10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books for Those Who Want to Escape Reality This Christmas

10 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books for Those Who Want to Escape Reality This Christmas
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When you’ve got a sci-fi or fantasy buff on your Christmas shopping list, the vast number of pop culture stores seem like the easiest place to find them the perfect gift. But there’s only so many Star Wars mugs or Harry Potter merch you can gift them before it gets stale. That’s why we’ve put together a little Christmas gift guide on sci-fi and fantasy books that are sure to be sitting in their to-be-read pile.

It’s quite likely they’ve already read everything from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. Thankfully, a bunch of fantastic reads have hit shelves this year, including the final book in The Expanse series and a Netflix tie-in edition of Shadow and Bone.

Check them out below.

The Dune series by Frank Herbert

Image: Hodders Paperbacks

First up on our list is, of course, the Dune saga by Frank Herbert — which is widely considered one of the best science fiction novels of all time.

The story takes place in a world beyond technology, where computers and robots were purged 10,000 years before the main events unfold. The “spice melange”, found only on the desert planet of Arrakis, is coveted as the most valuable commodity in the world. Ultimately, whoever controls Arrakis, controls the spice.

The first book follows the story of Paul Atreides, the son of Arrakis’ newly appointed steward. After his family is betrayed by the planet’s previous caretakers, Paul and his mother Jessica flee into the desert, where they’re rescued by the native people of Arrakis, the Fremen. To avenge his father, Paul allies with the Fremen to lead a tiny army against innumerable forces.

And if that doesn’t sell you, there are giant, man-eating worms too.

Shop the first book here for $14 or grab the whole boxed set here for $242.73 as a great gift for a sci-fi lover. If you’d prefer a film tie-in edition featuring Timothee Chamalet’s gorgeous mug, shop it here for $20.35.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Image: Hachette Australia

If you mix Greek mythology with The Hunger Games, you get Alexandra Bracken’s Lore.

Every seven years, Zeus punishes the Greek gods by turning them into powerless humans for one week. If killed, a mortal will replace them and inherit their powers. Such is the nature of this ferocious game, known as “The Agon”. In the present, only a handful of the original gods remain and no one knows how — or when — the game will end.

Melora “Lore” Perseous (yes, descendant of the dude who slew Medusa) has been alone since a rival bloodline broke into her home and murdered her family years ago. She no longer has any intention of taking part in the vicious game that destroyed her family. At least until the goddess Athena appears, wounded on her doorstep, begging for her help. Driven by vengeance, Lore is convinced to take part in the Agon for the sole purpose of uncovering who really killed her family.

Pick up your copy of Lore here for $12 (down from $19.99).

Be More Boba Fett by Joseph Jay Franco

Image: Dorling Kindersley

Star Wars fans, have you ever wanted to just get the job done? Why not learn from the galaxy’s best bounty hunter, Boba Fett, with this fun, pocket-sized self-help book.

This book promises to lead you towards becoming a successful entrepreneur and being your own boss. If you’re not afraid of some hard work and love the idea of travelling to exotic locations, then this one’s for you.

Shop Be More Boba Fett here for $13.95.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a TikTok famous fantasy book
Image: Bloomsbury

If you search #BookTok on TikTok, you’re sure to stumble across this beloved faerie romance series. It’s one of those rare series where the second book is a million times better than its first.

A fantasy re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, A Court of Thorns and Roses follows the story of human huntress, Feyre Archeron. The first novel begins after Feyre’s family falls into poverty thanks to a series of bad investments made by her father. To prevent her family from dying of starvation, Feyre learned to hunt in the forbidden forest near their cottage — despite rumours of the deadly fae lurking in its woods.

After she kills a wolf, a monstrous beast erupts into her home and whisks Feyre away to Prythian, realm of the fae. There, the young huntress learns of a mysterious curse, simply known as “the plight”. With time, Feyre falls for the beast-turned-faerie-lord, Tamlin, but the story doesn’t end there. When Tamlin is kidnapped by the evil Amarantha, Feyre ventures into a dreaded place called Under the Mountain to save him. But to free him, she must participate in three trials in order to break the curse on Prythian — but it might just break her in the process.

Read the first book to discover the magic here for $12 or shop the boxed set here for $45.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Image: Penguin Australia

From the bestselling author of The Martian, comes Project Hail Mary.

