. Also, there are a gazillion Hunger-Games derived dystopians coming out soon or just released. I'm enjoying Matched by Allie Condie more than I'd expected. I've heard good things about The Adoration of Jenna Fox and enjoyed Gemma O'Malley's The Declaration. And I don't know if you have a particular jonesing for stuff that's space-based, but I put together this goodreads list of space-based YA science fiction, though pretty much on there worth reading has already been mentioned. Except maybe John Christopher's Tripod series, which is old and skews to a younger audience, but is also pretty much wonderful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 PM on December 15, 2010

Oh, and since you're not only looking for YA, I'd recommend Megan Lindholm's Alien Earth which is out of print, but one of my favorites, ever. Easy to read, deep, fun. Like a meatier, book-version of Farscape.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2010

If you really want things like Ender's Game, you want Heinlein. Not just any Heinlein. You want the juveniles, because they are classic, fun, easy SF reads. And then you want to read Starship Troopers. And then The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Because it is awesome. And then, here's the important part: even if you've really liked those, you need to put the Heinlein down and not read any more, because it does not get better. I promise. You have no idea how much worse it gets.

(And if you liked Starship Troopers and want similar mil-SF, then you want to read John Scalzi's Old Man's War series. And possibly Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, which is similar in exactly the opposite way.)
posted by sineala at 8:06 PM on December 15, 2010

The Dark Is Rising, Susan Cooper. It's out in an omnibus edition now.

Also Diane Duane's Young Wizards series.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2010

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

If you like that, her Xenogenesis series is pretty great (start with Dawn), although it is space sci-fi.
Nthing His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman and Graceling

Very happy to see this post - lots of suggestions for husband and me to check out.
posted by lvanshima at 9:00 PM on December 15, 2010

Seconding the Xenogenesis saga. I debated posting it because, while Butler's prose is an effortless read, I wouldn't precisely call them "easy" books. The first, particularly, is deeply, nightmare inducing disturbing, in a way that'd difficult to describe.

They're awesome, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 PM on December 15, 2010

My teen is in a sci-fi book club and they just finished reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman. It's pretty dark, and one chapter in particular is deeply disturbing. Now they're reading Hunger Games; The Uglies are on deck.
posted by kbar1 at 10:55 PM on December 15, 2010

You'll love anything written by Robin McKinley.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:24 AM on December 16, 2010

Elsewhere by Garbrielle Zevin

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
posted by parakeetdog at 8:13 PM on December 16, 2010

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