2013 Science Fiction Reader Challenge - Sign Up Post

So as with most things involving Working for the Mandroid over the last few months, this post is late. But that doesn’t matter! It’s never too late to challenge oneself to read more about aliens, alternate universes and robots!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it has been requested that we once again host a Science Fiction challenge and this time we’re going to make it a bit tougher, ask you to go a little further into the world of scifi and all its wonders. Are you prepared for the…

Look! It's got a little robot this year!

The Rules

We’re keeping the basic rules though the challenge itself has changed a little. So we’re cheating a little and just copying last year’s rules with a few small changes:

1. The challenge begins January 1, 2013 and runs through December 31, 2013. 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 The Time Machine.* Hopefully I will have my act together enough to get the posts up on the first of each month. Feel free to shame me if I don’t.

5. At the end of the year, I will put all the people who sign up for the challenge and finish all of the categories into a yet-to-be-determined 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.

* I have actually read The Time Machine and while it is... odd, it's not that hard to get through. Give it one more try!

There are sixteen categories to this challenge this year. Yes, that means more than one book a month this time. But it’s called a challenge for a reason, right? Some of these will be easier to fill for certain readers, while others might be more difficult. Here is what we're working with in 2013:

  1. YA/MG Science Fiction Title
  2. Adult Science Fiction Title
  3. Hugo Winner
  4. Science Fiction Classic – Pre-50s
  5. Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992
  6. Steampunk
  7. Robots/Cyborgs/Androids
  8. Spaceships
  9. Aliens
  10. Time Travel
  11. Alternate History/Parallel Worlds
  12. Post-Apocalypse/End of World
  13. Dystopia/Utopia
  14. Cyberpunk
  15. Mad Scientist
  16. Military Scifi


For an explanation of what each category is composed of or for suggestions of books to fit any of the above categories, read on after the sign-up sheet.


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 Stephenson. There are tons 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 significant time on spaceships.  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. Most if not all of the books in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov involve one giant spaceship or another.


Any book with aliens, whether they be humanoid or fuzzy balls of fur; if human characters can communicate with them or if a hive mind prevents conversation. Anything with a plot needing other worldly creatures to move forward fit into this category. I Am Number Four and the following sequels fit in. I highly recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I read it in high school and thinking about it still freaks me out a little.

Here's a list for Spaceships and Aliens.

Time Travel

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/Parallel Universe

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.

Post-Apocalyptic/End of the World

With so many dystopian books floating around these days, I thought End of World books needed their own category. Asteroids headed towards Earth, mass alien invasions and anything that looks like the end of a disaster movie will probably fit into the category. I'd even say that any zombie titles would fit into this category too.  Zombies = Apocalypse  

Here is a list of apocalyptic books.


Pick up a book published in the last few years. It's probably a dystopia book, especially if it’s in the YA area of the bookstore. 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,, Breathe, Glitch, the list goes on and on.

I highly recommend The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. If you do happen to need help finding a book for this category here are lists for utopia, 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

When I put together the list of categories for 2012, I thought this would be the hardest category to fill. Then I started reading and found that every other book I picked up seemed to fill this category. Zombies? Probably has a mad scientist involved somewhere. Genetic manipulation? There’s a crazy doctor somewhere. Time travel? There’s a scientist who will inevitably go wonky in the background if not the foreground. Everywhere I turned, I seemed to find a crazy doctor, inventor, or scientist and not just in classics. In 2012 I read at least 15 books with some sort of mad scientist, including Mila 2.0, When We Wake, Altered and Origin.

The three most obvious titles, I think, would be Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Doctor Moreau and Frankenstein. 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 my growing list that I’ve updated with those recent finds.

Military SciFi

This category was requested as an addition for 2013 and considering it’s an area that I probably wouldn’t delve into without a little push, I thought it was a great idea. War is all throughout science fiction, whether it be in space with pew-pew laser guns or ground warfare with crazy high-tech weapons, military science fiction is a popular subset of the sci-fi genre. Books like Ender’s Game, The Forever War and Starship Troopers could fit into this category. Here is a great list.


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!