Science fiction is a genre that has always explored the idea of possibilities, both negative and positive. Alongside the hopeful creation of new worlds and new technologies is the fear that the problems we face now will still be around 50 or 500 years in the future. It’s an entertaining way to discover different perspectives on current issues, but with a fun twist. Why read a book about prejudice and race dynamics when you can read about prejudice and race dynamics with aliens?
1. Dawn by Octavia Butler
Most people will have heard of the recent case in which a former Stanford swimmer sexually assaulted a young woman and the talk the case has stirred up regarding issues of consent and rape culture. Dawn is a compelling novel on the idea of what consent is and what it means to lose autonomy, when a group of powerful aliens decides that they know better.
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Migrant workers can be seen all over, in Singapore, but also in numerous other countries. All over the world, there are people who react with fear, disdain or exclusion toward foreigners in their countries. With steps being made to change that, such as the Migrant Worker Poetry Competition and the brand new Olympic refugee team, a book dealing with intercultural miscommunication and ideas of cultural superiority is very pertinent.
3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Whether humans are slowly destroying the earth is still being discussed, but it can’t be denied that humans are doing some damaging things. Oryx and Crake considers what might happen if the world we already live in, with genetic manipulation, wonder drugs and dominating multinational corporations, continues down a slippery slope toward societal breakdown.
4. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
This book is not on this list because of the themes the book covers, but because of the controversies regarding Asian representation in the media lately. With the whitewashing of Ghost in the Shell’s Motoko Kusanagi and Doctor Strange’s Ancient One, that problem of white people enjoying Asian culture without wanting its people is making an awkward Hollywood comeback. So, enjoy this fantastic novel penned by a talented Asian author.
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
This book is a shorter, funnier read for those intimidated by the previous novels with their heavy topics. Slaughterhouse-Five is a satirical critical commentary on America and American culture that has unfortunately become more relevant, despite the book being set in World War II. For those of us watching the trainwreck that is American politics, this book makes some funny and very apt statements that can easily be applied to America today.