26.1k voters

The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time

Updated August 28, 2019 371.5k votes 26.1k voters 411.5k views176 items

This list ranks the best science fiction novels ever written, as voted on by sci-fi readers. Anyone can add their picks to this list of sci-fi books, making it an accurate, real-time ranking of the best sci-fi books of all time by the people who live and breathe Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, and Clarke.

Vote up the novels that you think best represent the greatest science fiction books ever written in order to determine the most popular science fiction books on the shelves. It doesn't much matter they're classic or modern, utopian or dystopian; if they're popular sci-fi books, this list is the place to rank them.

If you see a good book that's missing, add it whether it be a lesser-known classic or a new sci-fi book fellow readers need to try. Vote up your favorite literary slices of sci-fi. And for maximum impact, make your own list by reranking this one your own way, so that everyone can see whether your top rated sci-fi novels take place on Arrakis, Mars, or even Earth. Then, check out the best new science fiction books, many of which will become the next generation's classics.

  • 1

    First Published1949-06-08

    SubjectsBrainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature

    Genres (Book)Utopian and dystopian fiction, Social science fiction, Political fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Nineteen Eighty-Four, sometimes published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English author George Orwell published in 1949. The novel is set in Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania in a...  more

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    #28 of 65 The Best Satirical Novels#9 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read

  • 2

    First Published1979-10-12

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Comic novel, Comic science fiction, Humour, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of the first four...  more

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    #3 of 20 20 Books That Deserve Much Better Adaptations Than They Got#23 of 102 The Best Books for Teens

  • 3

    Fahrenheit 451

    Ray Bradbury

    First Published1953

    SubjectsBibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and "firemen"...  more

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    #8 of 18 If You've Read Any Of These Young Adult Novels/Series, You're Probably Ready For The Apocalypse#1 of 48 The Best Books About Books

  • 4


    Mary Shelley

    First Published1818-01-01

    SubjectsScience, Love

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Suspense, Horror Film, Romanticism

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about the young student of science Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an...  more

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    #38 of 186 The Scariest Horror Books of All Time#20 of 20 20 Times The Internet Caught People Right In The Middle Of Major Facepalms

  • 5

    The Time Machine

    H. G. Wells

    First Published1895

    SubjectsLiterary, Education, Literature, Classics, Adventure

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Time Machine is a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, published in 1895. Wells is generally credited with the popularization of the concept of time travel by using a vehicle that allows an...  more

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    #38 of 61 Novels with the Best Love Stories#67 of 95 The Best Books With Time in the Title

  • 6

    Ender's Game

    Orson Scott Card

    First Published1985

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Ender's Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth's future, the novel presents an imperiled mankind after two conflicts with the "buggers", an...  more
  • 7


    Frank Herbert

    First Published1965

    SubjectsGalaxy, Space opera, Adventure

    Genres (Book)Philosophy, Planetary romance, Military science fiction, Conspiracy fiction, Psychological thriller

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Dune is a 1965 epic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is the world's best-selling science fiction novel and is...  more

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    #81 of 103 The Best Selling Books of All Time#47 of 161 The Greatest American Novels

  • 8

    I, Robot

    Isaac Asimov

    First Published1950

    SubjectsAmerican science fiction, Film

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Short story, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    I, Robot is a collection of nine science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov. The stories originally appeared in the American magazines Super Science Stories and Astounding Science Fiction between...  more
  • 9

    First Published1898

    SubjectsLiterary, Education, Motorcycles, Performing arts, Adult

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction, Scientific romance, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells. It first appeared in serialized form in 1897, published simultaneously in Pearson's Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan...  more


    #11 of 97 The Best Books With War in the Title#58 of 99 The Best Books With World in the Title

  • 10

    First Published1950

    SubjectsAmerican science fiction, Literature, Classics, Drama

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Fiction, Short story

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction short story collection by Ray Bradbury that chronicles the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing from a troubled and eventually atomically devastated...  more

