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Best Sci-Fi Books: The 70 Best Sci-Fi Novels of All Time (2020)

Best Sci-Fi Books
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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 the top spots below.

That said, from the Hyperion Cantos (#30) to Red Rising (#61) to the Commonwealth Saga (#63), there’s some incredible, must-read modern science fiction 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 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 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!

  1. 1984 (1949), George Orwell
    237 pages. Rated 4.2 over 3,055,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  2. I, Robot (Robot, #0.1) (1950), Isaac Asimov
    224 pages. Rated 4.2 over 270,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  3. Second Foundation (Foundation, #3) (1953), Isaac Asimov
    256 pages. Rated 4.3 over 139,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  4. Brave New World (1932), Aldous Huxley
    288 pages. Rated 4.0 over 1,412,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  5. Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) (1965), Frank Herbert
    604 pages. Rated 4.2 over 728,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  6. Childhood’s End (1953), Arthur C. Clarke
    224 pages. Rated 4.1 over 126,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  7. The End of Eternity (1955), Isaac Asimov
    192 pages. Rated 4.2 over 42,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  8. Cat’s Cradle (1963), Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    306 pages. Rated 4.2 over 334,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  9. The Sirens of Titan (1959), Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    224 pages. Rated 4.2 over 111,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  10. Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Ray Bradbury
    194 pages. Rated 4.0 over 1,638,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  11. Flowers for Algernon (1966), Daniel Keyes
    216 pages. Rated 4.1 over 469,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  12. The Day of the Triffids (1951), John Wyndham
    228 pages. Rated 4.0 over 88,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  13. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), Robert A. Heinlein
    288 pages. Rated 4.2 over 108,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  14. I Am Legend and Other Stories (1954), Richard Matheson
    317 pages. Rated 4.0 over 117,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  15. Starship Troopers (1959), Robert A. Heinlein
    335 pages. Rated 4.0 over 187,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  16. Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    275 pages. Rated 4.1 over 1,111,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  17. We (1921), Yevgeny Zamyatin
    255 pages. Rated 3.9 over 67,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  18. War with the Newts (1935), Karel Čapek
    241 pages. Rated 4.2 over 9,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  19. Out of the Silent Planet (The Space Trilogy, #1) (1938), C.S. Lewis
    224 pages. Rated 3.9 over 72,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #1) (1979), Douglas Adams
    193 pages. Rated 4.2 over 1,402,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  21. The City and the Stars (1956), Arthur C. Clarke
    255 pages. Rated 4.1 over 27,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  22. Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga, #1) (1985), Orson Scott Card
    324 pages. Rated 4.3 over 1,109,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  23. A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1) (1959), Walter M. Miller Jr.
    334 pages. Rated 4.0 over 90,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  24. The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #6) (1974), Ursula K. Le Guin
    387 pages. Rated 4.2 over 83,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  25. The Forever War (The Forever War, #1) (1974), Joe Haldeman
    278 pages. Rated 4.2 over 135,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  26. Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1) (1973), Arthur C. Clarke
    243 pages. Rated 4.1 over 131,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  27. The Demolished Man (1953), Alfred Bester
    250 pages. Rated 4.0 over 27,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  28. Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Robert A. Heinlein
    528 pages. Rated 3.9 over 272,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  29. The Lathe of Heaven (1971), Ursula K. Le Guin
    176 pages. Rated 4.1 over 49,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  30. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) (1989), Dan Simmons
    482 pages. Rated 4.2 over 180,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  31. The Gods Themselves (1972), Isaac Asimov
    288 pages. Rated 4.1 over 51,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  32. Lord of Light (1967), Roger Zelazny
    296 pages. Rated 4.1 over 27,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  33. The Mote in God’s Eye (Moties, #1) (1974), Larry Niven
    596 pages. Rated 4.1 over 62,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  34. More Than Human (1953), Theodore Sturgeon
    186 pages. Rated 4.0 over 14,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  35. Way Station (1963), Clifford D. Simak
    210 pages. Rated 4.0 over 21,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  36. Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), Larry Niven
