The Best Techno-thriller Books of The Last 10 Years
Technothrillers have always been one of my favorite genres to read about. This crazy and eclectic mix of action, sci-fi, and military fiction coupled with an almost insane amount of technical (real or imagined) detail will always be dear to me. The genre is also unique in the way it presents the dynamics between technology and societal or ethical issues, which, despite the high technology and detailed science talk, make it visceral and relatable as it brings forward questions that make us think about our own roles to play in this world.
In this post, we round-up the top technothriller books of the last decade, focusing mainly on new titles and the classics. Whether you’re just starting to explore the genre or a seasoned connoisseur, these books would be good additions to your to-read list for the rest of the year.
The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy (2018)
This is the incredible thriller that turned Tom Clancy into one of the most respected writers in this genre. It is a military story that convinces the reader about its authenticity and accuracy. Everything revolves around the White House and a breathtaking adventure of espionage and war.
The theme? An impressive coup. The story? A chase for a Russian submarine. While there are a few rumors about the real profile of this book due to its authentic and realistic adventure, the military fiction will simply take you to another world. It does feel real and it does feel like it is inspired from real history as well.
Overall, the idea is fairly simple. The action takes place in the Atlantic. A Soviet submarine heads west due to a commander’s unexpected decision. No one saw it coming. Russians want the submarine back, so they will do anything they can to get it. On the other hand, Americans want it as well, but for completely different reasons. Who is going to win this chase?
Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown (2011)
Digital Fortress takes you to a story that might become reality anytime now, especially with the wide access to technology. The National Security Agency is renowned for its sophisticated and invincible code breaking machines. One of them faces the unexpected though – it runs into a code that it simply cannot decipher. What does the code hide then?
In order to figure this mystery out, the agency calls the top cryptographer in the country. Susan Fletcher is smart and brilliant. She uncovers a few things that shock the entire system. The NSA is not as free as it might seem. In fact, it is held hostage. There are no guns involved, but a code that is so complex that it could ruin the American intelligence in no time.
Facing lies, secrecy and mysteries, Susan must fight to save the agency. She believes in the agency, but she feels betrayed from all directions. She realizes that she might need to give her life to save her country, not to mention fighting for the life of her lover too.
The Enigma Cube, by Douglas E. Richards (2020)
In the new near-future thriller of the author, we meet with an alien “cube” which identity and purpose are unknown. The whole story feels so realistic that it could even happen just after the pandemic in 2020. After people finally realize the time travel feature of the cube, the main characters in the story face with a lot of moral decisions. What if they could alter the past?
Randomize (Forward Collection), by Andy Weir (2019)
Weir hit a home run with The Martian and Randomize is no different. Part of the Forward Collection, Randomize is set in the near future, where a heist takes place in the high-tech Babylon Casino. Andy Weir continues his penchant for writing smart and intelligent stories, as we follow a tech genius in his ploy to outsmart the casino’s quantum computer.
Summer Frost (Forward Collection), by Blake Crouch (2019)
The best selling author of the Wayward Pines Trilogy, explores the essence of being human with Summer Frost. Crouch weaves a crafty almost introspective tale around a video game developer becoming obsessed with a minor character from the game she’s building. This short story is a great one hour entertainment.
CyberSpace (Cyber Series Book 1), by Matthew Mather (2020)
This book is the sequel to success book CyberStorm. Six years passed since the events of the last book, after the slow start the protagonist quickly find himself in the middle of wild rollecoaster ride. CyberSpace is a typical fast-paced thriller at its best.
Winter World, by A.G. Riddle (2019)
Bestselling author A.G. Riddle, crafts an apocalyptical tale of a second ice age, a mysterious object near Mars, and the race to stave off an extinction-level event. A beautifully written, character focused tale that makes you question our place amongst the stars. Winter World is book one of Riddle’s The Long Winter series.