This science-fiction thriller follows lone astronaut, Ryland Grace, on a desperate mission. When he wakes up, he finds himself millions of miles from home, his crew mates dead and with little recollection of what happened. Slowly, his memories return to him and he remembers the impossible mission set out before him. To stop the threat of extinction to our species, he must race to solve an impossible scientific mystery on his own.

Check out this interstellar adventure here for $24.75 (down from $32.99).

The Witcher Boxed Set by Andrzej Sapkowski

Image: Gollancz

Written by Polish writer Andrzej Sapowski, The Witcher is about a man named Geralt of Rivia, who kills monsters. Geralt possesses supernatural abilities, golden eyes and pure white hair, gained from the magical mutations he endured as a child. Through his travels, he meets the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, who he has an on/off relationship with; and Ciri, a young princess with white hair that matches his own. The story is about three characters who become a family, are ripped apart then find their way back to each other.

Inspired by European folklore, this series has resulted in a mammoth video game franchise, where its third entry The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt won Game of the Year in 2013. It is also now a successful Netflix series starring Henry Cavill with season two due to drop December 17.

If you’re unfamiliar with the books, you may have struggled to follow the plot in season one of Netflix’s The Witcher. Due to a number of confusing time jumps, you’d be surprised to find out that the stories of the three main characters — Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri — happen concurrently. That’s where reading the books comes in handy.

Get up to speed with The Witcher series through this boxed set for $65. You can also grab this tie-in edition as great gift for a book-lover  here for $46.88.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Image: Penguin

If you know someone who loved Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, then maybe pick up its sequel, Ready Player Two.

The plot of Ready Player One is set in the year 2044 where the world is in shambles — we’re talking poverty, famine, disease, the works. Most humans have turned to OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can do almost anything you want. The protagonist, Wade Watt, engages in OASIS’ virtual escapism to take on its heirless founder’s challenge. If Wade solves the riddles scattered throughout his creation, he’ll win control of OASIS — and the founder’s massive fortune.

In the second book, Wade has won OASIS’ contest but discovers the riddles are far from over. Hidden inside the founder’s vaults is a new technological advancement that will take OASIS’ virtual reality to the next level. It involves another Easter egg hunt with another mysterious prize. However, a dangerous and impossibly powerful rival enters the mix and will kill anyone who gets in his way.

Find out what happens in Ready Player Two here for $17.95. If you’re interested in reading the original, check it out here for $17.25.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Image: Hachette Australia

In a land torn asunder by the Shadow Fold, an impenetrable darkness filled with flesh-eating monsters, exists the kingdom’s magical elite, the Grisha.

When Alina Starkov was a child, she never took the examination to find out whether she was Grisha, or not. Being Grisha meant being separated from her childhood best friend Mal, even if it meant a life of luxury.

Years later, Alina discovers she is a Sun Summoner — a rare type of Grisha that may rid Ravka of the Shadow Fold for good. With the help of the Darkling, Alina must learn to master her newfound powers. But in a world where everyone wants to use her powers for their own gain, who can she trust?

This much-loved series is now a hit TV show on Netflix. You can read the first book here for $12 (down from $19.99) or gift it to a friend. Or you can try to beat the second season’s premiere by grabbing the boxed set here.

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Falls, published by Orbit Books is a great Christmas gift for Expanse fans
Image: Orbit Books

The Expanse is the biggest science fiction series of the decade and its final book, Leviathan Falls has just hit shelves.

The books are set in the future after all of the planets have been colonised by humans. Captain Jim Holden stumbles across an abandoned ship and uncovers a huge secret. One that threatens to throw the whole system into war.

Leviathan Falls begins with the fall of the Laconian empire and a hunt for Duarte’s missing daughter. Meanwhile, Holden and his crew attempt to rebuild humanity from the ruins that were left behind.

Find how it all ends in Leviathan falls here for $26.90.

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time box set is a great gift for a book loving friend
Image: Hachette Australia

Prepare to turn the wheel of time. Since 1990, The Wheel of Time series has captivated millions of readers and now has its own original TV series on Amazon Prime!

Rand al’Thor and his friends flee for their lives after their village is attacked by half-man, half-beast creatures. An ancient evil is stirring, and its servants are scouring the land for the Dragon Reborn. The prophesised hero who can deliver the world from darkness.

This boxed set contains the first three books: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn in a magical new cover that matches the show’s vivid imagery.

Read the incredible fantasy series here for $41.75.

You can check out the rest of Gizmodo Australia’s Christmas gift guides here.