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    #7 of 59 The Best Collections of Short Stories#8 of 65 The Best Sci-Fi Novels About Outer Space

  • 11

    Brave New World

    Aldous Huxley

    SubjectsLiterary, Technology, Brainwashing, Literature, Classics

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning,...  more

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    #10 of 99 The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People#5 of 15 15 Classic Sci-Fi Books You Have To Read To Get Real Nerd Cred

  • 12


    Isaac Asimov

    First Published1951

    SubjectsMilky Way, Scientist, Spaceflight

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageAmerican English, English Language

    Foundation is the first novel in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. Foundation is a collection of five short stories, which were first published together as a book by Gnome Press in 1951 which,...  more

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    #4 of 40 The Best Sci Fi Book Series#19 of 32 The Best Audiobook Versions of Classic Novels

  • 13

    A Wrinkle in Time

    Madeleine L'Engle

    First Published1962


    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Young adult literature, Science Fiction, Fantasy

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The story revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone...  more
  • 14

    First Published1959

    SubjectsLiterary, American science fiction, Mental retardation, Young adult, Surgery

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of...  more

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    #63 of 1,236 The Best Novels Ever Written#26 of 71 Required Reading That You Actually Ended Up Loving

  • 15
  • 16

    2001: A Space Odyssey

    Arthur C. Clarke

    First Published1951


    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke. It was developed concurrently with Stanley Kubrick's film version and published after the release of the film. Clarke and...  more
  • 17

    The Andromeda Strain

    Michael Crichton

    First Published1969-05-12

    SubjectsEspionage, American science fiction, Adventure, Arizona

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Techno-thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton, is a techno-thriller novel documenting the efforts of a team of scientists investigating the outbreak of a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism in Arizona....  more
  • 18

    Stranger in a Strange Land

    Robert A. Heinlein

    First Published1961-06-01

    SubjectsConsumerism, Classics, Mars

    Genres (Book)Fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after...  more
  • 19

    First Published1870

    SubjectsLiterary, Literature, Classics, Adventure

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Scientific romance, Adventure fiction

    Original LanguageFrench Language

    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus, as seen from...  more


    #141 of 300 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies#24 of 38 The Best French Novels

  • 20

    First Published1968

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. The...  more

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    #10 of 72 The Greatest Dystopian Novels#2 of 22 The Best Cyberpunk Novels

  • 21

    First Published1864

    Genres (Book)Children's literature, Fiction, Scientific romance, Adventure fiction, Science Fiction

    Original LanguageFrench Language

    Journey to the Center of the Earth is a classic 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the...  more
  • 22

    Starship Troopers

    Robert A. Heinlein

    First Published1959-12


    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction, Philosophical fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published as a serial in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and published hardcover in December 1959. The...  more
  • 23

    Jurassic Park

    Michael Crichton

    First Published1990-11

    SubjectsEspionage, Dinosaur, Cloning, Adventure, Dinosaurs

    Genres (Book)Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Techno-thriller, Children's literature, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Jurassic Park is a science fiction novel written by Michael Crichton, divided into seven sections. Often considered a cautionary tale on unconsidered biological tinkering in the same spirit as Mary...  more

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    #19 of 60 The Best Suspense Novels#1 of 31 The Best Michael Crichton Books of All Time

  • 24


    Kurt Vonnegut

    First Published1969

    SubjectsLiterary, American science fiction, Classics, Prisoner of war, World War II

    Genres (Book)Philosophy, Speculative fiction, War novel, Black comedy, Fiction

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier named Billy...  more

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    #3 of 57 The Best Postmodern Novels#1 of 20 The Best Kurt Vonnegut Books

  • 25

    First Published1886-01-05

    SubjectsMedical, Literary, Supernatural, Education, Literature

    Genres (Book)Speculative fiction, Drama, Children's literature, Horror Film, Thriller

    Original LanguageEnglish Language

    Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as...  more