The Best Science Fiction Books (According to Reddit)

Recently, someone asked Reddit for a list of the best science fiction books of all time. Being a fan of sci-fi, and wanting to expand my own reading list, I thought it would be helpful to tally the results and preserve them here for future reference.

I've also included selected quotes from the comments, as well as my own notes on the books I've already read.

PS: All book images in this post are copyright Amazon, and were retrieved using my Big Book Search Engine.

So, without further ado, here are the Greatest Sci-Fi Books of All Time, ordered by upvote count:


book cover

Frank Herbert - 1965

"There's a reason it's the global top selling science fiction book of all time." - NibblyPig

If you have a chance, track down the excellent full cast audiobook (unabridged!) released in 2007. It's more like a radio play than a traditional audiobook, and highly enjoyable.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

book cover

Douglas Adams - 1979

"I really love the cool combination of humor, philosophy, and sheer nuttiness of the entire series." - Scarbrow

To be honest, while I liked this book, I found the jokes somewhat less funny than expected.

Ender's Game

book cover

Orson Scott Card - 1985

"I've never felt so connected to a character within the first 50 pages as I did with Ender." - endtype

One of those books you'll either love or hate. It probably depends on how successful your grade-school social life was... ;)

Foundation Trilogy

book cover

Isaac Asimov - 1942

"I was literally in awe at the way Asimov wrote... The entire thing was so extremely well thought-out and well-written." - Scarbrow


book cover

Dan Simmons - 1989

"...One of, if not the most bad arse and brilliantly thought out monsters in science fiction history." - bluntstick

The first book in the excellent Hyperion series. An interesting collection of "how we got here" stories, told from multiple viewpoints (some of which you'll enjoy more than others). It largely serves as the setup to the second book, Fall of Hyperion, which follows a more traditional narrative structure.


book cover

William Gibson - 1984

"Without it, there is no Matrix." - HenryKillinger

My personal favorite, and perhaps the first real sci-fi novel I read. I revisited it many years later in the form of an audiobook read by the author himself (complete with soundtrack)! The Gibson-narrated version is no longer for sale, but fortunately, it's easy to find on Google.

Snow Crash

book cover

Neal Stephenson - 1992

Ever wonder where the term "Avatar" came from? The concepts in this book may not hold the same novelty they once did, but if everything in Snow Crash seems familiar, it's because Stephenson inspired a generation of internet nerds to turn his ideas into reality.

I'm looking forward to Neal's new book.

Childhood's End

book cover

Arthur C. Clarke - 1953

"The most epic and incredible ending in any story ever told. Pure greatness." - BukkRogerrs

The Forever War

book cover

Joe Haldeman - 1974

"Short, but fantastically well executed. It might be so good, in part, because it's short. He didn't beat the thing to death like so many other authors end up doing." - jfilling


book cover

Larry Niven - 1970

"The science is almost the main character and the humans & aliens happen to be there to explain it to you." - UptownDonkey

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

book cover

Philip K. Dick - 1968

"The sci-fi is almost a backdrop to much more human and emotional story." - BiohazardBlaze

Of course, this eventually became one of my favorite films: Blade Runner.

Stranger in a Strange Land

book cover

Robert A. Heinlein - 1961

"I wish I'd read this at 12, and not 29 as it turned out. I think I would've turned out a far better person." - shrevid

Starship Troopers

book cover

Robert A. Heinlein - 1987

"The movie and book are different in every way except for the fact that they both involve a war with bugs." - Ragnrok

"... and they're both freaking awesome." - teletoes

The Culture Series

book cover

Iain M. Banks - 1987

"The ships make it worth it on their own, their Minds are some of the best drawn characters ever. Fantastic writer..." - rthrtylr

I'm currently deep into the second novel, Player of Games, which generally receives higher recommendations, but in my experience, Consider Phlebas was a fine starting point.

