Black Mirror’s latest attempt to induce in us some good ol’ techno-paranoia comes in the form of the interactive choose-your-own-adventure film, Bandersnatch. It is the latest installment from series creator Charlie Brooker about a young programmer trying to make it in the video game business in the ‘80s.
We won’t tell you anything beyond that so you can have your own unique little experience of the worldwide hit. But if you fancy taking a break from the screen (as you should), you can indulge in these science fiction page-turners that are every bit as exciting as Bandersnatch.
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting
This 2017 novel explores the intersecting paths of technology and, of course, love. Hazel is basically a poor nobody, married to the toxic and controlling CEO of Gogol (nice try) Industries, a technology juggernaut intent on running every single aspect of everyone’s lives. He's implanted a chip in Hazel’s brain to let him download everything she sees. It's both a wacky thriller and a clever reflection of relationships and techno-surveillance in the digital age.
WARNING: Dolphin attacks and sex dolls are involved, so proceed with caution.
Pastoralia by George Saunders
Even before the conception of Facebook likes and Tinder swipes, Pastoralia already had "Sea Oak," one of the short stories in the collection, where a man who works at a gender-flipped Hooters needs to get “Cute Ratings” from his customers to keep his job. All stories in this collection are certified page-turners that skewer our modern corporate-controlled world with both timeless humor and heart.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Welcome to an America where the government is crippled by debt (give it a little more time), and only High Net Worth Individuals can afford health care. While white "murricans" rant about immigrants, the public is driven mad by extreme right-wing news channels like FoxLiberty-Ultra. Trust us, we’re not making this stuff up, but Shteyngart may have traveled to 2017 to write this 2010 novel. Aside from being eerily prescient, it's hilarious and is the perfect lens to look at America's distressing present and possible future.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
You may have seen the 2009 film adaptation of this 2003 novel about Clare Abshire and her marriage to Henry DeTamble, a man with a rare genetic disorder that forces him to travel through time randomly. This unconventional and memorable love story tackles the enduring power of love that transcends time and space.
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
Mark our words. Sometime in the near future, this 2014 novella prediction about our addiction to technology will come to fruition. In this future, insomnia has become a plague and technology (again) helps to keep it at bay by creating “sleep donations” where ZZZs can be transferred from those who can nap to those who desperately need to. Contemplation on the morality of fictional technology? Check!
How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
Charles Yu's debut novel is a hilarious and witty homage to science fiction tropes with a touching story at its very core. Charles Yu is the main character here, as a time machine repairman who travels through space and time to save people who are so stupid not to realize the obvious repercussions of going back in time and changing the past. When he’s not fixing time machines and other people’s mistakes, he’s jumping through the vast multiverse trying to find his lost dad.
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
A young girl wakes up in a cave, confused, alone, and injured. But she’s not actually a girl. Shori is, wait for it, a 53-year-old vampire, or an Ina, as Octavia Butler calls them. Shori finds herself in the body of a young girl and must scramble to survive and discover her past while fleeing flame-wielding assailants. Like Black Mirror, Butler essentially uses science fiction as metaphors for social commentary, telling a great tale while doing so.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go may very well be 2017 Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s crowning achievement. One of the most moving science fiction novels of recent decades, Never Let Me Go explores the memories of a “carer,” Kathy, as she reminisces past friendships at a mysterious boarding school in the British countryside. You better have your eyes peeled for every clue of the terrible conceit looming in the story. In this one, the devil is indeed in the details.