10 Classics to Try if You Like SFF

Welcome to my latest new blog post series! I’m not sure yet how many posts are going to be in this series, but I’m hoping to make it a monthly thing, probably for the rest of this year. Each month, I’m going to pick a different genre, focusing on popular bookstagram/booktube genres, and recommend 10 classics that you will probably enjoy if you’re a fan of that genre! If I’ve read and reviewed them, I’ll leave a link to my review so you can find out more, but some might be TBR books. Today, I’m focusing on science fiction and fantasy, and suggesting some classics (including modern classics!) that you might enjoy if you’re a fan of this genre.

  1. The Time Machine – HG Wells
    If you’re a science fiction fan, then this is definitely a great classic to pick. Wells has an accessible writing style, so it’s a great introduction to classic literature if you haven’t read a lot before. I have posted a review of this one pretty recently, so here’s the link!
  2. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
    OK, so I’m sure everyone’s heard of this, but it is a great read for SFF fans. It’s written as a framed narrative, mostly told by Victor Frankenstein, but there’s also some sections of the book told from the perspective of the creature himself. It’s not quite as accessible as The Time Machine stylistically, but it has a great narrative, and it’s certainly not out of the realm of accessibility, so I would really encourage you to give this one a go: it’s one of my favourites on this list!
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
    A more modern classic, Clarke’s 2001 series makes for a fab science fiction read. It’s a proper space adventure, complete with evil AI. If you’re a fan of Douglas Adams, then I’d probably recommend this one, but it definitely isn’t quite as… strange as Adams!
  4. Shame – Salman Rushdie
    This is a book that I read for my University course! Again, it’s a modern classic, and it’s more in the realm of magical realism than true SFF, but I still think it’s a good pick for SFF fans. This is definitely a strange book, and there are a lot of twists and turns. This one is a bit more intense than some of the others in terms of themes, and it definitely brings a lot more of a political slant in, so if that’s something you’re interested in then this is the perfect blend of real life politics (the context for this book is so interesting), and magical realism.
  5. Dracula – Bram Stoker
    Another one that everyone has definitely heard of! With this one, the writing perhaps isn’t the most accessible, but given that almost everyone knows the storyline, it’s still one that you can follow. I read it as a buddy read last year, but didn’t ever write a proper review for it. It’s a bit slow paced to start off with, but there is definitely a fair bit of action throughout the book.
  6. Carmilla – Sheridan le Fanu
    This is the one book from this post on my TBR, so I can’t speak for the accessibility, but what I do know is that it’s a Victorian vampire novella that predates and influenced Dracula, so to me it’s worth a read. It’s also been adapted into a queer YouTube series, so that’s worth checking out as well!
  7. The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkein
    One for the fantasy fans, The Hobbit is definitely a well-known classic, but possibly not as widely read as Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit was written to target a younger audience than Lord of the Rings, so as well as being shorter, the writing style is quite accessible, and it’s a really fun, action-packed read.
  8. The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin
    This is a book I read and reviewed recently again! It’s a nice short read, and it’s super easy to get into. Having read this, I definitely want to pick up more books by Le Guin, who has a really extensive back catalogue. It’s a science fiction story that also has a political slant: it’s anti-colonial, and also touches upon issues around deforestation.
  9. Flowers for Algernon – David Keyes
    My uni friend bought me this as his favourite book ever, so I was super excited to read it. I read and reviewed it on my blog last year, and I really like it. It perhaps falls more under science fiction/speculative fiction as opposed to fantasy, but it’s about the idea of scientists coming up with a way to raise people’s IQ. It does deal with some sensitive topics relating to people with developmental disorders, but I felt as though the book definitely does challenge and critique the morals and ethics around the IQ raising technology.
  10. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
    The “trilogy of five”, Adams’ series is definitely a wacky one. If you’re into science fiction, then you should absolutely give this one a go, but it is known for being bizarre, to say the least. It’s pretty abstract, and has a couple of elements of surrealism in there as well, but I remember really enjoying the randomness and creativity that went into it.

22 thoughts on “10 Classics to Try if You Like SFF

  1. Love the idea! Frankenstein is a must-read not only because it’s well-written but also because there are so many references and allusions in contemporary novels & films which you only get if you’ve read Shelley’s work (which I’ve only discovered recently haha). There’s also a modern re-writing of the story called Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson which is quite cleverly written-just in case you’re interested 🙂

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  2. Interesting… you’re the second person to put Flowers for Algernon in the Sci-Fi category. I don’t think it is. I would call it speculative fiction. But no matter…


    • As I said, I categorise it as speculative fiction/science fiction personally. Sci-fi and fantasy are both subgenres of speculative fiction in a sense, but I do see speculative fiction as something separate to both sci-fi and fantasy myself. I do see FfA as more science fiction, as the focus is on the effects of advanced technology. I do see FfA as more speculative than other texts on this list, however, as the possibility of the technology addressed working in the real world is much higher than, say, the technology used in Frankenstein, which adds a supernatural element to the sci-fi, which isn’t present in FfA.

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      • Ah… okay. So, I see Sci-Fi as something where the science is supposed to be based in technology that doesn’t (or didn’t) exist when it was written. Speculative fiction will include variations on technologies that already exist or variations on types of situations that have happened in real life. Drugs that help with concentration which improve the ability to learn have been around for many decades (since the 1930s) and this was written in 1959 – not long after Ritalin was released. So… that’s why I call it speculative fiction.

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      • Well if that’s how you define spec-fic then FfA would definitely fit it. The official definition of speculative fiction is just anything that deals with elements outside our reality (so it encompasses fantasy, sci-fi, some horror, dystopia, supernatural/paranormal etc), but I tend to find that too broad to be very useful, hence I tend to use the narrower categories of science fiction, fantasy etc.

        Flowers for Algernon is a bit “sci-fi lite” for me, in that it has elements that fit it in the science fiction genre, as the technology it addresses doesn’t exist in our world (though watered down versions I suppose do, as you say), but it definitely isn’t as advanced/different to our own world as the technology in, say, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

        So I see it as speculative/science fiction because it draws on elements from the science fiction genre, yet doesn’t take the technology aspect as far as other sci-fi works, so the broader category of speculative fiction is also useful for it. Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is another book I feel this way about — the world it features is the same as our own, but the appearance of the mysterious ‘Carls’ places it somewhat in the sci-fi category.

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      • I see… understood. I really wish there was some true, definitive way to define some of these genres. I know that Atwood hates her dystopian-like books to be called that or Sci-Fi. She prefers spec-fic.

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      • Ah see I don’t really like Atwood so I’ve only read Handmaid’s Tale and The Year of the Flood but personally I would call them dystopia, which falls under the spec-fic umbrella! Wonder why she doesn’t like the dystopia label? Interesting one! Maybe she finds dystopia too “genre fiction” whereas “speculative fiction” has more highbrow/literary connotations?


      • She says that dystopia should be used for the type of society that has no basis in things that have actually happened, and ALL of the things she writes about have actually happened – just not in the combination that she puts them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list! Frankenstein is a favourite of mine, but I still need to read Flowers for Algernon and Hitchhiker’s Guide. I haven’t heard of Shame and Carmilla either, so I’ll need to check those out!

    Liked by 1 person

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