Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
Anything in the science fiction or fantasy genres, especially if there's any crossover.

(This list used to be for science fiction, but got out of control. For the best science fiction, see our new list.

See also
SF and Fantasy Award Winner Lists
1
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 672,260 ratings
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2
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 399,313 ratings
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3
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,510,464 ratings
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4
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 879,134 ratings
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5
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 815,353 ratings
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6
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 475,875 ratings
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7
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 220,420 ratings
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8
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 3,454,085 ratings
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9
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 1,090,480 ratings
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10
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 183,950 ratings
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11
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 690,126 ratings
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12
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 170,522 ratings
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13
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 164,693 ratings
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14
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 149,016 ratings
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15
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4.36 of 5 stars 4.36 avg rating — 198,836 ratings
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16
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 144,246 ratings
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17
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 138,048 ratings
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18
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 110,382 ratings
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19
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 352,469 ratings
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20
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 88,456 ratings
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21
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 60,246 ratings
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22
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 1,519,219 ratings
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23
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 408,927 ratings
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24
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 507,978 ratings
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25
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 216,066 ratings
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26
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 104,259 ratings
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27
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 128,895 ratings
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28
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 48,659 ratings
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29
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 246,042 ratings
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30
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 128,572 ratings
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31
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 96,892 ratings
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32
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 210,591 ratings
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33
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 66,341 ratings
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34
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 65,228 ratings
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35
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 1,324,588 ratings
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36
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 53,213 ratings
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37
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 672,546 ratings
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38
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 74,405 ratings
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39
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 72,864 ratings
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40
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 1,031,797 ratings
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41
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 60,767 ratings
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42
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 76,557 ratings
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43
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 71,735 ratings
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44
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4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 328,493 ratings
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45
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 100,636 ratings
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46
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 51,217 ratings
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47
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 84,814 ratings
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48
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 68,965 ratings
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49
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 32,597 ratings
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50
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 352,019 ratings
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51
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 35,460 ratings
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52
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 136,855 ratings
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53
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 42,042 ratings
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54
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 49,290 ratings
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55
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 24,089 ratings
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56
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 246,257 ratings
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57
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 3,201,268 ratings
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58
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 236,255 ratings
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59
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 38,786 ratings
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60
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 81,256 ratings
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61
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 125,070 ratings
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62
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 34,809 ratings
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63
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 48,988 ratings
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64
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 118,757 ratings
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65
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 61,266 ratings
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66
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 26,240 ratings
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67
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 80,509 ratings
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68
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 33,275 ratings
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69
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 42,065 ratings
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70
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 28,984 ratings
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71
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 90,138 ratings
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72
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 41,309 ratings
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73
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 63,588 ratings
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74
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 48,735 ratings
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75
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 686,208 ratings
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76
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4.55 of 5 stars 4.55 avg rating — 258,067 ratings
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77
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 28,607 ratings
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78
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 47,545 ratings
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79
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 19,354 ratings
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80
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 23,840 ratings
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81
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 87,874 ratings
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82
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 36,374 ratings
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83
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 23,565 ratings
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84
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 30,519 ratings
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85
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 5,735 ratings
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86
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 32,713 ratings
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87
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 14,273 ratings
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88
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 11,772 ratings
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89
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 168,011 ratings
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90
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 19,033 ratings
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91
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 103,259 ratings
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92
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 28,114 ratings
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93
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 20,631 ratings
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94
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 23,600 ratings
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95
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 16,904 ratings
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96
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 341,193 ratings
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97
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 148,642 ratings
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98
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 28,324 ratings
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99
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 96,862 ratings
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100
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 6,564 ratings
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flag this list (?)
4,826 books · 16,825 voters · list created May 29th, 2008 by deleted user.
1396 likes · Like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Otis 805 books
1771 friends
Michael 446 books
248 friends
The Crimson Fucker 419 books
204 friends
rivka 2684 books
223 friends
Ben 576 books
57 friends
Jessica 2206 books
102 friends
Sherry 1208 books
304 friends
Holly 1170 books
32 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 270) (270 new)


message 1: by elissa (last edited Jun 23, 2008 06:39AM) (new)

elissa A nice list that I'd definitely refer back to if I was looking for a good SF read. There was only one book on the list that I've read but didn't think was wonderful. If I'd made the list, it would also include more YA and children's stuff (besides just WRINKLE IN TIME, which is a definite classic), so maybe I should just make one of my own, or add some more to this one. There are some great YA SF's coming out this year (HUNGER GAMES and LITTLE BROTHER, just to name two). Another recent book that I've loved, which is adult SF, is WARCHILD by Lowachee.


Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* yay for a wrinkle in time! XD i just finished reading it for the sixth time.
if maximum ride was on this list i would vote for that too!!! XD


message 3: by Holly (new)

Holly I really must protest the George R. R. Martin being on this list. It is not science fiction, it is fantasy.

