Get personalized recommendations and earn points toward a free book!
Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List
The ReadDown

The Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time

A while ago, we came up with a list of the Best Fantasy Novels of All Time. Now we’re doing the same with science fiction! Some of these are classic tales you will surely know, but others are excellent works of science fiction that may have been flying under the radar. So, dear readers, as you make your way down the list, congratulate yourselves on the books you’ve read and add the unfamiliar ones to your TBR list. Note: This list is organized alphabetically.
  1. 1
    1984 Book Cover Picture
    1984 Book Cover Picture

    1984

    by George Orwell

    Our favorite science fiction tends to use the future to illuminate and discuss issues in our present. 1984 is a prime example of this, a dystopian novel where our culture has become the victim of government surveillance and public manipulation. An important read for any age.
    1984 Book Cover Picture
    1984 Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  2. 2
    Altered Carbon (Netflix Series Tie-in Edition) Book Cover Picture
    Altered Carbon (Netflix Series Tie-in Edition) Book Cover Picture

    Altered Carbon (Netflix Series Tie-in Edition)

    by Richard K. Morgan

    Set in a future where interstellar travel is done by “sleeving” one’s consciousness into new bodies, the story follows a private investigator whose past collides with his present as he attempts to solve a rich man’s murder. A dark and gritty cyberpunk experience. Now a Netflix series!
    Altered Carbon (Netflix Series Tie-in Edition) Book Cover Picture
    Altered Carbon (Netflix Series Tie-in Edition) Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  3. 3
    Amatka Book Cover Picture
    Amatka Book Cover Picture

    Amatka

    by Karin Tidbeck

    Vanja is an information assistant in a world where language literally controls reality. After being sent to the ice colony Amatka to gather intelligence for her government, she falls in love with her housemate and decides to extend her mission. She begins to realize, though, that there is something deeply amiss in this colony.
    Amatka Book Cover Picture
    Amatka Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  4. 4
    Ammonite Book Cover Picture
    Ammonite Book Cover Picture

    Ammonite

    by Nicola Griffith

    Ammonite, Griffith’s first novel, won the Lambda Award and the James Tiptree Jr Award. A human expedition to the planet Jeep is nearly wiped out by a virus that kills all the men and most of the women. Some centuries later, an anthropologist, Marghe, is sent to test a vaccine on the descendents of the original expedition, themselves all women. As she lives and moves among them, Marghe finds herself changed in profound and unexpected ways.
    Ammonite Book Cover Picture
    Ammonite Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  5. 5
    The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Cover Picture
    The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Cover Picture

    The Best of All Possible Worlds

    by Karen Lord

    After their homeworld is destroyed, the surviving members of the Sadiri must find a way for their people to continue, despite the fact that most of the survivors are male. To do so, they make their way across the colony planet of Cygnus Beta under the guidance of a woman from the planet’s Central Government, encountering all kinds of people and cultures in their mission to save their vanishing race.
    The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Cover Picture
    The Best of All Possible Worlds Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  6. 6
    The Big Book of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture
    The Big Book of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture

    The Big Book of Science Fiction

    by

    Anthologies rarely make “Best Of” lists, but this one belongs on here — because it contains stories by many of the great science fiction writers we are discussing in our list. Le Guin, Asimov, Doctorow, Liu, Wells, Clarke, Butler, Vonnegut, and the list goes on and on! A wonderful primer for science fiction readers.
    The Big Book of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture
    The Big Book of Science Fiction Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  7. 7
    The Blazing World and Other Writings Book Cover Picture
    The Blazing World and Other Writings Book Cover Picture

    The Blazing World and Other Writings

    by Margaret Cavendish

    An early work of feminist Utopian fiction and proto-science fiction, The Blazing World tells the story of a woman from our earth who travels to another world via a portal at the North Pole, where she becomes empress of a society made up of fantastical half-animal half-human species. The book, published in 1666, reflects Enlightenment-era theoretical science, with Cavendish imagining submarines, boats with engines, and a universe without end.
    The Blazing World and Other Writings Book Cover Picture
    The Blazing World and Other Writings Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  8. 8
    Brave New World Book Cover Picture
    Brave New World Book Cover Picture

