Best Science Fiction Books

Out Legacy Best Science Fiction List...For new updates, check
Best Science Fiction Books

Over the years we've recieved lots of complaints that we've abandoned science fiction for fantasy, which has been true. Well, NO MORE. We've been hard at work creating a sister site to the BestFantasyBooks that's ONLY about science fiction. 

For a highly detailed list of the best science fiction books including a boat load of science fiction subgenre lists, check out our new sister site,

You can continue browsing the "Old Top 10 Best Fantasy Books List" (it's heavily outdated ) below or you can visit the new site, check out the hugely detailed list, or read our picks for the Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books Ever.

As such, this 'list' is a legacy list, so check out our sister site for updated best science fiction book recommendations.

A blend of sci-fi and fantasy, Frank Herbert's Dune created a foundation for many of the themes in modern genre fiction. Its exploration of ecology, pacifism, and mysticism pairs with a story of destiny to remain relevant fifty years after its publication. However, underneath that apt commentary lies a powerful coming of age story. The story follows Paul Atreides, the heir of a family that controls the planet of Arrakis. In a layered, complex world of religion and politics, Paul becomes a hero and messiah. This happens not in a sudden rush of circumstance but slow and painful progress through training. Throughout it, Herbert weaves an expertly adapting mental state. The protagonist comes to understand the meaning of equality, love, and most importantly, time. Dune is not an easy read. It's wordy, jargon-filled, and examines difficult but important concepts. But if you can get past Herbert's initial learning curve, you'll find a rich world that's only overshadowed by its use of character. Read if you like: Epic sci-fi, philosophy in fiction, dense reads.

Books in Dune Chronicles Series (8)

Book Flap Description  A recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against humankind's most frightening enemy.  For most, war is hell, but for Heinlein's character Juan Rico, war is heaven -- and for those reading the book too! This is one classic you should read. Bootcamp in space, high tech battle toys, bone-jarring battles, romance, and a critique on politics thrown in for good measure. Heinlein is on the top of his game in what is considered his finest novel. Read it! If you have seen the terrible movie adaption, forget it! The book is much, much better.
Book Flap Description  One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon. For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves--or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.  Arguably the greatest work of science fiction ever written (it's a toss up with Frank Herbert's Dune). Those who love science fiction with grand ideas and epic storylines, pick this one up. Note: this book is for people who are into deep science fiction. Grand concepts and vision carry the weight of this story, but characterization is not the focus of the novel. For those who want an entertaining "thinking" read, the Foundation series will provide that.

Books in Foundation Series (4)

Meet Hiro Protagonist: hacker, samurai swinging swordsman and pizza delivery boy. When his best friend dies of a brain fry and his ex girlfriend asks for his help, Hiro switches from part- time pizza boy to full-time hero. Weaving everything from Sumerian myth to the postmodern vision of a futuristic world on the brink of collapse, Stephenson creates a genre defining book.  This novel is Stephenson's breakout novel, a dystopian cyperpunk thrill ride. If you liked the gritty, loveless world of Blade Runner, you're going to feel right at home in Stephenson's Snow Crash. It's a classic of the sci-fi genre and one hell of a thrill ride and a must read. 
Book Flap Description  Space is not the only void... In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp. But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it "The Reality Dysfunction." It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.  Night's Dawn is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale. If you like your science fiction with heavy waistlines, give this series a shot. It's epic space opera Science Fiction that's about as big as they get: big battles, grand plots, and lots of characters. Hands down, this is one of the best space opera series out there. Peter Hamilton has a certain style of writing: his books tend to be massive with fully realized universes and complex characters. I usually find that Science Fiction is all about the world and not about the characters, but Hamilton is able to find a happy compromise between the two: you get grand worlds, epic plots, and complex characters -- talk about having your cake and eating it too! It's enough to make the sci-fi buff weep with joy. Peter Hamilton is one of the best science fiction writers and Night's Dawn is one of his finest works; it's a great segue into his other, compelling science fiction novels.
Book Flap Description  Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson retums with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us. Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed locked out of his way. Those who didn't ended up in the lockup--or dead. But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallory's Bar & Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice. Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer--until she met up with Thermopyle. But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated. Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleek frigate fitted for deep space. Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course. What nobody expected was how quickly it would be over--or how devastating victory would be. It was common enough example of rivalry and revenge--or so everyone thought. The REAL story was something entirely different. In The Real Story, Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.  Ah, sci-fi so dark you can almost see the shadows. Those who relish the Star Trek-type world where the universe is full of (semi) perfect humans who have collectively evolved into a peaceful and harmonious society, look elsewhere. This is one hell of a dark and twisted roller coaster ride, a free fall down into an abyss without hope. Ok, I'll stop with the metaphors, but seriously, it's a dark series -- the darkest one I've yet read. But it's also brilliant. Donaldson, author of the critically acclaimed Thomas Covenant series, brings his writing chops to bear in this Sci Fi series. Donaldson has ever been about the characters, especially the anti-heroes. If you love characters that don't quite fit into the mold of hero or villain, you'll love his series. Several of his main characters are put through extreme tribulation, so be warned.
This one has been around for a long while now and pre-dates the whole LitRPG movement. However, as the premise of the story takes place partly in a massive, realistic virtual game world, we can squarely put this one in the LitRPG category, even if it's treated as a strict science fiction.Tad Williams is a talented writer -- one of the best wordsmiths and fantasy authors in the entire genre; he penned celebrated fantasy classics such as the great Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, probably THE singular coming of age fantasy story of the 20th century (and one that inspired Martin to write A Game of Thrones).So what does Williams have that most of the authors in the LitRPG genre don't have? Well for one, he's a better wordsmith than every single one of them. Second, he knows how to write a deeply plotted, character driven story through and through.All of the LitRPG landscape features similar conventions to those found in the Otherland series. The thing is, Tad Wiliams did it first with his series of novels before LitRPG was a thing. In terms of writing and character development, and arguably the sheer scope of the story, Otherland stands unique in the genre. I wouldn't technically categorize it as LitRGP, but rather a full-fledged science fiction work, but one that takes place in a game.So for probably the best character-driven LitRPG story, and one that predates the entire genre by a good decade), read Tad Williams Otherland series.

Books in Otherland Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

Otherland is a unique tale. You can find other LitRPG books that feature something similar in general plot (characters lost in a virtual reality world), but as of 2017, nothing else yet features the quality of writing, plot, and characterization of the Otherland series.
After dying in a particularly gruesome death, ex UN-envoy Takeshi Kovacs wakes up to find himself "re-sleeved" into a fresh body with a job offer: find who killed Laurens Bancroft , the richest man in the Bay city. But for Kovacs, a man with a brutal past and a questionable future, nothing is ever that simple...  This is dystopian cyberpunk with grand style and punishing action. One you start reading this book, you won't be stopping -- for anything. Richard Morgan is a master tale spinner with visionary ideas (literally, the ideas explored are completely novel), fascinating characters, twisted plots, and pounding action. If you love Blade Runner, Snow Crash, and William Gibson's Neuromancer, this novel will delight.

Books in Takeshi Kovacs Series (2)