A Canticle for Leibowitz

book cover

Walter M. Miller, Jr. - 1960

"One of the rare books where I spent days afterwards thinking about it." - metastable2

Rendezvous with Rama

book cover

Arthur C. Clarke - 1973

"I was a Catholic until I read those books..." - PLJNS

Pandora's Star

book cover

Peter F. Hamilton - 2004

"A really cool universe with a plot you can't put down." - kodemizer

I've owned a copy of this for years, but never made it past the first chapter...

The Mote in God's Eye

book cover

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle - 1974

"Space Political Struggle, so good." - ev0l_yeti

The Stars My Destination

book cover

Alfred Bester - 1956

"There's something enthralling about a man driven by PURE RAGE who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal." - MaunaLoona

Altered Carbon

book cover

Richard K. Morgan - 2002

"There is something to be said for a combination of "hard-boiled detective story", sci-fi, a bit noir and a twist of dystopia." - cupofcocoa

Kim Stanley Robinson

book cover

Red Mars - 1993

"The way he weaves together technology, politics, and personal stories is absolutely unparalleled." - msingerman

2001: A Space Odyssey

book cover

Arthur C. Clarke - 1968

"The book ending was much better IMO. Well, unless you're really stoned, then the movie is awesome!" - Rediting


book cover

Carl Sagan - 1985

"One of the few works in this thread that's truly more sci-fi than fantasy. A brilliant, brilliant novel." - NotJohnBoy

The Sirens of Titan

book cover

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. - 1959

"It's deeply disturbing in a gentle manner." - ZombieLobotomy

Vonnegut is the master when it comes to examining the absurdity of human behavior. He manages to expose our collective terribleness in a way that's both hilarious and depressing.

I, Robot

book cover

Isaac Asimov - 1950

"Once found a copy on the beach on holiday. Started reading and could not put it down until i had finished it... got sunburn as a result. Thanks Asimov. :(" - DubiumGuy

The Left Hand of Darkness

book cover

Ursula K. Le Guin - 1969

"Ursula Le Guin is one of my personal heroes... fantastic author, thinker, idealist." - pbeunttz

Revelation Space

book cover

Alastair Reynolds - 2000

"...Whoa, so dark in style! Reminded me of dirtier cyberpunk stuff from the nineties." - Rxke

Old Man's War

book cover

John Scalzi - 2005

"Highly recommended. Other books might be more cerebral or philosophical, but damnit these books are really fun to read." - NorthernBoreus


book cover

Neal Stephenson - 2008

Sometimes, I wish I could live in this book. Don't be put off by Anathem's monstrous size or strange vocabulary, this is a rich and rewarding experience.

"It was one of those books that made me sad when I finished it because I could never read it for the first time again. A modern masterpiece in my opinion." - spartankope


book cover

John Steakley - 1984

"In a personal depiction of self-torment and violence; a man willingly turning himself into a sociopath, into The Engine..." - c4tch

Oryx and Crake

book cover

Margaret Atwood - 2003

"Highly recommended for readers interested in near future dystopias." - Pimpernickel

Fahrenheit 451

book cover

Ray Bradbury - 1953

There's a really incredible audiobook version of Fahrenheit 451 read by the author himself (with zeal!). Track it down, you won't regret it.

A Fire Upon The Deep

book cover

Vernor Vinge - 1992

"Definitely the best portrayal of how a truly galactic society would work..." - KrytikalMasz


book cover

Greg Egan - 1992

"Incredible... I urge anyone interested in hard scifi to read Egan. DO IT :)" - EarlGreyGoo

The Chronicles of Amber

book cover

Roger Zelazny - 1970

"I think these are more fantasy than scifi but the original 5 books were my all time favorites growing up." - not-throwaway

Heir to the Empire

book cover

Timothy Zahn - 1991

"This was by far the best Star Wars novel made." - Herebec

The Book of the New Sun

book cover

Gene Wolfe - 1980

"Was recommended this by a friend and it blew my mind, unlike anything I'd ever experienced and I've read most of the books mentioned..." - semperviren

Well, that's the list! Comments?

Posted by John on 2011-09-09