Five Best Sci-Fi Books to Get Your Imagination Running
Science fiction is one of the most creative genres in literature. It has the ability to take readers on exciting and dangerous adventures across galaxies and beyond. While on this memorable trip, readers discover otherworldly characters and technologies that stick with them for years to come. Be it bioengineered humanoids or robots with artificial intelligence, sci-fi novels are a fascinating window into humanity’s possible future.
Fans of science fiction choose this genre for a variety of different reasons. Just a quick glance at some of the best sci-fi books will show you that they all tackle different topics and issues. However, there’s one thing that unites them — their authors have vivid imaginations that enable them to think up new and uncharted territories. And readers visit these worlds willingly.
Indeed, science fiction creates epic and complex worlds, and books on this list prove that. Maybe you read or watch sci-fi because you want to escape everyday life, or discover new technologies, or imagine what the future might look like hundreds of years from now. Regardless of your reasons, science fiction is one genre you’ll likely to return to over and over again.
You’ll surely find some of your favorite novels among our choices for best sci-fi books. But, before we list them, let’s look at the science fiction genre some more.
What Is Science Fiction?
Science fiction, also known as sci-fi or SF, is a genre of speculative fiction whose main focus are imaginative and futuristic concepts. The storylines in these books depend on the impact of actual or imagined science on society. But, this genre has come a long way since its early days.
It isn’t only concerned with science anymore, but with consequences. Namely, sci-fi writers have started to ask themselves “What if?” What if they create a world in which this or that happened? They can create it. And they did. Their dystopias have instilled fear into us and prompted us to realize that our society may not be as bad as we had thought.
Let’s see some common characteristics of this literature of ideas whose popularity is growing with every generation.
Common Characteristics of Sci-Fi Books
Science fiction books feature a wide range of futuristic concepts. Anything is possible in the minds of sci-fi writers, and their ideas keep readers on the edge of their seat. More often that not, best sci-fi books deal with space, aliens, and time travel. If you look at them closely, you’ll discover larger themes and commentary about society and individuals. So, the genre isn’t not only about technological and scientific innovations — it is about much more than that.
In fact, sci-fi cricitizes present-day society and inspires a sense of wonder. It can provide entertainment, but it also encourages you to analyze society and its flaws. While you’re exploring the sci-fi worlds, these are the elements you’re likely encounter:
- Teleportation and time travel,
- Fictional worlds,
- Parallel universes,
- Aliens, mutants, and other extraterrestrial lifeforms,
- Space travel
- Advanced technology
- Artificial intelligence
They all sound familiar, don’t they? If they don’t, we have five best sci-fi books to recommend that will help you get acquainted with these elements.
The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin (2008)
Liu Cixin is one of the most prominent Chinese science fiction writers. He became famous around the world back in 2008 when he published The Three-Body Problem, proving that China has a promising and thriving sci-fi scene.
The Three-Body Problem is the first book in the trilogy that has captivated readers. The novel asks one of the most well-known questions in SF: What would happen if humans came in contact with extraterrestrials? From there, Cixin exceeds our expectations and transcends borders, with critics declaring his work one of the best sci-fi books of recent years.
Spanning several decades and characters, The Three-Body Problem portrays a gloomy future. It zeroes in on Ye Wenjie and Wang Miao, both of whom are scientists. Wenjie is an astrophysicist who can’t let go of the past. Her father was executed during the Cultural Revolution, and Ye witnessed his brutal murder. Miao, on the other hand, is a nanotech engineer. He sees people playing a mysterious video game called Three Body, and he gets swept in it as well.
What will happen when an alien civilization on the brink of destruction catches the signal sent by a secret military project from Earth? Find out in The Three-Body Problem.
The book won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015.
Hyperion, Dan Simmons (1989)
Hyperion is another Hugo Award winning sci-fi novel from the pen of Dan Simmons. Die-hard SF fans know the book is part of The Hyperion Cantos series that have introduced a fictional universe readers are still scared of.
Picture a world hundreds of years from now. Humans inhabit different planets in space, and work together through the Hegemony of Man. Interplanetary travel is a new normal, becoming almost as easy as taking a bus. You don’t need to imagine any of this — it all exists in Hyperion.
Believe it or not, the novel has a lot in common with The Canterbury Tales, which most of us had to read in high school. Both works are about a pilgrimage, a long journey that is made more bearable through the art of storytelling.
It is the 29th century and humans are under threat. The warlike Ousters could soon invade them, and they will do anything to stop them. While the entire galaxy is at war, seven pilgrims embark on a final voyage to the Time Tombs on one world that operates beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man.
They call it Hyperion. There awaits the Shrike, a mysterious and lethal creature whose powers transcend the limits of time and space. Nevertheless, the pilgrims are resolved to reach Hyperion and save humanity. Where will the journey take them?
Read one of the best sci-fi books to find out.
Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
Let’s move from the fictional Hyperion universe to Neuromancer, a classic science fiction novel by William Gibson. It is one of the most popular works in the cyberpunk genre to date. Soon after it was released, Neuromancer became the first novel to win the top three awards in the SF genre: the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. So, it’s obvious why it deserves to be on our list with other best sci-fi books.
Gibson’s debut novel Neuromancer is the first book in the Sprawl trilogy that explores a not-too-distant future. The novels focus on a world dominated by corporations, data, technology, and hackers. Neuromancer, though, also mentions one computer whiz.
Henry Case was one of the best hackers in the business whose life has taken a turn for the worse. Yes, Case was once the sharpest data-thief in the world, but he is nothing more than a junkie now. Yet, he gets another chance to prove his worth. A mysterious employer hires him to pull off one last job.
Set against the backdrop of a dystopian Japanese world, Neuromancer is brimming with futuristic technology that will amaze you, including artificial intelligence and cryonics. Its characters are also memorable and will stick with you long after you finish reading the novel.
More than 30 years since its release, critics still hail Neuromancer as one of the best sci-fi novels ever written.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick (1968)
Our next novel served as inspiration for the critically successful Blade Runner (1982). And you probably know that many elements and themes from the book were used in Blade Runner 2049, i.e. the 2017 sequel.
Although decades have passed since the release of Dick’s masterpiece, scholars are still analyzing it and filmmakers derive inspiration from it. The book cemented Dick’s status as one of the most influential science fiction writers. He inspired writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, and Jonathan Lethem.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. The entire world has been affected by World War Terminus and its consequences. After a nuclear destruction, Earth has been covered with radioactive dust. The government encourages people to relocate to a new colony in space. But, many of them still remain on Earth.
One of them is Rick Deckard, a seasoned police officer. He is tasked to locate six rogue androids and “retire” them. However, he encounters one problem. These androids might have come from Mars, but they look and sound like humans. Can Rick find them?
Although you might be tempted, we recommend that you first read the book, and then watch Blade Runner.
Dune, Frank Herbert (1965)
We’ll close our list of best sci-fi books with Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is the best-selling science fiction book of all times, bringing worldwide fame to Herbert. The Dune saga has garnered a cult following, with readers rushing to see what would happen in every installment of the series.
Dune follows Paul Atreides who must undertake a voyage to save his family and his people. Paul accepts his destiny and travels to the most dangerous planet in the universe. In this world, the only thing of value is the spice. This commodity can unlock humanity’s greatest potential. Desired by the whole universe, the spice is a prize worth fighting for in Dune.
Are you ready to check out these best sci-fi books?