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 titles 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
201
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4.83 of 5 stars 4.83 avg rating — 18 ratings
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202
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 1,654 ratings
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203
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 4,345 ratings
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203
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 4,126 ratings
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205
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 344 ratings
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206
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 635 ratings
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207
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 435 ratings
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208
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 16 ratings
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209
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 423 ratings
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210
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 10,798 ratings
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211
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 55,573 ratings
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212
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 915 ratings
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213
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 2,175 ratings
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214
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 3,072 ratings
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214
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 1,789 ratings
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216
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 151 ratings
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217
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 442 ratings
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218
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 1,224 ratings
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219
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 4,224 ratings
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219
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 88 ratings
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221
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 3,687 ratings
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222
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 306 ratings
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223
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 34,403 ratings
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224
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 14,724 ratings
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225
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 1,076 ratings
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225
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 824 ratings
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227
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 163 ratings
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227
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 2,312 ratings
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227
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 9,145 ratings
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230
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 1,370 ratings
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231
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 3,059 ratings
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232
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 40,448 ratings
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233
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 4,995 ratings
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234
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 663 ratings
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234
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4.55 of 5 stars 4.55 avg rating — 11 ratings
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234
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 8 ratings
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237
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 2,697 ratings
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238
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 1,200 ratings
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239
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4.96 of 5 stars 4.96 avg rating — 26 ratings
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239
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 981 ratings
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241
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 4,835 ratings
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242
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 1,039 ratings
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243
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 5,296 ratings
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244
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 1,529 ratings
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244
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 6,975 ratings
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244
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 22,003 ratings
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247
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 5,587 ratings
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248
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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38 avg rating — 373 ratings
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248
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 21,006 ratings
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250
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 422 ratings
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251
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 359 ratings
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252
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 12,408 ratings
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252
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 6,999 ratings
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254
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 321 ratings
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254
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 1,945 ratings
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256
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 3,696 ratings
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257
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 774 ratings
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258
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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 2,086 ratings
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259
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 3,077 ratings
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260
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 37,207 ratings
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261
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3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 3,736 ratings
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261
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 3,788 ratings
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263
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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 384 ratings
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263
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,555,090 ratings
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265
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 617 ratings
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265
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 4,387 ratings
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267
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 5,931 ratings
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268
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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51 avg rating — 591 ratings
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268
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 8,721 ratings
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270
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 4,543 ratings
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271
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 1,215 ratings
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272
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 286 ratings
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273
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 2,768 ratings
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274
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 8,610 ratings
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275
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 2,052 ratings
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276
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 144 ratings
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277
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 4,498 ratings
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278
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 484 ratings
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279
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 112 ratings
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280
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 8,900 ratings
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281
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 4,420 ratings
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281
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 5,342 ratings
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283
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 3,407 ratings
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284
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 847 ratings
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285
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 781 ratings
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286
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,889 ratings
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286
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 4,379 ratings
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288
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 5,348 ratings
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289
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 4,799 ratings
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290
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 2,282 ratings
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291
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 883 ratings
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292
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 2,085 ratings
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293
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 4,942 ratings
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293
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 5,911 ratings
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295
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 1,834 ratings
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295
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 1,982 ratings
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297
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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 16 ratings
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298
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 356 ratings
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299
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 664 ratings
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300
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 801 ratings
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flag this list (?)
1,121 books · 1,230 voters · list created August 4th, 2008 by Rob (votes) .
210 likes · Like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Rob 1417 books
154 friends
Michael 2013 books
416 friends
Eli 4 books
2 friends
Antoine 948 books
139 friends
Aaron 15 books
2 friends
dirt 845 books
63 friends
Geoff 75 books
26 friends
Bill 227 books
9 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-48 of 48) (48 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

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.


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