30 Science Fiction Novels That I Recommend Reading

Science Fiction is my favorite genre for both films and novels. It is one of my passions in life. I read, write, and indulge in science fiction.

These are some of my personal favorites. I tend to reread some of them multiple times a year. Some are also part of the series.

The subgenres span post-apocalyptic, alien invasions, alternate histories, and so on. I will do part two for thirty more that I recommend (this time including movie to novel adaptations).

1. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (2008)

Follow the Maoist Cultural Revolution in an alternate history 1960s. A secret military project has sent signals into space only for them to be picked up by an alien race who need a new home. So they invade. Humanity, as per the norm, is split into those who want them here and those who don’t. 

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam

A humorous story following Arthur Dent and His buddy Ford Prefect who saves him from the destruction of Earth. Honestly one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time!

3. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (2014)

The first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy

This follows our protagonist who makes up a team for the 12th expedition into Area X, a region that has been closed off from the public. Strange horrors await the expedition.

4. Exhalation by Ted Chiang (2019)

A series of short stories that holds just as well as any science fiction novel. From time travel to meeting your mirrorself, Chiang has it all. This carries the same story Story of Your Life, the amazing short story that was the base material for Arrival.

5. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

One of the most endeared science fiction epics of all time. An interesting story of a young man, Paul Atreides, who must fight for his planet, family, and himself.

6. The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)

Genly Ai, earth-born, is an emissary sent to dispatch an interplanetary alliance with the Gethenians, nonbinary aliens that live in what can be a utopia. His lack of cultural understanding and homophobia threatens the very relationship formed between the two worlds. 

7. Contact by Carl Sagan (1985)

This was Carl Sagan’s only novel.

Dr. Arroway, the astronomer, detects and decrypts a space transmission that urges humanity to build a mystery machine. This discusses the interactions and relations between theology and the sciences

8. Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

Case, a renegade cowboy banished from cyberspace is hired to hack by a criminal syndicate to restore his uplink.

This has won the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards. 

9. Hyperion by Dan Simmons (1989)

Several pilgrims were sent on a fatal mission to the Time Tombs of Hyperion to confront the Shrike, a cosmic being with the ability to warp time and space. Like chaotic godly beings? This might be for you!

10. The Complete Robot by Isaac Asimov (1982)

This contains many of Asimov’s works regarding robotics, 37 of them to be exact. This includes the groundbreaking I, Robots. It is also where he weaved the Three Laws of Robotics that would change both the genre and STEM fields.

11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)

The novel that inspired Blade Runner. After a global nuclear war ended most of humanity, a bounty hunter is tasked with finding and eliminating six escaped androids. The foundation for many cyberpunk novels.

12. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

From Mary Shelly, the mother of science fiction, a story of a scientist who creates a sentient being rejected by society while slowly descending into chaos. Her work is a pivotal foundation for science fiction.

13. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (1968)

An odd story of an astronaut who ventures into the dangers of outer space while also bringing himself into contact with alien lifeforms.

14. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (1961)

A human born on Mars and raised by Martians struggles to adjust when returned to Earth. Both the original 1961 and 1991 unedited manuscripts are phenomenal.

15. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1942)

foundation #1

Follow Hari Seldon, an architect of psychohistory (a branch of mathematics that can predict thousands of years into the future) who is trying to save humanity from collapsing. The foundation series is vast and honestly a true epic.

16. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

Picture a totalitarian patriarchal theocracy that controls every move a citizen makes. Handmaids are used to forcefully reproduce to the high rates of infertility among women due to radiation and pollution.

17. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

The world State determines every part of its citizens’ lives. One man aims to challenge the totalitarian rule to make humanity special again.

18. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

A firefighter is tasked with burning books and knowledge due to books being outlawed. Censorship is on the loose.

19. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer (2017)

a scavenger picks an object from the fur of a ain’t flying bear in a post-apocalyptic city. The scavenger forms a friendship with this strange being called Borne. A truly wonderful look into biological science fiction.

20. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898)

A group of Martians invade the planet Earth and destroy anything in their path. This was so realistic that the radio show caused many to believe the world was truly ending.

21. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis (1938)

While we’re used to seeing Lewis work in other genres, Dr.Ransom (ironic yes) is kidnapped and taken to Mars. He learns he is to be offered as a sacrifice.

22. The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadathby H.P. Lovecraft (1943)

A blend of eldritch horror and science fiction, this novella features Randolph Carter dreams about a mysterious city he wishes to visit. The only thing stopping him is horrendous gods on another planet are determined to keep it from him.

23. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke (1953)

A peaceful alien race has taken over the universe and turned into what can only be considered a utopia. As time passes, it becomes clear that the utopia isn’t all it seems to be.

24. A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)

A classic novel following professor Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel, and their strong guide Hans. They travel down through an Icelandic volcano while encountering a strange new world along the way.

25. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)

Hainish cycle #5

This takes place in the same universe as “The Left Hand of Darkness”.

This is about a physicist named Shevek who aims to disrupt the peace on Urras in aims to remove the hate of his own home planet.

26. Nemesis by Isaac Asimov (1989)

Pioneers leave the crowdedness of the Earth for life in orbiting colonies. One, Rotor, has broken away from the solar system to create its own utopia around the red star named Nemesis.

A young girl discovers the problem that Nemesis poses to Earth and her ways of warning everyone.

27. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (1973)

A tale about mankind’s first encounter with extraterrestrial life. When a celestial object dubbed Rama is found to be an interstellar spacecraft, a group is sent to intercept its motives.

28. Sundiver by David Brin (1980)

Uplift war #1

Humans reach the stars without the aid of others which is unheard of for other races. Did some race help with the uplift but disappear? A solid novel about humanity.

29. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)

Book 1 of the Mars Trilogy

Colonists flee from an overpopulated Earth to Mars. They are tasked with terraforming the hostile red planet. This book digs deep into the speculative nature of terraforming on a unique level.

30. Dawn by Octavia E. Bulter (1987)

Xenogenesis #1

Lilith Lyapo wakes up hundreds of years into the future after atomic devastations ravages Earth. She awakes in a massive alien spaceship run by aliens called the Oankali who save humans from extinction. They’ll take them back to a renewed Earth on one condition.

The survivors allow them to interbreed with them.

I hope you found this post enjoyable. Have any questions or opinions? If so share them in the comments.

Happy Thursday everyone!


One thought on “30 Science Fiction Novels That I Recommend Reading

  1. Absolutely incredible list. I just re-read some Philip Dick and I re-read Dune every year (I don’t know, it makes me feel warm in winter). I want to re-read Hyperion because I remember it being incredible and I wonder if it still is!


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