Top 50 Science Fiction Books on Goodreads

Posted by Hayley on August 20, 2018
Goodreads SFF Week 2018

"I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room."
-Ray Bradbury

Don't pack up your dinosaurs, fellow sci-fi readers. You're among friends here.

When we set out to uncover the top science fiction books on Goodreads, our journey—searching through hundreds of books and thousands of ratings and reviews—was a spacewalk down memory lane, from revisiting the sci-fi heroes we grew up with, like young brainiac Ender and hapless (and homeless) Arthur Dent, to returning to beloved worlds created by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, and many more.

The bar needed to be high. Every book on our list has at least a four-star average rating from Goodreads members. Unfortunately, this means that dinosaur king himself Michael Crichton failed to make the cut, along with other big names in the genre like Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, and H.G. Wells. But while some classics may be missing, recent favorites from Emily St. John Mandel, Nnedi Okorafor, and Pierce Brown round out the list.

Without further ado, let's boldly go where many readers have gone before. Tell us how many of the top 50 sci-fi books you've read in the comments!


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Comments Showing 1-50 of 748 (748 new)


message 1: by Breslin (new)

Breslin White I've read three of these, 1984, Cat's Cradle, and Slaughterhouse Five.


message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul O'Neill Dune is one of the best books ever.


message 3: by Benno (new)

Benno Hansen 6


message 4: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra have read only 4 of these , V for Vendetta , Dune , Dark Matters & Martian


message 5: by Anissa (last edited Aug 20, 2018 09:03AM) (new)

Anissa I just need to thank GR for giving Science Fiction its own list this time out. I've been thinking it's a shame SF isn't allowed to have its own chair as a genre. I'm much more a fan of it than Fantasy and I'm often disappointed when "greatest" SF/F lists are compiled and they're fantasy heavy. So thanks for this!

For this list, I've read some & want to read others (Okorafor & Le Guin are still on my current summer reading list). I had to add The Martian Chronicles because it's one of those classics that I know I need to get around to reading (it was one of my father's favourites). Glad to see Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. And while I love Kim Stanley Robinson, I get he's not everyone's thing, so no complaints from me for him not making the list. But I'm eager for his next, Red Moon. Neal Stephenson is another I enjoy so, glad he made the list (Seveneves still fondly crosses my mind).

Some of my favorite reads so far this year have been: Chris Brookmyre's Places in the Darkness, Joe Hart's Obscura, Meg Elison's The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Alastair Reynolds' The Prefect and two of the Murderbot novellas by Martha Wells.


message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher York 11 from this list.


message 7: by Tanya (new)

Tanya It's a genre i've only discovered for myself relatively recently. Lots of the book on this list are most dystopian in nature, not necessarily scifi - but I suppose they fall under the umbrella term if you define them as speculative fiction.

I've read 8, have another 5 on my tbr shelf. PKD reigns supreme as far as pure and inventive scifi goes.


message 8: by Bill (new)

Bill 30. I used to read a ton of Sci-Fi, but I can't seem to find anything written in the last 20 years that appeals to me.


message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda 14. But then again I pretty much ONLY read sci-fi/fantasy. :)


message 10: by Steve (new)

Steve 13 from this list, with a number of others on my "Want to read" shelf.


message 11: by Adam (new)

Adam Melton I've read three. 11/22/63, Dark Matter and Ready Player One. All three I HIGHLY recommend. I can't wait to get into the others on this list!


message 12: by Witchwood (new)

Witchwood 19


message 13: by Bill (new)

Bill 26. Woohoo!


message 14: by Hope (new)

Hope 12 from this list


message 15: by Samir (new)

Samir 17


message 16: by Max (new)

Max Barber 17


message 17: by Bennett Williams (new)

Bennett Williams 22, excited to check out the other 28!


message 18: by Kristin Hackett (new)

Kristin Hackett (SuperSpaceChick) I've read 13 and have 5 on my shelves aleady! Looks like I have a long list to add to my TBR!


message 19: by Heather (last edited Aug 20, 2018 09:00AM) (new)

Heather 20 from this list. Personally, I would not categorize Kindred as SF, but it's a great book.


message 20: by Therese (new)

Therese I've been a fan of Ray Bradbury since 6th grade when we had to read his short stories. My favorite of his is called "All Summer In A Day." Heartbreaking but it stayed with me for a long time. Another reason I was addicted to The Twilight Zone! I still have to read Dark Matter and Station Eleven, the perfect time to add to an upcoming readathon!


message 21: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Starflight Dang, most of these I've either read already or are already on my to-read list. I'd say I'm most excited for Station Eleven, though.


message 22: by Alison (new)

Alison I've read 16 of these -- and want to read more!


message 23: by Earl (new)

