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Illustration: Solar system of books (Harriet Russell)

Summer's Best Sci-Fi: Planets, Politics, Apocalypse

by Annalee Newitz
Jun 19, 2012

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Science fiction is a genre of contradictions. It's an entertaining escape from the dreary everyday, but it also invites you to rethink your everyday life. It can be cheesy but profound, fantastic but sharply political. And like all literature, it's rarely about what it seems to be on the surface. That's why the best sci-fi writers manage to turn space battles into philosophical debates, and zombie hordes into political satire.

This year has been a particularly good one for science fiction books that are page turners with pleasingly complicated political and social subtexts. Here are five recent works of sci-fi and fantasy that will suck you in with the promise of strange worlds, but leave you full of questions about our own.

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