    Brave New World

    by Aldous Huxley

    Often cited by critics of genetic engineering despite being written before the discovery of DNA, Brave New World imagines a future where people are divided into castes chosen before birth and kept docile through the use of drugs. Heavily relying on references to Shakespeare, it offers scathing criticisms of capitalism, utopian ideals and conformity.
    Brave New World Book Cover Picture
    Brave New World Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  9. 9
    A Canticle for Leibowitz Book Cover Picture
    A Canticle for Leibowitz Book Cover Picture

    A Canticle for Leibowitz

    by Walter Miller

    Nuclear war razed the Earth, plunging its survivors into a new dark age in which science is reviled and books are destroyed on sight. A small order of Catholic monks dedicated to a legendary miracle worker hold back the wave of ignorance as best that it can as barbarism swells at its gates. A Canticle for Leibowitz is a bittersweet tale that might make you worry about our future as a species.
    A Canticle for Leibowitz Book Cover Picture
    A Canticle for Leibowitz Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  10. 10
    The Children of Men Book Cover Picture
    The Children of Men Book Cover Picture

    The Children of Men

    by P. D. James

    Building a premise that feels all too plausible, British author P.D. James crafted a modern classic that continues to feel disturbingly relevant with each passing year. Inspired by the real issue of declining birthrates around the world, James imagines a world where that birth rate declined to zero, and an England under the thumb of an autocratic government. Within this narrative framework James explores themes of human frailty, the societal necessity of procreation, love, and hopelessness. It is a powerful novel lifted by James’ gift for deft, sharp characterization and steadily rising tension.
    The Children of Men Book Cover Picture
    The Children of Men Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  11. 11
    The City & The City Book Cover Picture
    The City & The City Book Cover Picture

    The City & The City

    by China Miéville

    Combining his fantastic weird fiction with a police procedural, Miéville delivers a tightly-knit story that won the Hugo Award. The novel takes Inspector Tyador Borlú, of the Extreme Crime Squad, through two very different worlds on the hunt for a murderer. Astounding storytelling by one of the best writers working today.
    The City & The City Book Cover Picture
    The City & The City Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  12. 12
    Darwin's Radio Book Cover Picture
    Darwin's Radio Book Cover Picture

    Darwin’s Radio

    by Greg Bear

    Bear envisions a world where the next leap in human evolution is not superhero mutations but rather a small step that changes the world. Great characters fighting against bigotry amidst scientific upheaval and government control. Winner of the Nebula Award.
    Darwin's Radio Book Cover Picture
    Darwin's Radio Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  13. 13
    Dhalgren Book Cover Picture
    Dhalgren Book Cover Picture

    Dhalgren

    by Samuel R. Delany

    The city of Bellona is not what it once was — most people have fled, leaving behind only the madmen, the criminals, and the desperate. And a young man, a poet known as the Kid. This dense and intricate tale winds its way through issues of race, gender, and sexuality in a near-future, devastated landscape, in a way that simply cannot be missed.
    Dhalgren Book Cover Picture
    Dhalgren Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  14. 14
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Book Cover Picture
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Book Cover Picture

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    by Philip K. Dick

    War and pollution have taken their toll on Earth, leaving it very nearly uninhabitable. Those who can afford to do so have fled off-world, leaving what’s left to the not so fortunate, like Rick Deckard. Rick, who makes his living eliminating renegade androids, is prompted to question his work, and even his own identity, during a particularly challenging assignment. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is an amazing novel, and perhaps one of the most approachable of Dick’s many works.
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Book Cover Picture
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  15. 15
    Doomsday Book Book Cover Picture
    Doomsday Book Book Cover Picture

