One of the greatest joys of reading is diving into a world where everything is different. Whether you have an interest in technological advancements or are looking for an incredible adventure, there’s a book for you on our list of the best science fiction books.
Best Science Fiction Books
You’ll find a mix of dystopia, fantasy, and historical fiction on this list of the 15 best science fiction books. Each book has the potential to whisk you away to a world far more advanced than our own.
A science fiction novel usually features time travel, outer space exploration, technological advancements, scientific principles, and more.
It is a genre many often interchange with the dystopia genre, though they do have a slight difference. A dystopian world is a world that is deliberately worse than ours, while science fiction worlds are simply different than our own.
Science fiction worlds are often futuristic, with technological advancements and societal changes that we have yet to explore.
Ready to dive into our list of the best science fiction books? Then keep on reading.
17. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
First on our list of best science fiction books is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. It has a 4.07 rating across over 890,000 Goodreads users.
After the discovery of a technique that can recover and clone dinosaur DNA, Jurassic Park opens. Featuring creatures thought long extinct, people from all around the world can visit for a price.
But cages were never meant to hold dinosaurs, and when things go wrong, lives are put in danger.
16. The Martian by Andy Weir
Did you know that the popular 2015 film featuring Matt Damon was based on The Martian by Andy Weir? It has a 4.41 average rating across over 989,000 ratings on Goodreads.
Astronaut Mark Watney is one of the first people to walk on Mars. Six days later, he’s sure he’ll be the first to die on a foreign planet.
After nearly dying in a dust storm, his crew evacuates, assuming that he’s dead. Stranded and unable to get a signal to Earth, Mark knows it’s only a matter of time before his supplies run out.
Despite the damaged machinery, dangerous environment, and dwindling supplies, Mark isn’t going to give up hope. He is resourceful and determined, but is it enough to keep him alive?
15. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Another popular science fiction book turned movie is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It has a 4.24 average rating across over 1.04 million readers on Goodreads.
The year is 2044, and the world’s only redeeming quality is the virtual utopia known as the OASIS.
Wade escapes the world through the simulation, studying the puzzles hidden within the world, all based on the creator’s obsession with pop culture from previous decades. Whoever unlocks the puzzles will win power and fortune that feels unimaginable in Wade’s reality.
But when he comes across the first clue, he finds out that other players are willing to kill for the prize. To survive, Wade will have to win and face the reality he’s been running from.
14. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams has a 4.33 average on Goodreads across over 1.67 million ratings.
Ford Prefect is Arthur Dent’s saviour when he plucks his friend from Earth moments before its destroyed to make space for a galactic freeway.
As a researcher for the revised version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ford decides to take Arthur on a journey through space with the help of their handy Guide. Together they meet new travellers and go on incredible adventures.
13. Dune by Frank Herbert
Next on our list of best science fiction books is Dune by Frank Herbert. It has a 4.25 average rating across over 1.12 million Goodreads users.
Paul is the heir to a noble family who rules a desert planet that’s only value is the “spice” melange, a drug that can extend life.
But this spice is worth killing for, and when his House is betrayed, it sets Paul on a new course. His destiny awaits him, as he will bring to fruition an ancient dream.
12. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Madeleine L’Engle’s novel A Wrinkle in Time has a 3.99 average across 1.13 million ratings on Goodreads.
The night a stranger visits the Murry house, an adventure unfolds. Meg, her brother Charles, and their friend Calvin will face danger and the extraordinary circumstances threatening the universe.
11. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Science fiction classic Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr has a 4.09 average rating across over 1.26 million readers on Goodreads.
Bill has had many roles and experiences. As a time-traveller, he has built a loving family, travelled to the planet Tralfamadore, owned a successful optometry business, and become unstuck in time.
After being captured and incarcerated by the Germans during the final years of the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim reflects on the different events in his life.
10. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Up next on our list of the best science fiction books is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This novel has over 1.27 million ratings and an average rating of 4.30.
At only six years of age, Ender enjoys playing his computer-simulated war games. But he doesn’t realize that he may be the military genius Earth needs to fight against the alien enemy seeking to destroy humankind.
As the result of genetic experimentation, Ender dives into harsher training that will either demonstrate his capabilities or destroy him completely.
With this war raging for over a century, experiments to create the perfect general could end with Ender. His older siblings weren’t perfect, one too violent and the other overly kind.
