2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge

It seems as though every blog is posting up their reader challenges for 2012 and, it being my first year to actually participate in any challenges, I'm having a hard time not automatically signing up for every single one I come across.  I'll be posting about some of the challenges I am taking part in over the next couple of days.

Despite all the ones already out there, I couldn't find the perfect one I was really looking for - something that challenged me to read more science fiction and a wider range of science fiction titles - so I decided to create a science fiction challenge just for me.  But wouldn't it be more fun with other people taking part?  Of course it would, which is why I present to you Working for the Mandroid's 2012 Science Fiction Reader Challenge. (trademark pending)


Here are the basic rules:

1. The challenge begins January 1, 2012 and runs through December 31, 2012.  Books started before January 1 don't count towards the challenge.  Re-reads do count, but a new review must be written.  Any format of book counts - hard copy, audiobook, e-book - we're not picky.

2. A review has to be written and posted for each book in the challenge.  If you don't have a blog, they can be posted on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon, Shelfari, Facebook, anywhere else book reviews are accepted and can be linked to.

3. Any books read for another challenge that fit into a category here can count towards this one.  One book, however, cannot fill multiple categories in this challenge.  For example, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game technically fits into at least four of the categories.  It can only count for one though.

4. A post will be set up on Working for the Mandroid beginning January 1 for participants to add their review links.  I personally will put up a post at the end of each month to track my own progress.  That's where you can comment, brag and/or complain about how impossible it is to get through Dune.*

5. At the end of the year, I will put all the people who signed up for the challenge and finished 6 of the 12 categories in a contest for a not yet determined prize.  Those who finish all 12 of the categories will be entered into a different, better contest.  Additional contests throughout the year might also become available depending on participation of readers and availability of prizes.  Note: The more participants, the more likely I can get some science fiction friendly sponsors, the more contests.


There are twelve categories to this challenge, so essentially a book for each month.  Some of these will be easier to fill for certain readers, while others might be more difficult.

YA/MG Science Fiction title

This can be anything remotely science fiction written for a younger audience.

Adult Science Fiction title

See above, but this time with an adult title.

Hugo Winner

Any book that's won a Hugo Award - see the list here

Some of these are clearly fantasy books, but for this category, that's okay.

Science Fiction Classic - Pre-1950s

This is a really brilliant website listing science fiction classics.  This category would include things like Frankenstein, 1984, anything by HG Wells or Jules Vern, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you know, classics.  Put your high school English caps on!

Science Fiction Modern Classic - 1951-1992

See the previously mentioned really brilliant website


Any book that could be classified as steampunk - a sub-genre of science fiction that denotes fictional works set in an era or world where steam is the primarily use of power.  It often takes place in an alternate form of the Victorian era and features futuristic technology twisted to fit in a historical setting.  Steampunk has spread to a lot of other genres, so for example if you like more chick lit leaning books, The Parasol Protectorate might be your style.  If you like more adult reads, there's The Baroque Cycle by Neal Steaphenson.  There are a ton of YA steampunk out these days.  I'll even count this one if you choose to read it despite my own personal feelings of its steampunk-ness.  Here's a good list of titles.


Easy enough - books that predominantly feature robots, such as, I don't know, Robopocalypse or I, Robot or even perhaps Cinder.  Here's a list.


Any book that heavily involves either spaceships or aliens.  Though I haven't read it, I've been told that Across the Universe by Beth Revis takes place on spaceships, so it would count.  I Am Number Four is about aliens, so that would count too.  Starship Troopers has spaceships and aliens.  I highly recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (aliens).  I read it in high school and thinking about it still freaks me out a little.  Here's a list.

Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe

The most obvious choice is, of course, The Time Traveler's Wife, which would count.  There's also the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde has a time traveling side plot important to the story.  Here's a list of time travel books.

Alternate history is a little different.  It could be as different as steampunk or as simple as the resulting history caused by the Nazis winning WWII.  My favorite is probably Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which ties magic into the Napoleonic Wars.  It's a doorstopper at 1024 pages and technically fantasy, but it's really good.  Here's a list of suggestions.

Parallel universe are two stories occurring simultaneously across two different universes.  For example, The Eyre Affair has the real world as well as Thursday Next's adventures in the book world.  Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series takes place in a number of parallel worlds, if I remember correctly.  And there's always The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  Additional examples can be found here.


Pick up a book published in the last year.  It's probably a dystopia book.  They seem to be coming out by the bucket full.  Classics include Brave New World and 1984, YA titles include Divergent, The Hunger Games, Matched, Wither, Ashes, the list goes on and on.  I'd even say that any zombie titles would fit into this category too.  Zombies = Apocalypse  

I highly recommend The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  List of books: apocalypticutopia, and dystopia.


This is a bit subgenre of a subgenre.  Cyberpunk was started in the 1980s and involves stories that tend to be about grungy societies that happen to be inundated with very high tech.  It often involves some sort of crazy computer-based alternate reality and/or androids.  William Gibson (Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition, Count Zero, pretty much everything he's ever written) and Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, The Diamond Age) are your guys here.  Here's a list of additional choices.

Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster

I haven't seen a lot of mad scientist books released recently, but they are out there.  The three most obvious titles, I think, would be Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Doctor Moreau and Frankenstein.  To broaden the spectrum, I will also count anything involving genetic testing and altering nature, so The Postmortal would count as would Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake.  The webcomic Girl Genius falls under this category and has been collected in book form and The Umbrella Academy graphic novels also include some scientific shenanigans.  Your standard superhero comics usually fit too.   Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Batman, Iron Man - all have mad scientists somewhere.  Here's a starter list that I'll keep adding to as I come across additional mad scientist titles.


Okay, so you've gotten through all that craziness and you still want to participate?  I haven't scared you away with all my giddy science fiction fan girl glee?  Fantastic!  You're ready to join up in the challenge.  To do that, fill in the Linky below or comment with your information.  Please post about this challenge on your own blogs so we can get the word out about the challenge.  Take the button and add it to your side bar to show everyone you're trying to read more books about robots and spaceships.  It'll be fun!

Good luck and have fun entering new worlds!



* I've never actually read Dune.  I haven't even tried.  I don't intend to try.