    Doomsday Book

    by Connie Willis

    Time travel is a reality, and, finally, historians can observe the past as it happened. At Oxford College, a trip to 14th century England has gone awry, stranding a young historian in the midst of the bubonic plague. As a team in the present era works to bring her back home, a new and deadly form of the flu begins to spread through London. Is there a connection between the two epidemics? If you like medical mysteries and historical fiction, you’ll love this book.
    Doomsday Book Book Cover Picture
    Doomsday Book Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  16. 16
    Downbelow Station Book Cover Picture
    Downbelow Station Book Cover Picture

    Downbelow Station

    by C. J. Cherryh

    C.J. Cherryh’s body of work is so expansive that if you asked twenty different people for her best book, you’d get twenty different answers. But it’s hard to argue with a Hugo Award and a Locus shortlist, so for my money, Downbelow Station is the place to start. Set in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union Universe, Downbelow Station is a story of corporate space exploration gone awry as humankind expands outwards among the stars.
    Downbelow Station Book Cover Picture
    Downbelow Station Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  17. 17
    Dragonflight Book Cover Picture
    Dragonflight Book Cover Picture

    Dragonflight

    by Anne McCaffrey

    The story of a young woman being recruited to telepathically bond with a queen dragon to lead her people and battle Thread on the planet of Pern has been a beloved favorite among all ages of readers for decades. McCaffrey was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula Awards — and with great reason.
    Dragonflight Book Cover Picture
    Dragonflight Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  18. 18
    Dune Book Cover Picture
    Dune Book Cover Picture

    Dune

    by Frank Herbert

    The first rule of Dune is: do not read the whole series. Frank Herbert’s hypnotic vision of a feudal far future shaped by the mind-altering powers of a substance called spice, centered on the planet, Arrakis, where the spice is mined, is a classic that still feels groundbreaking today.
    Dune Book Cover Picture
    Dune Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  19. 19
    Dust Book Cover Picture
    Dust Book Cover Picture

    Dust

    by Elizabeth Bear

    This is generation ship fiction like you’ve never read before. Artificial intelligence, angels, and humans all coexist (albeit not entirely peacefully) on the Jacob’s Ladder, which has been stuck in orbit for centuries. The story follows a noblewoman, a serving girl, and an angel as they journey through the crumbling ship in an attempt to stop a war between their houses — and in the process, change the order of their world.
    Dust Book Cover Picture
    Dust Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  20. 20
    The Female Man Book Cover Picture
    The Female Man Book Cover Picture

    The Female Man

    by Joanna Russ

    Jeannine, Joanna, Janet, and Jael – four women from four alternate realities, one an altered past where the Great Depression never ended, one a mirror of our own world, one a utopian all-female earth, and one where men and women live in separate, warring enclaves. When these four women meet and visit each other’s realities, their notions of womanhood clash and change, and they must reexamine everything they know.
    The Female Man Book Cover Picture
    The Female Man Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  21. 21
    The Fold Book Cover Picture
    The Fold Book Cover Picture

    The Fold

    by Peter Clines

    When DARPA researchers stumble upon a way to fold dimensions, enabling humans to travel long distances in a matter of seconds, they’re certain their discovery will change the course of human history. But Mike Erikson isn’t so sure. The researchers who test the doorway are coming back… off. And it’s up to Mike to unravel the science and save his team — and everything else. The Fold is an intricate yet fast-paced sci-fi thriller you can devour in a single sitting.
    The Fold Book Cover Picture
    The Fold Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  22. 22
    Foundation Book Cover Picture
    Foundation Book Cover Picture

    Foundation

    by Isaac Asimov

    One of the seminal works of hard science fiction, Foundation reimagines the fall of the Roman Empire as taking place on a galactic scale and an effort on a remote planet to protect humanity from a 30,000-year-long dark age. Jumping decades within the narrative and focused on economics and history, Asimov’s most famous book can be a tough read but it’s well worth the investment.
    Foundation Book Cover Picture
    Foundation Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  23. 23
    Frankenstein Book Cover Picture
    Frankenstein Book Cover Picture