Earl Billingsley All. Some I no longer have since I tend to mail them on to my son and give them to others that are likely to like them


message 24: by Ina (new)

Ina I've only read 3. I like sci-fi but it's not a fave genre.


message 25: by Winterhaven (new)

Winterhaven Fiber farm 16...so many great ones missing from this list!


message 26: by Zedsdead (new)

Zedsdead 21 from this list, and 13 are marked Want-to-read.


message 27: by John (new)

John I am a serious nerd....19 read and 6 on my "to read" list.


message 28: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Pumple I've read 23 and several more are on my want to read list and I am currently reading "The Three Body Problem". Not sure if we need multiple entries from Robert Heinlein, as he is very much a creature of his time and some of his notions have not aged so well. I am very happy to see Nexus on this list. I am constantly telling people to read it and sometimes feel like I must have read that series in a dream because no one else has ever read it. Fantastic series. Can't recommend Neal Stephenson enough. So happy to see this list and add a few new ones to my "to read" list.

Maybe we could have a list of the best new fiction this year that is purely sci/fi? Maybe just 5 or 10?


message 29: by Kristy (new)

Kristy M. 4.5-- never finished Kindred.

It would be interesting to further classify each book into its subgenre. Utopia/Dystopia, cyberpunk, space opera...


message 30: by Bill (new)

Bill Mcgee The Foundation trilogy needs to be included in this list.


message 31: by Lu (new)

Lu Only 6. I'm surprised.


message 32: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Worling 18 and counting. Still have some classics to read, though some are a bit dated IMO. Glad to see Station Eleven, Leviathan Wales and Old Man's War made the list.


message 33: by Leticia (new)

Leticia I read 17 and 15 are on my TBR.


message 34: by Becky (new)

Becky 12 from this list. James P Hogan's Inherit the Stars is a great read, though with all the advancement in technology would be dated now. But a great sci-fi mystery all the same.


message 35: by Doug (new)

Doug 17, more than I was expecting, honestly!


message 36: by Linda (new)

Linda C 11


message 37: by Groucho42 (new)

Groucho42 I haven't rated many books, this is a chance. I went through and marked those I've read and someday I'll rate and comment.

I've read 34 of them. I think I've read a couple of others, but seem to have forgotten to put them in my Access database. I'll check my library for many of the others on the list.

People always have disagreements about any list, and this one isn't perfect; but it's a fine start. Thanks for putting it out there.


message 38: by Amber (last edited Aug 20, 2018 09:04AM) (new)

Amber Martingale Paul wrote: "Dune is one of the best books ever."

It also inspired this song by Iron Maiden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y3o4...


message 39: by Cori (new)

Cori North 33, and this is not a genre I think of as my favorite...which is historical fiction!


message 40: by Fabi (new)

Fabi 21 and a few still on my Want to Read list. But...really? So many classic greats are missing here.


message 41: by Donald (new)

Donald Stevens They have two Robert Hienlien books on the list but the one that should be on there is STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.


message 42: by Mystery (new)

Mystery Theater Anissa wrote: "I just need to thank GR for giving Science Fiction its own list this time out. I've been thinking it's a shame SF isn't allowed to have its own chair as a genre. I'm much more a fan of it than Fant..." Bradbury is an interesting case: always on the SF lists, but truly belongs on the Fantasy side. Martian Chronicles is superb. Something Wicked This Way Comes is underrated. Bradbury's short story collections are his forte: The Illustrated Man in particular. Even Martian Chronicles is really a collection of shorts. Farenheit 451 is his most famous book, but far from his best.
"So I'm really not a science fiction writer. If I'm anything at all I'm a writer of fairy tales and modern myths about technology"
- Ray Bradbury


message 43: by Nazz (new)

Nazz Oh 34


message 44: by Joe (new)

Joe Harrington 15 on the Sci-Fi list


message 45: by Robin (new)

Robin Prak 17


message 46: by Blue (new)

Blue 18. Wow, much higher than I expected.


message 47: by Bimugdha (new)

Bimugdha Paul wrote: "Dune is one of the best books ever."

please give me a reading order of the DUNE series :(


message 48: by Anne (new)

Anne Scott 32

I'm intrigued by Saga in that I've never heard of it. Going to have to go check it out.


message 49: by Candace (new)

Candace 17. It's actually many more if you count all the sequels and prequels for some of them (e.g., Dune, Wool, etc.) Several more are already on my TBR. :)


message 50: by Mystery (new)

Mystery Theater These lists are farcical because they are voted by folks who have read maybe five sci fi books in their life.

"Hey! I read that! I'll vote for it!

Heinlein? Never heard of him? David Brin, William Gibson, John Varley? Who are they? What's a Nebula? Wasn't Hugo a storm?

Ignorance of the genre is no excuse.


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