Some longtermist fiction

The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments—Margaret Atwood

Looks at authoritarianism. Also topical with Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. Loved both books.

Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood, Maddaddam - Margaret Atwood

Looks at bioengineering, inequality, and catastrophic collapse and recovery. Really liked this trilogy—which should be read in order.

Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games—Iain M. Banks

CP was really dreadful—a man bashes around and every woman is either working out topless or in love with him. The action scenes are really boring too. The Player of Games is much better (though it’s essentially the same as Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game).

Solaris—Stanislaw Lem

Some dudes hang out on a space station and are kind-of haunted by a superintelligent sea they’re observing. Pretty trippy and where ‘music we lack the ears to hear’ is lifted from.

Permutation City—Greg Egan

Pretty dense but interesting discussion of what life would be like in a world of copies. A bit blokey but a thought provoking read. Most of the technical stuff went over my head but I don’t think it matters.

The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death’s End—Cixin Liu

Another fun trilogy. The physics I think is pretty wack, but it’s fun anyway (collapsing dimensions, nuclear explosions to accelerate ships through hyperspace, anyone?).

Dune—Herbert Simon

I think maybe the best book on the list. Such an engrossing world. Gotta love those fremen.

1984 - George Orwell

Enduring classic, and seems important to me today.

Brave New World, Island—Aldous Huxley

BNW is totally wrong and Huxley thought so later in his life. It’s still fun to read though. Island atones for this with lots of speeches about the glories of civilisation. Island barely has any plot—characters just lecture each other on how the Island is set up, but it’s still great and is a 180 turn on BNW.

Zero K—Don Delillo

A negative recommendation—don’t read this. It’s so boring and I think his main point is to poke fun at cryo people within the veil of a fancy novel.

Black Mirror

Ok, not a book but several episodes I thought were great, particularly San Junipero.

Exhalation—Ted Chiang

I loved the stuff about memory, and the robots that get slower. A great read and I think cool ideas too. Also they’re short stories which I think are often underrated.