The Solar War, by A.G. Riddle (2019)
Book two of The Long Winter series, Riddle now takes you from unraveling a mystery in the first book to a fight for survival in the second. A gripping and exciting read, the book closely follows the events of Winter World and I can’t say more without spoiling both books.
Sphere, by Michael Crichton (1987, 2012)
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) left behind a literary heritage that had captured the imagination of many publishers. The book was re-released in 2012 by Vintage Books and this edition is stunning. The story has a mysterious start: a group of American scientists found a huge vessel that has been discovered on the ocean floor somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. This strange object hides a lot of secret and will change the scientists' life once forever.
Northern Fury, by Bart Gauvin and Joel Radunzel (2019)
Book one of the Northern Fury Series, this book explores a fictional World War III that starts off in the 90s. If you enjoyed the Tom Clancy classic Red Storm Rising, you’ll definitely enjoy this ride. Bauvin and Radunzel expertly combine the geopolitics of the period and high-tension military action with H-Hour.
Recursion by Blake Crouch (2019)
Winner of 2019 Goodreads Choice of Award in Sci-Fi category. Blake had a really good year with engaging stories like Recursion. In the following years, his style will define the sci-fi mainstream.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (1996)
Released in 1968, this book brings the readers to January, 2021. This is where the action takes place. From some points of view, it represents the author's vision of what things would be like in 2021. Some of them may seem pretty realistic, while others are still waiting to happen. All in all, the story follows Rick Deckard, who has a license to kill.
Rick has a simple mission. While the world is still run by people, there are a few android out there that seem pretty advanced. Their plans for the world are not the best, so the main character's mission is to find and eliminate them. Practically, he has to “retire” them once he finds them. While the job looks easy in theory, it is actually much more difficult.
The problem is all these androids look just like people. Furthermore, they do not want to be found, so they aim to make Rick's life a nightmare.
Deadland Drifter by J.N. Chaney and Ell Leigh Clarke (2020)
The cyberpunk genre will grow stronger in the upcoming years, and Deadland Drifter will be a strong book in the line. Mysterious events are happening to Jack Burner and once he awakes from his awkward situation his only thought is about to buy time, to reveal what is happening in the city, why he had to kill an admiral?
Firing Point, by Mike Maden (2020)
Jack Ryan Jr. is on holiday in Barcelona. Exploring around, he runs into an old friend at a small local café – Renee Moore. She is surprised and happy to see him, but soon enough, she starts acting weird – as if she knew something was wrong. The two make plans to meet again later and everything seems to go according to the plan.
However, as Jack arrives at the local café, he realizes that a suicide bomber has ruined everything. The small business is blown and people inside are killed. Jack goes through the ruins to save his friend, but Renee passes away. She ends up saying one word before going – Sammler. Jack goes on an intense adventure to find the truth behind Renee.
He discovers one secret after another and realizes that his old friend might have had some secrets that got her killed. It is definitely an enticing book full of crazy experiences and a unique adventure.
Elsewhere, by Dean Koontz (2020)
This epic novel brings in wonder, terror, mystery and drama in a techno way – the type of book that will certainly hook you in. Jeffy Coltrane is not the happiest man in the world – his wife Michelle has left about seven years ago. He looks after Amity, his 11 year old girl. He has a quiet life and he goes on with it. The two enjoy little things in life until one day, when a local stranger – Spooky Ed – shows up and knocks on the door.
While the two do not really have a connection, Ed gives Jeffy a device known as the key to everything. It sounds a bit weird, but Jeffy takes it. Ed asks him to look after the device and make sure he will never use. However, after a few unusual events take place, Jeffy and Amity accidentally activate the device. They discover a completely unusual world – it seems the device allows them to jump from one universe to another. It is exciting, but also terrifying at the same time.
The two ask themselves – could Michelle be in any of these universes? But their plans become history when a man decides to do anything to get his hands on the device.
The last ten years was definitely a great decade for the technothriller niche. These above books are a strong representation of the genre and any fan, casual or hardcore will definitely enjoy them.