Culture

The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People 

Ranker Books
Updated May 16, 2020 3.3k votes 429 voters 8.7k views 99 items

List Rules Vote up the most intellectually challenging and satisfying science fiction novels you've ever read.

Sometimes you want to treat your intellect as well as your imagination. That's where these sci fi novels come in. These are the best science fiction novels for smart people, from the darkly comical to the expansive and epic. Some great science fiction books for smart people are travel tales while other good intelligent science fiction novels are about alien life forms. Many of the best hard sci fi novels have even been adapted into award-winning films.

What books will you find on this list of the best sci fi novels for smart people? If you're a fan of the classics, you might vote Brave New World by Aldous Huxley to the top. This timeless work appeals to intelligent readers because of its themes of class discrimination and psychological manipulation. It is largely considered one of the best science fiction works of all time. Dune by Frank Herbert is another intelligent sci fi book celebrated by readers all over the world. Other good books features on this must-read list include The Martian Chronicles, The Diamond Age, and The Man in the High Castle.

Which smart sci fi book is your favorite? Give the best novels a thumbs up and please add any intelligent science fiction works that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Dune is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Frank Herbert
2
Foundation is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Isaac Asimov
3
1984 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
George Orwell
4
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Arthur C. Clarke
5
The Martian Chronicles ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Ray Bradbury
6
Brave New World is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Aldous Huxley
7
Rendezvous with Rama is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Arthur C. Clarke
8
Ender's Game is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Orson Scott Card
9
The Martian is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Andy Weir
10
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
jess-hart added Kurt Vonnegut
11
Stranger in a Strange La... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Robert A. Heinlein
12
The Man in the High Cast... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
13
The Left Hand of Darknes... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
jess-hart added Ursula K. Le Guin
14
A Canticle for Leibowitz... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
looksharp added Walter M. Miller, Jr.
15
The Mote in God's Eye is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
16
Ringworld is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Larry Niven
17
Red Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Kim Stanley Robinson
18
The Forever War is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Joe Haldeman
19
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Robert A. Heinlein
20
The Dispossessed is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Ursula K. Le Guin
21
Cat's Cradle is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
jess-hart added Kurt Vonnegut
22
Something Wicked This Wa... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Ray Bradbury
23
Old Man's War is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
jess-hart added John Scalzi
24
Time Enough for Love is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Todd King added Robert A. Heinlein
25
Tau Zero is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People
Poul Anderson