Also I'm borderline on the American Gods, but I really feel it is more urban fantasy than sci-fi.

But then, I'm a purist who is oft irritated by the mixing of the two on bookstore shelves in the first place.


Kristine (fezabel) Technically, this list should be titled "Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books" because of the number of fantasy titles on the list.


message 5: by Stephy (new)

Stephy "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman does not deserve to be on this or any list of the best anything. I read it, and if I could vote for worst book ever written, from this selection, He would have my vote! He's a smug, arrogant, pedantic asswipe.

I've had to read him for coursework, and resented every minute he wasted in my life.


message 6: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Zuniga True! I found his work hard to get through and gave up. although it had some nice imagery nothing fit together.


message 7: by Patrick (new)

Patrick I must be the only person on Earth who can't stand Ender's Game.

Of course, I find Card personally obnoxious and to me his personality oozes through all his books.


message 8: by Jeff (new)

Jeff I did not like Ender's Game, but I read (tried)it a long while ago & do not really remenber why.


message 9: by Jeff (new)

Jeff I really tried to just vote for what was really Science Fiction and NOT Fantasy, even though I like a lot of books that blur the line I have in my mind!


message 10: by David (new)

David Cozad this list is really bad. in the top 100, there are way too many books that don't even have a scientific bent. most are social fiction and some are fantasy.


message 11: by Davor (new)

Davor Hmm.. somebody should remove all the books that are not sci-fi from this list.


message 12: by Laura (last edited Aug 18, 2008 07:42PM) (new)

Laura Davor, which ones do you think aren't science fiction, specifically? At a quick read, I don't see anything I'd throw off here without a qualm (except perhaps the fantasy books, and I don't really feel comfortable making that call). I'm happy to delete books that legitimately don't belong on the list, but you'll have to give me pointers.

Patrick, you are definitely not the only one in the world. I loathe that book. Loathe. (And as you suggest, Orson Scott Card is also a miserable prick who would do the world a favor by dropping off it, but that's a separate issue.)


message 13: by Antoine (new)

Antoine Much as I love Hitchhikers, it seems like a sad statement that the second greatest SF book of all time is a parody of the genre.


message 14: by Virginia (new)

Virginia I can't seem to find neither Solaris by Lem, nor More than Human by Sturgeon, two wonderfully written science fiction novels...

And I agree with that there are a lot of books here that actually should be in a fantasy list.


message 15: by Dana (new)

Dana Hmmm... new to Goodreads, but not to the genre. I'm intrigued by commentary about Card. I've never heard much about him personally. I'd be interested in discussion as to whether Ender's Game is a "guys" book. Most of the folks I know (including myself and my 14 year old son) who liked it are guys. Any women who enjoyed it? It certainly plays to the insecurities of adolescent boys. I'm sure it wouldn't be my number one, but haven't decided what is...


message 16: by Shane (new)

Shane Way too much fantasy on this list. It's easy to pick out. Is there a separate list? I only voted for sci-fi books even though some of the fantasy listed is my favorite (Perdido Street Station and Fionavar).

Didn't like -Ender's Game- all that much but I have been enjoying the sequels a lot.

I've seen Card at cons but never met him (sounds like I'm not missing out on much).


message 17: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I agree - too much fantasy. Specifically, The Last Unicorn and Dragonflight. I guess that's only two books, really.


message 18: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Is there a difference between sci-fi and fantasy? What is the difference? And why are they always lumped together?


message 19: by Ken (new)

Ken Boamponsem Please give me a brief detail about the Solar System


message 20: by Mickey (new)

Mickey DeCicco There are so many books on this list that I'm ashamed of myself for not having read and so many books that should be on here; and so many that should NOT be on here. How is a Resident Evil novel even in the top 500?


message 21: by Brett (new)

Brett I agree with some that have said there is too much Fantasy on this list. The title says Best SCIENCE FICTION. It doesn't mention Fantasy or Horror (which are listed too).

I realize a lot of people don't know the difference between Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but it is pretty easy to find out these days. But it's probably not as important to some. To me it's just calling a truck a car. It just ain't right!

That being said, I think about every book on this list is a good book and well worth reading. It shows how varied the genres are and how much really good reading material there is.


message 22: by Brett (new)

Brett Many people have mentioned they don't know the difference between science fiction and fantasy. There really is a difference. I have found that the definitions used on WIKI.com are pretty good and have a ton of information. Here are brief definitions of each with links to each page.

Definition of Science Fiction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_...

Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and capitalization) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theatre, and other media. In organizational or marketing contexts, science fiction can be synonymous with the broader definition of speculative fiction, encompassing creative works incorporating imaginative elements not found in contemporary reality; this includes fantasy, horror, and related genres.[1]

Science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".[2]Science fiction is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilities[3] in settings that are contrary to known reality.