    Frankenstein

    by Mary Shelley

    Although it is an unquestioned Gothic classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is among the earliest and purest examples of the science fiction genre. It would be difficult to overstate the influence of Frankenstein and its enormous impact on both literature and pop culture. In the 200 years since its initial publication, the narrative DNA of the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his creature can be found in the countless stories that have followed in its considerable wake.
    Frankenstein Book Cover Picture
    Frankenstein Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  24. 24
    The Gone World Book Cover Picture
    The Gone World Book Cover Picture

    The Gone World

    by Tom Sweterlitsch

    When a Navy SEAL murders his family and disappears, an NCIS agent is tasked with determining whether or not the crime is connected with the Terminus: a mysterious world-destroying event encountered by a top secret team of government time travelers. This dark work of science fiction may be new, but it is on my personal list of all-time great reads.
    The Gone World Book Cover Picture
    The Gone World Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  25. 25
    The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in) Book Cover Picture
    The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in) Book Cover Picture

    The Handmaid’s Tale (Movie Tie-in)

    by Margaret Atwood

    America has fallen, leaving in its place the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic state with a fatal weakness: a low birth rate. Fearful of what the future will bring, the exclusively male leadership of Gilead has enslaved fertile women to bear their young. Offred is one of these women: a handmaid. This is her story. The Handmaid’s Tale is a perennial classic of feminist literature, and the basis for the Hulu series of the same name.
    The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in) Book Cover Picture
    The Handmaid's Tale (Movie Tie-in) Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  26. 26
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Cover Picture
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Cover Picture

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    by Douglas Adams

    For sheer absurdist audacity, imagination, bombast, and pure fun, The Hitchhiker’s Guide is tough to beat. It’s an utterly irreverent and wildly imaginative adventure that simultaneously skewers and builds on the tropes and confines of traditional sci-fi. It’s biting satire and pure absurdist humor, all shot through with a vein of cynicism and a surprisingly firm internal logic. Basically, there’s nothing quite like The Hitchhiker’s Guide and you really should read it.
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Cover Picture
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  27. 27
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe Book Cover Picture
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe Book Cover Picture

    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

    by Charles Yu

    Charles Yu is searching for his father through quantum space-time, while also performing his job as a time travel technician — helping to save people from themselves after time traveling trips gone awry. Assisted by a nonexistent dog and an operating system with self-esteem issues, his journey to find his missing father is at times hilarious, thought-provoking, and truly poignant.
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe Book Cover Picture
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  28. 28
    Hyperion Book Cover Picture
    Hyperion Book Cover Picture

    Hyperion

    by Dan Simmons

    A crew of pilgrims swap stories of love, horror, and religious devotion during a long journey to the home of the Shrike: a spike-covered metal horror worshiped like a god. This science fiction take on The Canterbury Tales is an unforgettable, imaginative work of cross-genre fusion.
    Hyperion Book Cover Picture
    Hyperion Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  29. 29
    Illuminae Book Cover Picture
    Illuminae Book Cover Picture

    Illuminae

    by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

    Following a pair of teens evacuating Earth during an invasion, Illuminae is a masterwork of young adult sci-fi, a story winding its way through a dossier of hacked documents: emails, chatrooms, classified military files, and more that the protagonists discover during their search for the truth behind the invasion.
    Illuminae Book Cover Picture
    Illuminae Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  30. 30
    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture
    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture

    Jurassic Park

    by Michael Crichton

    The power of science and its role in discovery is oft at the heart of great science fiction. At its heart, Jurassic Park questions how humanity wields the power of science while creating an action-packed story filled with characters just trying to survive science gone wrong.
    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture
    Jurassic Park Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  31. 31
    The Last Policeman Book Cover Picture
    The Last Policeman Book Cover Picture

    The Last Policeman

    by Ben H. Winters

    Hank Palace may be the world’s last policeman: as humanity waits for an impending asteroid impact to destroy them all, Palace begins an investigation of what looks to outside eyes like a commonplace suicide. The Last Policeman is a sci-fi murder mystery that explores one question we hopefully will never need to ask ourselves: why bother solving a murder if everyone’s going to die anyway?
    The Last Policeman Book Cover Picture
    The Last Policeman Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  32. 32
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture

    The Left Hand of Darkness

    by Ursula K. Le Guin

    Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, Le Guin’s novel explores the effect of gender and sex on an alien culture where an individual can be ambisexual, and how one Terran man’s rigid ideas on those topics are confronted. Labeled as one of the most important feminist stories of all time, it is a powerhouse tale written with Le Guin’s wonderful prose.
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture
    The Left Hand of Darkness Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  33. 33
    Legend Book Cover Picture
    Legend Book Cover Picture

    Legend

    by Marie Lu

    This dystopian tale of two teenagers is so much more than meets the eye. June is a member of the ruling Republic (formerly the western United States), and on the hunt to find the nation’s most wanted criminal, Day. He’s the prime suspect in her sister’s killing, and she’s determined to get her revenge. But a darker truth has brought them together, and together they begin to realize just what the country is willing to do to protect its secrets.
    Legend Book Cover Picture
    Legend Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  34. 34
    The Martian Book Cover Picture
    The Martian Book Cover Picture

    The Martian

    by Andy Weir

    Andy Weir’s The Martian is the sort of novel that grips a reader from its very sentence — after all, “I’m pretty much fucked” is a pretty great opening line. With his debut novel, Weir deftly balanced a truly thrilling story of survival with laugh-out-loud doses of black humor and real, cutting edge science. It has a surprising ring of authenticity, but more importantly is an ultimately inspiring testament to humanity’s ingenuity, spirit of adventure, and our better angels.
    The Martian Book Cover Picture
    The Martian Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  35. 35
    Neuromancer Book Cover Picture
    Neuromancer Book Cover Picture

    Neuromancer

    by William Gibson

    One of the seminal works of cyberpunk, Neuromancer taps into the counterculture movements and excitement about computers found in the 1980s to tell a story of a world where hackers and cyborgs work together to perform daring heists against massive corporations. It’s a must-read for fans of everything from “The Matrix” to Ready Player One.
    Neuromancer Book Cover Picture
    Neuromancer Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  36. 36
    Oryx and Crake Book Cover Picture
    Oryx and Crake Book Cover Picture

    Oryx and Crake

    by Margaret Atwood

    The works of Margaret Atwood rarely, if ever, fit neatly into the confines of any particular genre. Oryx and Crake, the first volume in the MaddAddam Trilogy, is the closest she’s come to pure sci-fi. Taking issues of inequality, climate change, and corporate power to bleak and terrifying conclusions, Atwood creates a powerfully imaginative and disconcertingly plausible dystopia that is as thought-provoking as it is difficult to put down.
    Oryx and Crake Book Cover Picture
    Oryx and Crake Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  37. 37
    Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Book Cover Picture
    Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Book Cover Picture

    Otherland: City of Golden Shadow

    by Tad Williams

    Virtual reality existed long before Ready Player One and one of its best examples is Otherland, a four-book epic SF tale examining corporate control, greed, and an individual’s wish to become someone else. Williams weaves great SF and fantasy settings into his virtual world, making it a fun read for the well-read!
    Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Book Cover Picture
    Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  38. 38
    Pandora's Star Book Cover Picture
    Pandora's Star Book Cover Picture

    Pandora’s Star

    by Peter F. Hamilton

    The first in Hamilton’s excellent duology about a future where humans are practically immortal and have used wormholes to colonize hundreds of planets, Pandora’s Star is perhaps most notable for its extremely alien extraterrestrials from the genocidal Prime to the fey Silfen. Combining aspects of a detective novel with hard science fiction, Hamilton explores the perils and pleasures possible in humanity’s future.
    Pandora's Star Book Cover Picture
    Pandora's Star Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  39. 39
    Planetfall Book Cover Picture
    Planetfall Book Cover Picture

