Back in 1974, Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorofsky began the ambitious project of translating sci-fi 1965 novel Dune to the big screen. Although Jodorofsky’s adaptation of the extraterrestrial story eventually fell apart because no Hollywood studio would finance the avant-garde, pricey film, the 1965 novel by American author Frank Herbert later inspired a book saga, a 1984 film, a three-part mini series in 2000, and even a comic book series.
The captivating story told in Dune takes readers on a journey to the desert planet of Arrakis, where the universe’s most valued spice is central to an epic saga about love, betrayal, power and salvation. One of the world’s best-selling sci-fi books, Dune has earned prestigious literary distinctions (both the Hugo and Nebula awards) and consistently tops lists as one of the best science fiction books of all time. To celebrate Jodorofsky’s Dune – the subject of a new documentary to be released Mar. 21 – here’s a list of classic, out-of-this-world, sci-fi reads.
Stranger in a Strange Land
By Robert Heinlen (1961)
As a child, did you ever wish you had been born somewhere else? Imagine if you had – and imagine if that place was called Mars. This American novel follows one Valentine Michael Smith who returns to Earth after being born and raised on Mars. Listed as one of the U.S. Library of Congress’s picks on “88 Books that Shaped America,” this story delves into the exploration of a not-so-ordinary man whose extraterrestrial powers give him a unique perspective on politics, religion, society, war, love, education and their societal impact on the human race.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams (1979)
Just as the title suggests, this timeless story by British author Douglas Adams follows a pair of friends on an epic journey in space – and through emotion. Computers, travel, friendship, and plenty of probing philosophical ideas are all brought together this novel that eventually inspired a small empire of adaptations including a subsequent series, computer game, 1981 television series, film, radio program, and staged play.
By Orson Scott Card (1985)
Young Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is plucked to join the ranks of gifted youth at a military school whose curriculum is designed to create an army who can defeat alien invaders for once and for all. Once there, Ender struggles to reconcile his genius with his character; his emotional tendencies with his physical being. Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, Ender’s Game – much like Dune – has inspired a recent film adaptation, games, and millions of fans the world over for its tale about a youth who holds the future of mankind within his grasp.
By Ray Bradbury (1986)
Required reading in schools across the country, Farenheit 451 has consistently made best-seller lists for its poetic narrative about a futuristic American society where books are burned by firemen under direct orders by a watchdog government. However, everything changes when a fireman named Guy Montag begins to understand the value of the written word and starts an underground movement in hopes of rebuilding society.
By William Gibson (1986)
This edgy read centers around a talented, albeit drug addicted, computer hacker who is hired by a mysterious employer to pull off dangerous, life-defining assignment. Full of futuristic tech references with stylish, nearly poetic nuances, this novel is credited with launching the genre of cyberpunk literature that now includes pop-culture favorites like the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.