Science Fiction Thriller 2012
My latest space opera novel, The Returning, follow up to last year’s The Worker Prince, wound up being modeled after thrillers like Robert Ludlam’s Bourne novels and got me thinking a lot about great science fiction and fantasy thrillers. Obviously science lends itself well to the thriller genre, and the thriller genre is one of the easiest and most fun to cross-mix with other genres. So based in part on Amazon listings and recommendations from friends and fellow writers, here’s list of 15 such thrillers SFSignal readers might enjoy.
One can’t talk about Science Fiction and Fantasy thrillers without first mentioning two very important classics which are precursors. Both were published at the end of the 19th Century and remain popular even today.
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker was chosen by International Thriller Writers as one of the Top 100 Thrillers of all time and it predates the genre divisions so common today. Generally considered horror, it’s definitely a thriller. But it’s also fantasy and far more gripping and horrifying than one might remember or expect due to its fame.
2. War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells suffers from overexposure and numerous imitations just like Dracula, but it was published only a year later, in 1898, and literally scared the hell out of people. Orson Welles did a radio broadcast of it on Halloween in 1938 that had people running for cover, calling for help and frightened, panicked and outraged. Wells’ influence on our genres cannot be overstated and he continues to be mentioned as influence by popular writers today. He certainly influenced me.
3. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson is another early novel, published in 1886. By Robert Louis Stephenson, this has become a classic thriller, still read and cited as an influence today. Violent and deformed, Hyde is a prototype early monster imprinted on many modern characters including Marvel’s The Hulk. Stephenson’s contributions to fantasy include the arguably more famous Treasure Island, published three years prior.
4. Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, published in 1969, was visionary and paradigm shifting, as Crichton pretty much created the modern science thriller and established himself as the master of the genre. He followed it with thrillers like Jurassic Park, Sphere, The Terminal Man and Prey.
5. Coma by Robin Cook is a seat-of-your-pants-can’t-put-it-down classic, still in print 35 years later. Published in 1977, the medical thriller is set in a university teaching hospital and portrays medical school life accurately, based on the author’s own experiences at Harvard Medical School. A third year student, Susan Wheeler, discovers a string of comatose patients with similar symptoms and begins to investigate. With lots of action and big reveals, the book’s central theme is as topical today as it was when it was published.
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The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction short story collection by Ray Bradbury that chronicles the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing from a troubled and eventually atomically devastated Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists. The book lies somewhere between a short story collection and an episodic novel, containing stories Bradbury originally published in the late 1940s in science fiction magazines. For publication, the stories were loosely woven together with a series of short, interstitial vignettes.
It's still a sci-fi classic containing themes that have not yet been explored in films, and that opens up an enormous opportunity for a creative filmmaker.
Book (Paragon Press)