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100+ Best Science Fiction Books of All Time

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Countless science fiction books, from short story collections to novels, line the shelves of book stores and libraries. Which to read next?

It can often be difficult to find out what suits your interests or sort out the good sci fi books from the great sci fi books. After all, for every great science fiction novel, there are many terrible and mediocre ones that will just waste your precious reading time.

That’s why we book together this list of the top sci fi books on the market. We’ve also included some handy references for your reading journey, hopefully leading you away from the riff-raff and toward the best sci-fi the genre has to offer.

What Makes a Must Read Sci Fi Book?

Sci Fi novels are not unlike normal novels. The best sci fi novels are, at their core, great literature regardless of genre.

Too often, lists of this type become more “best sci fi book series,” with individual and standalone books taking a back seat. Especially standalone novels. Yes, we included multiple series on the list, but we tried to include a plethora of standalone novels.

What is the Best Book in All of Science Fiction?

This is an impossible question to answer, but let us explain why.

It depends on if you’re looking for the best new sci fi books or classic sci fi books. It depends on if you’re looking for subgenre or something indicative of the genre as a whole, such as a tentpole novel that inspires many more after it.

Do series count? Do you count all books in a series or just the best ones?

Even if you can agree on taste and preference, these questions aren’t going away. So, to that end, let’s talk about our criteria.

Considerations & Criteria

First, we had to determine, what is a sci-fi book? Certainly, it’s a story of speculative fiction. Something unlike our world today.

But how many fantasy elements until science fiction books become fantasy books?

Ultimately, we decided that this isn’t a best fantasy books list. We’ll save that for another list. So, if it was too close, we yanked it.

As for series, we decided to include them and include all books in the series. If we didn’t include series, we’d skip some of the genre’s best. And if we cherry picked books from the series, it wouldn’t help very much as a reader’s guide, which we intend this list to be, at least in part.

Our Picks: Best Science Fiction Books

With that in mind, here are the 100 best Sci-Fi books in no particular order.

#-C

best science fiction books - childhood's end
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Once an enigma is uncovered and investigations begin, things begin to take a horrifying turn for everyone involved.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

This award winning story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to redo its greatest mistakes.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is practically a household name due to the Stanley Kubrick film. However, the novel can seem a lot more disturbing and anarchic than the film adaptation.

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

Thousands of years in the future, many races inhabit a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths.

After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh

After The Apocalypse is a series of short stories that weave together a number of different apocalyptic scenarios; it’s unique blend of sci-fi and horror takes quite an innovative approach to the genre.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

In Altered Carbon, when ex-envoy and now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug in San Francisco and presented with a catch-22 offer, we’re taken on a powerful tale.

Altered Carbon Books
  1. Altered Carbon
  2. Broken Angels
  3. Woken Furies

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros. Can its passengers survive?

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

After ignoring advice from preeminent scientists, the American government accidentally manages to bring a space virus to Earth, with all the consequences that follow.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

This follows the story of a man who falls in love with a beautiful Martian, the titular Princess. What could possibly go wrong with this inter-species romance?

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

This follows an undercover narcotics agent who calls himself Bob Arctor is desperate to discover the ultimate source of Substance D. But to find any kind of lead he has to pose as a user and, inevitably, without realising what is happening, Arctor is soon as addicted as the junkies he works alongside.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) by Madeleine L’Engle

The main character’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. What could have happened?

Time Quintet Books
  1. A Wrinkle in Time
  2. A Wind in the Door
  3. A Swiftly Tilting Planet
  4. Many Waters
  5. The Arm of the Starfish
  6. Dragons in the Waters
  7. A House Like a Lotus
  8. An Acceptable Time

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard

A surprisingly competent entry by L. Ron Hubbard, this follows the story of humanity being enslaved and the subsequent revolt.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World, a 1931 dystopian novel, features futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Written with deadpan humor and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale follows the aftermath of the apocalypse and everything that comes with it.

