Most Under-rated Science Fiction

Show me the most UNDER-rated sci-fi in your library.

What are the unsung masterpieces of science fiction? Who blew you away but got no awards? Which are the novels that don't get the attention they deserve? Which books do you bring up in conversation where people say "Huh? Never heard of it!"?

Show me the five-star novels that you found collecting dust in some used bookstore somewhere.

Best Science Fiction

Some Subgenres:
Alternate History
Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic Fiction
Space Opera

Science Fiction By Year:
Classic Science Fiction - 1930-1939
Classic Science Fiction - 1940-1949
Classic Science Fiction - 1950-1959
Classic Science Fiction - 1960-1969
Classic Science Fiction - 1970-1979
Classic Science Fiction - 1980-1989
Classic Science Fiction - 1990-1999
Classic Science Fiction - 2000-2009
Science Fiction - 2010-2019

Most Popular Fantasy on Goodreads:
All fantasy with at least 100,000 ratings

Most Popular Science Fiction on Goodreads:
All science fiction with at least 50,000 ratings
All science fiction with 25,000 to 49,999 ratings
All science fiction with 10,000 to 24,999 ratings
All science fiction with 1,000 to 9,999 ratings
All science fiction with 100 to 999 ratings
Best Science Fiction on Goodreads with less than 100 ratings
1

by
4.04 avg rating — 7,051 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
2

by
4.12 avg rating — 19,843 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
3

by
3.98 avg rating — 10,043 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
4

by
4.06 avg rating — 6,686 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
5

by
3.80 avg rating — 7,228 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
6

by
4.35 avg rating — 7,115 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
7

by
4.31 avg rating — 216 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
8

by
3.88 avg rating — 8,554 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
9

by
4.16 avg rating — 16,343 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
10

by
3.65 avg rating — 160 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
11

by
3.98 avg rating — 7,317 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
12

by
3.93 avg rating — 5,208 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
13

by
3.88 avg rating — 4,336 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
14

by
3.89 avg rating — 327 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
15

by
3.78 avg rating — 7,074 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
16

by
3.99 avg rating — 10,245 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
17

by
4.17 avg rating — 7,776 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
18

by
4.02 avg rating — 7,158 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
19

by
3.96 avg rating — 10,253 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
20

by
3.77 avg rating — 7,335 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
21

by
3.88 avg rating — 7,631 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
22

by
4.07 avg rating — 8,262 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
23

by
3.87 avg rating — 4,007 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
24

by
3.63 avg rating — 15,148 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
25

by
4.06 avg rating — 2,025 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
26

by
3.87 avg rating — 5,886 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
27

by
3.89 avg rating — 18,427 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
28

by
4.20 avg rating — 6,532 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
29

by
3.69 avg rating — 6,875 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
30

by
3.81 avg rating — 4,119 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
31

by
3.89 avg rating — 9,186 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
32

by
4.28 avg rating — 7,577 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
33

by
3.85 avg rating — 17,155 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
34

by
3.96 avg rating — 13,125 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
35

by
4.25 avg rating — 2,066 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
36

by
3.95 avg rating — 4,431 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
37

by
3.85 avg rating — 319 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
38

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 19,446 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
39

by
3.75 avg rating — 11,249 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
40

by
3.99 avg rating — 10,845 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
41

by
3.93 avg rating — 2,429 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
42

by
3.78 avg rating — 3,766 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
43

