best sci-fi books of all time

33 Must Read Sci-Fi Books of All Time [2023 Updated]

Sci-fi books are some of the most loved among book lovers. In this article, I’ve listed the best science fiction books ever written. I’ve sorted them in descending order based on the rating and review on Goodreads.

This post contains affiliate links that earn us a commission at no extra cost to you.

1. Dune by Frank Herbert

Sci-Fi Books

Paul Atreides is the sole heir to the noble Atreides family ruling over an unhospitable planet where the only thing of value is the most coveted ‘spice’ ever, capable of extending a person’s life.

But, when his family is betrayed and his father murdered, he embarks on a journey that would decide the fate of the universe itself.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

The world is divided into five factions based on the virtues they follow: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Every 16-year-old must choose a faction and devote themselves to following the particular virtues of the faction.

It’s time for Beatrice to choose a faction as well but that means choosing between her family and what she truly wants. Her decision shocks everyone including herself.

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Andrew Ender thinks he’s just playing simulation war games and doesn’t yet realize that the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders.

Thanks to genetic experimentation, he is the perfect military genius humanity has been waiting for to win the long war against an alien species seeking to take over Earth.

From the tender age of six, he endures harsh training and prepares to lead humanity to victory.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Sci-Fi Books

Earth is destroyed to make way for a space highway. Seconds before the planet’s destruction, Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford Prefect.

To research for the latest edition of his book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“, they start their travels through space. Along the way, they meet many interesting people like the two-headed president of the universe and a depressed robot.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

Set in a dystopian world where a global war divided the world into three inter-continental superstates, Winston Smith is an officer working for the Ministry of Truth.

His life takes a turn when he gets involved with a woman named Julia and a man named O’Brien. He gets betrayed by one and now, must betray the other.

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Montag is a fireman but his job is not to put out fire but to burn the most illegal thing in the world – Books, along with the houses they’re hidden in.

He never questions his actions and orders from his superiors. One day, he meets an eccentric girl named Clarisse who introduces him to a past where people loved books and didn’t live in fear. He soon begins to question the world itself.

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney is the first person to set foot on Mars and he also might be the first to die on it. After he gets trapped in a dust storm, his team presumes him dead and leaves.

Completely alone on a different planet, he must rely on his skills and sheer will to somehow send a message to Earth before the supplies run out or the environment kills him.

8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The book follows a world where the government has made its version of a perfect society.

Women don’t get pregnant anymore and children are made in labs. People are disgusted by the concept of family and mothers, and everyone is divided into castes.

The children’s future depends on their caste, going as far as raising kids in lower caste to hate books so that they never have the desire to read them. These are the children who will grow up to become physical workers.

Some people don’t fit in society and want freedom rather than perfection.

9. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Inspired by his experience as a prisoner of war in World War II, Kurt Vonnegut mixed science fiction with historical fiction. He struggled for over twenty-three years to write this novel centering around the firebombing of Dresden.

Billy, a barber’s son, gets drafted into the war and somehow ends up being abducted by aliens, and even travels through time.

10. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Hari Seldon saw the future of the Galactic Empire and it is headed towards destruction. Soon, the age of ignorance will start with barbarians roaming the galaxy and waging a war that will last thousands of years.

To preserve the vast amount of knowledge, he gathers the smartest minds in the galaxy and establishes a society on a distant planet far away from conflicts. He calls this society “The Foundation”.

11. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Wade’s been running from the world all his life. The only place he can run to is the virtual reality world called OASIS.

His only mission in life is to solve the puzzles and secrets hidden in the OASIS by its creator which can give him all the wealth and power possible.

He finally finds his first clue and other players are willing to even kill to get their hands on it.

12. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Scientist Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with achieving the unimaginable – creating life. He gathers body parts from cemeteries and joins them together to bring them back to life.

He succeeds in achieving his dream but it soon turns into a nightmare when his creation is a monster that disgusts even him.

13. Animal Farm by George Orwell

After being treated horribly for years, a group of animals plan to overthrow their human owners and gain freedom.

In this book, Orwell uses the animals to explain the nature and cruelty of humans and criticizes totalitarian rule among other things.

14. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg Murry has been struggling in school especially after her father left for a job and no one has heard from him ever since. Even though the entire town believes he’s dead, the Murry family thinks otherwise.

Meg, her brother Charles, and their friend go on a journey through the world to find their father and bring him back home.

15. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Scientists make an amazing discovery that helps them recover dinosaur species that went extinct long ago.

A Jurrasic Park is then created where people can witness the once-dead dinosaurs. Until things go wrong and all the dinosaurs are set free.

16. World War Z by Max Brooks

Max Brooks travels throughout the world to listen to the stories of all the remaining survivors and record an oral history of the bloody Zombies war that almost wiped out the entire human race.