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

Humanity has been enslaved by the Overlords who have effectively made the planet peaceful. But at what cost?

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

In this novel, there are deviations in birth, which are rooted out and destroyed as offences and abominations.

Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein

In the distant future and another galaxy, slavery has been brought back. But one abolitionist has planned to undo this.

The City & the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

This is Arthur C. Clarke’s masterful evocation of the far future of humanity, and is often considered his finest novel.

Contact by Carl Sagan

Aliens make contact with Earth, giving humanity the resources need to travel space and meet this new species. But could it be worth it?

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Described as the best book you “claim” to have read, Cryptonomicon was ahead of its time writing about cryptocurrency. Plus, the intersection of multiple themes, including history, make for a compelling read.

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

A brilliantly funny collection of stories for the next age, from the celebrated author of Solaris. There’s a story for almost every sci-fi fan in this collection.

D-F

best science fiction books - do androids dream of electric sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Set immediately before and after a meteor shower, the majority of humanity has been blinded and must manage to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world.

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester’s award winning novel is set in a world where telepathy is common, and the inverted detective story takes a number of surprising twists and turns.

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

This is to some extent a science fiction coming-of-age story, focused on a young girl named Nell, and set in a future world in which nanotechnology affects all aspects of life.

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed follows the main characters attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Better known to people as the basis for the film Blade Runner, the book itself is quite different due to the usual Philip K. Dick personal touches. Any fan of the film will definitely enjoy the novel it’s based on.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

A crisis strangely linking past and future strands the main character in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. How will she get back? Can she get back?

The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein

Dan Davis has finally made the invention of a lifetime: a household robot with extraordinary abilities, destined to dramatically change the landscape of everyday routine. But what happens once they begin to gain sentience?

Dune by Frank Herbert

Written by Frank Herbert, Dune centers on a member of a Noble House, Paul Atreides, that owns an inhospitable planet; however, the planet is the sole source of a mineral that can enhance mental abilities.

Dune Books
  1. Dune
  2. Dune Messiah
  3. Children of Dune
  4. God Emperor of Dune
  5. Heretics of Dune
  6. Chapterhouse: Dune

Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Some may consider this more of a fantasy series, yet it’s clearly set in a far-flung future version of Earth. Jack Vance is a legend of sci-fi, having been inducted as a Grand Master in The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and this is a fine example of the master’s work.

Dying Earth Books
  1. The Dying Earth
  2. The Eyes of the Overworld
  3. Cugel’s Saga
  4. Rhialto the Marvellous

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The original novel stands as one of the most popular science fiction books of all time and for good reason. Focused on the results of genetic experimentation as well as manipulation, Ender’s Game and its sequels feature a number of twists and turns throughout the plot, although the first novel takes place primarily at battle school.

Ender’s Game Books
  1. Earth Unaware
  2. Earth Afire
  3. Earth Awakens
  4. The Swarm
  5. The Hive
  6. The Queens
  7. Ender’s Game
  8. Ender’s Shadow
  9. A War of Gifts
  10. Children of the Fleet
  11. Shadow of the Hegemon
  12. Shadow Puppets
  13. Shadow of the Giant
  14. Ender in Exile
  15. Shadows in Flight
  16. First Meetings
  17. Speaker for the Dead
  18. Xenocide
  19. Children of the Mind
  20. Shadows Alive

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

This follows the story of an Eternal, a man whose job it is to range through past and present Centuries, monitoring and, where necessary, altering Time’s myriad cause-and-effect relationships. But are things about to change drastically?

Eon by Greg Bear

Humanity is on the brink of nuclear confrontation when the 300 kilometer-long stone flashed out of nothingness and into Earth’s orbit. Surely it comes in peace, right?

The Expanse Series by James S. A. Corey

You may know it better by the Amazon series adaotation, but it all started with this series of books by James S.A. Corey.

