Best Space Opera Books

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Our pick of some of the top space opera science fiction books out there. Keep in mind that most space opera books come as a series. This is a public list; vote on the entries and/or submit new entries to the list to have the public vote on them. Books are ranked by YOUR votes.
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1

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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Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

4.48 avg rating
One of the pinnacles of the space opera genre. This novel (and the sequel) have everything you are looking for in a space opera. About as perfect as you can get!
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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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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Pandora\'s Star

by

5 avg rating
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Revelation Space

by Alastair Reynolds

4.4 avg rating
Alastair Reynolds's critically acclaimed debut has redefined the space opera with a staggering journey across vast gulfs of time and space to confront the very nature of reality itself.
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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Consider Phlebas

by Iain M. Banks

4.13 avg rating
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail
"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLS

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
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On Basilisk Station

by David Weber

4.5 avg rating
Special Signed Limited  Leather-bound Edition First Entry in the Honor Harrington Series. Baen Books celebrates a twenty years of Honor with the reissue of the book that started it all: internationally best-selling phenomenon David Weber’s On Basilisk Station.

Special Leather-bound Edition.

Baen Books celebrates twenty years of the Honor Harrington saga with the reissue of the first book in the series: multiple New York Times best-seller David Weber’s On Basilisk Station. 

The Book That Started It All!

Honor Harrington has been exiled to Basilisk station and given an antique ship to police the system. The vindictive superior who sent her there wants her to fail. But he made one mistake; he's made her mad...

About On Basilisk Station:
“Without question SF's most popular military-themed series, the Honor Harrington novels are also among the genre's most intelligent, exciting and rewarding. On Basilisk Station, the series' premiere volume, is a spectacular piece of action storytelling that does virtually everything right.”—SF Reviews

About David Weber and the Honor Harrington series:
“. . .everything you could want in a heroine….excellent…plenty of action.”–Science Fiction Age

“Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!”–Anne McCaffrey

“Compelling combat combined with engaging characters for a great space opera adventure.”–Locus

“Weber combines realistic, engaging characters with intelligent technological projection. . .Fans of this venerable space opera will rejoice. . .”–Publishers Weekly

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Ender\'s Game

by Orson Scott Card

4.18 avg rating
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
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Old Man\'s War

by

4.11 avg rating
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A Fire Upon The Deep

by Vernor Vinge

4.05 avg rating
In 1992 Vernor Vinge amazed the science fiction world with this epic novel of star-spanning adventure. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and has since become a landmark in the field. Now, with the long awaited sequel The Children of the Sky about to be published, we are proud to offer the first-ever trade paperback edition of this big-screen SF classic.
 
A Fire Upon The Deep is the winner of the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Hugo
Nebula
Locus Science Fiction
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23

The Reality Dysfunction

by Peter F. Hamilton

4.4 avg rating
Space is not the only void...

In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp.

But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it "The Reality Dysfunction." It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

THE REALITY DYSFUNCTION is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale.
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Leviathan Wakes

by James S.A. Corey

3.67 avg rating
A modern space opera work that hails back to the old school space opera and does it right. One of the best science fiction reads the past decade and certainly one of the best modern space operas that\\\'s come out the past few years.
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
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15

The Forever War

by Joe Haldeman

4.25 avg rating
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
14
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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!
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
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Startide Rising

by David Brin

4.75 avg rating
David Brin's Uplift novels are among the most thrilling and extraordinary science fiction ever written.  Sundiver, Startide Rising, and The Uplift War--a New York Times bestseller--together make up one of the most beloved sagas of all time.  Brin's tales are set in a future universe in which no species can reach sentience without being "uplifted" by a patron race.  But the greatest mystery of all remains unsolved: who uplifted humankind?

The Terran exploration vessel Streaker has crashed in the uncharted water world of Kithrup, bearing one of the most important discoveries in galactic history.  Below, a handful of her human and dolphin crew battles armed rebellion and a hostile planet to safeguard her secret--the fate of the Progenitors, the fabled First Race who seeded wisdom throughout the stars.
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
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Starship Troopers

by Robert A. Heinlein

3.63 avg rating

The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one "The Third Space War" (or the fourth), or whether "The First Interstellar War" fits it better. We just call it “The Bug War." Everything up to then and still later were "incidents," "patrols," or "police actions." However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an "incident" as you are if you buy it in a declared war...

In one of Robert A. Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy.

Hugo
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Barrayar

by Lois McMaster Bujold

3.5 avg rating
When enemies become mare that friends they win. In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan he who was called 'The Butcher of Komarr' and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his. Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasion ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminiscent of Earth's Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the minute biowar technology. Neither Aral nor Cordelia guessed the part that their cell-damaged unborn would play in Barrayar's bloody legacy. Publisher's Note: Cordelia's Honor is comprised of two parts: Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Together they form a continuous story following the life of Cordelia Vorkosigan nee Naismith from the day she met her then-enemy Lord Aral Vorkosigan through the boyhood of her son Miles. Barrayar won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel of the year.
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
Nebula
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Gateway

by Frederik Pohl

4.13 avg rating
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
John W. Campbell
19
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3 comments
Anonymous | 2014-10-17 04:22:49
Had to add a couple of titles by Grand Master Jack Vance. He was atypical, even denied writing science fiction at all, but his Gaean Reach books are space opera by any definition, and some of the most entertaining ever.
Anonymous | 2014-07-28 02:33:36
Really liking the Liaden universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
Anonymous | 2013-09-25 10:11:22
Quite a few of my favourites on here. How about Christopher Rowley's War for Eternity and Starhammer? Enjoyed those just as much as Consider Phlebas.

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