Assorted Misfits
If you don't fit in, you are probably doing the right thing
- Lights Poxlietner


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Last and First Men
by Olaf Stapledon (1930)


The protagonist of this compelling novel by British philosopher and writer Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) is humanity itself, stripped down to sheer intelligence. The two billion year history of the 18 races of humanity is told by one of the Last (18th) Men. The First Men (us) hit high points while Socrates and Jesus were around. Subsequent races terraform Venus and develop genetic engineering.





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Star Maker
by Olaf Stapledon (1937)


A mind-boggling history of life in the universe, dwarfing in scale Stapledon's previous book, Last and First Men (1930). Stapledon tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. A pervading theme is the socialist ideal of progressive unity within and between different civilisations.





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A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess (1962)


Jailed for delinquent excesses, an ultra-violent youth is subjected to an experimental form of aversion therapy. Complications arise when his sense of humanity and love of classical music are destroyed. His confessions are told in a Russified near-future teenage jargon. U.S. editions prior to 1986 omitted the controversial last chapter, absent also in the Stanley Kubrick 1971 feature film.





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Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes (1966)


Moving story - told through diary entries - of a subnormal floor sweeper named Charly who has his intelligence raised by artificial means. When the lab mouse used to test the process (Algernon) dies, it is found that Charly's high-IQ will deteriorate at a rate "directly proportional to the quantity of the increase". The book raises some serious questions about science and humanity.





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Dying Inside
by Robert Silverberg (1972)


David Selig was born with an awesome power... the ability to look deep into the human heart, to probe the darkest truths hidden in the secret recesses of the soul. With reckless abandon, he used his talent in the pursuit of pleasure. Then, one day, his power began to die. The book is a harrowing portrait of squandering a remarkable gift and learning what it is to be human.





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The Female Man
by Joanna Russ (1975)


Four versions of the same woman exist simultaneously in radically different realities... a utopia, a near-future dominated by gender conflict, an alternative timeline and the contemporary 70s. When these four women meet, the results are startling, outrageous and subversive. As a result, feminism makes furiously funny and substantial inroads into our hearts and minds.





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Dragon's Egg
by Robert L. Forward (1980)


In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent lifeforms - the cheela - living on Dragon's Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time, men are their diligent teachers. Landmark sci-fi.





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The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi (2009)


Anderson Lake is a 'Calorie Man' working undercover for AgriGen, leaving no stone unturned searching Bangkok's street markets for foodstuffs that may already be extinct. There he meets Emiko, one of the bioengineered New People who has been abandoned. Calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineering runs rampant across the globe.





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An Unkindness of Ghosts
by Rivers Solomon (2017)


Aster lives in the low-deck slums of a space vessel organised much like the antebellum South. For generations, the ship has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.





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Semiosis
by Sue Burke (2018)


Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape... trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Superb debut novel by a rising sci-fi author.


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