  1. Leviathan Wakes
  2. Caliban’s War
  3. Abaddon’s Gate
  4. Cibola Burn
  5. Nemesis Games
  6. Babylon’s Ashes
  7. Persepolis Rising
  8. Tiamat’s Wrath
  9. Unnamed final novel

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

One of the best science fiction books of all time, and certainly one of the only science fiction novels almost everyone of an appropriate age has read at some point. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife. But things begin to go sour quickly into the novel and almost tears his family apart.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

A cross-dimensional feminist novel starring four women protagonists, The Female Man is a sci-fi beacon of feminist thought from the 1970s.

The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Far out from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shape shifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But are they actually gone?

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott

This story follows a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women-thin, straight lines-are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status. However, strange events begin to occur.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This tells the story of a mentally disabled man , Charlie Gordon (Charly Gordon), whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. Surely, he won’t see the same outcome as the lab rat?

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

A military sci-fi novel written by Joe Haldeman, The Forever War tells the story of a group of soldiers locked in battle with an extra-terrestrial species that seemingly never stops.

The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov

The Foundation Series follows the life of a mathematician who ends up being able to predict the future through maths, predicting the imminent fall of a galactic civilization. Because of this, he ends up creating the Foundation in order to stop the collapse and a subsequent Dark Age from occurring.

Foundation Books
  1. Foundation
  2. Foundation and Empire
  3. Second Foundation
  4. Foundation’s Edge
  5. Foundation and Earth
  6. Prelude to Foundation
  7. Forward the Foundation

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Widely regarded as the first science fiction book of all time, this novel was basically written on a dare after a night of ghost stories. It’s not only a great read, regardless of how well you think you know the story, but it’s a piece of history.

G-I

best science fiction books - hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

Humanity has opened a gateway to the rest of the Universe, but what happens when humanity uses said gateway too much for their own gain?

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov

The main plot line is a project by those who inhabit a parallel universe (the para-Universe) with different physical laws from this one. By exchanging matter from their universe with our universe, they seek to exploit the differences in physical laws.

The Grand Tour Series by Ben Bova

Written by Ben Bova, the Grand Tour series follows the themes of exploration and colonization through central characters and organizations colonizing a number of planets across the solar system. In each story, the plot follows a relatively weak character as they eventually become a hero.

Grand Tour Books
  1. Powersat
  2. Empire Builders
  3. Mars
  4. Moonrise
  5. Moonwar
  6. Return to Mars
  7. The Precipice
  8. Jupiter
  9. The Rock Rats
  10. The Silent War
  11. The Aftermath
  12. Saturn
  13. Leviathans of Jupiter
  14. Titan
  15. Mercury
  16. Mars Life
  17. Venus
  18. The Return
  19. Farside
  20. New Earth
  21. Death Wave
  22. Apes and Angels
  23. Survival
  24. Earth

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This follows a young boys journey to find out what happened to his sister; this will take him down a dangerous path of discover, and one which he will have to walk alone, if he is to uncover the truth, and remove the cloud of doubt above his head

Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

This story begins when the main character answers a distress radio call from Peewee, scrawny rag doll-clutching genius aged 11. With the comforting cop Mother Thing, three-eyed tripod Wormfaces kidnap them to the Moon and Pluto.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

One of the funniest, arguably the funniest, science fiction books ever written. This hilarious book follows a human, Arthur Dent, as he travels the galaxy and runs into many different races of aliens.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Books
  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  2. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  3. Life, the Universe and Everything
  4. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
  5. Mostly Harmless
  6. And Another Thing…

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games probably already seems familiar to you given the success of the film franchise adaptation. However, there’s definitely a whole lot more in the novels than many might believe.

