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TOP 5 Sci-fi novels for Deep Thinkers, chosen by Jaroslav Kalfar

The Czech / American author of Spaceman of Bohemia picks his favourite thought-provoking sci-fi books

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem) – A timeless classic wherein Lem combines the language of science and philosophy with a constant sense of dread and psychological terror. This novel about humans exploring a planet covered in an ocean with possible neural capabilities is unlike any other literary experience out there.

Left Hand of Darkness(Ursula Le Guin) – One of Le Guin’s many masterpieces. Along with an intricate plot of intergalactic politics, she explores the culture of Gethen, a planet of “ambisexual” society with no fixed gender identities. The book is at once a gripping science fiction epic and a brilliant exploration of themes even more relevant today.

War with the Newts(Karel Čapek)– Humanity discovers a breed of extraordinarily intelligent salamander and begins to use them as slave labor. But as the newts evolve, they soon wage war with their overlords. A study of the dangers of the political movements rising during Čapek’s lifetime, the book is in turns satirical, unsettling, and endlessly entertaining.

Bloodchild (Octavia Butler)– In Octavia Butler’s brilliant short story, a colony of humans who’d escaped Earth lives under the protection of an alien race named Tlic. However, to pay the rent, the humans must carry Tlic eggs. As the protagonist, a name boy Gan, faces impregnation, he questions the true nature of the relationship between the aliens and colonists.

Omon Ra(Victor Pelevin)– A boy named Omon dreams of the skies while growing up in Soviet Russia. Eventually, he is trained as an astronaut and sent on a one-way mission to the moon in a pedal-powered spacecraft. This hilarious and nightmarish novel takes on the ridiculous, inhumane systems of the Soviet regime, all whilst Omon’s warm humanity shines through. A mind-bending ending is included.

Jaroslav Kalfar’s Spaceman of Bohemia is out now, Sceptre, £12.99

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