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Bridging The Gap VA Family

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Santiago Robinson
Santiago Robinson


Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sf or sci-fi) is a genre of speculative fiction, which typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction can trace its roots to ancient mythology.[1] It is related to fantasy, horror, and superhero fiction and contains many subgenres. Its exact definition has long been disputed among authors, critics, scholars, and readers.


Forrest J Ackerman has been credited with first using the term "sci-fi" (analogous to the then-trendy "hi-fi") in about 1954;[12] the first known use in print was a description of Donovan's Brain by movie critic Jesse Zunser in January 1954.[13] As science fiction entered popular culture, writers and fans active in the field came to associate the term with low-budget, low-tech "B-movies" and with low-quality pulp science fiction.[14][15][16] By the 1970s, critics within the field, such as Damon Knight and Terry Carr, were using "sci fi" to distinguish hack-work from serious science fiction.[17] Peter Nicholls writes that "SF" (or "sf") is "the preferred abbreviation within the community of sf writers and readers."[18] Robert Heinlein found even "science fiction" insufficient for certain types of works in this genre, and suggested the term speculative fiction to be used instead for those that are more "serious" or "thoughtful."[19]

Science fiction has been a popular genre since the 19th century, captivating readers with visions of the future and exploring the boundaries of what is possible. With so many incredible science fiction books to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are ten classic science fiction books every sci-fi fan should read.

Science fiction has the power to transport readers to new worlds and explore complex themes in ways that other genres cannot. The ten classic science fiction books highlighted in this article are must-reads for any sci-fi fan, offering insights into human nature, the limits of technology, and the possibilities of the future.

For all these reasons, hibernation, also known as torpor, has long been a staple of sci-fi space movies. From "Alien" to "2001: A Space Odyssey," fictional space travelers have crossed vast distances cocooned unconscious inside high-tech pods while AI machines and android robots keep their spacecraft on a steady course.

Despite being a sci-fi trope, putting humans into long-term induced torpor may not be a far-fetched idea after all. Jennifer Ngo-Anh, a research and payload coordinator of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA and a co-author of a recent paper (opens in new tab) outlining the space agency's approach to hibernation research, told that depending on funding availability, the first human torpor trials could take place as early as the mid-2030s.

Thanks to time marching on ceaselessly, movies that belong to the science-fiction genre ultimately don't remain "futuristic" forever. A good number of sci-fi stories do indeed take place in what once seemed like the distant future, where writers of the past imagined what an eventual present for humanity would look like. Sometimes, science-fiction writers make solid or even somewhat prophetic predictions, but at other times, they're not quite on the money.

Regardless of whether they're right or wrong, the fact remains that time's the only thing that'll show how close or how far off such sci-fi writers were. There are now plenty of sci-fi movies that look to the future upon release, but now that numerous years have passed, those stories are now set in the past for modern-day viewers. These stories were considered futuristic at one time but now seem far-fetched.

Back in 1982, 2019 seemed far away enough to be the distant future but close enough to ensure a good number of Blade Runner's viewers (at least those who didn't ignore it) would still be alive to witness the year come around. It ensures the film's one with things that are both alien and familiar, with the unique look and feel of Blade Runner's world being a huge reason it's a sci-fi classic.

It never seemed like the kind of sci-fi movie that was trying to be perfectly accurate, though. Instead, it explores some interesting ideas surrounding things like law and order and the military's complicated relationship with technology. On the other hand, it did predict that the 2020 Olympics would be held in Tokyo, and uncannily, also depicted people wanting the event to be canceled or postponed, which ended up happening in early 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the event taking place in 2021 instead.

Ultimately, it doesn't end up feeling like a disaster movie, as it's more interested in exploring the main character's thoughts, feelings, and relationships with technology. It's a powerful and hard-to-forget sci-fi film, but it's also quite the time commitment, given that the (superior) director's cut runs for almost five hours.

More broadly speaking, it's a movie showing how the sport controls the world's population and what happens when one famed player decides to fight back against the corporations who control the sport and, thereby, the world. Like many sci-fi stories, it didn't exactly come true, but there are elements of the world it depicts that still resonate today.

Germany's answer to Stranger Things deliberately takes its time before stepping into completely compelling and original places. A sci-fi noir, Dark folds time travel, conspiracies and estranged families into a generation-spanning story kicked off by a child's disappearance. If those kinds of meticulously crafted layers are what you're after in your storytelling, settle in. All three seasons of Dark's meditative look at time travel and its effect on human nature are waiting to hit you at full force.

Full disclosure: Netflix sadly canceled Travelers after its third season, but this tightly plotted sci-fi out of Canada does manage to end with an ambitious bang. We start with Marcy, a disabled woman who's beaten up after helping a friend escape thugs. She dies -- then comes back to life. This strong character-driven sci-fi reveals its secrets in clever ways, following operatives from the future tasked with preventing the collapse of society but also navigating the tricky territory of living a double life.

This apocalyptic sci-fi from Belgium will probably turn you off from flying any time soon. Set on a plane, Into the Night sees a red-eye hijacked by a soldier who, along with the rest of the passengers, ends up surviving a deadly global event down on the ground. Can they keep the plane going long enough to take them to safety? That premise alone should be enough to entice you to catch this excellent, tense thriller.

From the creators of The Matrix comes another story that plays with reality. Sense8 follows eight strangers from across the world who discover they're mentally and emotionally linked. Not only do these windows into vastly different lives teach tolerance, but the "sensates" can also tap each other's skills when facing a sinister organization hunting them down. If you jibe with Sense8's diverse characters, you'll fall head over heels for this earnest and sensual sci-fi drama.