Hunger Games Books
  1. The Hunger Games
  2. Catching Fire
  3. Mockingjay

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Set on a foreign planet and featuring a creature called the Shrike. The book cover promises that “Armageddon approaches,” and the question is posed whether humanity can defend itself.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Numerous films that have been based on it and its main character, Dr. Robert Neville. This offers a few more surprises than many may think, and it’s a true relic of the apocalypse sub genre of science fiction.

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie

Starships are people, too, in this mind-bending series of novels by Ann Leckie. Readers follow Breq, who is a destroyed ship’s former AI who inhabits a human body during their search for revenge.

Imperial Radch Books
  1. Ancillary Justice
  2. Ancillary Sword
  3. Ancillary Mercy

Ilium by Dan Simmons

On Earth, a small band of the few remaining humans pursues a lost past and devastating truth—as four sentient machines depart from Jovian space to investigate, perhaps terminate, the potentially catastrophic emissions emanating from a mountaintop, miles above the terraformed surface of the Red Planet.

J-L

best science fiction books - the left hand of darkness by ursula k le guin
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Jules Verse–one of history’s first authors of science fiction books. Journey to the Center of the Earth is exactly what it sounds like, but features tonnes of twists and turns throughout the entire story.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton has had so many adaptations from his novels that he’s almost known more for science fiction movies than science fiction books. Jurassic Park may be an amazing movie, but it started as an amazing book.

Kabu, Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

Similar to After The Apocalypse, this book weaves together a number of sci-fi and other genre bending stories into one cohesive blend of seemingly unrelated stories.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Lathe of Heaven is a dark vision and a warning – a fable of power uncontrolled and uncontrollable. What happens when you try to play God?

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Considered part of the author’s Hainish Cycle, a number of unconnected stories set on Hain, The Left Hand of Darkness is renowned as a pillar of gender discussion in the science fiction community.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Originally a self-published Kickstarter project, this debut novel focuses more on character development than action as it follows a spaceship and its crew on a series of missions.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology and made themselves immortal gods. But who’ll be able to lead the rebellion and stop them?

M-O

best science fiction books - neuromancer
Neuromancer by William Gibson

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in the realm of science fiction books while breaking many barriers.

The Many-Colored Land by Julian May

When a one-way time tunnel to Earth’s distant past opens up, people flock through. But they couldn’t have predicted what awaited them beyond.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Best known as the film of the same name, the book by Andy Weir follows an American astronaut left stranded in Mars, desperately trying to stay alive while finding a way back home.

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

Written by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Mars Trilogy focuses on the settling of Mars through a few different perspectives. Throughout the trilogy, Robinson focuses on some themes, such as isolation, overpopulation and more.

Mars Trilogy Books
  1. Red Mars
  2. Green Mars
  3. Blue Mars

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

This bestseller focuses on the rebellion of a former penal colony on the Moon against its masters on the Earth and the subsequent turmoil.

More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon

The protagonists of More Than Human struggle to find who they are and whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it. What could go wrong?

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

This follows the discovery of an ancient civilization, at least one million years old, are welcoming, kind, yet evasive, with a dark problem they have not solved in over a million years.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Here’s a shining example of cyper punk, a subgenre of science fiction books. One of the best data thieves on the planet, Neuromancer’s central character is tasked with a last-chance run against an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell

George Orwell’s classic 1984 is a must read for anyone interested in dystopian sci-fi novels.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army. What could possibly go wrong?

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

In this sci-fi novel a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer him as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there.

P-S

best science fiction books - rendezvous with rama
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton

The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some four hundred light-years in diameter, contains more than six hundred worlds, interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. Add in an opposition by the Guardians of Selfhood and it tells the story of betrayal, aliens and manipulation.

Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

This tells the story of a humanoid/machine symbiotic society. Main character is mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, he accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

The Postman by David Brin

David Brin’s The Postman is the dramatically moving saga of a man who rekindled the spirit of America through the power of a dream.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is probably one of the most successful science fiction books of recent memory. Suffice it to say that a virtual reality game has become addictive for much of humanity. But, what happens when someone tries to take control?

