Best Near Future Science Fiction Books

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I chose not to attempt to rank these books. Instead, I just present a list of some of the best science fiction books set in the near future that I am aware of in no particular order. I am only including one book per author, although most of these authors have multiple excellent books in this category.

Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.

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Accelerando - Charles Stross

Accelerando spans from the near future to the very distant future. That format gives Mr. Stross an excellent format to explore both the implications of technology on humanity that we can already see starting to take shape around us and the possible implications advancing technology could have on humanity over the very long haul and he does it in a very cohesive, entertaining, fashion.

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Spin - Robert Charles Wilson

Spin has a simple and tantalizing premise- one day, all the stars blink out. Nothing else appears to change and humanity spends years trying to figure out how something so seemingly impossible could have happened. The book is partly about how humanity responds to the rationally impossible and partly a story about humanity's quest to understand what happened.

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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is story about the rebellion of the moon colony against the control of Earth. It is full of Mr. Heinlein's libertarian views, but not to the extent that it undermines the exciting story. The book takes the reader through the entire process from the origins of an underground rebellion to the eventual military conflict between the liberated moon and Earth.

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Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars explores the initial colonization of Mars. The plot carries the reader through the trip to Mars and the establishment of an initial colony. Much of the plot grapples with very different sets of ideological views regarding terraforming as well as sociological issues related to the colonization of another planet. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the book is Mr. Robinson's close attention to scientific detail.

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Earth - David Brin

The long-awaited new novel by the award-winning, bestselling author of Startide Rising and The Uplift War--an epic novel set fifty years from tomorrow, a carefully-reasoned, scientifically faithful tale of the fate of our world. "One hell of a novel . . . has what sci-fi readers want these days; intelligence, action, and an epic scale".--Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Line drawings.

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2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke

2001 is, of course, one of the great classics of science fiction, but it remains as engrossing today as it was when it was written in 1968. Humanity discovers an object on the Moon that is impossible to explain and when a clue points to Saturn's moon Iapetus, humanity is forced to send a small crew of humans and an artificial intelligence on a mission to investigate it.

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Neuromancer - William Gibson

In a future in which virtual reality, technology, and pharmacology have run amok, a lowly street hustler's fight to get by evolves into a series of missions that blur the line between reality and cyberspace. Neuromancer is such a gripping and bizarre story that they had to form a whole new genre to describe it. It is a must read book for any science fiction enthusiast. Dark and strange and yet it paints a vision of the future that seems almost inevitable while you're reading it.

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Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein

When humanity mounts a second mission to Mars 25 years after its first attempt, it finds a lone survivor still living on the red planet and returns him to Earth where he demonstrates strange abilities and an even stranger perspective on life. Stranger in a Strange land is really an exporation of what it means to be human that uses the futuristic setting and unusual plot to probe social, political and economic ideas that we might not often give much thought to.

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Contact - Carl Sagan

Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Sagan imagines the greatest adventure of all... the discovery of an advanced civilization in the depths of space. December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who-- or what-- is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predict its future-- and our own.

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