Yeah, Gong Yoo from Squid Game's in this. What else do you need to know? This South Korean sci-fi mystery follows a crew of astronauts on a mission to an abandoned research facility on the moon. Their target: a sample of an unknown substance for unclear purposes. Betrayal, government lies and personal secrets send this addictive space journey into a tailspin.

Unfortunately this sci-fi series isn't seeing a second season -- another Netflix casualty that was killed off far too soon. Two timelines, cults and a mystery are wrapped into Archive 81's tantalizing package. The multiple genre-straddling show stars Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an archivist who takes a gig restoring a collection of damaged videotapes from the '90s. He gets far more than he bargained for, drawn into an investigation of a mysterious cult and a young woman who may or may not be dead. A supernatural thriller with horror, noir and sci-fi seeped into its creepy atmosphere, Archive 81 has it all.

Netflix cancellations don't get more criminal than the axing of The OA. This wildly unique story follows Prairie Johnson, a young blind woman who returns after being missing for years, now with the ability to see. She claims to be the "original angel" and convinces a small group of locals to listen to her impossible story, involving abductions and great escapes. The OA is the kind of grounded sci-fi that catches you and its heroes completely off guard when it introduces its fantastic concepts. Watch the first two impeccable seasons on Netflix and cross your fingers the third is picked up elsewhere.

Humans (2015) 94% #20 Synopsis: This sci-fi drama series written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley is based on the Swedish award-winning drama "Real Humans."... [More] Starring: William Hurt, Will Tudor, Katherine Parkinson, Tom Goodman-Hill Directed By: Sam Donovan, Lars Lundström, Henrik Widman Quantum Leap (1989) -- #19 Synopsis: Former scientist Sam Beckett finds himself trapped in time due to an experiment gone awry, leaping into the body of... [More] Starring: Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Wolfberg, W. K. Stratton Directed By: Michael Zinberg, Donald P. Bellisario Babylon 5 (1994) -- #18 Synopsis: Creator J. Michael Straczynski's ambitious and complex futuristic space opera charts five years in the lives of those aboard the... [More] Starring: Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan Directed By: Douglas Netter, J. Michael Straczynski Futurama (1999) -- #17 Synopsis: Accidentally frozen, pizza-deliverer Fry wakes up 1,000 years in the future. He is taken in by his sole descendant, an... [More] Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille Directed By: Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Ken Keeler Counterpart (2017) 100% #16 Synopsis: What might be different if a person could co-exist in an alternate world? Howard Silk, a low-level agent whose career... [More] Starring: J.K. Simmons, Olivia Williams, Harry Lloyd, Ulrich Thomsen Directed By: Justin Marks, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Morten Tyldum The Outer Limits (1963) 92% #15 Synopsis: "There is nothing wrong with your television set." That famous line opens each episode of the classic science fiction anthology... [More] Starring: Vic Perrin, Bob Johnson Directed By: Gerd Oswald, Leslie Stevens Orphan Black (2013) 93% #14 Synopsis: Sarah is a street-wise woman with a troubled past as an English orphan who bounced around foster homes before being... [More] Starring: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy Directed By: David Fortier, Ivan Schneeberg The Twilight Zone (1959) 84% #13 Synopsis: "The Twilight Zone" was the brainchild of Emmy Award-winner Rod Serling, who served as host and wrote over 80 episodes... [More] Starring: Rod Serling Firefly (2002) 77% #12 Synopsis: Set 500 years in the future after a universal civil war, the crew of a small transport spaceship takes any... [More] Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher Directed By: Joss Whedon Fringe (2008) 90% #11 Synopsis: FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham is assigned to the bureau's Fringe Division, in which she investigates unusual crimes and occurrences.... [More] Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick Directed By: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner The Expanse (2015) 95% #10 Synopsis: Hundreds of years in the future, things are different than what humanity is used to after humans have colonized the... [More] Starring: Steven Strait, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Shohreh Aghdashloo Directed By: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Naren Shankar, Andrew Kosove Black Mirror (2011) 84% #9 Synopsis: Featuring stand-alone dramas -- sharp, suspenseful, satirical tales that explore techno-paranoia -- "Black Mirror" is a contemporary reworking of "The... [More] Starring: Directed By: Annabel Jones, Charlie Brooker Stranger Things (2016) 92% #8 Synopsis: Mysteries unravel in a small Midwestern town in the 1980s, involving supernatural forces, secret experiments and one strange girl.... [More] Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard Directed By: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen Westworld (2016) 80% #7 Synopsis: Westworld isn't your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park -- which is looked after by robotic... [More] Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright Directed By: Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, J.J. Abrams, Athena Wickham Lost (2004) 85% #6 Synopsis: The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were 1,000 miles off course when they crashed on a lush, mysterious island. Each... [More] Starring: Naveen Andrews, Nestor Carbonell, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Emerson Directed By: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk Star Trek (1966) 80% #5 Synopsis: The iconic series "Star Trek" follows the crew of the starship USS Enterprise as it completes its missions in space... [More] Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan Directed By: Gene Roddenberry Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) 92% #4 Synopsis: Featuring a bigger and better USS Enterprise, this series is set 78 years after the original series -- in the... [More] Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn Directed By: Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor The X-Files (1993) 74% #3 Synopsis: In one of the longest-running science fiction series in network TV history, FBI special agents investigate unexplained, mind-bending cases known... [More] Starring: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick Directed By: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan Doctor Who (2005) 90% #2 Synopsis: An eccentric yet compassionate extraterrestrial Time Lord zips through time and space to solve problems and battle injustice across the... [More] Starring: Ncuti Gatwa, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop Directed By: Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Sam Hoyle Battlestar Galactica (2005) 95% #1 Synopsis: This update of the late-1970s series takes a decidedly darker tone as what's left of humankind struggles for survival against... [More] Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber 041b061a72


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