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Best Sci-Fi Books: The 70 Best Sci-Fi Novels of All Time

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Best Sci-Fi Books

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Looking for the best sci-fi books of all time? You’re in the right place!

From Orwell to Asimov to Huxley; from Simmons to Chiang to Le Guin, I’ve done the exploring and gathered the best sci-fi series and best science fiction books in the solar system for you here, in one list.

Note: This list of best sci-fi books is strictly limited to the sci-fi genre. For my top fantasy picks, go check out this reading list of the 70 best fantasy books of all time. Or click here to explore all TAoL‘s book recommendations.

Where should you start? I’m a huge fan of classic science fiction and because my ranking algorithm factors in publication date (more details below), it has a tendency to promote older, time-tested titles to top spots.

That said, from the Hyperion Cantos (#29) to Red Rising (#55) to the Commonwealth Saga (#62), there are some incredible, must-read modern science fiction books to be found further down the page. So while the rankings still stand, the fact is you won’t go far wrong with ANY of the best sci-fi books on this list.

My advice? Don’t overthink it.

Scan the titles, pick the first book that excites you and start reading!

And whatever you choose, I hope you find wonder, I hope you find wisdom and I hope you remember not to panic on your rollercoaster ride through the multiverse.

The 70 Best Sci-Fi Books Of All Time

Why these best sci-fi books and not others? The best sci-fi books below are the top picks from my long list of hundreds of books, ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The aim is to surface what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s proven timelessly relevant.

Note: To maximise diversity I’ve only included the top-ranked science fiction novel from any sci-fi book series where multiple books from that series would have made the list. Where the book listed below is not the first in a sequence, you may want to click through and start with the first in the series.

Think something’s missing? Leave a comment or email me and I’ll add it to the next round of updates. I honestly love hearing from you so please, do get in touch!

Books 1-10: The Top 10 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time

Here are the top 10 best sci-fi books from my database…

Best Sci-Fi Books: 1984
1. 1984 – George Orwell
Published 1949 // 237 pages // Rated 4.2 over 3,055,100 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)
2. Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) – Isaac Asimov
Published 1953 // 256 pages // Rated 4.3 over 139,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: I, Robot (Robot, #0.1)
3. I, Robot (Robot, #0.1) – Isaac Asimov
Published 1950 // 224 pages // Rated 4.2 over 270,300 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Brave New World
4. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Published 1932 // 288 pages // Rated 4.0 over 1,412,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)
5. Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) – Frank Herbert
Published 1965 // 604 pages // Rated 4.2 over 728,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Childhood's End
6. Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
Published 1953 // 224 pages // Rated 4.1 over 126,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: The End of Eternity
7. The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov
Published 1955 // 192 pages // Rated 4.2 over 42,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Cat's Cradle
8. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Published 1963 // 306 pages // Rated 4.2 over 334,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: The Sirens of Titan
9. The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Published 1959 // 224 pages // Rated 4.2 over 111,300 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Fahrenheit 451
10. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Published 1953 // 194 pages // Rated 4.0 over 1,638,800 reviews on Goodreads

BONUS: The Top 10 Best Sci-fi Books (Ignoring Publication Date)

Books that are proven survivors usually have something worth saying. That’s why I almost always use publication date as a factor in my book-ranking algorithm.

But when it comes to the best sci-fi books of all time, I understand that a modern perspective has its advantages. Which is why you’ll find a quick top 10 sci-fi book list below that only considers what’s most loved and most popular…

Best Sci-Fi Books: Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)
1. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) – Orson Scott Card
Published 1985 // 324 pages // Rated 4.3 over 1,109,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2)
2. Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2) – Pierce Brown
Published 2015 // 430 pages // Rated 4.4 over 143,100 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)
3. Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) – Ernest Cline
Published 2011 // 374 pages // Rated 4.3 over 835,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1)
4. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) – James S.A. Corey
Published 2011 // 561 pages // Rated 4.3 over 162,300 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)
5. Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) – Frank Herbert
Published 1965 // 604 pages // Rated 4.2 over 728,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker, #1)
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker, #1) – Douglas Adams
Published 1979 // 193 pages // Rated 4.2 over 1,402,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
7. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) – N.K. Jemisin
Published 2015 // 468 pages // Rated 4.3 over 135,100 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Second Foundation (Foundation, #3)
8. Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) – Isaac Asimov
Published 1953 // 256 pages // Rated 4.3 over 139,900 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)
9. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) – Dan Simmons
Published 1989 // 482 pages // Rated 4.2 over 180,700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Sci-Fi Books: 1984
10. 1984 – George Orwell
Published 1949 // 237 pages // Rated 4.2 over 3,055,100 reviews on Goodreads