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 3,008 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
44

by
3.76 avg rating — 8,389 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
45

by
3.89 avg rating — 5,517 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
46

by
3.91 avg rating — 3,035 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
47

by
4.39 avg rating — 84 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
48

by
3.91 avg rating — 105 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
49

by
4.14 avg rating — 16,426 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
50

by
3.91 avg rating — 4,778 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
51

by
3.39 avg rating — 14,434 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
52

by
4.06 avg rating — 2,551 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
53

by
3.65 avg rating — 10,281 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
54

by
3.97 avg rating — 4,579 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
55

by
3.97 avg rating — 38,410 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
56

by
3.81 avg rating — 2,821 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
57

by
3.65 avg rating — 2,404 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
58

by
3.83 avg rating — 4,395 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
59

by
3.79 avg rating — 2,215 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
60

by
3.89 avg rating — 5,020 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
61

by
3.62 avg rating — 1,659 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
62

by
4.28 avg rating — 5,223 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
63

by
4.09 avg rating — 6,681 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
64

by
3.72 avg rating — 5,847 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
65

by
4.49 avg rating — 174 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
66

by
4.34 avg rating — 699 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67

by
4.06 avg rating — 4,983 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
68

by
4.84 avg rating — 73 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
69

by
3.81 avg rating — 4,383 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
70

by
3.76 avg rating — 1,529 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
71

by
3.85 avg rating — 1,537 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
72

by
3.75 avg rating — 3,854 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
72

by
3.94 avg rating — 5,872 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
74

by
3.73 avg rating — 1,557 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
75

by
3.88 avg rating — 2,129 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
76

by
3.91 avg rating — 1,851 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
77

by
3.85 avg rating — 9,812 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
78

by
4.22 avg rating — 9 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
79

by
4.13 avg rating — 21,646 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
80

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 11,380 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
81

by
3.85 avg rating — 5,920 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
82

by
3.74 avg rating — 42,126 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
83

by
3.56 avg rating — 2,020 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84

by
3.67 avg rating — 5,757 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
85

by
3.82 avg rating — 7,497 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
86

by
4.10 avg rating — 45,412 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
87

by
4.03 avg rating — 1,869 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88

by
3.80 avg rating — 8,034 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
89

by
3.56 avg rating — 879 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
90

by
3.95 avg rating — 1,783 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
91

by
4.97 avg rating — 40 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
92

by
4.22 avg rating — 8,460 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
93

by
3.55 avg rating — 3,524 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
94

by
3.87 avg rating — 6,332 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
95

by
3.86 avg rating — 22,952 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
96

by
4.13 avg rating — 19,314 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
97

by
3.85 avg rating — 7,952 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
98

by
3.78 avg rating — 1,164 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
99

by
4.05 avg rating — 1,096 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
100

by
3.61 avg rating — 2,916 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
flag this list (?)
1,114 books · 1,263 voters · list created August 5th, 2008 by Rob (votes) .
263 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Rob 1444 books
157 friends
Michael 2070 books
454 friends
Eli 4 books
2 friends
Antoine 949 books
147 friends
Aaron 15 books
2 friends
dirt 874 books
69 friends
Geoff 98 books
41 friends
Bill 227 books
9 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 84) (84 new)


message 1: by Adam (new)

Adam Virtual War, Found, Double Identity, Sent, and Running out of Time are all amazing but barely have any ratings.


message 2: by Tomislav (new)

Tomislav Tricky category. If a lot of people vote for a book, then maybe it's not under-rated...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is underrated?!?


message 4: by Antoine (last edited Dec 04, 2010 06:23PM) (new)

Antoine It is hard to see how Hitchhikers could belong on this list, given that it has 150,000+ ratings (more than forty times the number of ratings that the top book on this list has), and an average of over four stars. Unless the idea is that Adams is underrated as SF, but plentifully rated as humor. It doesn't work for me. But if it works for Rob, then I guess it is OK.


message 5: by Rob (new)

Rob Antoine wrote: "But if it works for Rob, then I guess it is OK. "

Why single me out? I didn't vote for Hitchhiker's... as underrated. (I like it, but it's hardly underrated.)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Do you want me to remove it, Rob?


message 7: by Rob (new)

Rob Susanna wrote: "Do you want me to remove it, Rob?"

Makes no difference to me if people vote for it; I just created the list for folks to enjoy. All I was saying in my reply was that even though the book appears in the list, I didn't vote for it--and I'd hope that folks wouldn't suggest that I did.


message 8: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia Rob wrote: "Susanna wrote: "Do you want me to remove it, Rob?"