These may include:

* A setting in the future, in alternative time lines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archeological record
* A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens[4]
* Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature[5]
* Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems[6

Definition of Fantasy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy

Fantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of technological and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three (collectively known as speculative fiction).

In its broadest sense, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, from ancient myths and legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.


message 23: by Emily (new)

Emily I'm pretty sure that at least half the books on this list are not really science fiction. For example Dracula. Can we say most famous HORROR of all time?


message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie T quick note: I am a female, and it is my #1 favorite SciFi book of all time.


message 25: by Mary (new)

Mary I am glad to see this list because I find it difficult to get good scifi/fantasy recommendations from mainstream sources. I find it hard to evaluate what I will like in advance. Love G R R Martin and Philip K Dick, thought Dune was really stupid.


message 26: by AJ Paris (new)

AJ Paris this list is great. it helped me find some books i'd forgotten, or forgotten the name of.


message 27: by Jen (new)

Jen Someone asked about females that like Ender's Game. I am female and that is one of my favorite books. My husband also loves it. Interesting enough, I actually am not a big Sci-Fi reader.

I also think it is interesting that several of these books are considered great works of ficiton. (I think anything by Heinlen would fall under that category.)

In response to the commentary about Card, I haven't met him but have been recently disturbed by comments he has made in interviews and on his website. The thing to remember is that he is part of the Latter-Day saints and much of what he says sounds like it is coming straight from the church's official rhetoric. That aside-I still think Ender's Game is a great work of fiction.


message 28: by Jen (new)

Jen Also, on the discussion of sci-fi as opposed to Fantasy. One example of a questionable books is Martian Chronicles. I remember in high school English we had a lengthy discussion on whether this would be a Sci-Fi or Fantasy book or both or neither.


message 29: by Zen (new)

Zen So, according to Brett's definitions, "Dragonflight" is Sci-fi. Thanks for clearing that up.




message 30: by Debutante (last edited Jan 04, 2009 09:34AM) (new)

Debutante You haven't read Fe Fi FOE Comes or you'd be voting for it.

elissa wrote: "A nice list that I'd definitely refer back to if I was looking for a good SF read. There was only one book on the list that I've read but didn't think was wonderful. If I'd made the list, it woul..."




Bricoleur  (David) Soul Antoine wrote: "Much as I love Hitchhikers, it seems like a sad statement that the second greatest SF book of all time is a parody of the genre."

Hitchhikers was more a parody on the state of physics and cosmology (along with satirical swipes daily life) at the time it was written than it was a parody of the genre of science fiction.




message 32: by Gealach (new)

Gealach Dana wrote: "I'd be interested in discussion as to whether Ender's Game is a "guys" book. Most of the folks I know (including myself and my 14 year old son) who liked it are guys. Any women who enjoyed it?"

Yes, Ender's Game appeals to women too. I'm proof.

And I'm also a little bothered by the genre mixing. I only voted for SF titles here even though there's one or two fantasy I loved, and several fantasy that I felt less strongly about. I hate when people give me a book about spaceships because "she'll love it" even though I'm mostly into magic/legends.


message 33: by Claudia (new)

Claudia The only thing sci-fi about Dragonflight is that the dragon riders are decended from some hi-tech people who came to colonize the planet.


message 34: by Matt (new)

Matt Mazenauer Jeff wrote: "I really tried to just vote for what was really Science Fiction and NOT Fantasy, even though I like a lot of books that blur the line I have in my mind!"

I think the line is "it's fantasy if there is magic involved".


message 35: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Zen wrote: "So, according to Brett's definitions, "Dragonflight" is Sci-fi. Thanks for clearing that up.

"


Sure, no magic, genetically engineered animals, Intergalactic travel and colonization, sounds sci-fi to me.


message 36: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea This list is a great reference, though I'm not sure about ALL of the books...


message 37: by Werner (last edited Apr 22, 2009 06:44PM) (new)

Werner While there are probably lists on Goodreads that are designed to include both SF and fantasy, this one is intended only for science fiction, and the guideline at the top explicitly asks people not to add fantasy or horror books to it. Several people on this thread have complained that this guideline hasn't been followed, and I think they have a legitimate point.

