Sunday night has been conspicuously free of Game of Thrones in recent months, but luckily, HBO has given viewers another gem of a television drama: Westworld. This new drama is one of HBO's best hits, and as an avid fan myself, I totally get why. It's a sci-fi western, which we don't see much of on TV. So if you want more content like Westworld, you need to turn to literature: here are eight books for Westworld fans.
Arguably one of the best things about Westworld is that future and past blend together seamlessly, creating this fascinating world where anything can happen. While the show thrives on controversial themes (which show doesn't these days?), there's a ton of complex, interwoven issues going on all at once. There's a love story brewing, a game-seeking villain on the loose, and robots going haywire. And all of these things are also found in books, books that every Westworld fan will adore.
From classic sci-fi novels that have made an impact for years and years to brand new books hitting the shelves, here's a mix of intriguing science fiction novels with robots, humans, and a whole lot of controversy:
1. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
In both the Westworld and I, Robot universes, robots cannot injure human beings and must obey orders given by its creators. I, Robot follows a basic guideline of rules, directives, and goals – but this interlinked story starts out during the beginning of the great robot creation, and continues into a future where humanity is dying out and the robots are growing smarter than intended.
2. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe takes place in Minor Universe 31 — a place full of paradoxes, sexbots, and failed fictional characters who can travel through time.
3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury is a necessity when it comes to science fiction, and his Martian Chronicles is a great fit for Westworldians due to its Western, futuristic feel. The story takes place as humans begin to colonize Mars, but the shape-changing Martians didn’t see them as astonishing accomplishments, but rather wandering idiots, so they locked them up. As more humans arrive on the planet, it isn’t long before prejudices form and the idea of “the new world” isn’t as great as it seemed to the imagination.
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
As a major YA fan, I can’t help but think of my favorite cyborg series pairing perfectly with Westworld. In a futuristic New Beijing, humans and androids live together while a deadly plague ravages the population. And from space, the lunar people watch over, waiting to make their move. If you keep craving more of the love stories to develop in Westworld, you’re going to love Cinder and its main love interest, especially as they take on the dangerous task of saving the fate of the planet.
5. R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek
R.U.R. is one of the classic science fiction novels that all too often goes unnoticed – but with the new wave of robots thanks to Westworld, I’m bringing this book back into the spotlight. The robots in this story remember everything, and when they kill all but one of their human masters, they realize they don’t have the ability to replicate themselves like humans can. Through a twisted turn of events, and a theme of “Adam and Eve” thrown in, this is one story any die-hard sci-fi lover will enjoy.
6. Lone Star Planet by H. Beam Piper
OK, I know I have yet to mention a true western sci-fi, but here is everything you could ever want from the two genres (besides Westworld). The Lone Star Planet takes place in New Texas where trigger-happy citizens herd super cows with tanks and cast their political opinions like small talk. It's a truly unique novel with an interesting take on a futurist cowboy nation.
7. The Soul of a Robot by Barrington J. Bayley
If the title doesn’t make you think of Westworld, I don’t know what will. More than a machine, but not quite a man, Jasperodus is a super-robot that was granted consciousness. His main problem? He can’t decide if he should share his soul-possessing abilities and secrets with his fellow robots, or leave them behind to fit in with mankind. This inner-conflict story is one you’ll never forget.
8. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Murakami is known for his insanely crazy science fictional, but also realistic, universes, and this novel is just that. While there’s a Kafkaesque (torture, surrealism galore, etc.) underworld, there’s a contemporary Tokyo thriving above. This book follows one man as he is divided between the two worlds, and of course includes a lot of Murakami’s magical mind-bending plots.