Books 11-70: More Great Sci-Fi Books to Read

Here are the next 60 books on my list of best sci-fi books of all time (with publication date factored back in)…

11. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
Published 1966 // 216 pages // Rated 4.1 over 469,100 reviews on Goodreads
12. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Published 1951 // 228 pages // Rated 4.0 over 88,300 reviews on Goodreads
13. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1966 // 288 pages // Rated 4.2 over 108,000 reviews on Goodreads
14. I Am Legend and Other Stories – Richard Matheson
Published 1954 // 317 pages // Rated 4.0 over 117,500 reviews on Goodreads
15. Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1959 // 335 pages // Rated 4.0 over 187,400 reviews on Goodreads
16. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Published 1969 // 275 pages // Rated 4.1 over 1,111,800 reviews on Goodreads
17. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker, #1) – Douglas Adams
Published 1979 // 193 pages // Rated 4.2 over 1,402,600 reviews on Goodreads
18. We – Yevgeny Zamyatin
Published 1921 // 255 pages // Rated 3.9 over 67,600 reviews on Goodreads
19. War with the Newts – Karel Čapek
Published 1935 // 241 pages // Rated 4.2 over 9,600 reviews on Goodreads
20. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) – Orson Scott Card
Published 1985 // 324 pages // Rated 4.3 over 1,109,700 reviews on Goodreads
21. Out of the Silent Planet (The Space Trilogy, #1) – C.S. Lewis
Published 1938 // 224 pages // Rated 3.9 over 72,000 reviews on Goodreads
22. The City and the Stars – Arthur C. Clarke
Published 1956 // 255 pages // Rated 4.1 over 27,300 reviews on Goodreads
23. The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #6) – Ursula K. Le Guin
Published 1974 // 387 pages // Rated 4.2 over 83,700 reviews on Goodreads
24. A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1) – Walter M. Miller Jr.
Published 1959 // 334 pages // Rated 4.0 over 90,300 reviews on Goodreads
25. The Forever War (The Forever War, #1) – Joe Haldeman
Published 1974 // 278 pages // Rated 4.2 over 135,700 reviews on Goodreads
26. Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1) – Arthur C. Clarke
Published 1973 // 243 pages // Rated 4.1 over 131,200 reviews on Goodreads
27. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1961 // 528 pages // Rated 3.9 over 272,200 reviews on Goodreads
28. The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester
Published 1953 // 250 pages // Rated 4.0 over 27,400 reviews on Goodreads
29. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) – Dan Simmons
Published 1989 // 482 pages // Rated 4.2 over 180,700 reviews on Goodreads
30. The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin
Published 1971 // 176 pages // Rated 4.1 over 49,900 reviews on Goodreads
31. The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov
Published 1972 // 288 pages // Rated 4.1 over 51,700 reviews on Goodreads
32. Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
Published 1967 // 296 pages // Rated 4.1 over 27,100 reviews on Goodreads
33. The Mote in God’s Eye (Moties, #1) – Larry Niven
Published 1974 // 596 pages // Rated 4.1 over 62,000 reviews on Goodreads
34. More Than Human – Theodore Sturgeon
Published 1953 // 186 pages // Rated 4.0 over 14,900 reviews on Goodreads
35. Way Station – Clifford D. Simak
Published 1963 // 210 pages // Rated 4.0 over 21,800 reviews on Goodreads
36. Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) – Larry Niven
Published 1970 // 288 pages // Rated 4.0 over 102,500 reviews on Goodreads
37. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
Published 1999 // 1,139 pages // Rated 4.3 over 97,600 reviews on Goodreads
38. Gateway (Heechee Saga, #1) – Frederik Pohl
Published 1977 // 278 pages // Rated 4.1 over 38,800 reviews on Goodreads
39. Have Space Suit—Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1958 // 276 pages // Rated 3.9 over 26,400 reviews on Goodreads
40. Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3) – Isaac Asimov
Published 1950 // 308 pages // Rated 3.9 over 18,400 reviews on Goodreads
41. The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson
Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer
Published 1995 // 499 pages // Rated 4.2 over 80,700 reviews on Goodreads
42. Double Star – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1956 // 243 pages // Rated 3.9 over 19,200 reviews on Goodreads
43. Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) – John Scalzi
Published 2005 // 332 pages // Rated 4.2 over 155,500 reviews on Goodreads
44. Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
Published 1955 // 216 pages // Rated 3.9 over 19,100 reviews on Goodreads
45. Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) – Ernest Cline
Published 2011 // 374 pages // Rated 4.3 over 835,700 reviews on Goodreads
46. Stories of Your Life and Others – Ted Chiang
Published 2002 // 281 pages // Rated 4.3 over 61,000 reviews on Goodreads
47. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Published 1992 // 559 pages // Rated 4.0 over 233,800 reviews on Goodreads
48. Time Enough for Love – Robert A. Heinlein
Published 1973 // 589 pages // Rated 4.0 over 31,400 reviews on Goodreads
49. A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2) – Vernor Vinge
Published 1999 // 775 pages // Rated 4.3 over 28,500 reviews on Goodreads
50. Little Fuzzy (Fuzzy Sapiens, #1) – H. Beam Piper
Published 1962 // 252 pages // Rated 4.0 over 8,800 reviews on Goodreads
51. Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven
Published 1977 // 629 pages // Rated 4.0 over 39,300 reviews on Goodreads
52. To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip José Farmer
Published 1971 // 220 pages // Rated 4.0 over 28,200 reviews on Goodreads
53. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) – James S.A. Corey
Published 2011 // 561 pages // Rated 4.3 over 162,300 reviews on Goodreads
54. The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2) – Liu Cixin
Published 2008 // 512 pages // Rated 4.4 over 59,600 reviews on Goodreads
55. Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2) – Pierce Brown
Published 2015 // 430 pages // Rated 4.4 over 143,100 reviews on Goodreads
56. The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1) – Mary Doria Russell
Published 1996 // 516 pages // Rated 4.2 over 60,100 reviews on Goodreads
57. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (Callahan’s, #1) – Spider Robinson
Published 1977 // 224 pages // Rated 4.2 over 9,900 reviews on Goodreads
58. Galactic Patrol (Lensman, #3) – E.E. “Doc” Smith
Published 1937 // 273 pages // Rated 4.0 over 3,900 reviews on Goodreads
59. Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2) – David Brin
Published 1983 // 458 pages // Rated 4.1 over 28,800 reviews on Goodreads
60. The Man Who Fell to Earth – Walter Tevis
Published 1963 // 209 pages // Rated 4.0 over 6,400 reviews on Goodreads
61. Protector (Known Space) – Larry Niven
Published 1973 // 224 pages // Rated 4.1 over 9,400 reviews on Goodreads
62. Pandora’s Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1) – Peter F. Hamilton
Published 2004 // 768 pages // Rated 4.2 over 41,000 reviews on Goodreads
63. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) – N.K. Jemisin
Published 2015 // 468 pages // Rated 4.3 over 135,100 reviews on Goodreads
64. Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) – Hugh Howey
Published 2012 // 509 pages // Rated 4.2 over 155,700 reviews on Goodreads
65. Mission of Gravity – Hal Clement
Published 1953 // 174 pages // Rated 3.9 over 6,700 reviews on Goodreads
66. Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) – William Gibson
Published 1984 // 261 pages // Rated 3.9 over 258,000 reviews on Goodreads
67. The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, #3) – Neal Stephenson
Published 2004 // 908 pages // Rated 4.3 over 20,400 reviews on Goodreads
68. Deathworld 1 (Deathworld, #1) – Harry Harrison
Published 1960 // 157 pages // Rated 4.0 over 7,000 reviews on Goodreads
69. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – Philip K. Dick
Published 1974 // 204 pages // Rated 3.9 over 33,300 reviews on Goodreads
70. Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) – Connie Willis
Published 1992 // 578 pages // Rated 4.0 over 47,600 reviews on Goodreads
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Or, you can read all my book recommendations.

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