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Top 10 Sci-Fi books on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Anything one man can imagine; other men can make real.” - Jules Verne

The echoAR team isn’t comprised of just AR/VR industry experts and enthusiasts but also bookworms! And since we are all stuck at home for a while, we figured we get you some reading recommendations.

We compiled a list of amazing books that feature augmented reality and virtual reality as key plot points or part of the setting. If you’re looking for your next read, take a trip into the soon-to-be present with our picks of the best AR/VR science fiction novels out there (in order of publication date):

1. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (1984)

“Case was the sharpest data-thief in the matrix—until he crossed the wrong people and they crippled his nervous system, banishing him from cyberspace. Now a mysterious new employer has recruited him for a last chance run at an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case is ready for the adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.”

The first novel to win the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.

2. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (1985)

“Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who? Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.”

Winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Also adapted into a major motion picture starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, and Ben Kingsley.

Did you know that Jules Verne predicted 3D holograms? Jules Verne was a man truly ahead of his time. In dozens of novels, including classics such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days, the “Father of Science Fiction” envisioned many remarkable inventions that only became a reality after the prolific author’s death. Verne wrote about electric submarines, propeller-driven aircraft, TV newscasts, solar sails and even video conferencing, long before they were made into a reality. In the book “the Carpathian Castle” Verne even foresaw the invention of “optically floating illusions,” better known today as 3D holograms!

3. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson (1992)

“In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.”

HBO Max and Paramount TV are currently developing a drama series based on the book.

4. Feed, by M.T. Anderson (2002)

“For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon — a chance to party during spring break. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its ever-present ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. M. T. Anderson’s not-so-brave new world is a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.”

A 2002 Finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.


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5. Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge (2006)

“Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a cure developed during the years of his near-fatal decline, he discovers that the world has changed and so has his place in it. He was a world-renowned poet. Now he is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he's starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts. Living with his son's family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access--through nodes designed into smart clothes--and to see the digital context--through smart contact lenses.”

Winner of the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

6. Daemon, by Daniel Suarez (2006)

“In a near-future run by thousands of autonomous computer programs, a dormant program activates after a legendary game designer's premature death and launches a sinister effort to dismantle society and enforce a new world order. “

Also read the sequel Freedom™ published in 2010.

Looking for more inspiration for innovative uses of AR/VR? Check out the Inspiration page in our console. It contains links to great use cases of AR/VR and examples of incredible projects, some of which have been created with the help of echoAR. Want your project to be featured too? Let us know at inspire@echoAR.xyz

7. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (2011)

“In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune—and control of the OASIS itself.”

A #1 New York Times Bestseller which was adapted into major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

8. Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Tom Sweterlitsch (2014)

“Pittsburgh is John Dominic Blaxton’s home even though the city has been uninhabitable ruin and ash for the past decade. The Pittsburgh Dominic lives in is the Archive, an immersive virtual reconstruction of the city’s buildings, parks, and landmarks, as well as the people who once lived there. Including Dominic’s wife and unborn child. When he’s not reliving every recorded moment with his wife in an endless cycle of desperation and despair, Dominic investigates mysterious deaths preserved in the Archive before Pittsburgh’s destruction.”

9. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (2015)

“A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain.”

Seveneves was included on President Obama's Summer 2016 reading list and was one of five books recommended by Bill Gates as "must reads" for Summer 2016.

10. Armada, by Ernest Cline (2015)

“Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books, and videogames he's spent his life consuming. And too often, he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering event could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure. So when he sees the flying saucer, he's sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over into madness.”

Wil Wheaton narrates the audiobook version of the book.

(Bonus book that’s more fiction than science fiction but is definitely a must-read!)

11. The Unseen World, by Liz Moore (2016)

“Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World’s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.”

Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in our Slack channel.

echoAR (http://www.echoAR.xyz; Techstars ’19) is a cloud platform for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that provides tools and server-side infrastructure to help developers & companies quickly build and deploy AR/VR apps and experiences.