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.

  • AKUDP
    Andy Weir
    (1)
    • £6.39
    • RRP £8.99
    • Save £2.60
    A Sunday Times bestseller, Andy Weir's nail-biting thriller The Martian is a 21st century Robinson Crusoe story - told from Mars.

    He's 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 just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, he'll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

    Gravity meets Robinson Crusoe with a touch of Duncan Jones' Moon, The Martian by Andy Weir is endlessly gripping, thoroughly compelling a touch terrifying and beautifully written.

    Andy Weir's The Martian has been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2015.
  • AUMRZ
    Douglas Adams
    • £7.89
    • RRP £7.99
    • Save £0.10
    One Thursday lunchtime, the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. It's the final straw for Arthur Dent, who has already had his house bulldozed that morning. But for Arthur, that is only the beginning ...In the seconds before global obliteration, Arthur is plucked from the planet by his friend Ford Prefect - and together the pair venture out across the galaxy on the craziest, strangest road trip of all time.
  • ASPUT
    Adrian Tchaikovsky
    (2)
    • £7.19
    • RRP £8.99
    • Save £1.80
    WHO WILL INHERIT THIS NEW EARTH? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?
  • ALQSI
    Aldous Huxley
    • £7.99
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    This title comes with introductions by Margaret Atwood and David Bradshaw. Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress...Huxley's ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.
  • AKRPC
    John Wyndham
    • £8.89
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    The most famous catastrophe novel of the twentieth century, John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.' 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 who prey on those who can still see. But another menace stalks blind and sighted alike. With nobody to stop them the Triffids - walking carnivorous plants with lethal stingers - rise up as humanity stumbles and falls...
  • AHRUP
    Alastair Reynolds
    • £10.99
    Nine hundred thousand years ago, something wiped out the Amarantin. For the human colonists now settling the Amarantin homeworld Resurgam, it's 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. For brilliant but ruthless scientist Dan Sylveste, it's more than merely intellectual curiosity - and he will stop at nothing to get at the truth. Even if the truth costs him everything. But the Amarantin were wiped out for a reason, and that danger is closer and greater than even Sylveste imagines...REVELATION SPACE: a huge, magnificent space opera that ranges across the known and unknown universe...towards the most terrifying of destinations.
  • AAEAA
    H.G. Wells
    • £5.89
    • RRP £5.99
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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
    Kurt Vonnegut
    • £7.89
    • RRP £7.99
    • Save £0.10
    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...
  • AABBX 13 years +
    Ray Bradbury
    13 years +
    • £7.19
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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
    Margaret Atwood
    (1)
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    The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs...