Car owners are well aware of the fact that a car is more than just a means of transport: it can have its own character, story, and destiny. This is why so many writers took inspiration from the image of the automobile and embodied it in their works.
How about cars that are the protagonist, though?
Here are 5 fiction books where cars appear in the role of main characters and influence the fate of their owners rather than the other way around.
Top 5 Fiction Books Dedicated to Cars
Robert Young, Romance in a twenty-first century used car lot
This American sci-fi writer of the sixties offers a picture of the automobile as it may exist in the near future. Robert Young immerses the reader in a twenty-first-century society where people wear their cars as if they were dresses. It is considered the height of indecency to be walking around ‘naked’, meaning without a car. Such people are called nudists and exiled to reservations, as the idea of not having one’s own car is considered indecent.
Stephen King, Christine
Stephen King, one of the greatest American authors of the sci-fi and horror genres, has dedicated a number of his books specifically to machines. His most memorable car-related work is Christine, which is what the main character names his car.
The story begins with a young guy buying an old car cheaply, unaware of Christine’s sentience—or her homicidal tendencies. He spends all his free time on its restoration, at which point a sequence of strange events begins to happen. Naturally, the reason behind them is the car.
Arthur Hailey, Wheels
A master of the industrial novel, the Canadian writer Arthur Haley realized in the mid-twentieth century exactly how far the development of the automobile industry would take mankind.
His novel Wheels shows the life of the car corporation, the problems of social and racial inequality, as well as the scale of the shifts occurring in society with the increasing technological progress. The book’s central theme is the car and the impact this technological marvel will have on people in the near future—i.e. our present.
Even though the novel is arguably no longer a fantasy, it is interesting to see how many of his predictions have come to be realized.
Clement Vautel, The Last Time
French writer Clement Vautel imagined that in the year 2215 no one would walk, as people would prefer not to use their feet, traveling instead by car, plane, and high-speed buses (no mention of hoverboards, unfortunately).
The only exception is the last pedestrian, a humble laborer, who still considers his legs to be essential body parts. He stubbornly continues to walk and soon becomes a major Parisian landmark. He is called “the circus man” and is displayed to children like some sort of outlandish monkey. After being called on television and getting widely mocked, he is eventually relocated to a museum, next to a dinosaur display.
Richard Matheson, The Duel
While you may know The Duel as Spielberg’s debut movie, the script actually comes from a book by Richard Matheson.
A traveling salesman is on his way to a business meeting. After overtaking a huge petrol tanker, he becomes the victim of pursuit by an unknown assailant. At first, he can’t figure out who the driver is and what they want from him. After dinner at a roadside cafe, he realizes that there is no one behind the wheel, and that the truck is, in fact, a huge, soulless machine that seeks to destroy the main character. A metaphor, perhaps, for how AI could destroy the lives of people by replacing them?
Don’t read and drive!
Since you can find most of these books in audiobook format, it may be the perfect setting if you listened to them while driving your car, savoring the irony! You can even do so while a luxury car thanks to the availability of car rental services. Whether you are looking for SUV car rentals or to hire a sports car, such companies offer a great variety to choose from.
And if you’d rather write about a car than read about it, I hope the books above have stirred your imagination. Happy writing!
Never thought of this genre–or a very sub-genre I suppose! Interesting.
Thank you, John! Not sure it’s an actual genre, mind you; just a selection of books around a common topic 🙂