    288 pages. Rated 4.0 over 102,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  37. Gateway (Heechee Saga, #1) (1977), Frederik Pohl
    278 pages. Rated 4.1 over 38,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  38. Have Space Suit—Will Travel (1958), Robert A. Heinlein
    276 pages. Rated 3.9 over 26,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  39. Cryptonomicon (1999), Neal Stephenson
    1,139 pages. Rated 4.3 over 97,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  40. Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3) (1950), Isaac Asimov
    308 pages. Rated 3.9 over 18,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  41. The Diamond Age (1995), Neal Stephenson
    Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer
    499 pages. Rated 4.2 over 80,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  42. Double Star (1956), Robert A. Heinlein
    243 pages. Rated 3.9 over 19,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  43. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955), Jack Finney
    216 pages. Rated 3.9 over 19,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  44. Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) (2005), John Scalzi
    332 pages. Rated 4.2 over 155,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  45. Time Enough for Love (1973), Robert A. Heinlein
    589 pages. Rated 4.0 over 31,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  46. Snow Crash (1992), Neal Stephenson
    559 pages. Rated 4.0 over 233,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  47. Little Fuzzy (Fuzzy Sapiens, #1) (1962), H. Beam Piper
    252 pages. Rated 4.0 over 8,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  48. Stories of Your Life and Others (2002), Ted Chiang
    281 pages. Rated 4.3 over 61,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  49. Lucifer’s Hammer (1977), Larry Niven
    629 pages. Rated 4.0 over 39,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  50. Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) (2011), Ernest Cline
    374 pages. Rated 4.3 over 835,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  51. To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), Philip José Farmer
    220 pages. Rated 4.0 over 28,200 reviews on Goodreads.
  52. A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought, #2) (1999), Vernor Vinge
    775 pages. Rated 4.3 over 28,500 reviews on Goodreads.
  53. Galactic Patrol (Lensman, #3) (1937), E.E. “Doc” Smith
    273 pages. Rated 4.0 over 3,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  54. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (Callahan’s, #1) (1977), Spider Robinson
    224 pages. Rated 4.2 over 9,900 reviews on Goodreads.
  55. The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1) (1996), Mary Doria Russell
    516 pages. Rated 4.2 over 60,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  56. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) (2011), James S.A. Corey
    561 pages. Rated 4.3 over 162,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  57. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963), Walter Tevis
    209 pages. Rated 4.0 over 6,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  58. The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2) (2008), Liu Cixin
    512 pages. Rated 4.4 over 59,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  59. Protector (Known Space) (1973), Larry Niven
    224 pages. Rated 4.1 over 9,400 reviews on Goodreads.
  60. Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2) (1983), David Brin
    458 pages. Rated 4.1 over 28,800 reviews on Goodreads.
  61. Golden Son (Red Rising Saga, #2) (2015), Pierce Brown
    430 pages. Rated 4.4 over 143,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  62. Mission of Gravity (1953), Hal Clement
    174 pages. Rated 3.9 over 6,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  63. Pandora’s Star (Commonwealth Saga, #1) (2004), Peter F. Hamilton
    768 pages. Rated 4.2 over 41,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  64. Deathworld 1 (Deathworld, #1) (1960), Harry Harrison
    157 pages. Rated 4.0 over 7,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  65. Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1) (2012), Hugh Howey
    509 pages. Rated 4.2 over 155,700 reviews on Goodreads.
  66. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) (2015), N.K. Jemisin
    468 pages. Rated 4.3 over 135,100 reviews on Goodreads.
  67. Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) (1984), William Gibson
    261 pages. Rated 3.9 over 258,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  68. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974), Philip K. Dick
    204 pages. Rated 3.9 over 33,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  69. Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) (1992), Connie Willis
    578 pages. Rated 4.0 over 47,600 reviews on Goodreads.
  70. The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, #3) (2004), Neal Stephenson
    908 pages. Rated 4.3 over 20,400 reviews on Goodreads.

Enjoyed this list of the best sci-fi books of all time? You might also like…

II. Best Books Of All Time

These are the overall best books to read (by type).

III. Best Nonfiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best nonfiction books to read (by topic).

IV. Best Fiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best fiction books to read (by genre).

Or, you can read all my book recommendations.
Arthur Worsley
Arthur Worsley
Arthur is a thinker and writer who helps people who want more from their lives learn to be more productive, find more balance and live life more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →

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