The Top 25 Science Fiction Books

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The crowd version of the NEW Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books that we created in 2016. You can view to original crowd ranked list for the ALTERNATIVE TOP 25 SCIENCE FICTION BOOK list here.
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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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The Foundation Trilogy

by Isaac Asimov

4.5 avg rating
A beautiful omnibus edition hardcover, with bound in ribbon marker and gilt edges, including the complete Foundation novels by the Good Doctor: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. Cover illustration by Michael Whelan. Cover design by Rebecca Lysen and Karl Westerberg. Book design by Karin Batten. Striking endpaper Galaxy photograph courtesy of NASA. 747 pages plus a half-page About the Author. ISBN 978-0-307-29206-3. A landmark of science fiction's "Golden Age," Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy-which comprises the novels Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation-has long been regarded a visionary masterpiece whose astonishing historical scope perfectly conveys science fiction's sense of wonder. First published as a cycle of stories in the 1940s and '50s, Asimov's iconic trilogy has endured to become, like the author himself, a legend of science fiction. Set in the far future, Foundation envisions a Galactic Empire that has thrived for 12,000 years, but whose decline into an age of barbarism lasting some thirty millennia is imminent-if the predictions of renegade psycho-historian Hari Seldon are accurate. Hoping to shorten the interval of this impending new Dark Age, Seldon convinces the Empire's Commission of Public Safety to allow him enact a diversionary plan-one full of surprising subterfugres and intrigues intended to create and protect a Foundation on which the future Empire will be erected. Foundation and Empire advances the story farther into the future, in which a technologically advanced Foundation.
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Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

4.48 avg rating
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike.  There are those who worship it.  There are those who fear it.  And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.  In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all.  On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives.  Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret.  And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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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
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
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13

Solaris

by Stanislaw Lem

4 avg rating

“A fantastic book.” —Steven Soderbergh
 
When psychologist Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds himself confronting a painful memory embodied in the physical likeness of a past lover. Kelvin learns that he is not alone in this and that other crews examining the planet are plagued with their own repressed and newly real memories. Could it be, as Solaris scientists speculate, that the ocean may be a massive neural center creating these memories, for a reason no one can identify?
 
Long considered a classic, Solaris asks the question: Can we understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?
 
“A novel that makes you reevaluate the nature of intelligence itself.” —Anne McCaffrey

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The Martian

by Andy Weir

4.17 avg rating
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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24

2001: a Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke

4 avg rating
2001: A Space Odyssey is the classic science fiction novel that changed the way we looked at the stars and ourselves....

2001: A Space Odyssey inspired what is perhaps the greatest science fiction film ever made--brilliantly imagined by the late Stanley Kubrick....

2001 is finally here....

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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

by Robert A. Heinlein

4.22 avg rating

Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential science fiction writer of his era, an influence so large that, as Samuel R. Delany notes, "modern critics attempting to wrestle with that influence find themselves dealing with an object rather like the sky or an ocean." He won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, a record that still stands. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was the last of these Hugo-winning novels, and it is widely considered his finest work.

It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the winner of the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Hugo
Nebula
Hugo
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24

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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11

Use of Weapons

by Iain M. Banks

4.5 avg rating
The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past.

Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, USE OF WEAPONS is a masterpiece of science fiction.
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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45

Neuromancer

by William Gibson

4.14 avg rating
The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century's most potent visions of the future.
Nebula
Philip K. Dick
Hugo
BSFA
John W. Campbell

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15

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

4.21 avg rating
In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work of fiction, Bradbury exposes our ambitions, weaknesses, and ignorance in a strange and breathtaking world where man does not belong.
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Ready Player One: A Novel

by Ernest Cline

4 avg rating

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

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15

The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

4.25 avg rating
H.G. Wells, a pioneer in the science fiction genre, produced awesomely imaginative novels whose technologies seem impossibly sophisticated for a writer living in an era before automobiles and the widespread application of electricity. In his work The Time Machine, Wells’ Time Traveller, a gentleman inventor living in England, traverses first thousands of years and then millions into the future, before bringing back the knowledge of the grave degeneration of the human race and the planet. One wonders if Wells could truly see into the future, as over 100 years after its publication date his visions seem timelier than ever.
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A Fire Upon The Deep

by Vernor Vinge

4.05 avg rating

A Fire Upon the Deep is the big, breakout book that fulfills the promise of Vinge's career to date: a gripping tale of galactic war told on a cosmic scale.