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton

Centuries in the future, humanity has colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Surely, a catastrophe won’t have too much of an effect, right?

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Written by Arthur C. Clarke, this tale follows a group of people exploring a mysterious alien ship that mysteriously appears in the solar system. Throughout the exploration, mystery and intrigue awaits.

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

Written by Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space follows a number of seemingly unrelated people who end up being involved in a galaxy wide threat to humanity.

Ringworld by Larry Niven

Larry Niven’s classic follows a 200 year old man that’s offered a mysterious job; an expedition to the Ringworld, which ends up going terribly wrong when the Ringworld ends up defending itself from the perceived invaders.

Ringworld Books
  1. Ringworld
  2. The Ringworld Engineers
  3. The Ringworld Throne
  4. Ringworld’s Children
  5. Fate of Worlds

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

One of many science fiction books that may not immediately come across as sci fi, mainly because it’s such a good book regardless of genre. A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. The post-apocalyptic world throws a number of surprises at the two.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

This follows the main character as he ventures illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. Can he find the answer to his problems?

The Robot Series by Isaac Asimov

Robots and Isaac Asimov go together like robots and motor oil. The science fiction grand master literally wrote the books, plural, on the subject.

Robot Series Books
  1. I, Robot
  2. The Complete Robot
  3. Robot Dreams
  4. Robot Visions
  5. The Bicentennial Man / The Positronic Man
  6. The Caves of Steel
  7. The Naked Sun
  8. The Robots of Dawn
  9. Robots and Empire

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. What could go wrong?

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This novel was one of the first to truly show science fiction books could be literary at the same time. Despite its horror-esque title, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time, featuring the time-bendy alien species from Tralfamadore, reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre and outrageous that it’s almost impossible to forget.

Solaris by Stanisław Lem

This follows the main character as he realizes that a newly inhabited planet brings out the most harrowing and repressed memories in those who live there. But how can they make it stop?

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

This award-winning trilogy was released back-to-back in eight month increments in an innovative “binge-watching” strategy inspired by services like Netflix. It follows a group that conducts expeditions into a U.S. held area of quarantined land called Area X.

Southern Reach Books
  1. Annihilation
  2. Authority
  3. Acceptance

Sparrow Series by Mary Doria Russell

Humans discover music transmitted from a distant planet and go to investigate, but only one man, a Jesuit priest, returns. The Sparrow has been called as much a philosophical literary novel as a science fiction book.

  1. The Sparrow
  2. Children of God

Sphere by Michael Crichton

A spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old. Obviously, nothing can go wrong.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. Could he be about to meet his end?

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner

Two men’s lives weave through one of science fiction’s most praised novels. Written in a way that echoes John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. Trilogy, Stand on Zanzibar is a cross-section of a world overpopulated by the billions.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Set during a space war (either the third of fourth, depending on the character), this follows a soldier as he begins his training and eventually sets off for interstellar war.

The Stars My Destination (Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester

Gully (Gulliver) Foyle is a teleporter bent on revenge. Set in a future where humans have colonized the solar system, this novel is considered by notable sci-fi greats as one of the best elite few the genre has to offer.

Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang

This short story collection includes multiple winners, but the crown jewel is the (almost) titular Story of Your Life, which was later made into the film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, directed by Denis Villenueve.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

It may not immediately ring a bell as one of the best science fiction books, being more considered a classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a must-read for any sci-fi and horror fans.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This focuses on a human, Valentine Michael Smith, raised on Mars but relocated to Earth as he struggles to understand the complexities and nuances of his new planet.

T-V

best science fiction books - three-body problem
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson

Written by Poul Anderson, Tau Zero follows a group of 25 men and 25 women as they struggle to reach the nearby Beta Virginis. However, their ship is broken halfway through their journey, with the crew desperate to figure out how to proceed.

