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December 19, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 2:21pm

Top 5 technology novels

Must-reads with a tech twist.

By Ben Sullivan

Just in time for Christmas, CBR has put together five of the best technology-centric sci-fi books you’ll ever read. From far flung planets where robots are prohibited to hacking an MMORPG to escape from Chinese criminals, every one of these books will give you knowledge, enjoyment and wonder at the scale of technology in science fiction. Pick one up for Christmas to give as a great present or get them for yourselves and dive deep – CBR assures you there will be no dissapointment.

The Time Machine – HG Wells, 1895

The Time Machine was the first major work of fiction that popularised the idea of technological time travel, rather than ‘magical’ time travel. Wells was way ahead of his time writing this one, and it’s considered to be the forerunner to a lot of modern sci-fi. It’s important to understand what was going on in the world when Wells penned this; it was a time of great technological change. We’re at the turn of the century where more and more people were moving to the cities to take part in the ongoing industrial and technological advancements following the industrial revolution. This is a must read for anyone wanting to start off in technological or science fiction, and you’ll be ever surprised by Wells’ foresight.




I, Robot – Isaac Asimov, 1950

Did you know that this author was actually the first person to come up with the word ‘robotics’? In this collection of short stories, Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not harm a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws.

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Although the ‘hard’ sci-fi of how his robotic machines worked was a little light, the idea of machines working autonomously but then reacting badly to different situations around them rings very familiar with robotic experts and computer programmers today.


The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson, 1995

Neal Stephenson, surely the king of all technology based sci-fi. In this novel, an impoverished young girl comes into ownership of one of the most technologically advanced devices ever made – an educational primer in the form of a book that can adapt itself to any situation the reader finds herself in. In writing this novel, Stephenson has accurately channelled visions of molecular nanotechnology, where microscopic little machines perform medical and scientific feats all the time.


Dune – Frank Herbert, 1965

Without doubt my favourite ever novel, and many critics’ first choice when it comes to an epic sci-fi, Dune is set over 21,000 years in the future where humanity has settled over many planets in the galaxy. Now, you may think after 21,000 years technology would have gotten pretty advanced, and up to a point it has. However, in the Dune universe, artificial intelligence and computers are prohibited. The lack of any computers is down to a Jihad that happened thousands of years before, where a crusade against computers and AI technologies that left them universally banned. We can only assume perhaps some kind of Terminator-style uprising took place and humans didn’t like the idea of it.

The specific command prohibiting it is: Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind. The punishment for violation is death.


Reamde – Neal Stephenson, 2011

Another astonishing novel from Neal Stephenson, Reamde (a clever anagram of the Read Me file type) is set in the present day and revolves around a hostage situation and the ensuing efforts to resolve it. The twist? The chase happens in an MMORPG that the world’s population are obsessed and immersed in, and attempts to rescue the hostage covers topics such as gold farming, social networking and hacking. The chase hops from America to China to Canada and loads of other locations, This is a brilliant example of a cyber-thriller fully realised within the constraints of current technology.



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