As rapidly advancing technological innovations seem to turn science fiction into science fact, the sci-fi genre is experiencing a bit of a renaissance in recent years. Sci-fi fans are revisiting science fiction classics written by the likes of Philip K. Dick, as well as discovering new mind-bending sci-fi books, TV shows, and movies.
The science fiction genre is becoming even more imaginative and multifaceted, with different subgenres contributing various visions of our technological and biological future. Moreover, with some of the more dystopian science fiction visions of the past seeming to hit close to home when it comes to current world events, many sci-fi fans are looking to modern science fiction for clues as to what comes next.
Let’s explore some of the trippiest science fiction books and movies of the past and present that sci-fi fans should be sure to check out.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
This classic sci-fi masterpiece was an iconic representation of Philip K. Dick’s postmodern dystopian view of a possible future in which society uses up the natural resources of the planet and exists in a shell of consumerism. The setting of the book has been later described as post-apocalyptic due to the author’s reference to a nuclear war that wiped out most species on the planet. More importantly, the book explores fascinating philosophical themes that have become classic features of much of science fiction.
Dick explores what makes us human, and what differentiates us from machines. He explores the nature of consciousness and the idea of sentient artificial intelligence. The book follows the story of a government-commissioned bounty hunter that is tasked with terminating defunct androids.
However, things get complicated when the bounty hunter Rick Deckard begins to question what separates himself from these seemingly sentient machines. The reader can take a journey with Deckard to analyze some of the most fundamental questions of human nature such as what it is that gives our sense of consciousness significance.
The book later became adapted for the big screen in a movie called Blade Runner, which has since become a sci-fi classic in its own right. A Blade Runner sequel was later released and has received much critical acclaim.
The classic sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert has developed incredible enthusiasm from science fiction fans, which led Herbert to produce several sequels and prequels that took place within the Dune Universe. Some of the books included in the Dune world were Children of Dune, Dune Messiah, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune. What began as a cult classic sci-fi novel resulted in an entire franchise that has entertained generations of readers.
Dune follows the journey of Paul Attraides, the heir to one of the most powerful noble families in the galaxy. The events of the book unfold in a world where the fate of humankind is governed by a handful of royal families that reign over different planets and compete amongst themselves for increased power and influence.
As an heir of one such family, young Paul Atreides comes under control of the planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune. It’s a barren wasteland of a planet, but nonetheless it possesses the most important natural resource of the time – a mysterious substance known as Dust. Aside from Dust being used to power spaceships, it also gives those near it psychedelic visions and extrasensory perception.
That makes Dune an easy pick for one of the trippiest sci-fi books of all time. Dune fans will be excited to know that a new movie adaptation of the novel is coming soon. The Washington Post provides more details.
Interstellar is a critically acclaimed and undeniably trippy science fiction movie starring Matthew Mcconaughey that deals with some fascinating philosophical themes. Interstellar tackles some of the most cerebral theories in science including the ideas of parallel timelines, multiple universes, paradoxes, and the extinction of the human race.
However, the movie does so by threading these heady ideas into a story with a strong emotional backbone that follows the relationship between a father and daughter, each trying to contend with the extinction of mankind.
However, as Interstellar progresses, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. It’s a fascinating movie that science lovers and sci-fi fans will love. It’s even garnered praise from esteemed Astrophysicists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson for its accurate depiction of scientific theories.
That comes as no surprise since the film’s director had a team of scientists that he consulted with when creating the movie.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s classic science fiction movie is one of the most celebrated films in the genre. The film follows a space exploration of an alien monolith that is believed to have affected the course of human evolution. Astronauts and researchers aboard the spaceship use an AI application on board the shuttle known as HAL to control the ship’s function.
The film tackles some of the oldest hallmarks of the sci-fi genre including existentialism, extraterrestrial life, technology, artificial intelligence, and human evolution. The movie received a great deal of praise from researchers for depicting space travel in a way that was scientifically accurate.
A novel was also written after the film’s premier which dealt with many of the same issues, but the original basis for much of Kubrick’s masterpiece was the work of Arthur C. Clarke. Specifically, Clarke’s short story The Sentinel provided much of the inspiration for the film.
The movie will have viewers questioning who and what they can trust and it mesmerized audiences with its groundbreaking depictions of space. It’s a sci-fi juggernaut, and it’s undoubtedly trippy. The film was even featured on this Cool Things Chicago list of the best science fiction of all time.
The classic young adult science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card was so sophisticated and mature that it found an audience with young and old readers alike. The novel follows the story of Ender Wiggin, a child prodigy that is recruited by a global military force to lead humanity’s troops to fend off an impending alien invasion.
Ender is sent to an unforgiving military training camp in which he has to navigate the political battles with other students and rise through the ranks of up-and-coming military commanders, all without losing his moral compass. In fact, the novel deals with the subject of morality extensively as Ender tries to find ethical solutions to issues he faces.
The book developed such a dedicated readership that it eventually morphed into a franchise, with Card writing several prequels and sequels to the novel. Card even produced a shadow series of the Ender’s Game franchise that looked at some of the same plot points of the books through the eyes of a different character.