Top 100 Science Fiction Books

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A crowd ranked version of our Top 100 Best Science Fiction Books list. The rankings are determined by the votes, and other public metrics and NOT curated by us.
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1

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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23
5

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

"IRRESISTIBLE!"
--The Boston Globe
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!
"[A] WHIMSICAL ODYSSEY...Characters frolic through the galaxy with infectious joy."
--Publishers Weekly
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20
8

Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card

4.5 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.
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
Nebula
4
14
2

Red Rising

by Pierce Brown

5 avg rating
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, BUZZFEED, AND SHELF AWARENESS

“Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow.”—Scott Sigler
 
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
 
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
 
Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

 
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
 
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
 
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Praise for Red Rising
 
“[A] spectacular adventure . . . one heart-pounding ride . . . Pierce Brown’s dizzyingly good debut novel evokes The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Ender’s Game. . . . [Red Rising] has everything it needs to become meteoric.”—Entertainment Weekly

“[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field.”—USA Today
 
“Red Rising is a sophisticated vision. . . . Brown will find a devoted audience.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power . . . reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Fast-paced, gripping, well-written—the sort of book you cannot put down. I am already on the lookout for the next one.”—Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of The Sword of Shannara
 
“Pierce Brown has done an astounding job at delivering a powerful piece of literature that will definitely make a mark in the minds of readers.”—The Huffington Post
 
“Compulsively readable and exceedingly entertaining . . . a must for both fans of classic sci-fi and fervent followers of new school dystopian epics.”—Examiner.com
 
“[A] great debut . . . The author gathers a spread of elements together in much the same way George R. R. Martin does.”—Tor.com
 
“Pierce Brown’s empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision.”—Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic


From the Hardcover edition.
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12
3

Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

4.3 avg rating
Oscar-winning film Charly starring Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom-a mentally challenged man receives an operation that turns him into a genius...and introduces him to heartache.
Nebula
Hugo
6
11
2

Slaughterhouse-Five

by Kurt Vonnegut

5 avg rating
Slaughterhous-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.
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11
3

The Windup Girl

by Paolo Bacigalupi

4.43 avg rating
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, a new edition of the break-out science fiction debut featuring additional stories and a Q&A with the author.

Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories.

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. Emiko is not human; she is an engineered being, grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits and forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly-acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

In this brand new edition celebrating the book’s reception into the canon of celebrated modern science fiction, accompanying the text are two novelettes exploring the dystopian world of The Windup Girl, the Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning “The Calorie Man” and “Yellow Card Man.” Also included is an exclusive Q&A with the author describing his writing process, the political climate into which his debut novel was published, and the future of science fiction.
Nebula
Hugo
John W. Campbell
BSFA
8
10
2

A Canticle for Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

4.75 avg rating

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth-century literature -- a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.

In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From here the 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 recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.

Hugo
9
9
1

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.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce―and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine―and what he will become is far stranger.

Hugo
10
11
5

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
11
10
4

Contact

by Carl Sagan

3.56 avg rating
In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who -- or what -- is out there?
In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future -- and our own.
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10
4

Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

4 avg rating

Few creatures of horror have seized readers' imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein's terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel's enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron's.
"We will each write a story," Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron's proposal.
The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, "would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart."

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8
2

Doomsday Book

by Connie Willis

5 avg rating
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

Five years in the writing by one of science fiction's most honored authors, Doomsday Book is a storytelling triumph. Connie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.
Nebula
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
14
7
1

The Day of the Triffids

by John Wyndham

3.5 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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7
1

Cloud Atlas: A Novel

by David Mitchell

By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.

But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Praise for Cloud Atlas
 
“[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.”—Dave Eggers
 
“Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative.”—People
 
“The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon
 
“Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step.”—Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate.”—Los Angeles Times


From the Hardcover edition.
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8
3

I Am Legend

by Richard Matheson

4 avg rating

Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.

An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.

By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....

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7
2

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

by Jules Verne

This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare’s finesse to Oscar Wilde’s wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim’s Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library.
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6
1

Roadside Picnic

by Arkady Strugatsky

4 avg rating
Amazing. . . . The Strugatskys' deft and supple handling of loyalty and greed, of friendship and love, of despair and frustration and loneliness [produces] a truly superb tale. . . . You won't forget it -Theodore Sturgeon Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of the extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a "full empty" something goes terribly wrong. . . . First published in 1972 and immediately acclaimed as a science-fiction classic, Roadside Picnic is included on almost every list of the hundred greatest science-fiction novels, despite the fact that it has been out of print in the United States for almost thirty years. It was the basis for Andrei Tarkovsky's filmic masterpiece Stalker and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video games that have proven immensely popular. This brand new translation corrects many of the errors and omissions of the previous one. Finally, one of the greatest science fiction novels-and one of the most popular pieces of Russian fiction-is back in print in an authoritative version. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are the most famous and popular Russian writers of science fiction. Their books have been widely translated and have been made into a number of films. Arkady died in 1991; Boris lives in St. Petersburg.
John W. Campbell
19
6
1

City

by Clifford D. Simak

4.33 avg rating
Intelligent canines in a far-future city preserve the legends and lore of their absent human masters Thousands of years have passed since humankind abandoned the city-first for the countryside, then for the stars, and ultimately for oblivion-leaving their most loyal animal companions alone on Earth. Granted the power of speech centuries earlier by the revered Bruce Webster, the intelligent, pacifist dogs are the last keepers of human history, raising their pups with bedtime stories, passed down through generations, of the lost "websters" who gave them so much but will never return. With the aid of Jenkins, an ageless service robot, the dogs live in a world of harmony and peace. But they now face serious threats from their own and other dimensions, perhaps the most dangerous of all being the reawakened remnants of a warlike race called "Man" In the Golden Age of Asimov and Heinlein, Clifford D. Simak's writing blazed as brightly as anyone's in the science fiction firmament. Winner of the International Fantasy Award, City is a magnificent literary metropolis filled with an astonishing array of interlinked stories and structures-at once dystopian, transcendent, compassionate, and visionary.
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3 comments
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Anonymous | 2017-09-02 06:08:58
Nothing from the Foundation trilogy, or Lije Bailey stories by Asimov? What about Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love", or "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" or "Glory Road".
Anonymous | 2016-11-23 12:19:20
cat country by lao she

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