Plano Reads: 17 Science-Fiction Mysteries

For our next virtual session for Mystery Book Club we’re focusing on mysteries in the science-fiction genre!

If the thought of solving problems in strange worlds literately excites you, join us on Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Register online for the invite and reminders.

If you aren’t sure which authors or titles to read to get you into this niche genre, our librarians have you covered. Here is a list of 17 books in the library collection that blend mystery and science-fiction (maybe a little bit of fantasy) perfectly.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

First book in the Takeshi Kovacs series

Summary: In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold.

Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Summary: Five prominent biophysicists have warned the United States government that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere. Two years later, a probe satellite falls to the earth and lands in a desolate region of northeastern Arizona. Nearby, in the town of Piedmont, bodies lie heaped and flung across the ground, faces locked in frozen surprise. What could cause such shock and fear? The terror has begun, and there is no telling where it will end.

Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

First book in the Robots series

Summary: Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to the Outer Worlds to help track down the killer.

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds

Summary: In the far future, the technological disaster known as the Nanocaust left Earth uninhabitable. Archaeologist Verity Auger continues to explore the remnants of the planet’s environment. But Verity is needed to examine something far more important-the discovery of mid-twentieth century Earth at the far end of a wormhole. And on this alternate world is a device capable of destroying both Earths if Verity cannot find the man preparing to detonate it in time.

The City & The City by China Mieville

Summary: When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen.

Click Here for Murder by Donna Andrews

Summary: Turing Hopper is an Artificial Intelligence Personality with a mind like Miss Marple and hardware that hides a suspiciously human heart. Of course, it’s hard to do legwork without legs, so when her human colleague Ray is murdered, she’ll have to think fast-and rely on the help of her friends. But when the almost-sentient mainframe-sleuth recognizes an enemy within the walls of her lab, she realizes that whatever was after Ray might well have her on its hit list, too.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Summary: In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner) by Philip K. Dick

Summary: By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans. Immigrants to Mars receive androids so sophisticated they are indistinguishable from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans can wreak, the government bans them from Earth. Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back—with lethal force.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

First book in the Thursday Next series

Summary: Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that’s just a prelude… Hades’ real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next. She’s the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche.

Farthing by Jo Walton

Summary: One summer weekend in 1949–but not our 1949–the well-connected “Farthing set,” a group of upper-crust English families, enjoy a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years before. Despite her parents’ evident disapproval, Lucy is married–happily–to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband David found themselves invited to the retreat. It’s even more startling when, on the retreat’s first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic.

Kiln People by David Brin

Summary: In a perilous future where disposable duplicate bodies fulfill every legal and illicit whim of their decadent masters, life is cheap. No one knows that better than Albert Morris, a brash investigator with a knack for trouble, who has sent his own duplicates into deadly peril more times than he cares to remember. But when Morris takes on a ring of bootleggers making illegal copies of a famous actress, he stumbles upon a secret so explosive it has incited open warfare on the streets of Dittotown.

Made to Kill by Adam Christopher

First book in the Ray Electromatic series

Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency–except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray’s inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret. When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing movie star, he’s inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she had the cold hard cash, a demand for total anonymity, and tendency to vanish on her own. Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen–and this robot is at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Summary: Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for Cayce’s client. But when her borrowed apartment is burgled and her computer hacked, she realizes there’s more to this project than she had expected. Still, Cayce is her father’s daughter, and the danger makes her stubborn.

A Philosophical Investigation by Philip Kerr

London in 2013 is a world of elaborate technology, aggression, and squalor, where serial murder has reached epidemic proportions and the government has created a test to screen people for a predisposition to violent criminality. Examined at random, a man is stunned to learn that he fits the model. Yet, when he breaks into the computer to erase his name and comes across the list of his “brothers,” a horrifyingly logical idea begins to form in his mind: what if, to protect society, he became a killer of serial murderers? Inspector “Jake” Jacowicz must use all her powers of reason and intuition to track this extraordinary sociopath, code-named “Wittgenstein,” who draws her into a diabolical cat-and-mouse game and engages her in a chilling “philosophical” dialogue about the nature of life itself.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

First book in the Dresden Files series

Summary: As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things–and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business–to put it mildly–stinks. So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name…

This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams

Summary: To the player, the Alternate Reality Game has no boundaries. You can be standing in a parking lot, or a shopping center. A pay phone near you will ring, and on the other end will be someone demanding information. You’d better have the information handy. ARGs combine video, text adventure, radio plays, audio, animation, improvisational theater, graphics, and story into an immersive experience.

The 13 Crimes of Science Fiction edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh

Summary: Thirteen tales in which detectives of the distant future roam a galaxy riddled with locked-room mysteries, ciphers to be decoded, and unearthly evidence to be sifted, all by the rules of the 13 classic kinds of mystery story


Don’t forget to register for our Mystery Book Club, happening on Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Register online for the invite and reminders.

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