Makes no difference to me if people vote for it; I just created the list for folks to enjoy. All I was saying in my reply was that even though t..."


I would remove it. It's annoying seeing the same books at the top of every list, regardless of what the list name is. "Hitchhiker's" appears in top 5 always. For goodness sake, there was a movie. I think any books that are in top 10 "best sf" cannot be in this list.


message 9: by Rob (new)

Rob After much deliberation, I have removed HHGTTG from the list. It's popular and it's fun, but it's on entirely too many other lists and has been read and highly-rated by entirely too many people to be "under-rated". (Sorry to the folks that voted for it, but it doesn't fit the spirit of this list.)


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I imagine this would definitely be a tricky list to police.

I just added Dreamsnake and moved it to the top of my list. It's the only Hugo-Nebula-Locus winning novel that is now out of print (and has been for over a decade).


message 11: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia Unless someone objects, I'm going to remove "Handmaiden's Tale" - no way is that underrated. It is one of top 3 sf novels people think of (along with 1984 and Hitchhiker's Guide).


message 12: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia Going to remove The Silent Tower and Silicon Mage (Windrose Chronicles) by Barbara Hambly - not science fiction.


message 13: by Anastasia (last edited Jul 06, 2011 12:29PM) (new)

Anastasia Going to remove Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman - although a great book, it is fantasy, not science fiction.

Going to remove the individual Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison which are included in Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat (#1-3) (curr. highest ranking).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, Handmaid's Tale is "underrated" like Hitchhiker's is "underrated." If not more so.


message 15: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia I'm going to delete Arana's Visitor by Julie Rollins. There are 7 people who voted, all with # books in their library and # of friends in single digits; those people consistently vote ONLY for the 4 books in Julie Rollins' series for all Lists. (Same on Amazon.com - all the reviews for these books are from people with only 1 review each - clearly fraudulent.)


message 16: by Rob (new)

Rob @Anastasia- Good catches, all.


message 17: by Ninja (new)

Ninja I'm surprised the City and the City made the list: it's been nominated or won more awards than many a book I've seen in some time: " It has won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, Arthur C. Clarke Award, World Fantasy Award and BSFA Award; tied with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel; and was nominated for a Nebula Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.", even getting some press outside of sci-fi / fantasy circles.

But as said earlier, it's rather difficult to say what's underrated...


message 18: by Rob (new)

Rob Ninja wrote: "I'm surprised the City and the City made the list..."

Given that many awards (and/or nominations) then I'd say that it doesn't really belong here. I'm currently reading it and loving it, but given those facts... *not* underrated. I've removed it.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Which makes me question The Lathe of Heaven - nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Locus - how is that "under-rated"?


message 20: by Ninja (new)

Ninja Yeah, the Lathe of Heaven also came to mind. I really enjoyed it, but I don't know that it's underrated either.


message 21: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia Ninja wrote: "Yeah, the Lathe of Heaven also came to mind. I really enjoyed it, but I don't know that it's underrated either."

What awards has it won? I'm familiar with Le Guin, of course, and am fairly well versed in sf/f field, but "Lathe of Heaven" was completely off my radar. In fact, it's this list that made me take a note. Perhaps because it didn't win and it should have that it can be considered underrated? I

If I'm going to disagree with anything, it's all the other top 10 books - Alfred Bester - yes he's great, but has anyone not read these? Or especially John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" - hugely popular, almost like "Ender's Game" in that it got people who didn't read military scif into the genre. But for those who HAVE read a lot of Sf/f, and that who the audience for this list is, in my opinion, "Old Man's War" is a rehash of "Starship Troopers" plus "Forever War" plus "Armor" with a touch of "Spin State" or "Altered Carbon," take your pick. In my humble opinion.

And Neal Stephenson? Overrated if anything.


message 22: by Ninja (new)

Ninja Lathe "received nominations for the 1972 Hugo[1] and the 1971 Nebula Award,[2] and won the Locus Award for Best Novel in 1972.[1] Two television film adaptations have been released"
But perhaps not as famous as her other works, I suppose.

