(not all set in current day, but less intense science)
Here are juvenile and young adult “contemporary” sci fi books that I really like.
The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex (SO much better than the movie!). Aliens invade Earth—very badly. Laugh-out-loud funny, but still touching.
The Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts. A girl with a telepathic “birth defect” goes looking for others like her. I like that she still has real-life problems with her babysitter and next-door neighbor.
Pamela F. Service. Yep, just pick up any of them. Some lean toward fantasy (Winter of Magic’s Return) but are still sci-fi-ish. Some are straight sci-fi, like Stinker From Space.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (but unfortunately not the sequels). Don’t watch the movie… The book is a great illustration of “equal doesn’t mean same,” in a (dys)utopian world.
Alexander Key. My favorites are The Forgotten Door and the Witch Mountain duology. He’s fond of having “fantasy” talents like telepathy come from a sci-fi source.
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory series, by Roald Dahl. Hilarious and fun. Don’t watch ANY of the movies unless you want to hear the songs.
Diane Duane (also in adult Sci Fi). The Young Wizards series are her YA books. Can you learn wizardry from a book? Maybe… Why isn’t this in my fantasy list? Because it feels like sci-fi, especially once they start bouncing around the galaxy.
David Weber’s Tree Cat Wars series. He’s famous for his adult sci-fi, but I like the Stephanie Harrington books. A young colonist discovers her new planet is already occupied by an intelligent species… They just look different. But can she convince the rest of the colony?
This list is a little shorter, so if you have good ideas for me, leave a comment. 🙂
Marty C Lee