Goodreads Blog

Top 50 Science Fiction Books on Goodreads

Posted by Hayley on July 29, 2017

Sponsored by Ready Player One. Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

"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 4.0 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!


1984
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11/22/63
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2001: A Space Odyssey
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Ancillary Sword
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Binti
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Cat's Cradle
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Childhood's End
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Cloud Atlas
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Contact
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Dark Matter
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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Doomsday Book
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Dune
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Ender's Game
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Foundation
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
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Heir to the Empire
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Hyperion
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I, Robot
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Kindred
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Leviathan Wakes
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Nexus
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Old Man's War
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Ready Player One
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Red Rising
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Saga, Vol. 1
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Shards of Honour
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Slaughterhouse-Five
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Snow Crash
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Speaker for the Dead
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Station Eleven
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The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
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The Dispossessed
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The Forever War
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Th Handmaid's Tale
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
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The Left Hand of Darkness
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
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The Martian
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The Martian Chronicles
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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
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The Mote in God's Eye
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The Parable of the Sower
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The Passage
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The Sparrow
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The Three-Body Problem
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To Say Nothing of the Dog
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V for Vendetta
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Wool
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Y: The Last Man
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What's your favorite science fiction book? Share it with us in the comments!

See the complete coverage of Sci-Fi & Fantasy Week including:
Top 50 Favorite Fantasy Novels on Goodreads
Top 10 YA Science Fiction Books
The Martian's Andy Weir Picks Space Colonization Sci-Fi


Ready Player One



Comments (showing 1-50 of 428) (428 new)


message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura LVD most of these titles i have read or are in my TBR list, i´m a big fan of the genre :)


message 2: by Phil (last edited Jul 29, 2017 08:29AM) (new)

Phil I've read 30. I've given 12 of them 5 stars and 3 of them 2 stars.
It's funny that Speaker for the Dead but not Ender's Game is on the list. The same goes for Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Justice.
I haven't heard of some of the others.


message 3: by Tyler (new)

Tyler Hill 19 read, 11 more to be read! I'm a sucker for good sci-fi.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Stonehill I've read many of these, but am shocked that Robert Heinlein isn't represented! What about Stranger in a Strange Land? Or Podkayne of Mars? or anything in between?


message 5: by Haley (new)

Haley Wofford The Red Rising Trilogy was amazing.


message 6: by D.G. (new)

D.G. Laura wrote: "most of these titles i have read or are in my TBR list, i´m a big fan of the genre :)"

Ditto!


message 7: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Cameron I've read 10 of these


message 8: by Ron (new)

Ron Susan wrote: "I've read many of these, but am shocked that Robert Heinlein isn't represented! What about Stranger in a Strange Land? Or Podkayne of Mars? or anything in between?"

Heinlein is there - The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. This is a bit of an odd list though.


message 9: by Molly (new)

Molly I'd add Red Mars


message 10: by Sara (last edited Jul 30, 2017 05:16PM) (new)

Sara The Wind-up Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi), The Oryx & Crake trilogy (Atwood), the mad fever dream of Shadow & Claw/Sword & Citadel by Gene Wolfe and William Gibson's books were all enjoyable and/or meaty reads.
Read 17, 9 on to-read list, and will be adding a few more now.


message 11: by Monica (new)

Monica Another popular very recent sci fi book not on this list is Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Highly recommended!


message 12: by Tobias (new)

Tobias that'll be 7 on my side ...


message 13: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Hayes Out of the Silent Planet Is my favourite.


message 14: by Russell (last edited Jul 29, 2017 11:29AM) (new)

Russell Brennan Phil wrote: "
It's funny that Speaker for the Dead but not Ender's Game is on the list. "

It's there, fourth row down. That would have been an unfortunate omission.
I'd add any of the three books in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, read those recently and was very impressed.


message 15: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Hayward Star Wars but no Star Trek? Shame. I'm a complete Trekkie and love TNG Voyager & DS9. Especially Encounter at Farpoint Ghost Ship The Children of Hamlin Q-In-LawKahlessMetamorphosis Vendetta Dark Mirror Caretaker


Charlotte (Buried in Books) Well, I've read 1 - Heir to the Empire and I'm about a third of the way through Station Eleven. But there a lot on the list that I have in the house to read.


message 17: by David (new)

David Morris 19 for me so far. It was nearly higher but I stopped myself from claiming films I'd seen rather than having read the books.

My all-time favourite on this list would have to be Foundation. My favourite recent read, Wool.

Definitely sparked enough interest to drag me back from the political suspense thrillers I've been mining recently. Thanks for the list.


message 18: by Rob (new)

Rob Hmm.. 36/50 are read or to be read for me


message 19: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Phil wrote: "I've read 30. I've given 12 of them 5 stars and 3 of them 2 stars.
It's funny that Speaker for the Dead but not Ender's Game is on the list. The same goes for [book:Ancil..."


Ender's Game is there.


message 20: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Ten broek I apparently read 14 novels of this list... how is the dean of sci-fi Heinlein only represented by one novel? Where´s Stranger in A Strange Land? Also no Alastair Reynolds or Iain M. Banks? Even Elon Musk is a Banks fan.


