Political Machinations
Political interests masquerading as a contest of principles
- Ambrose Bierce


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We
by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)


The ever-present eye of The Benefactor knows all, individuality is a thing of the past, and nature has been sent into exile. A new spaceship will allow humankind to impose the benefits of reason on whatever alien races they can find - that is until D-503 rediscovers his soul. Russian writer chillingly predicts the rise of Stalinism and beats Orwell to the punch by a quarter century.





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1984
by George Orwell (1949)


To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform his life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, "I love you". The other is O'Brien, who tells him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness". Winston rebels against the ruling Party and its almost mythical leader Big Brother.





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Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury (1953)


Near-future 'firemen' are charged with the responsibility of burning all books in order to wipe out dangerous and subversive ideas. Wall-to-wall TV satiates the masses, while fireman hero Montag secretly reads books. He finally flees the city and takes refuge with a group of people who memorise books. Hits hard at the threat of book burning in the United States during the McCarthy era.





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Roadside Picnic
by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (1972)


Russia's Strugatsky brothers penned this oblique story of aliens who stop-off on Earth for a picnic and trash the place with technological litter. What remains behind is six 'Zones' scattered around the Earth, that fearful governments and the U.N. have declared off limits. Zone 'Stalkers' face madness in search of artifacts to peddle in the thriving black market in the alien products.





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The Dispossessed
by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)


This book highlights the challenges inherent in building the ideal socialist society. The impoverished anarchists on the almost-barren moon live in a small, but ecologically sound society, whereas rich mother planet Urras is technologically-driven. Shevek must make the journey to the utopian mother planet to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.





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Children of Dune [S3]
by Frank Herbert (1976)


Twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides possess supernormal abilities. This makes them valuable to their manipulative aunt Alia, who rules the Empire in the name of House Atreides. Their father, the Emperor Paul Muad'Dib, disappeared in the desert wastelands of Arrakis nine years ago. The third book in the Dune Chronicles is soap operatic fare dressed up as sci-fi.





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Cyteen
by C.J. Cherryh (1988)


A brilliant young scientist rises to power on Cyteen, haunted by the knowledge that her predecessor and genetic duplicate died at the hands of one of her trusted advisors. Murder, politics, and genetic manipulation provide the framework for this diabolically good Union-Alliance novel. Cherryh's talent for intense, literate storytelling maintains interest throughout.





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Barrayar [S7]
by Lois McMaster Bujold (1991)


The militaristic Vorkosigan family follows codes of honour and bloodthirsty rituals reminiscent of Trek’s Klingons. A legendary military commander marries one of her vanquished enemies, a Vor lord. The Emperor dies and civil war looms on the planet Barrayar, with her son Miles in the thick of things. Extremely popular and full of sublime humour. Close to best in the series.


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