Some sci fi novels you might find inspiring:
John Desmond Bernal – The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1929)
A space habitat intended for permanent residence; radical changes to human bodies and perception and the implications for society;
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World (1931)
Radical social changes due to technological advances. Huxley’s other work is worth checking as well.
Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker (1937)
It is a masterpiece that AC Clarke, F Herbert, OS Card and other great sci fi writers have quoted as a major influence. Virginia Wolf was a fan as well. I would say architectural references in this book are not very direct, but it is nothing but pure inspiration. A conventional guy has a disembodied visionary experience that takes him across time and space and slowly allows him to merge his consciousness with the Universe. There is a mystical beauty about the way the cosmos is described, sci fi and philosophy at the same time. It has some interesting relevant concepts as well, such as the Dyson sphere – an artificial mega structure entirely surrounding a star in 3D to capture the entire power output.
George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
Relevant for the issue of surveillance and how it reflects on social life and implicitly, architecture. The descriptions of the ministry buildings are memorable.
Isaac Asimov – Foundation series (1951)
A sci fi classic novel in which Asimov anticipates big data and open source encyclopedias and envisages a science which can use information to predict the future on a large scale. It is interesting from an architectural point of view as Trantor, the capital of the Galactic Empire, is a completely built up planet, covered in its entirety by a continuous mass of metal high-rise buildings and subterranean structures.
Stanislaw Lem – Solaris (1961)
Questions alien nature and the issue of communication between alien species. The Russian film by Andrey Tarkovsky is also a masterpiece.
Philip K Dick – all his work
Man in the High Castle (1963); Ubik; A Scanner Darkly (1978); Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968); The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) – all have subtle architectural references and address contemporary issues like immigration, mass-media, politics, drugs. Dark paranoid atmosphere throughout.
Frank Herbert – Dune (1965)
Not so much about architecture, but it is a realistic depiction of the layered complexities of a planet: politics, religion, sociology, economy, ecology, technology, etc.
Larry Niven – Ringworld (1970)
Larry Niven, in 1970 theorized the Niven Ring – a continuous ring-shaped mega structure that rotates around a star to create artificial gravity force; Architecture at a star-system scale.
Arthur C. Clarke – Rendezvous with Rama (1972)
One of Arthur C. Clarke’s most well-known works, the main architectural interest is on th 50 Km cylindrical alien star ship which has its own geography and cities. Clarke comes from a scientific background and this is reflected in the rigor of his novels. Also check 2001:A Space Odyssey and his work on fractals.
Gheorghe Sasarman – Squaring the Circle – A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony (1975)
Written in the style of Calvino’s Invisible Cities. it is a collection of short stories full of mythical and symbolic references about utopias, politics, geometry and of course, urban design. <Spoiler> Babylon is an egalitarian society where everyone is allowed access to the top of the ziggurat but the steep ramps are greased every day. Rome is a fractal city made by recursively placing forums at the intersection of the cardo and decumanum; tunnel cities, underground, or moving, or towering ones, Atlantis, all linked to a poetic idea about their creation.
Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
This is a comic series, but it has some unique ideas. My favourite is that Earth and some other planets are artificial mega structures manufactured on Magrathea for some wealthy clients. A planet-building factory! <Spoiler> Earth was originally commissioned as a mega human driven computer to compute the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything. One of the characters, Slartibartfast is a coastal designer and won a prestigious award for the design of the Norwegian fjords.
Serge Brussolo – Territoire de Fievre (1983)
Brussolo has an intimidating imagination. Short novels, easy to read, you can also check Les mangeurs de murailles (about a cube-shaped dystopian city), Portrait du diable en chapeau melon (about a labyrinthine prison city), <Spoiler> In Territoire de Fievre people live on a breathing planet and their planet gets ill.
Stephen Baxter – Ring (1994)
A mega structure formed of cosmic strings;
Stephen Baxter – The Time Ships (1995)
A sequel to HG Wells’ The Time Machine; It has a few architectural references, but the main one is the Dyson Sphere at the centre of the Solar System built by an advanced civilization;
Vernor Vinge – Rainbows End (2006)
It is a critical insight into plausible extensions of technologies available today, seen through the eyes of a man who just recovered from Alzheimers.
Eric Brown – Helix (2007)
Galactic-scale mega structure; Depending on the complex relationship between the geometry of the Helix and the stars, various ecosystems form;