Thousands of years hence, 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, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these "regions of thought," but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.

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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The Dispossessed: A Novel

by Ursula K. Le Guin

2 avg rating

A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist's gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

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The Man in the High Castle

by Philip K. Dick

3.88 avg rating
“The single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick’s career.” – New York Times

It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

Winner of the Hugo Award
Hugo

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14

The Stars My Destination

by Alfred Bester

3.92 avg rating
#5 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. "Science fiction has only produced a few works of actual genius, and this is one of them"-Joe Haldeman "Bester at the peak of his powers is, quite simply, unbeatable" -James Lovegrove Marooned in outer space after an attack on his ship, Nomad, Gulliver Foyle lives to obsessively pursue the crew of a rescue vessel that had intended to leave him to die. When it comes to pop culture, Alfred Bester (1913-1987) is something of an unsung hero. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath). But Bester is best known for his science-fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for fifty years. (Bester fans should also note that iPicturebooks has reprinted The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award in 1953.) Alfred Bester was among the first important authors of contemporary science fiction. His passionate novels of worldly adventure, high intellect, and tremendous verve, The Stars My Destination and the Hugo Award winning The Demolished Man, established Bester as a s.f. grandmaster, a reputation that was ratified by the Science Fiction Writers of America shortly before his death. Bester also was an acclaimed journalist for Holiday magazine, a reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and even a writer for Superman.

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10

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun'

by Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his preeminence, pure and simple. . . . The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping."--The New York Times Book Review

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18 comments
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Anonymous | 2018-07-06 01:14:17
All 25 fiction books are my favorite. I Highly Recommend the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, initial with The Golden Compass. These books are a supreme genius.do my college homeworkIn view of the books you've perused above, you'd presumably like these also.
Anonymous | 2016-11-09 12:07:14
Cugels Saga / Dying Earth series by Jack Vance?
Anonymous | 2016-08-30 05:12:32
Battlefield Earth ??? Should be right under Dune !!! Are you nutz ???
Anonymous | 2016-08-16 02:31:48
How about Niven's Ringworld?
Anonymous | 2016-06-27 09:32:32
What about "The Mote in God's Eye"?
Anonymous | 2016-06-16 01:47:08
John Valery's Titan trilogy. Entertaining and excellent read.
Anonymous | 2016-06-15 05:58:10
I was a little surprised that Enders Game is not on this list. Guess I need to read a few more to see why.
Anonymous | 2016-05-13 03:15:52
I liked Dune, but I don't think I would rank it as number one.
Anonymous | 2016-05-13 03:13:28
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Anonymous | 2016-04-12 05:18:00
Excellent list. I would add: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers Replay by Ken Grimwood Way Station by Clifford Simak
Anonymous | 2016-03-05 04:50:29
RINGWORLD by Larry NIVEN
Anonymous | 2016-02-29 06:55:26
A lot of really good books on this list, and I agree that Dune should be in the number one spot. One book/author that isn't popular enough to rank here, but should, is The Long Run by Daniel Keys Moran.
Anonymous | 2016-02-26 04:13:53
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Anonymous | 2016-02-23 06:26:22
A Canticle for Leibowitz has to be put on the list.
Anonymous | 2016-02-20 09:42:04
David Weber (safehold) should be on this list
Anonymous | 2016-02-02 10:32:44
why is Alastair Reynolds not mentioned?

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