TOP 100 SCI-FI BOOKS

This is my list.

I’ve been reading science fiction since 2007. But I haven’t read everything out there. I also read non-fiction and fantasy, confining the SF part of my reading to about 15 books per year.

I think I’ve read enough to give at least an interim conclusion.

This is all bollocks anyway; the list will be outdated within a week. This is just a snapshot. March 2021. Also, many of these books I read years ago and I have no idea where they would end up on a reread.

Books that have not made it on the list for one reason or another.

There are a number of high profile books that I simply haven’t read yet. So don’t be angry if you can’t find them on the list. Don’t be angry in general. I haven’t read:

  • Any book by William Gibson
  • Any book by Connie Willis
  • Any book by Ian McDonald
  • Any book by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Any book by Octavia E. Butler
  • Any book by Stephen King
  • Any book by Arkady Martine
  • The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
  • The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
  • Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
  • The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Contact by Carl Sagan
  • Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • The Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton
  • The Sun Eater series by Christopher Ruocchio

Now that we got that out of the way, here are the runner-ups. Many of these are pretty good. They may well end up on the list if I ever reread them:

AuthorBook
Dave HutchinsonEurope in Winter
David D. LevineArabella of Mars
Cixin LiuThe Dark Forest
Becky ChambersThe Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Cixin LiuThe Three-Body Problem
James S.A. CoreyCaliban’s War
James S.A. CoreyLeviathan Wakes
China MievilleEmbassytown
Ernest ClineReady Player One
Alastair ReynoldsTerminal World
Margaret AtwoodYear of the Flood
Iain M. BanksMatter
Alastair ReynoldsThe Prefect
Alastair ReynoldsGalactic North
Peter F. HamiltonJudas Unchained
Richard K. MorganBroken Angels
Alastair ReynoldsChasm City
Gen WolfeReturn to the Whorl
Iain M. BanksLook to Windward
Gene WolfeIn Green’s Jungles
Jack VanceNight Lamp
Gene WolfeLake of the Long Sun
Gene WolfeCaldé of the Long Sun
Vernor VingeA Fire Upon the Deep
Iain M. BanksThe State of the Art
Michael CrichtonJurassic Park
Iain M. BanksThe Player of Games
Douglas AdamsDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Iain M. BanksConsider Phlebas
Frank HerbertHeretics of Dune
Isaac AsimovFoundation’s Edge
Arthur C. ClarkeThe Fountains of Paradise
Frederik PohlGateway
Philip K. DickA Scanner Darkly
Jack VanceMaske: Thaery
M. John HarrisonThe Centauri Device
Joe HaldemanThe Forever War
Philip K. DickFlow My Tears, the Policeman Said
T.J. BassHalf Past Human
Poul AndersonTau Zero
Philip K. DickA Maze of Death
Jack VanceEmphyrio
Kurt VonnegutSlaughterhouse Five
Arthur C. Clarke2001: A Space Odyssey
Jack VancePlanet of Adventure
Philip K. DickDo Androids dream of Electric Sheep?
Roger ZelaznyLord of Light
Roger ZelaznyThis Immortal
Jack VanceThe Demon Princes
Philip K. DickMartian Time-Slip
Arthur C. ClarkeA Fall of Moondust
Kurt VonnegutThe Sirens of Titan
Philip K. DickTime Out Of Joint
Brian W. AldissNon-Stop
Jack VanceThe Languages of Pao
Stanislaw LemThe Star Diaries
Richard MathesonI am Legend
Isaac AsimovThe Caves of Steel
Alfred BesterThe Demolished Man
Arthur C. ClarkeChildhood’s End
Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. KornbluthThe Space Merchants
Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451
Isaac AsimovSecond Foundation
John WyndhamThe Day of the Triffids
George OrwellAnimal Farm
Aldous HuxleyBrave New World
H.G. WellsThe War of the Worlds

Now we come to the main event.

Top 100 sci-fi books.

Hold on to your butts.

  1. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  2. The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  3. Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder
  5. Inverted World by Christopher Priest
  6. Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams
  7. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  8. Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
  9. Olympos by Dan Simmons
  10. Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
  1. The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
  2. Starfish by Peter Watts
  3. I am Legend by Richard Matheson
  4. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  5. Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney
  6. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  7. The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  8. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov
  9. UBIK by Philip K. Dick
  10. The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe
  1. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  2. Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton
  3. Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
  4. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
  5. Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick
  6. Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
  7. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
  8. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
  9. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  10. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
  1. The City and The City by China Mieville
  2. Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
  3. Sisyphean by Dempow Torishima
  4. VALIS by Philip K. Dick
  5. Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
  6. The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
  7. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  8. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
  10. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich by Philip K. Dick
  1. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem
  3. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
  4. The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
  5. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
  6. Empty Space: A Haunting by M. John Harrison
  7. Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds
  8. Death’s End by Cixin Liu
  9. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
  10. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
  1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  2. World War Z by Max Brooks
  3. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
  4. Accelerando by Charles Stross
  5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  6. Excession by Iain M. Banks
  7. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
  8. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  9. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  10. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  1. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
  2. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  3. The Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
  4. The Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith
  5. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
  6. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem
  7. Nova Swing by M. John Harrison
  8. Speaker For the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  9. Engine Summer by John Crowley
  10. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
  1. Ilium by Dan Simmons
  2. Replay by Ken Grimwood
  3. The Will To Battle by Ada Palmer
  4. Exhalation by Ted Chiang
  5. The Martian by Andy Weir
  6. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  7. God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert
  8. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  9. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  10. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  1. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
  2. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
  3. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  4. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  5. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
  6. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  7. Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer
  8. Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
  9. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  10. Light by M. John Harrison
  1. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
  2. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
  3. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  4. Blindsight by Peter Watts
  5. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
  6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  7. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  9. Dune by Frank Herbert
  10. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Notes:

The Book of the New Sun is actually 4 books but the sum is greater than its parts. The same goes for Iain M. Banks’ Culture series but since the books are bigger I rated them separately.