    Planetfall

    by Emma Newman

    When Lee Suh-Mi offered a chance to escape the over-populated, polluted planet of Earth, Renata Ghali followed her into the unknown, along with hundreds of other hopeful colonists. Years later, however, Lee Suh-Mi has disappeared into a mysterious alien structure, and Ren is harboring a secret that may tear the colony apart.
    Planetfall Book Cover Picture
    Planetfall Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  40. 40
    The Plot Against America Book Cover Picture
    The Plot Against America Book Cover Picture

    The Plot Against America

    by Philip Roth

    You won’t find The Plot Against America in the science fiction section of your local bookstore, but rest assured, this is a work of alternative history. In Roth’s book, aviation hero Charles Lindbergh becomes President of the United States. When Lindberg starts a cozy relationship with Adolf Hitler, Young Philip Roth and his family watch as the America they thought they knew swiftly descends into fascism and anti-Semitism. This is a sobering look at the politics of fear and hatred, and a warning of the dangers of demagoguery.
    The Plot Against America Book Cover Picture
    The Plot Against America Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  41. 41
    The Real Story Book Cover Picture
    The Real Story Book Cover Picture

    The Real Story

    by Stephen R. Donaldson

    While best known for his Thomas Covenant epic fantasy, Donaldson has also written one of the best science fiction stories. The Real Story and its four sequels are riveting. Nothing is quite what it seems and the gritty, complex characters drive a narrative where anything is possible.
    The Real Story Book Cover Picture
    The Real Story Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  42. 42
    Red Rising Book Cover Picture
    Red Rising Book Cover Picture

    Red Rising

    by Pierce Brown

    A breakout author in recent years! The story of slave Darrow rising above his status to take on his overlords is new and fresh and is filled with amazingly-wrought characters and action-packed sequences. An instant classic.
    Red Rising Book Cover Picture
    Red Rising Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  43. 43
    Ringworld Book Cover Picture
    Ringworld Book Cover Picture

    Ringworld

    by Larry Niven

    The 1970 classic about a crew of humans and aliens investigating a massive ring built around a sunlike star is so influential that theoretical alien megastructures have come to be called Niven rings. Beyond its ideas about how advanced societies might colonize space, it’s also an entertaining adventure story with compelling views about humanity’s place in the universe.
    Ringworld Book Cover Picture
    Ringworld Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  44. 44
    Shikasta Book Cover Picture
    Shikasta Book Cover Picture

    Shikasta

    by Doris Lessing

    In the course of Doris Lessing’s long Nobel Prize-winning career, she wrote more than fifty books in many genres. Shikasta is the first in her Canopus in Argos series, a sequence of five science fiction novels examining the ways in which societies evolve. Shikasta is written as an archival history of a thinly-veiled Earth and its development through the influences of three advanced alien civilizations, especially the Canopus, who try to steer humanity away from mass destruction and a third World War. The series was strongly influenced by Lessing’s interest in Sufism in the 1970s, and eventually inspired its own religious cult.
    Shikasta Book Cover Picture
    Shikasta Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  45. 45
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture

    Slaughterhouse-Five

    by Kurt Vonnegut

    Kurt Vonnegut weaved together the disparate strands of science fiction and his personal experiences as a World War II prisoner of war to create Slaughterhouse-Five‘s Billy Pilgrim: a soldier who has become “unstuck in time.” We witness the horrors of war and the uncertainties of peacetime as Billy bounces back and forth across the timeline of his birth, life, and eventual death. Gutsy, strange, and sympathetic, Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut at his best.
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture
    Slaughterhouse-Five Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  46. 46
    Sleeping Giants Book Cover Picture
    Sleeping Giants Book Cover Picture

    Sleeping Giants

    by Sylvain Neuvel

    The first book in The Themis Files trilogy, which was completed this year, examines how the discovery of an ancient alien artifact on earth affects both individuals and the world. It’s true to science fiction’s mission of asking big questions about human nature and the pursuit of knowledge.
    Sleeping Giants Book Cover Picture
    Sleeping Giants Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  47. 47
    Snow Crash Book Cover Picture
    Snow Crash Book Cover Picture

