Technology has been the protagonist of many novels throughout the history of Literature. Innovation and technological advances have played a fundamental role in the development of the plot of many books.
The best novels to give as a gift to a technology lover.
In addition to the best gadgets for tech lovers, it might be a good idea to gift a tech novel to that geeky family member or friend who is always on top of the latest news. Maybe it would be a good idea to surprise him or her with some of the best novels in history that have had technology as a plot.
In this list you will find some of the best. Curiously all these novels have known adaptation (or even film series) to the cinema. Some titles such as Isaac Asimov’s “Hallucinatory Journey” or Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001, A Space Odyssey” are left out, since they are novelizations of film scripts prior to the publication of the book. However, they could not go unmentioned in an article like this one.
The best technology-themed novels
–“Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus”. (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 1818): The allusion from the very title to the mythological character who stole fire from the gods to give it to men already points to what with the passing of time would become a hackneyed phrase in science-fiction literature and cinema: “you are playing at being gods”. And in that in this novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, for many the inauguration of the genre of scientific anticipation novel (the first story would be “Somnium“written in 1635 by Johannes Kepler), the issue of giving life to an inert body is addressed, but magic or fantasy is pushed aside so that science and technology, with electricity, will allow such a feat.
–“From the Earth to the Moon”. (Jules Verne, 1865): A century in advance, it is astonishing to see the coincidences between the actual data of the Apollo missions that took man to the Moon for the first time in 1969 and what is related by the French father of adventure and literary anticipation. From the dates to the travel time, the dimensions of the capsule or even the take-off site (Florida), in this work Verne almost seems to have peered into the future instead of simply imagining it.
–“The Time Machine”. (Herbert George Wells, 1895): Without going into excessive technical detail but ciphering the journey to a machine, Welles (father also of “The Invisible Man”) takes its protagonist to know the past and the future, even the very distant future, where the Earth is inhabited by two completely separate species, the iloi and the morlocks, some, beautiful and delicate, dedicated to a naive and carefree enjoyment of life while the others, grotesque and almost dehumanized, have been subjugated as slaves. Thus, the excuse of time travel serves to reflect the author’s social concerns.
–“I, robot” (Isaac Asimov, 1950): Actually more than a novel, this is a collection of short stories and novellas by probably one of the best popularizers in history. Asimov is the father of robotics and its three laws, those that force the positronic brains of automatons to always obey humans, to do so except when it involves danger to other humans, and finally to do so as long as it does not endanger the robot itself. Three rules so apparently simple as to generate multiple and complex conflicts that are addressed in this and later works.
– “Rendezvous with Rama” (Arthur C. Clarke, 1973): In the middle of the 21st century an elongated intergalactic body is detected crossing the solar system. Due to its dimensions (50 by 10 kilometers), shape and composition it turns out to be an artificial object to which a space reconnaissance mission is directed. The same will discover that it is a kind of “Noah’s ark” from an alien civilization that has rebuilt a habitat inside. When in 2017 the passage through the solar system of the intergalactic object Oumuamua was detected, you will probably remember this novel.
–“Neuromancer” (William Gibson, 1984): The father of cyberpunk and the grandfather of “The Matrix,” Gibson dresses up with technology, neural access to virtual networks (called “the matrix”) and betrayals a story more typical of the noir genre. Drugs, debts, neurotoxins and cyberspace between hacker fights and the struggle to recover a memory that contains the conscience of a legendary “cybercowboy”. It was the first novel to win the three great awards of the science fiction genre in the same year: Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick.
–“Contact” (Carl Sagan, 1985): Radio astronomer Ellie Arroway detects a signal coming from Vega (24 light-years away) that turns out to be from an alien civilization. After the surprise that the signal consists of Adolf Hitler’s speech at the opening of the 1933 Berlin Olympics (the first satellite television broadcast in history), it is discovered that the signal also contains instructions to build a complex machine that will allow five terrestrial travelers to travel through wormholes and meet the advanced extraterrestrial civilization.
–“Jurassic Park” (Michael Crichton): From the DNA contained in the blood drop of a mosquito trapped in amber 65 million years ago, dinosaurs are cloned to build the most famous amusement park in history (with the permission of Disneyland). The novel was a milestone in the midst of the development of the cloning of Dolly the sheep and was soon adapted to the big screen, generating a multimillion-dollar franchise.
–“Ready Player One” (Ernest Cline, 2011): With a practically infinite amount of winks and cultural, subcultural and technological references, the reader is immersed in the virtual reality in which the protagonists plunge trying to survive the acruciante crisis of the year 2044 by participating in the video game “Oasis”, which promises a juicy reward in the form of an Easter egg hidden in the virtual environment by the founder of the platform, who has recently passed away. And the prize is that whoever finds it will be able to inherit his multimillion-dollar company.
–“The circle” (Dave Eggers, 2013): If Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Spotify, TikTok, Tinder, YouTube… and some others were mixed in a single company, the result would be the company where the protagonist works, who sees how her life is gradually exposed to social techno-invasion at the same pace as most of the population. The novel’s prediction was quickly surpassed by the advance of social networks and other platforms that have turned the lives of many into a permanent digital showcase.
Now it is up to the discretion of readers to enjoy these works in the old “analog” format on paper or, since the issue is technology, to opt for the electronic versions in ebook.