Both list moderators and Goodreads librarians (I happen to be one of the latter) have the authority to delete books from lists if they were clearly added improperly. So, just now I stuck my neck out and deleted 14 books from the list. There may well be others that should be deleted, but I only removed those I was sufficiently familiar with to know are clearly outside the guideline (there are two more I have grave doubts about, but I want to check on them with a Goodreads friend who's actually read them before I do anything drastic.) I deleted very cautiously and conservatively, bending over backward to respect other people's judgment in doubtful cases
--especially since we're threatened with dire penalties if we delete improperly. :-) But I hope that what I did do makes for some improvement, and helps keep the list's focus on target.


message 38: by Taylor (last edited Jun 02, 2009 05:56PM) (new)

Taylor This is the best list I found is a great reference.
I read/Want to read About all them.
Made meh want to read Childhood's End
I did not want to at first Cuz after reading all 4 book of David Bowmen I did not want to read any more of Mr.Clarke's books. <.< But I did lolage?
o.0


message 39: by Tanstaafl (new)

Tanstaafl Jeremy wrote: "Is there a difference between sci-fi and fantasy? What is the difference? And why are they always lumped together?"


Yes. A big difference.
To be blunt,
Fantasy= pure impossible imagination
Science Fiction= Probably not possible by current means, but is hoped to be possible in the future: whether that be near or far.

They are usually lumped together because they are both considered merely imagination. SF/F are often not considered literature by the general public. But those people don't know what they're talking about. :P


message 40: by Denise (new)

Denise Link I always assume, when I read a list such as this, that people are rating the books on some sort of internal scale based on their own opinions of these and other books they have read, their life experience in general, and who they are. That's how I rate books on the lists. It's not an objective (if that were possible) evaluation of "the best [genre x:] books ever." It's a guide to those who enjoy [genre x:] books about books they may want to consider reading. Yes? So WTH cares if a given book on the list is genre x or genre y? Unless your purpose in commenting is to amaze us all with your brilliant analysis/personal prejudice... in which case, nevermind.


message 41: by Tanstaafl (new)

Tanstaafl If this is addressed toward me: I don't care in the least. I was merely helping jeremy with his question.


message 42: by Ursinus05 (new)

Ursinus05 Since when is Lord of the Flies science fiction?


message 43: by Allison (new)

Allison Dana wrote: "Hmmm... new to Goodreads, but not to the genre. I'm intrigued by commentary about Card. I've never heard much about him personally. I'd be interested in discussion as to whether Ender's Game is ..."

i thought the book was interesting, defiantly well written. You could say i liked it but don't be too sure, It was violent but then the plot and characters were very well woven into the story.


message 44: by Allison (new)

Allison Tanstaafl wrote: "Jeremy wrote: "Is there a difference between sci-fi and fantasy? What is the difference? And why are they always lumped together?"


Yes. A big difference.
To be blunt,
Fantasy= pure imposs..."


I always thought of Fantasy as Magic and things realated to magic. I do agree though usually Fantasy is linked with 'never happened never going to happen"
Sci-Fi I think is more sciend and outer space type things- like star wars or star Trek.


message 45: by Tanstaafl (last edited Aug 18, 2009 10:42AM) (new)

Tanstaafl Well it actually depends on each persons personal thoughts of the genre. Many argue that Star Trek and Star Wars, though they have scientific elements, are fantasy since things such as the force are not real and undoubtedly ever can be. The term for those types of movies/books would be Science Fantasy.

However, I don't really care about the difference. I read or watch what I like, and don't mind the genre, Science Fiction or Fantasy.



message 46: by Allison (new)

Allison well then they should change the name of this list to: The Best Science Fantasy Books then every one would stop arguing about it.


message 47: by Tanstaafl (new)

Tanstaafl Agreed.
It's really stupid that anyone cares.



message 48: by Mickythin (new)

Mickythin The controversy about ScFi is moot. I don't care that much. I do wonder how you classify a book such as 'The Terror'. It has the feel of science fiction at its best but is ostensibly a whatif historical novel. Although couldn't you say the same about 'Man in the High Castle'. In any case, 'The Terror' is without doubt Simmonds' best book, and if the idea is to get people appreciating the best then push it!


message 49: by Tanstaafl (new)

Tanstaafl I'm fairly sure The Terror would be classified as historical fantasy. The creature, is, as far as I know, not scientific, so it would be fantasy.

A lot of people put alternate history with science fiction, but I disagree with that as well, if itwere to matter.

Michael Chabon's ,The Yiddish Policemen's Union won the Hugo. And while a great book on its own, it definitely can not be classified as science fiction. Yet, it was just because it's alternate history... kinda.


message 50: by Mickythin (new)

Mickythin Tanstaafl wrote: "I'm fairly sure The Terror would be classified as historical fantasy. The creature, is, as far as I know, not scientific, so it would be fantasy.

A lot of people put alternate history with science..."


So where would you put 'Man in the High Castle'? Got to have the same rules applied. And then you've got 'Through a Scanner Darkly', A psychological exploration of Tim O'Leary consequences? I don't think so. If it looks like Sci Fi, smells like Sci Fi, and 3even tastes like Sci Fi - it probably shouldn't be consigned to a shit category.

And on the subject of the creatures. There are many creatures in Sci Fi that aren't scientific. That's because they are creatures.


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