    Snow Crash

    by Neal Stephenson

    Both a spoof on cyberpunk tropes and an entertaining story in its own right, Snow Crash follows the adventures of Hiro Protagonist and Yours Truly as they try to uncover the cause of a virus infecting hackers that may be connected to the Tower of Babel. Stephenson combines excellent world building with research into linguistics and history. Check it out soon as an Amazon television show based on the book is in the works.
    Snow Crash Book Cover Picture
    Snow Crash Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  48. 48
    The Sparrow Book Cover Picture
    The Sparrow Book Cover Picture

    The Sparrow

    by Mary Doria Russell

    My personal favorite book on this list. The Sparrow is a profoundly empathetic novel about a Jesuit mission to an inhabited planet. Russell demonstrates a preternatural understanding of human behavior while at the same time building an alien civilization with an anthropologist’s eye. Her characters grapple with faith in a way I’ve rarely seen in science fiction. This book moved me to tears.
    The Sparrow Book Cover Picture
    The Sparrow Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  49. 49
    The Stand Book Cover Picture
    The Stand Book Cover Picture

    The Stand

    by Stephen King

    Stephen King’s sprawling apocalyptic opus is a long-time favorite among his devoted fans — it’s also one of his finest novels. Beginning with a computer error in a laboratory that releases a global pandemic, King builds an epic story of survival, resilience, and the ultimate struggle of good vs. evil. It melds elements of horror, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi into a 1,100 page doorstop of a novel that cemented Stephen King as the pre-eminent horror writer of his generation.
    The Stand Book Cover Picture
    The Stand Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  50. 50
    Station Eleven Book Cover Picture
    Station Eleven Book Cover Picture

    Station Eleven

    by Emily St. John Mandel

    A flu pandemic devastates humanity, killing off almost everyone and bringing modern civilization to a grinding halt. Station Eleven explores the first days of the epidemic, as well as the future it created. This oddly optimistic work of apocalyptic literature teaches us that survival alone is insufficient, and that we must have art to give it meaning.
    Station Eleven Book Cover Picture
    Station Eleven Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  51. 51
    Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI) Book Cover Picture
    Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI) Book Cover Picture

    Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI)

    by Ted Chiang

    Despite his relatively small body of work, Ted Chiang has made a serious impression on the science fiction landscape. The best-known story in this collection is, of course, the titular one, which was the basis for the film “Arrival,” but the other stories here are absolutely not to be missed. Chiang does what the best sci-fi writers do — he doesn’t invent for solely for invention’s sake, but rather uses his remarkable imagination to tell poignantly human stories that cut straight to your heart.
    Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI) Book Cover Picture
    Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI) Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  52. 52
    Stranger in a Strange Land Book Cover Picture
    Stranger in a Strange Land Book Cover Picture

    Stranger in a Strange Land

    by Robert A. Heinlein

    A seminal, genre-defining work and a perfect distillation of the ways in which speculative fiction examines what it is to be human. This is the story of a human man raised by Martians, entirely isolated from his own species — and on his return to Earth, he finds he has just as much to learn from humanity as he does to teach them.
    Stranger in a Strange Land Book Cover Picture
    Stranger in a Strange Land Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  53. 53
    Survival Book Cover Picture
    Survival Book Cover Picture

    Survival

    by Julie E. Czerneda

    Czerneda is a prolific author with a dedicated fanbase — it’s hard to choose just one book from her oeuvre. Survival, the first book in the Species Imperative trilogy, is the story of a Mackenzie Connor, a biologist in the Pacific Northwest who finds herself drawn into an interstellar interspecies conflict when an envoy from an alien species who hopes she can help him determine the fate of a mysterious dead zone in space known as the Chasm.
    Survival Book Cover Picture
    Survival Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  54. 54
    Trading in Danger Book Cover Picture
    Trading in Danger Book Cover Picture

    Trading in Danger

    by Elizabeth Moon

    Ky Vatta is the only girl in a family of sons, and the only one to ditch the family business of trade in favor of a military career. When an error in judgment forces her back to Vatta’s Transport Ltd., she decides to make the best of a bad situation and take on a risky trading contract that could bring enormous profit to the business — of course, she’ll have to survive the mission first.
    Trading in Danger Book Cover Picture
    Trading in Danger Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  55. 55
    Valor's Choice Book Cover Picture
    Valor's Choice Book Cover Picture

