15 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 Every, Dave Eggers (2022)
Delaney Wells is a newcomer to the Every. A former forest ranger and avid skeptic when it came down to things like technology and social media, she charms her way into an entry-level job with one goal in mind – destroy the company from within. Joined by fellow birdwatcher Wes Makazian, they set out to find the Every's weaknesses one step at a time so that they can free humanity from all-encompassing surveillance and the emoji-driven infantilization of society as we know it today. But what will be left of society if the Every goes under? Would humanity want that for their children?
Studded with unforgettable characters, outrageous costumes, and lacerating set pieces, The Circle blends absurdity and terror, satire and suspense, while keeping the reader in apprehensive excitement about the fate of company—and the human animal.
The Apollo Murders, by Colonel Chris Hadfield (2021)
In 1973 NASA is about to launch Apollo 18, the final mission to the moon. A top-secret mission, only three astronauts will be on board. Two pilots and a flight engineer. The flight engineer's job is to help with navigation as well as monitor and calculate fuel consumption, radiation levels and other vital data during their trip. But in this story one specific mission specialist, Kazimieras Zemeckis, realizes that there's something more going on here beyond just a regular scientific expedition. Has intelligence discovered a secret Soviet space station? Is it true that the lunar module isn't equipped with enough fuel to complete a rendezvous with it? Has he been sent all those years into space, risking his life for nothing?
After being stranded in space for days and losing contact with friends and family, having a loved one appear as if out of thin air can be overwhelming. The Apollo Murders is a high-stakes technothriller unlike any other. Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to take command of the International Space Station, captures the fierce G-forces of launch, the frozen loneliness of space, and the fear of holding on to the outside of a spacecraft orbiting at 17,000 miles per hour as only someone who has experienced all if these things in real life can.
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?
Douglas E. Richards is one of my favorite contemporary authors. Not only is he a master of the technothriller genre, but he also creates very believable near future tales based on modern and historical events. The characters are not only believable but people of high moral. His characters and plots inspire me to think about the implications of current and future technologies.
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.
I read a few short novels, and this one was definitely one of my favorite. The story was exciting, thrilling, and kept me guessing. The ending was something I didn't expect and left me wondering what would happen next. I would definitely recommend to read Andy's other books and novels.
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.
Although this futuristic story may not be happening right now, we can still have a glimpse of what that kind of world might look like by thinking about the law of unintended consequences. The question is, how much further will technology push humanity into a future without a clear plan?!
This short story is a great one hour entertainment.
CyberSpace (World War C Book 2), 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 rollercoaster ride.
Russia will use any military means necessary to defend its homeland. The rest of the world is in danger because a US military satellite was destroyed by a Russian anti-satellite weapon. China was going to be affected too, but let’s face it – everyone knows we can rely on China when push comes to shove!
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, and the race to stave off an extinction-level event. With no time to waste, scientists quickly dispatch robotic probes into the solar system to gather readings. Near Mars, they identify a mysterious object hurtling towards the sun. Is it the cause of the ice age? Or could it be humanity's only hope for survival?
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.
Sphere, by Michael Crichton (1987, 2016)
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.
August 1991. Soviet hardliner Pavel Medvedev knows that only bloodshed can save the USSR from complete collapse. With violence breaking out in the streets of Moscow, few realize that he is piloting the Soviet Union on a collision course with its deadliest enemy yet: NATO. Many people are unaware that Colonel Robert Buckner has just missed out receiving a prestigious command post at sea due to his superiors not liking him very much. But since it's going to be his final year working for Vice Admiral Falckner anyway, he helps him unravel the ongoing post-Cold War crisis where the USSR plunges into a direct clash with NATO.
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)
I know what you're thinking, “Reality is broken.” But it's actually not quite that simple. At first glance, it might appear to be some kind of virus in which the infected lose touch with reality and suffer from amnesia because of events that never took place. In fact, The origin for this outbreak comes from a scientific breakthrough of sorts. The real question is not only how it will affect our minds but rather the very fabric of time itself!
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? I’m a huge fan of spy thrillers and space opera, so this book was perfect. I loved all the action and suspense, and the plot twists kept me on the edge of my seat. I love the main character, Jack Burner, who’s a former intelligence officer who now drifts from system to system, doing whatever he pleases. The plot is fast paced and unpredictable. I couldn’t put it down.
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 book fans. These books are a strong representation of the genre and any book lover, casual or hardcore will definitely enjoy them.