With this knowledge, his siblings grow jealous. His brother seeks to become ruler, while his sister looks to control the people. But if Ender can’t succeed, the siblings will have no world to conquer.
9. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner by James Dashner has a 4.04 average rating across over 1.32 million ratings on Goodreads.
When Thomas wakes in the Glade, all he can remember is his name.
Outside the walls that surround the Glade is a maze that’s always changing. It’s the only way out, but no one made it to the end alive. Surrounded by boys who know as little as he does, Thomas isn’t sure how he’ll survive.
But everything changes when a girl arrives. There’s never been a girl before, and she comes with a terrifying message.
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
It wouldn’t be a list of the best science fiction books without the world’s first true science fiction novel. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has a 3.84 average across 1.38 million readers on Goodreads.
Victor Frankenstein is a young scientist who begins studying life after his mother’s passing. His obsession separates him from his family as he dreams of creating his own noble race.
But when Victor creates his first creature, it is the last thing from noble. Disgusted by its appearance, Victor abandons the monster.
When he receives word that someone murdered his brother, he is positive that the monster is to blame. But who will believe him?
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World has a 3.99 average rating across over 1.68 million ratings on Goodreads.
In a world inhabited by genetically modified humans, there are no emotions, and individuality is a thing of the past. There are no lasting relationships, children are not born but cloned, and your class is dictated by the chemicals given to you as an embryo.
Bernard is an Alpha, bred to lead, when he encounters John, a boy born naturally and an abomination to society.
With technology taking over the world and humans losing their humanity, how can a young boy navigate it all?
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Next on our list of best science fiction books is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It has a 3.98 average across over 2.09 million ratings on Goodreads.
Guy is a fireman who must destroy printed books and the houses they’re found in. Novels are illegal, and Guy doesn’t question the cost of his actions.
His life is bland, his wife ignores him, and every day is the same story.
Until Guy meets Clarisse, who shows him a past where one could see the world and experience adventures through books. Television wasn’t the place to gain knowledge, books were.
This revelation changes his life and has him questioning everything he’s been taught.
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry is a classic science fiction novel that is haunting and influential. It has a 4.13 average rating across over 2.17 million Goodreads reviews.
Jonas lives in a world with no poverty, unemployment, crime, or sickness. Everyone is happy.
But when Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories for his community, he discovers that not everything is as it seems. The truth of his world and the price of living in it is a weight he cannot bear.
4. Animal Farm by George Orwell
A list of the best Science Fiction books would not be complete without Animal Farm by George Orwell. It has an average rating of 3.98 across 3.39 million Goodreads reviews.
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Divergent by Veronica Roth took the world by storm in the early 2010s. The first book in the YA trilogy has a 4.16 average rating across over 3.54 million ratings on Goodreads.
Beatrice Prior lives in a world where society is divided into factions. Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent).
At sixteen, everyone must choose the faction they wish to be part of for the rest of their lives. Born into Abnegation, Beatrice is torn between staying with her family or following her heart.
It is a choice between who she is expected to be and who she truly is.
Her choice surprises everyone, but the life she’s chosen isn’t easy. Tris must survive the initiation, a series of physical and psychological tests meant to break her. Should she fail, the consequences are deadly.
But Tris has a secret that could kill her if anyone finds out. But as conflict grows between the factions, Tris realizes that her secret may be the only way to save the ones she loves.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
Another George Orwell book, 1984 comes in second on our list of best Science Fiction books with an average rating of 4.19 over 3.97 million ratings on Goodreads.
Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching…
A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
It should be no surprise that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is at the top of our list of the best science fiction books. It has a 4.31 average rating across over 7.60 million ratings on Goodreads.
What was once North America is now Panem, a Capitol made up of twelve districts. The further from the Capitol you live, the less you have.
To keep the districts from rioting, the Capitol forces one boy and one girl from each district to compete in the Hunger Games, an annual and televised event where participants fight to the death.
When Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her sister’s place, she isn’t afraid to die. But without trying, she becomes a favored contender, and many back home are cheering for her.
But to win, she must sacrifice her values, play smart, and turn her back on love.
Summary for Best Science Fiction Books
From classics to more recent favorites, there’s a book for everyone on our list of best science fiction books. Each novel has key sci-fi traits such as technological advancements, space travel, and strong main characters.
Here’s a recap of the most popular science fiction books of all time:
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
We hope you enjoy your next read!
Looking for more ‘Best of’ Lists?
Check out these other lists we’ve curated for your reading enjoyment.