1. 'Ready Player One' By Ernest Cline
Set in a dystopian future where we have given up on saving the world, an all-immersive virtual reality world is humanity's new obsession. The soon to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg has earned every bit of its praise. A scavenger hunt opens to everyone in the world made by the creator of the new virtual one (The Oasis) for control of his creation. The main character Wade is, poor like the rest of the planet but inside the Oasis is a king, or quickly becomes one as the race to the final prize begins.
The cliff notes, it’s The Matrix meets Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory meets The Goonies, Indiana Jones and so many more. It even tips its hat to two of the other books on this list. Ready Player One has been called a “holy gain of pop culture” and they aren’t lying. The future's not so bright but in a future world obsessed with the '80s you should still wear your shades. It's a book so good you’ll be rereading for years to come.
Fun fact: the original hardcover contained clues that lead to the author's personal scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, the hunt is over but one obsessed reader landed a fully restored DeLorean in his driveway, fingers crossed for a sequel, which is confirmed to be happening in the future.
2. 'Ender's Game' By Orson Scott Card
I wasn’t lucky enough to read this in school. I had to find it all on my own and live in agony while no one else understood my obsession. Spawning at least twelve books at my last count, we’ll focus on numero uno. I have to say though Ender's Game may be the O.G but its sequel Speaker for The Dead is the series real gem, a spiritual experience for any Sci-Fi fan.
If science fiction was a child, Orson Scott Card would be the father of that child and earned that spot with this book.
Also, do yourself a favor and read the book before attempting to watch that so-called "movie" that was "adapted" from this novel. The book that got me into reading as a child became the movie that made me abandon movies as an adult.
In a future where aliens have attacked and nearly wiped humans out, Earth's best and brightest children are sent to space to train for the inevitable third war. Ender is the best of the best but only because of his empathy, his understanding of his enemy. Also because of his lack of empathy and using what he understands to crush them. As an outsider, Ender Wiggins' isolation and determination to win and rub their faces in it was a perfect match for me. Any child old enough to read this book will find a way to love the underlined theme that children are far more capable than adults give them credit for. I’ve read this series maybe 20 times since the first when I was eleven, and I’ve never forgotten the dedication.
“For Gregory, who reminds me how old children can be.”
3. 'Satan Burger' by Carlton Mellick III
This novel may not be as successful or influential as the others on this list. However, it launched an entire genre all its own known as “Bizarro Books.” As far as the bizarro community goes, this is the King James Bible. Based in a distant dystopia where everyone has lost their zest for life and interdimensional beings walk the earth, a wormhole that runs on souls is sucking the life out of... all life. Heaven is closed and a flamboyantly homosexual Satan has opened a burger joint that will only cost you your soul. Imaginative and original, but with an edge that screams punk rock, landed it a spot on this list.
4. 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?' ('Blade Runner') by Philip K. Dick
The film based on this novel has just received a sequel 35 years later. Somehow, it is just as relevant and creative as the novel was way back in 1968. The original film version is a crown jewel in any Sci-Fi collection and pushed the envelope, as did the novel it was created from. This Lovecraft-inspired novel revolves around a classic Intro to Philosophy question. When everything appears real, how can you know any of it is? Now apply that to hunting down androids who believe they're human and you’ve got an instant classic with guaranteed reread potential.
5. 'Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits' by David Wong
Based in, a NON-dystopian future (I know, it's crazy) the main character Zoey Ashe is plucked out of her trailer park and dropped into the futuristic city of Tabula Ra$a. Well, more like chased to a city without laws and a bounty on her head. The real prize of this book is easy-to-love characters, pitch-perfect storytelling, and future tech that is original but also surprisingly possible. In a world where superpowers are bought on the black market, a sociopathic frat boy and his army of shirtless brothers aim to kill Zoey and rule the city. Having just inherited unlimited wealth, Zoey and her father's team of problem solvers aim to save the day, since the alternative is being slaughtered live via internet broadcast while the whole world watches it all unfold. The same way Ender's Game called iPads back in the 1980s, this book is bound to be right about something. It has classic potential and thankfully has a sequel in the works, along with a television deal in production. David Wong is rolling a perfect game so far with this one and the John Dies At The End trilogy.
Did I miss a novel you felt should be included?
Let me know what you think I should include.