I haven't read Bester, nor Scalzi *grins*.
Didn't realise Old Man's War was quite that recently - thought it might have been a 90s novel - but maybe that just attests to its fame.

Actually, re-reviewing the top 50 or so, I'd say Day of the Triffids stands out. Much more so than any of the others.


message 23: by Rob (new)

Rob We do reach a point where a books "underrated-ness" starts to become a matter of splitting hairs. Anastasia brings up a good point there w/ "Lathe of Heaven" and/or "Old Man's War" -- depending on what your approach to a given novel is, it's a matter of perception. I'm starting to think awards nominations (and/or WINNING an award...) is probably a decent litmus test. But still not necessarily definitive.


message 24: by Ninja (new)

Ninja I'd agree. For example, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang won a Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula, but I get the feeling it's generally considered to be somewhat lesser known novel (perhaps because the author didn't continue writing sci-fi?)


message 25: by Rob (new)

Rob Ninja wrote: "I'd agree. For example, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang...

Exactly! (Another great example.) Totally agree there (even if it undermines my theory) -- there you have something that's considered to be a classic among folks who've read it; but you'd be hard-pressed to find too many folks who've read it. (That last bit there being one of those "in my experience..." type remarks.)

So much for making the selection and/or winnowing process easier... ;-)


message 26: by Anastasia (last edited Sep 12, 2011 09:04PM) (new)

Anastasia What I did when I went through this list several months ago (and I did delete more books than I mentioned here...) was cross-reference it against the "Best Scifi Eva" lists - if a book was in the top 20 best ever list, then it isn't underrated. That's a fair approach in my opinion.


message 27: by Neal (new)

Neal The Lathe of Heaven is underrated? LOL.

Two that pop in to my head:
Gateway - Yes it won some awards back in the 70s but it seems like no one reads it or appreciates it.
Nova - Delany's retelling of Moby Dick (and shorter!) where he foreshadows cyberpunk and man/computer interfacing 20 years before it became popular.


message 28: by Andy (new)

Andy Duplicate removed- Way Station should no longer be on the list twice.


message 29: by Jeszika (new)

Jeszika I added Lilith's Brood to this list as it is one of the best scifi books I have ever read, and most people I speak with have never even heard of Octavia Butler let alone read this one. Also, I have added In Conquest Born. Again, it is a favorite scifi of mine and few people I know have read it... If my perceptions of their popularity are in err than feel free to remove them and I will rest happy, knowing that more people than I thought enjoyed these gems.


message 30: by Michael (new)

Michael I restricted my votes to books with fewer that 10,000 Goodreads ratings - arbitrary, but I thought anything over that wasn't really under-rated.


message 31: by Larchi (new)

Larchi Hyperion underated? Should put Dune on as well then :)
I only read Hyperion because it was at, or near the top of every top Sci-fi list...and for good reason.


message 32: by Rob (new)

Rob Larchi wrote: "Hyperion underated? Should put Dune on as well then :)"

Good point... As a Hugo Award winner, I'm to go ahead and say that it's not under-rated. I have removed it.


message 33: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Average rating of the top 10 on my list is less than 1000, one of them has 11 ratings, another one, 8 ! And I'm saying these are good books worthy of more attention.


message 34: by Philip (new)

Philip Sarah Pi wrote: "I imagine this would definitely be a tricky list to police.

I just added Dreamsnake and moved it to the top of my list. It's the only Hugo-Nebula-Locus winning novel that is now out of print (and ..."


Great read!


