I always find it interesting how people come to start reading science fiction. Many people start because someone in their life directed them to do so, either by recommending a specific science-fiction book or handing it to them directly. Others might start because they enjoy science fiction in other media, like films and TV, and want to experience science fiction in written form. Still others might start by chance; they stumble across a book sitting in the library or on a bookstore shelf and are hooked. Regardless of how you start, one thing remains true: your first science-fiction book is the gateway book to the genre.

Here's a look at some recent science-fiction reads that would make great gateway sci-fi books because they are accessible and fun....

Immunity by Taylor Antrim

What happens when you put the 1% in a post-pandemic, near-future New York City? Chances are, you'll end up with the harrowing situation portrayed in Taylor Antrim's biothriller Immunity. After a virulent flu kills off 300 million people of the worldwide population, the affluent see fit to enjoy some bizarre pastimes. Enter Catherine, a broke socialite who takes a job answering phones for a luxury concierge service called Pursuit whose clientele include the superwealthy. Pursuit procures disease-free restaurant reservations and vacations for their highbrow customers, as well as anything else that suits their outlandish desires...including hunting down the 99% like animals. When Catherine gets sick, she worries that she's become infected and agrees to have an experimental anti-viral device implanted in her back. It isn't long before Catherine realizes something is amiss at Pursuit and their latest whim is profiting from the cure embedded inside of her.

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The Fold by Peter Clines

The premise of The Fold by Peter Clines is that a team of DARPA scientists in the California desert have created a seemingly miraculous teleportation device. The device, called the Albuquerque Door, can essentially "fold" space, making it possible for a traveler to travel hundreds of feet with a single step. Their invention is certainly life-changing and the scientists who invented it insist that their device is completely safe. However, evidence is beginning to appear that would indicate that the Albuquerque Door is not quite as safe as they would have people believe. In fact, theCash Crash Jubilee device could very well be the most dangerous thing in the world. The Fold may be science fiction, but it is also equal parts thriller and mystery, making it an appealing read for a diverse set of readers. 

The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld

With so much of the news focusing on financial crises, and science fiction's penchant for reflecting reality (which is what it does best), a book like Karl Taro Greenfeld's The Subprimes was inevitable. It's both parody and prescient, set in a not-too-unrecognizable future where your social status is determined by your credit score. The extreme disparity in wealth has created a class of wealthy Haves and outcast Have-Nothings (also called the Subprimes). They are jobless and unemployable, dispossessed fugitives who collectively roam the post-apocalyptic wasteland to avoid arrest. The story follows two families of Subprimes who manage to find what appears to be a stable community of their wayward peers. But of course, even that is threatened...until a charismatic woman on a motorcycle emerges as a possible hero and savior.

Cash Crash Jubilee by Eli K. P. William

While Greenfeld's The Subprimes looks at personal finances, Eli K. P. William's Cash Crash Jubilee tackles the world of corporate finances. It takes place in a near-future Tokyo that operates on an action-transaction economy. Put another way: every action you perform is intellectual property owned by corporations that charges licensing fees to perform them. Each citizen is implanted with a BodyBank computer system to track all of these transactions throughout their daily movements. Amon Kenzaki works for the Global Action Transaction Authority as a Liquidator, charged with capturing bankrupt citizens, removing their BodyBank and banishing them to the BankDeath camps. When Amon "cash crashes" a powerful politician, he is charged for something called "jubilee," an action he never performed. As he begins to ask questions, Amon discovers more and more unsavory truths about the system he has sworn to uphold.

(R)evolution by P.J. Manney(r)evolution -2

P.J. Manney's (R)evolution opens with a bang. Several of them, actually, when a group of teenagers execute a terrorist attack that kills 70,000 people at a Las Vegas media convention. When it’s learned that the attack was caused by nanotechnology—that is, technology that operates at the very small atomic scales—America's preeminent nanotechnologist comes under fire. Peter Bernhardt's life is thrown into turmoil when he is ousted from his company, which is too bad because Peter was on the verge of developing revolutionary new brain therapies using microscopic nanorobots that would render some degenerative diseases a thing of the past. Peter's prospects are all but gone when a friend introduces him to The Phoenix Club, a secret cabal of the countries puppet masters responsible for the true history of the United States. To make himself a more valuable asset to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his own brain with experimental technology that exponentially ups his mental prowess, thus transforming him forever, possibly into something beyond human.

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, the Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.