    Valor’s Choice

    by Tanya Huff

    Humans may have been granted membership to the Confederation, but the price is service as soldiers to protect the more “civilized” races. When Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her platoon are pulled from leave for a supposedly easy mission, they have no idea that they are about to walk into a conflict greater than any they had faced before.
    Valor's Choice Book Cover Picture
    Valor's Choice Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  56. 56
    Veniss Underground Book Cover Picture
    Veniss Underground Book Cover Picture

    Veniss Underground

    by Jeff VanderMeer

    Two lovers are separated in a world of mutant meerkats, decadent cities, and underworld labyrinths full of stitched-together monsters in this classic work of unclassifiable but brilliant literature from Southern Reach trilogy Jeff VanderMeer. Veniss Underground is like a nightmarish fever dream, but one you won’t want to wake up from.
    Veniss Underground Book Cover Picture
    Veniss Underground Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  57. 57
    Viriconium Book Cover Picture
    Viriconium Book Cover Picture

    Viriconium

    by M. John Harrison

    Viriconium is the story of a city, or rather, versions of the same city. Reminiscent of the works of Jack Vance and even Michael Moorcock, this classic of the “New Weird” revels in ambiguity, subverting the reader’s expectations of how fantastic settings are supposed to work.
    Viriconium Book Cover Picture
    Viriconium Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  58. 58
    The War of the Worlds Book Cover Picture
    The War of the Worlds Book Cover Picture

    The War of the Worlds

    by H. G. Wells

    Who can forget this classic tale of alien invasion? As the widely-told story goes, the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds briefly incited panic among millions of American listeners as they believed the nation was truly under attack by alien invaders (although it might not have happened exactly like that). Regardless, the tale now holds a firm place in our pop-cultural history, and has inspired countless adaptations and original works of science fiction throughout the hundred years since it was published.
    The War of the Worlds Book Cover Picture
    The War of the Worlds Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  59. 59
    Watchers Book Cover Picture
    Watchers Book Cover Picture

    Watchers

    by Dean Koontz

    Dean Koontz has made a career out of infusing sci-fi and speculative trappings into his particular brand of horror. Watchers came during a stretch in the mid-80’s that made Dean Koontz a perennial bestseller. Featuring a super-intelligent Golden Retriever and relentless genetically engineered monstrosity, Watchers explores themes that would become common in Koontz work going forward — shady government organizations and the ethical quandaries of unchecked scientific advancement. With Watchers, Koontz really began to find his footing as a writer.
    Watchers Book Cover Picture
    Watchers Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  60. 60
    Woman on the Edge of Time Book Cover Picture
    Woman on the Edge of Time Book Cover Picture

    Woman on the Edge of Time

    by Marge Piercy

    In the 1970s, Connie Ramos finds herself wrongfully imprisoned in a mental institution, where she is contacted by Luciente, an emissary from a utopian society in the year 2137, who shows her a classless, highly individualistic future focused on social justice and self-actualization. But this is only one possible future — the other potential timeline is a hypercapitalist, class-stratified nightmare, and Connie’s actions alone will decide which eventuality comes to pass.
    Woman on the Edge of Time Book Cover Picture
    Woman on the Edge of Time Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  61. 61
    World War Z Book Cover Picture
    World War Z Book Cover Picture

    World War Z

    by Max Brooks

    World War Z is a chronicle of the end of the world — or, as its subtitle indicates, an oral history of the zombie apocalypse. The novel’s written style is unlike many zombie stories in that it’s written not as narrative prose, but as a series of recordings of witnesses during the war. The audiobook edition is especially compelling: it’s performed by a full cast, making it an incredibly immersive reader experience.
    World War Z Book Cover Picture
    World War Z Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

Find other titles in

Related Lists:

Back to Top