Science fiction isn't just about spaceships. It's a genre whose definition is broad enough to include many different types of novels that can be otherwise classified. That's why science fiction will sometimes pop up in the most unexpected places. Here's a trio of good reads that are not directly marketed as science fiction, but nevertheless contain integral elements of science fiction. The net result is a selection of novels that are exhilarating and enjoyable. 


Runner by Patrick Lee

Patrick Lee proved his mettle with his Travis Chase series, a non-stop thrill ride that included science fictional elements to good effect. The same can be said about the start of his new Sam Dryden series, which begins with Runner. In it, we meet Dryden, retired from military special forces, but about to be brought right into the thick of things. He literally runs into a young girl named Rachel who is being chased by heavily armed men. The 11-year-old can only recall the past two month's of her life, while she was an unwilling captive of government agents. Now they know who Sam is, too, and the chase is on to not only evade the bad guys, but also to find out the secret to Rachel's story.

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Sounds straightforward, but there are clear, tangible science fictional elements to this story. While those elements are not major plot spoilers, they are one of the many surprising reveals in the suffice it to say that Rachel possesses some extraordinary abilities. Part of the suspense in Runner is derived from the thriller aspects of the story (that is, the chase), but it also stems from the implications of Rachel's gifts and whether they are themselves a threat to everyone's safety.Influx - Suarez


Influx by Daniel Suarez

We sure do love our electronic devices, don't we? You're likely reading this on a computer attached to a worldwide network or from a device that fits in your hand. We are truly living in an imagined future. But can you imagine a future henceforth without any further technological advances being developed and being made available to all? Daniel Suarez can. That's the premise of his new techno-thriller Influx.

The future of Suarez's novel includes the ideas of futurism—cool ideas like genetic enhancements, extended life spans, artificial intelligence and cures for many common diseases—but none of them have actually been realized. Technology has not, in fact, passed significantly beyond the Smartphone you are carrying around in your pocket. At least, that is the widely accepted belief. It turns out that that technology is available, but only to a select few. This secret balance between the haves and the have-nots is endangered when a particle physicist and his team invent a device that can reflect gravity. Enter the Bureau of Technology Control, a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent social disorder caused by the advance of technology and then co-opt it for their own use. So yes, Virginia, there is a marvelous technologically advanced future're just not part of it. 

  Flight of the Silvers

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

The other books discussed here start on a recognizable Earth. Daniel Price's The Flight of the Silvers does too, but while the others take place predominantly in that world for the entirety of the novel, Price's story involves another Earth. His Earth is much like ours in some ways but altogether different in others. This is the world in which our group of protagonists suddenly find themselves

The action starts in true-to-form thriller fashion: an attention-getting sequence in which the sky goes white and electricity is cut off. In those harrowing moments, while airplanes plummet out of the sky and into the ground, the world changes forever. But all is not lost for everyone. At the time of the devastation, a small group of humans are visited upon by mysterious strangers who force silver bracelets around their wrists. The bracelets shield them from the end of the world, but it also transports them to another Earth, where restaurants can fly through the air and time can be manipulated by common household appliances. The action commences in this strange land where a group of six survivors from different backgrounds find themselves the prey of enemies they didn't know they had, and on the run to find the one person in this world who can save them.

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