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

The first Asian novel ever to win the Hugo Award, the Three-Body Problem was originally published in Chinese and only later translated to English. It’s been praised by Western audiences for its unique perspective, as well as being a hit in its native country of China.

Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy
  1. The Three-Body Problem
  2. The Dark Forest
  3. Death’s End

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

When industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z. It is far more potent than Can-D, but threatens to plunge the world into a permanent state of drugged illusion controlled by the mysterious Eldritch.

Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

Time Enough for Love follows Lazarus Long through a vast and magnificent timescape of centuries and worlds.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

This is the story that launched H.G. Wells’ career and focuses on a Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era, including his encounter with the next stage of human evolution called the Morlocks.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer

To Your Scattered Bodies Go is the beginning to the story of Riverworld, Philip José Farmer’s unequaled tale about life after death.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Jules Verne is one of the earliest, most influential writers of science fiction books. A blend of a number of seemingly unrelated events involving the sea and Captain Nemo’s submarine, narrated by Professor Pierre Arronax, this novel adds a lot of intrigue and mystery to the sci-fi genre while also bending many of its rules.

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

This scathing metaphysical comedy of death and salvation is a tour de force of paranoid menace and absurd comedy, in which the dead offer business advice, buy their next reincarnation and run the risk of dying agai

Uplift Series by David Brin

David Brin’s Uplift novels are among the most thrilling and extraordinary science fiction ever written. However, it’s the second entry in the franchise, Startide Rising, that definitely stands out from the rest.

Uplift Series Books
  1. Sundiver
  2. Startide Rising
  3. The Uplift War
  4. Brightness Reef
  5. Infinity’s Shore
  6. Heaven’s Reach

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

Use of Weapons is the third novel in a series by Iain M. Banks, and concludes two different narratives spread across the trilogy. The main narrative follows Cheradenine Zakalwe, who was born outside ‘the Culture’ but recruited into it through what’s called Special Circumstances in the book.

VALIS by Philip K. Dick

The first in a trilogy, this disorienting and incredibly funny novel is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat.

Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

This series of books features a worm-hole jumping version of future humanity, including one colony that was isolated from the rest of society due to a worm hole collapse.

Vorkosigan Saga Books
  1. Vorkosigan’s Game, an omnibus volume consisting of The Vor Game and “Borders of Infinity”
  2. Cordelia’s Honor, combined edition of Shards of Honor, Aftermaths, and Barrayar with an afterword by the author
  3. Young Miles, omnibus: The Warrior’s Apprentice, The Mountains of Mourning, and The Vor Game
  4. Miles, Mystery and Mayhem, omnibus: Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, and Labyrinth
  5. Miles Errant, omnibus: Borders of Infinity, Brothers in Arms, and Mirror Dance
  6. Miles, Mutants and Microbes, omnibus: Falling Free, Labyrinth and Diplomatic Immunity
  7. Miles in Love, omnibus: Komarr, A Civil Campaign and Winterfair Gifts

W-Z

best science fiction books - watchmen
Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Not only a brilliant science fiction novel, Watchmen is possibly the greatest graphic novel of all time. Explaining too much would spoil the joy of discovering it firsthand. We can’t recommend this one enough.

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds story has been told countless times across a variety of media. Mars attacks Earth and this tells the story of humanity attempting to defend itself.

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak

More than a hundred years before the novel begins, an alien named Ulysses had recruited the main character as the keeper of Earth’s only galactic transfer station. After this, he discovers the horror that lies across the galaxy.

Conclusion

This is by no means meant to be a static and complete list, never to be amended or updated.

We want input from you on what we missed, where we went wrong, and how we can improve this resource. We’ll be updating this routinely as time goes by to serve the science fiction community.

Thank you to those on social media and the comments below who will help, or have already helped, to improve this list.

Did we miss out on any of your favorite Sci-Fi books? Let us know what your favorite science fiction books are in the comments, and we may just add it to the list.

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