Olivia "Don't Blame Me I Voted for Hillary" I found it interesting that Kim Stanley Robinson and Michael Crichton didn't make the list. They're a couple of my favorite sci-fi authors.


message 22: by Asaria (new)

Asaria Nothing from Stanisław Lem at all? He was one of the most imaginative sci fi writers...


message 23: by Jan (new)

Jan Krassner The Three Body Problem Trilogy: best Sci-Fi ever!


message 24: by Ray (new)

Ray what this list illustrates I think is just what a star rating means.
What is a good book a good read?
If I don't enjoy a book I stop reading it. There are a few on this list in that category. Not all the books I read and enjoy are what I think as good books. To get a 4 or 5 star it must have something beyond something special that distinguishes it in this genre that I enjoy. Sadly then there are some books in this list that I consider OK but top 50 material really!!!!! So many classics missing! I rest my case on one very simple statement. How can a top 50 list exclude Dune to mention just one! 50 Popular perhaps and I suspect who ever compiled this list did some editing that reflects their taste. Oh, I counted 26 as read, all with 3 or more stars and a few as wanted.


message 25: by Zohal (new)

Zohal Only 8 :(


message 26: by Buck (last edited Jul 29, 2017 03:18PM) (new)

Buck Ward Of the 13 I have not read, I'm not familiar with 8 of them. Some of my favorite SF novels are missing. Some of the ones on the list are not better than myriad others. But then, Bud Light is America's favorite beer.

EDIT: I overlooked one of my favorites. I thought it had been omitted but it's there: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin


message 27: by Buck (new)

Buck Ward Ray wrote: "How can a top 50 list exclude Dune to mention just one!"

First column, fourth row, next to Ender's Game


message 28: by Marta (new)

Marta 18 read, four to read. Love Ender's Game and the Ender's Shadow series.


message 29: by Karen M (new)

Karen M Read 9 and one I own which is a TBR, Foundation.


message 30: by Alexx (new)

Alexx Phil wrote: "I've read 30. I've given 12 of them 5 stars and 3 of them 2 stars.
It's funny that Speaker for the Dead but not Ender's Game is on the list. The same goes for [book:Ancil..."


Enders Game is on the list.


message 31: by Nyssa (new)

Nyssa Laura wrote: "most of these titles i have read or are in my TBR list, i´m a big fan of the genre :)"

Same here!


message 32: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Judy Love that Octavia Butler got two nods on this list. She's awesome.


message 33: by Janina (new)

Janina My favorite sci-fi book is Lady Midnight


message 34: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Slaughter house five and 1984 I've read and love. I've started 11/22/63 and enjoyed what I've read.


message 35: by Sharry (new)

Sharry I've only read about 13 of these - with a few of them I've half-read and a few I've seen the film versions of :) lots of good ones on this list!


message 36: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Read 10, and have 21 on my tbr.


message 37: by C Patrick (new)

C Patrick Daily I've read 19 of these. I'm not a huge fan of lists like this, they tend to be rather myopic, 15 of these books are less than a decade old. For literature, that's no time at all. It's like when they put out greatest hits of all time and over a third of the music was released in the last 2 years. There's still a few classics I haven't gotten around to on this list and there were a couple, like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World I'd never heard of that I think I'll check out, though. Sounds suspiciously like something Isidore Haiblum would have written.


Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* Olivia "Don't Blame Me I Voted for Hillary" wrote: "I found it interesting that Kim Stanley Robinson and Michael Crichton didn't make the list. They're a couple of my favorite sci-fi authors."

They said it was because it didn't fit the ratings. Sad especially on Jurassic Park, which was a good, creepy novel.


Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* I've sadly only read three, but have several more waiting to be read on my bookshelves.


message 40: by Ray (new)

Ray Buck wrote: "Ray wrote: "How can a top 50 list exclude Dune to mention just one!"

First column, fourth row, next to Ender's Game"


Whoops only excuse such a terrible cover grins Still have a point though


message 41: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Susan wrote: "I've read many of these, but am shocked that Robert Heinlein isn't represented! What about Stranger in a Strange Land? Or Podkayne of Mars? or anything in between?"

The Moon is a harsh mistress. it's on the list.


message 42: by Enzo (new)

Enzo I could have sworn to have seen another list that showed "Enders Game" as the top Sci-Fi novel out there.
Anyway still doing ok at 24 read.


message 43: by Semjon (new)

Semjon I read 9 books so far. But I read much more sci-fi books and I miss some famous authors for this genre on the list. Stanislaw Lem for example. And don't forget the most successful science fiction book series ever written, Perry Rhodan. The series is written since 1961 and it's still going on, week by week. I'm a huge fan.

But thanks for the inspiration. I will put some books of your list on my TBR.


message 44: by Monica (new)

Monica From this list i miss some Heinlein's masterpieces.


message 45: by Monica (new)

Monica Laura wrote: "most of these titles i have read or are in my TBR list, i´m a big fan of the genre :)"

hola Laura!;)


message 46: by Idamus (new)

Idamus I'd like to add Julian May's Pliocene Exile series


message 47: by Amparo (new)

Amparo All William Gibson novels: "Neuromance", "Idoru""Spook Country"...


message 48: by William (new)

William Ann Leckie's recent trilogy Ancillary Justice awakened the same wonder and joy that I had with Heinlein's Red Planet, my first-ever sci-fi more than 55 years ago. I was 13 and Red Planet launched me into reading with "escape velocity".

Ancillary Justice

Wonderful.


message 49: by Tazitazitazi (new)

Tazitazitazi Only 16 on read list, but all of them with 4 or 5 stars. I love SF!


message 50: by Mrs (new)

Mrs K I've read a few of these. Not my favorite genre.


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