Justanotherbiblophile Yeah, Ender's Game as 'UNDER-rated' (amongst many others)? I think this list is dead. :\


message 36: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn How could Canticle for Liebowitz be rated any higher ? It's on every list of must-read SF, often nominated as the best example of the genre ?


message 37: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2013 07:16PM) (new)

I don't really see how Ursula K Leguin can be number one, she is one of the most recognized and praised writer of either fantasy or science fiction. Maybe it's on there because it is a rather obscure novel by her, but still I wouldn't put the Children of Hurin on an underrated fantasy list, because even though it is obscure compared to the authors other works, the author is so well known, they would know what kind of book you were talking about if you just mentioned who the author was.
I couldn't find them, but I had to add A Princess of Mars and Bio of A Space Tyrant, Usually nobody knows who Edgar Rice Burroughs is, and they only know Tarzan from the disney movie, I've never met another person who had ever heard of the Barsoom novels, and all the critical reviews I've read of the book trash it, at least the teacher's I've heard reference it on courses on Sci-Fi.

Same goes for Bio of a Space Tyrant, everyone who has read it(at least on goodreads) trashes it for having too much rape. I say Piers Anthony is a damn fine writer and I absoulutely adored the first two books, if number one was a bit disturbing, but just because something is disturbing doesn't mean it's bad, like Titus Andronicus.


message 38: by Veeral (last edited Apr 10, 2013 01:35AM) (new)

Veeral This is a great topic for a list, Rob. If only all the readers who voted here would have understood the meaning of the word "underrated".


message 39: by David (new)

David I removed the following books:
The Host - 335k+ ratings and a Hollywood movie
Mega Man X Official Game Secrets - not fiction

Inferno and The Reluctant King are both fantasy.


message 40: by retroj (new)

retroj I want to throw in my 2¢ that The Lathe of Heaven is entirely deserving of its spot at the top of this list. It is well-loved by those that know it, but remains a relatively unknown book, inexplicably. It was certainly under-rated by the 1972 Hugo voters..


message 41: by ayanami (new)

ayanami Great idea for a list! I'll definitely be referring back to this frequently...


message 42: by Mitchell (new)

Mitchell So why don't we say that any book with more than 25,000 ratings should be removed. And if someone wants to vote for such a book they should do it on https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3...


message 43: by retroj (new)

retroj Mitchell wrote: "So why don't we say that any book with more than 25,000 ratings should be removed. And if someone wants to vote for such a book they should do it on https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3..."

Hi Mitchell,

Just looking at rating count does not capture what it means for a book to be underrated. A book may have been read by a lot of people, but still be underrated because it was under-appreciated. In fact, the more people that under-appreciate a book, the more it makes that book "most underrated". Sheer number of readers may be one factor in judging underratedness, but rating value is the bigger factor.


message 44: by Andy (new)

Andy Removed Never Let Me Go as I think it has far too many ratings for this list.

NibbledToDeathByCats: There's a list for underrated books, ie. those with an average GR rating of less than 3.7.


message 45: by retroj (new)

retroj Andy wrote: "Removed Never Let Me Go as I think it has far too many ratings for this list.

NibbledToDeathByCats: There's a list for underrated books, ie. those with an average GR rating of less than 3.7."


Not sure I follow your meaning. Just because something has a low rating doesn't mean it is underrated.


message 46: by Andy (new)

Andy Well, the idea of the list is to vote for your favourites that may have been read by many people but not rated as high as you think they deserve.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...


message 47: by retroj (new)

retroj Andy wrote: "Well, the idea of the list is to vote for your favourites that may have been read by many people but not rated as high as you think they deserve.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1......"


I like that this list does not set artificial criteria like that. I see the term "underrated" as representing a combination of factors, often nuanced.


message 49: by Kaion (new)

Kaion Removed for appearing in Top 100 of the Best of SF megalists*:
Lathe of Heaven
The Stars Are My Destination
Anathem
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Flowers for Algernon
Doomsday Book
Necromancer
Old Man's War

*https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...)
*https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3...


message 50: by Mitchell (new)

Mitchell Kaion wrote: "Removed for appearing in Top 100 of the Best of SF megalists*:
Old Man's..."


I like this as a criteria. But it definitely isn't criteria stated in the list description.

But this list definitely doesn't have consensus on what it is about.


« previous 1
back to top




Anyone can add books to this list.