The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, recommended by Andrew M. Butler

Every year, the judges for the Arthur C. Clarke Award select the best of the latest batch of new scifi books. In 2022, the science fiction award’s shortlist includes new work from Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, a novel-in-verse from the Scottish writer Harry Josephine Giles, and a new title in Arkady Martine’s beloved Teixcalaan series. Andrew M. Butler, academic and chair of the judges, talks us through the finalists.

The Best Science Fiction of 2021: The Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist, recommended by Tom Hunter

Every year, the director of the Arthur C Clarke Award talks us through their six book shortlist. The 2021 crop of the best science fiction books features a “deliciously pulpy” space opera, a time travel story for young adults, and a cacophonous tale of talking animals. What they all have in common is that they are by debut authors, says Tom Hunter: they represent a new generation of sci fi writing.

The Best Sci Fi Books for Beginners, recommended by Nicholas Whyte

Interested in science fiction, but not sure where to begin? Sceptical of spaceships, but never really given them a chance? We asked Nicholas Whyte, administrator of the World Science Fiction Society’s renowned annual Hugo Awards, to recommend five of the best sci fi books that should appeal to readers new to the genre

The Best Books for an Introduction to Octavia Butler, selected by Nisi Shawl

In 1995, Octavia Butler became the first science fiction and fantasy author to be awarded a Macarthur ‘genius’ grant. Her writing often dealt with the moral complexities of survival, and foregrounded African American characters at a time where Black protagonists were few. Nisi Shawl, a personal friend and editor of Butler’s collected works, selects five of the best books to read for an introduction to Octavia Butler’s writing.

The Best Science Fiction of 2020, recommended by Tom Hunter

Sci fi is booming, says Tom Hunter, the director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction, as he discusses their 2020 shortlist: six novels that embrace classic sci fi narratives, while subverting or reimagining them for a contemporary audience.

The Best of Speculative Fiction, recommended by Ken Liu

Ken Liu, the multi-award winning author of The Paper Menagerie, explains how using elements of fantasy and science fiction can help us examine deep truths about the human condition, as he recommends the best of contemporary speculative fiction.

The Best Apocalyptic Fiction, recommended by Elliot Ackerman

“Imagination is a national security imperative,” according to acclaimed novelist, journalist and decorated US Marine Elliot Ackerman. He’s written a novel with retired Admiral Jim Stavridis, about what would happen if the US went to war with China. Here, he talks us through his favourite books of apocalyptic fiction—and the truths they reveal about war, humanity, and literature.

Science Fiction Classics, recommended by Adam Roberts

The best sci-fi explores humanity’s anxieties and concerns and is in some sense about the future. But it doesn’t try to predict what’s to come. The literature professor and sci-fi writer recommends five classics of the genre.

The Best Ursula Le Guin Books, recommended by Sherryl Vint

Ursula Le Guin’s most groundbreaking books are considered landmark texts in speculative fiction, exploring themes of colonisation, gender, nationalism and environmentalism through allegorical means. Here, the science fiction scholar Sherryl Vint selects five of the best books by Ursula Le Guin and examines her legacy as one of the great American writers.

The Best Time Travel Books, recommended by Annalee Newitz

If you could go back, or forward, in time — would you? Science journalist and sci-fi novelist Annalee Newitz recommends some of the best time travel books and talks us through the dangers and delights of the genre, which take us from the Ordovician period through to the present day.

The Best H G Wells Books, recommended by Roger Luckhurst

Often described as the ‘father of science fiction’, H G Wells was a man of extraordinary charisma and vivid imagination. Yet he suffered terribly from class anxiety and subscribed to political beliefs we now find abhorrent, says the editor and author Roger Luckhurst. He recommends the best books to learn more about the life and work of the British writer H G Wells.

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books, recommended by Christopher Mason

Space travel may be the stuff of science fiction but some of it is getting closer and closer to becoming reality. What’s more, we have a duty to pursue it, says Christopher Mason, Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine and author of The Next 500 Years, a blueprint of how to set about leaving our solar system. Here, he recommends his favourite science fiction about space travel, and an essential philosophy book.

P W Singer and August Cole choose the best books on World War III

What will the next global conflict look like? Two of America’s leading defence experts, P W Singer and August Cole, turned to science fiction to explore the prospect of a future war, and how existing technology might be used in one. Here, they choose five novels depicting a fictional World War Three that served as inspiration.

The Best Cli-Fi Books, recommended by Dan Bloom

Fiction that explores issues of climate change is growing at an unprecedented rate today, says the journalist who coined the phrase ‘cli-fi’, Dan Bloom. Here, he picks the five best books of the field, and introduces us to a globally important, underexplored literary genre

The best books on Zombies, recommended by Greg Garrett

Zombies have returned with a vengeance in recent years, the secret to their undying popularity lying in their ability to embody many different kinds of menace, from social unrest to pandemics, financial insecurity to international terrorism. Greg Garrett, author of Living with the Living Dead, recommends five books to help you prepare for the zombie apocalypse

The Best Climate Change Novels, recommended by James Bradley

The best fiction allows us to hold ideas in our heads about time and space and causality and connection that are difficult to articulate in other ways, argues the Australian author James Bradley. It helps its readers engage with dangers and possibilities that are at the very edge of imagination