I wasn’t sure if Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is SF. If so it would end up in the 30 range. Same goes for David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.

Now what do you think? Are there any essential works missing that my stupid person should pick up immediately?

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37 Responses to TOP 100 SCI-FI BOOKS

  1. Andreas says:

    I really like your list! It shows where you‘ve been and what you liked. What more could one ask for?
    Instead of emphasizing some authors (like Wolfe, Simmons, or Herbert), you could just link the series and free some space for: Octavia Butler, Kate Wilhelm, John Brunner, Tiptree, Heinlein, Aldiss, Ellison, or Disch. Look for some works of the British New Wave of SF!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your supportive comment Andreas! Are all those authors you list from the British New Wave? I have Disch on my TBR. I haven’t been impressed by Aldiss and Heinlein, to be honest, although I still want to read The Moon Is a harsh Mistress. I might try out some John Brunner eventually. What are your recommendations?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andreas says:

        Moon is a harsh mistress was great for me. He isn’t New Wave, but Aldiss and Brunner are (add Moorcock for good measure).
        Brunner‘s „Stand on Zanzibar“ is representative for his environmental books. I‘d start with that.
        Actually I wanted to write „Ballard“ instead of Brunner 😀 You have that one already!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bookstooge says:

    I’m just impressed that you tried to weigh these against each other and put in an order of importance to you.

    Even my list of 100 is pretty random in terms of comparing to each other 😀

    If you put Ballard on the list, I’d say that Vandermeer would be SF as well. I haven’t read the books but I saw the movie and it’s as close to SF as you’re liable to get these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. piotrek says:

    Great list! Must have been difficult to prepare, to rank a hundred great books from 1 to 100, even if it’s just how you feel right now.

    I’d say Zelazny would be on mine, I see “Lord of Light” on the “almost there” list, that would get into my… top 20, likely? I’d definitely rank some of these differently, and many I haven’t read, but overall it strikes me as a comprehensive list of genre gems 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I am actually quite satisfied with the list and what a broad overview it gives of the genre already. I kept a list since 2009 so it wasn’t created totally out of the blue.

      I honestly don’t know how I would rate Lord of Light on a reread. I had some disappointing reads of Zelazny lately and I may have developed a dislike for his approach to science fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ola G says:

    Love your list, Jeroen! Glad to see so many Lem’s books here 🙂
    I’d put Zelazny high on mine, too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. savageddt says:

    Wow, ive read like 5 on this whole post… i am waAaay behind. I read Dune for the first time last year and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bormgans says:

    You managed the read quite a lot! I wished I had returned to reading fiction earlier. I’ve read about 50 titles from you top 100.

    Most surprised seeing More Than Human that high, I liked that a lot too. House of Suns is also my favorite Reynolds. I DNFed The Wind-Up Girl, and I wouldn’t put Altered Carbon so high, not even in my top 50 I guess, but I think we fully agree on 1 and 2. I’ve just received the newish Folio Society edition, and thought of starting a reread of that too, maybe even before I finish the final 2 Dune books, and see how it holds up. I want to reread Anathem too, definitely top 5 too in my memories.

    I want to recommend a few titles, if you don’t mind. All top 20 for me: Stand On Zanzibar (like Andreas said), Zero K by Don DeLillo (brilliant, poetic, written by DeLillo in his 80ies), Version Control by Dexter Palmer (I think you’ll like it a lot, there’s a bit of David Mitchell’s cleverness in it), Gypsy and Radiance by Carter Scholz (a novella, and a truly singular novel), Schild’s Ladder (but I guess that’s already on your radar as you’ve read Egan).

    Liked by 1 person

    • You had money to spare on the nice Folio society edition 🙂 I would like to reread them but I don’t think I can while in the middle of the Malazan readalong. That takes up too much of my brain power for immersive, complex series. But I will, eventually. I will probably reread those books at many points in my life.

      Stand on Zanzibar is on my TBR. I’ll have to take another look at Don DeLillo and Dexter Palmer. I have seen your reviews of these books in the past. I don’t know about Scholz. Greg Egan is of course also on my TBR. There are still many novels and short stories of him that I want to read.

      Like

      • bormgans says:

        They have a new 2-volume version out that is much cheaper than the 4-volume one with signatures. My reread of Dune was also Folio, I liked that so much that I decided to just buy it, even if it’s more expensive than a regular book.

        Like

        • I’m not much of a collector when it comes to books. I still have old BotNS editions where the plastic on the paperback covers starts to curl and detach. I bought a new version of Dune and of Foundation because I had originally read them in Dutch and now I wanted English versions.

          Like

          • bormgans says:

            Me neither, those two are the only collectible fiction books I have. I do have an art book collection, but those aren’t expensive editions either, except for 3 books. I’m a cd collector though, but luckily they generally aren’t expensive.

            Like

          • bormgans says:

            What do you collect btw, you seem to imply you do collect but just not books.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh HA I realise that the way I wrote it down implies that I collect other things, but I don’t. When I think about it, maybe I collect fridge magnets of cities that I have been. It got so out of hand that the whole fridge was covered top to bottom. Now they are all in a big plastic bag somewhere.

              Liked by 1 person

      • bormgans says:

        Btw, Gypsy of Scholz is more or less regular generational starship scifi. Bit like Peter Watts novella.

        Like

  7. Garry Morris says:

    This’ll be a frequently used resource. Thanks for putting it together.
    However, Huxley would like a word with you. 😉

    Like

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