Best Classic Science Fiction Books

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A public votable list of the best classic science fiction books from the 1940's to 1970's. Books before the 40's and After the 70's are not listed. This period is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science fiction and includes books by many of the great grandmasters of science fiction
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1

Foundation

by Isaac Asimov

4.2 avg rating
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun--or fight them and be destroyed.
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Dune

by Frank Herbert

4.19 avg rating
Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Nebula
Hugo

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Lucifer's Hammer

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4.5 avg rating
Hugo
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1984

by George Orwell

4.62 avg rating

View our feature on George Orwell’s 1984.

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

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Stranger In A Strange Land

by Robert A. Heinlein

4.43 avg rating
Here at last is the complete, uncut version of Heinlein's all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a classic in a few short years. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the man from Mars who taught humankind grokking and water-sharing. And love.
Hugo
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5

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

4.05 avg rating
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
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Ringworld

by Larry Niven

3.92 avg rating
A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. There is gravity, and with high walls and its proximity to the sun, a livable new planet that is three million times the area of the Earth can be formed. We can start again!
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Locus Science Fiction
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The Forever War

by Joe Haldeman

4.25 avg rating

The monumental Hugo and Nebula award winning SF classic-- Featuring a new introduction by John Scalzi

The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand--despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away.  A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home.  But "home" may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries...

Nebula
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Locus Science Fiction
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Day Of The Triffids

by John Wyndham

5 avg rating
In 1951 John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having “all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare.”

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.
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Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

4.47 avg rating
"Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English." —Chicago Tribune

Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

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The Stars My Destination

by Alfred Bester

3.92 avg rating

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To Your Scattered Bodies Go

by Philip Jose Farmer

3.67 avg rating
All those who ever lived on Earth have found themselves resurrected--healthy, young, and naked as newborns--on the grassy banks of a mighty river, in a world unknown. Miraculously provided with food, but with no clues to the meaning of their strange new afterlife, billions of people from every period of Earth's history--and prehistory--must start again.

Sir Richard Francis Burton would be the first to glimpse the incredible way-station, a link between worlds. This forbidden sight would spur the renowned 19th-century explorer to uncover the truth. Along with a remarkable group of compatriots, including Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the Victorian girl who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), an English-speaking Neanderthal, a WWII Holocaust survivor, and a wise extraterrestrial, Burton sets sail on the magnificent river. His mission: to confront humankind's mysterious benefactors, and learn the true purpose--innocent or evil--of the Riverworld . . .
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
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World Of Null-a

by A. E. Van Vogt

3 avg rating
The classic novel of non-Aristotelian logic and the coming race of supermen

Grandmaster A. E. van Vogt was one of the giants of the 1940s, the Golden Age of classic SF. Of his masterpieces, The World of Null-A is his most famous and most influential. It was the first major trade SF hardcover ever, in 1949, and has been in print in various editions ever since. The entire careers of Philip K. Dick, Keith Laumer, Alfred Bester, Charles Harness, and Philip Jose Farmer were created or influenced by The World of Null-A, and so it is required reading for anyone who wishes to know the canon of SF classics.

It is the year 2650 and Earth has become a world of non-Aristotelianism, or Null-A. This is the story of Gilbert Gosseyn, who lives in that future world where the Games Machine, made up of twenty-five thousand electronic brains, sets the course of people's lives. Gosseyn isn't even sure of his own identity, but realizes he has some remarkable abilities and sets out to use them to discover who has made him a pawn in an interstellar plot.
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Lord Valentine's Castle

by

"Science fiction is the characteristic literary genre of the century. It is the genre that stands in opposition to literary modernism." So says David G. Hartwell in his introduction to The Science Fiction Century, an anthology spanning a hundred years of science fiction, from its birth in the 1890s to the future it predicted.

David G. Hartwell is a World Fantasy Award-winning editor and anthologist who has twice before redefined a genre--first the horror field with The Dark Descent, then the subgenre of hard science fiction with The Ascent of Wonder, coedited with Kathryn Cramer. Now, Hartwell has compiled the mother of all definitive anthologies, guaranteed to change not only the way the science fiction field views itself but also the way the rest of literature views the field.

The Science Fiction Century includes stories from the founding fathers of the field, such as H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, and Rudyard Kipling; beloved mainstays of the genre, such as Philip José Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, and Poul Anderson; noted female writers, including Connie Willis, Nancy Kress, and James Tiptree, Jr.; and writers who have hit their stride in the last two decades, such as Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Michael Swanwick, and James Morrow. Hartwell has also included writers widely recognized outside the genre, such as E.M. Forster, Michael Shaara, and John Crowley; and translations of foreign writers' formative works, including Dino Buzzati and Wolfgang Jeschke. This is must-have anthology for all literary interests.
BSFA
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