Follow as he listens to the testimonies of men, women, and children who came face to face with the undead, just like him.

17. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is a pretty dark book set in a near future dystopian-like world. It is told from the perspective of Alex, a teenage gang leader who indulges himself in various criminal activities along with his friends.

The first part of the book focuses on his crimes such as breaking into a house and raping a woman. The second part is about him in prison and the third part is about him coming back to the outside world.

18. The Stand by Stephen King

A bio-engineered virus gets leaked from a U.S. government lab and within weeks, most of humanity has fallen to the disease.

Some people are immune to the disease and start having strange dreams about an old woman who wants to save the remaining humans.

But, some people are also having dreams about a mysterious man called the Dark Man, who’s willing to kill them all if they don’t pledge their allegiance to him.

19. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Set in the future, Rick Deckard has a license to kill anyone his job requires. He must hunt down every rogue android out there and destroy them.

But, the androids all look and act the same as humans, and they would do anything to not be found.

20. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Ryland Grace finds himself alone in a spaceship with no memories of who he is or what he’s supposed to be doing in space, so far away from home.

With all his other crew members dead, he must regain his memories and complete his mission before it’s too late for humanity.

21. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The world has been destroyed. Very little remains of humanity. The sky is always dark and ashes are everywhere.

In a dystopian world with no hope, a pair of father and son walk the burned roads of America with their destination being the Coast. All they have is a pistol and each other.

22. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Time Machine is a classic in the science fiction genre by the man known as the father of science fiction, H. G. Wells.

It’s about a time traveler sent thousands of years in the future to a dying Earth where he meets two races – the Eloi and the Morlocks, who symbolize everything about the duality of the human race.

23. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Jason has a loving wife named Daniela and a sweet son named Charlie. His life was perfect until one day, he gets kidnapped.

When he wakes up again, he finds that his wife is not his wife anymore and his son was never born. He’s now a great scientist instead of a college professor.

Is this real? or is it a dream? Who was the man who kidnapped him and seemed to know more about him than he himself does?

24. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A famous Hollywood star dies on stage during a play. Hours later, the world is changed completely and civilization collapses because of a flu that spreads throughout the world.

We follow a group of actors as they roam the wastelands of what remains of the planet, risking their lives for art and humanity.

25. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

In the future, people are divided into castes. Darrow is a member of the Red caste, the lowest one in the world.

His job along with the others is to help make Mars livable for humanity, but they’ve been betrayed. The Gold people have already created large cities on Mars and are living in luxury.

He puts everything on the line to infiltrate a prestigious institute of the Gold caste and bring them down from the inside.

26. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Scientists finally fulfilled the human desire to play god. They created sentient robots capable of more than being helpers.

But along with their creation came rules – robots must never harm a human and they must always obey human commands.

In I, Robot, Asimov questions what it is to be human and if humanity is obsolete or not.

27. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara is an artificial intelligence designed to be friends with humans. Every day, she waits in the store for a human to come and choose her.

But, she soon learns not to put too much trust in the promises of humans and finds herself questioning what it means to love.

28. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

In China, scientists have been sending signals out in space to make contact with any alien species, which they soon do but the aliens are not as friendly as they had hoped.

The alien world is on the brink of destruction and they plan to invade Earth and make it their new home. Some people want to resist but others want to welcome them.

29. Rendevous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

After a cylindrical object enters the solar system, headed straight towards the sun, scientists send people to explore it before the collision.

They find mysterious buildings and machines in the spaceship along with strange hybrids that are both animals and machines.

They named the spaceship Rama and its creators the Ramans. But who are these Ramans that are capable of creating such advanced technology?

30. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Jim Holden is an ice miner working in the rings of Saturn. He and his crew one day stumble upon a huge secret when they find an abandoned ship called the Scopuli, and certain people are willing to kill anyone to prevent the secret from getting out.

Now, he must work together with Detective Miller and his crew to change the fate of the galaxy itself.

31. Hyperion by Dan Simmons

The Shrike is a mysterious and powerful being living in the Valley of the Time Tombs on a planet called Hyperion.

There are those who worship him, those who fear him, and those who wish to destroy him by any means.

We follow seven pilgrims on a journey to the valley to meet the Shrike. Everyone has their own reasons for joining and secrets as well.

32. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

When a group of ape-men was on the verge of extinction, they found a strange slab of stone that helped them gain intelligence and innovation among other things, that helped them survive.

Millions of years later, in the year 2001, scientists found a similar slab on the moon. Is the same one or a new slab sent to help humans once again?

33. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Michael is a human raised on Mars. Finally, he has returned to Earth and is among his people.

However, human nature shocks him as the social norms and prejudices on Earth are foreign to him. Follow him as he learns more about humans and teaches them his own beliefs.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *