The Ultimate List of Science Fiction Books and Novels

Discover an assortment of breath-taking worlds, chilling dystopias and dangerous beings in these engrossing science fiction books and novels. Escape into science fiction stories that are packed with adrenaline-fuelled adventures alongside profound philosophical questions and moral conundrums. See below for the ultimate list of sci-fi books and novels, perfect for seasoned fans or for anyone new to this exciting genre. We've picked the top sci-fi books everyone needs to add to their reading list...

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1. Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

In the distant future, the World Controllers have moulded a perfect society. Through ingenious use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs, all its members are happy consumers. But Bernard Marx is different. He seems alone in harbouring an ambiguous dissatisfaction and a longing to break free. But a visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may provide the cure for his distress. This deeply engrossing novel compels its readers to question the present and our ideals for the future.

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2. The Martian

Andy Weir

This nail-biting sci-fi thriller stars Mark Watney, an astronaut who finds himself stranded on Mars. He has no way of communicating with Earth. He's in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, he'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, he'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, he'll explode. And if none of these terrible fates claim him, he'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. Somehow, Mark Watney must find a way to survive in this compelling and beautifully-written novel.

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3. The Time Machine

H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells's science fiction classic follows a scientist known as the Time Traveller, who invents a time machine and travels to the year 802,701 AD. There, he encounters a society of elegant but frail people called the Eloi, rescues an Eloi woman named Weena and must fight to get his time machine back from the aggressive, ape-like Morlocks - who feed on the Eloi...

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4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams

One Thursday lunchtime, the Earth gets demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. It's the final straw for Arthur Dent, who already had his house bulldozed that same morning. But for Arthur, this is only the beginning. Seconds before global obliteration, Arthur is plucked from the planet by his friend, Ford Prefect, and together, the pair must venture out across the galaxy on the wackiest, weirdest road trip ever. This fantastically funny and futuristic story cannot be missed by sci-fi fans.

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5. Flowers for Algernon

Daniel Keyes

This sci-fi classic is an exciting and thought-provoking read. It stars 32-year-old Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ of just 68. He decides to take part in a controversial intelligence-enhancing experiment, and his IQ reaches 185. Unfortunately, as his intelligence and comprehension improve, his relationships begin to crumble in turn. But how will he cope when he discovers the flaw in the experiment: that he will inescapably regress back to his former self?

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6. Children of Time

Adrian Tchaikovsky

The last members of the dying human race left a ruined Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. They discover the greatest treasure of a lost age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. However, it is not simply waiting for them, pristine, untouched. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare. Two civilisations will have to fight for their new world, both testing the limits of what they will do to survive. Who are the true heirs of this new Earth? This enthralling novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2016.

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7. 1Q84

Haruki Murakami

The year is 1Q84. This is the real world, that's for sure. But in this world, there are two moons in the sky. In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something extremely dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both. Something extraordinary is starting. Immerse yourself in this captivating book and the events of a fictional 1984 in Tokyo, told in beautiful, dreamlike narration.

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8. Ready Player One

Ernest Cline

It's 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. Famine, poverty and disease are rife. Like most people, Wade Watts spends much of his time jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be on any of 10,000 planets. And like most people, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate jackpot within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who has promised to leave his fortune to whoever can solve the riddles he has scattered throughout his creation. Millions have struggled in vain to attain this prize - and then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the prize...

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9. The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

In the dystopian Republic of Gilead, Offred is forced to be a Handmaid, a woman with only one function: to breed. If she dares to challenge this position, she - like other dissenters - will be hanged at the wall or sent out to die, slowly and painfully, of radiation sickness. Offred remembers all that has been taken away from her: love, family, access to the news. But even a tyrannical state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men upon which her future depends...

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10. Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury

This hauntingly prophetic classic novel is set in a not-too-distant future. Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books as they are now forbidden and deemed the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy. His marriage is falling apart - and there may be books hidden in his house... This powerful and poetic book takes a devastating look at Western civilisation's enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. A shocking and dazzling book, sci-fi fans cannot miss this dystopian tale.

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11. Dune

Frank Herbert

This book is widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable (and rarest) element in the universe. It does everything from increasing a person's life-span to making interstellar travel possible. But it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world, Arrakis. Whoever controls this world controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe. When the emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens are determined to fight back. The Atreides are in trouble, but can the native people of Arrakis - and the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning sands - help them?

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12. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip K. Dick

The inspiration for the blockbusting film, Blade Runner, this chilling tale is set in the eerie world of Los Angeles, 2019, where 'replicants' - human-looking robots formed from organic material - have been created to take the jobs that humans don't want. Four of them are now on the run. Former replicant hunter Rick Deckard is forced to resume his old job - but not before he falls in love with Rachael, a replicant girl. When Deckard is asked to hunt down Rachael, too, he will have to decide whether or not to kill the girl he loves - a girl he knows is actually a bioengineered being... Both thrilling and philosophical, this book questions our concept of humanity and what it is to love someone.

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13. Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card

An alien menace threatens the human race with annihilation. If humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history. The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope. But first, he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training program to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders. Through whatever means necessary, a saviour for mankind must be produced. But will they create a hero - or a monster? This ground-breaking tale of war, strategy and survival is an adrenaline-fuelled adventure that will keep you gripped.

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14. Childhood's End

Arthur C. Clarke

Earth has become a utopia, guided by a strange, unseen people from outer space, whose incredible powers have eradicated war, cruelty, poverty and racial inequality. When the 'Overlords' finally reveal themselves, their horrific form makes little impression. Then comes the sign the Overlords have been waiting for: a child starts to dream strangely - and develops remarkable powers. Soon, this happens to every child, and the truth of the Overlords' mission finally becomes clear. An engrossing story from a popular and award-winning science fiction author, Childhood's End is simply a must-read.

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15. Revelation Space

Alastair Reynolds

900,000 years ago, something wiped out the Amarantin. To the human colonists now settling the Amarantin homeworld, Resurgam, this is of little more than academic interest - even after the discovery of a long-hidden, almost perfect Amarantin city, and a colossal statue of a wingest Amarantin. However, brilliant but ruthless scientist Dan Sylveste is different, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth - even if it costs him everything. But the danger that wiped out the Amarantin is closer and greater than Sylveste could ever have imagined... This vast, magnificent space opera is massive in scope, ranging across the known and unknown universe, towards the most terrifying of destinations.

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16. The Day of the Triffids

John Wyndham

When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth's population blind, Bill Masen - one of the lucky few to keep his sight - finds himself trapped in a London jammed with sightless mobs that prey on those who can still see. But another menace threatens blind and sighted people alike. With nobody to stop them, the Triffids - walking carnivorous plants with deadly stingers - rise up as humanity stumbles and falls...

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17. A Fire Upon the Deep

Vernor Vinge

In the distant future, many races inhabit a universe where a mind's potential is determined by its location in space, from super-intelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths. No-one knows how the universe was partitioned into these 'zones of thought'. When the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artefact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence. Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines - a brutal alien race - and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue party must free them - and retrieve a secret that may just save the rest of interstellar civilisation.

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18. The Windup Girl

Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Going undercover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There, he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, an underclass of slaves, soldiers and toys engineered to suit the whims of the rich in an unnerving near-future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations, and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. As Lake's obsession with Emiko deepens, conspiracies breed in the heat, and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. But no-one anticipates the devastating influence of the windup girl...

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19. Cat's Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut

Told with deadpan humour and sharp irony, this cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and - worse still - surviving it. Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the 'founding fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy. He is the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to widespread madness and a fight to survive the cold...

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20. The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin

Genly Ai is an ethnologist observing the people of the planet Gethen, a world perpetually in winter. The people there are androgynous, normally neuter, but who can become male or female at the peak of their sexual cycle. They seem alien and unsophisticated to Genly Ai. Nonetheless, he is drawn into the tumultuous politics of the planet, and, during a long, arduous journey across the ice with a politician who has been outcast, he loses his professional detachment and reaches a painful understanding of the true nature of Gethenians. In a moving and memorable sequence, he even finds love...

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Can't get enough otherworldly adventures? (We hear you!) Check out our entire range of the best science fiction books and novels.

  • AABBX 13 years +
    13 years +
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    A hauntingly prophetic classic novel from the 1950s written by Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a not-too-distant future where Guy Montag is a fireman.

    His job is to burn books as they are now forbidden and being claimed as the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy... His marriage is falling apart and there may be books hidden in his house.

    Similar in themes to George Orwell's 1984, Bradbury's powerful and poetic prose takes a devastating look at Western civilisation's enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. A shocking, dazzling book that every teen reader should have on their bookshelf.
  • AADAM
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    The television adaptation of Margaret Atwood's modern classic The Handmaid's Tale has turned heads and earned so many awards, not least for Elisabeth Moss' stunning performance in the lead role as Offred. Now is the ideal time to read the novel that inspired the series...

    Offred finds herself a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian site in what was the United States. She has been placed in the household of Commander Fred Waterford and has one function - to breed.

    If she refuses to do this horrific and degrading act, Offred will be hanged. But even this repressive and hideous state cannot eradicate hope... Offred remembers how life was before as she tries to find a way out.
  • AAMLD 13 years +
    13 years +
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    A classic sci-fi novel that still resonates today, Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon follows the life of floor sweeper Charlie Gordon as an experiment turns him into a genius...

    With an IQ of 68, Charlie used to be the butt of everyone's jokes but an experiment improves his life immeasurably. When Algernon - the mouse the experiment was tested on before him - dies, Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary...

    Thought-provoking and sure to appeal to today's young adult audience, this is a book fully deserving of its status.
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    World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal -- the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life. Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -- and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted ...
  • AEWBW
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    The year is 1Q84. This is the real world, there is no doubt about that. But in this world, there are two moons in the sky. In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something very dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both. Something extraordinary is starting.
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    The human race faces annihilation. An alien menace is hovering on the horizon, ready to strike. And if humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history. The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope. But first he must survive the rigours of a brutal military training program - to prove that he can be the leader of all leaders. A saviour for mankind must be produced, through whatever means possible. But will they create a hero or a monster? This is the multiple award-winning classic ENDER'S GAME - a groundbreaking tale of war, strategy and survival.
  • ACFOH
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    Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of the rich. Engineered as slaves, soldiers and toys, they are the new underclass in a chilling near future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. And as Lake becomes increasingly obsessed with Emiko, conspiracies breed in the heat and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. Businessmen and ministry officials, wealthy foreigners and landless refugees all have their own agendas. But no one anticipates the devastating influence of the Windup Girl.
  • AEBLA
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    Steven Spielberg has adapted Ernest Cline's modern classic Ready Player One into a hit film and now you can add this sci-fi masterpiece to your bookshelf.

    It's 2044 and we've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease have become widespread so Wade Watts escapes the horrors of real life by spending hours plugged into the OASIS - a virtual word where you can be anything you want to be...

    Following the death of founder James Heir, it turns out this alternate reality hides an Easter egg - the chance to inherit his massive fortune and take control of the OASIS. All the winner has to do is unravel the riddles scattered around this vast world...
  • AAEAA
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    When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist's time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.
  • AADVN
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    Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it ...Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of 'ice-nine', a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker's Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to mankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh...