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Readers on Reddit were asked what they thought were the best science fiction books of all time. In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers.
Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. A THOUSAND-YEAR EPIC, A GALACTIC STRUGGLE, A MONUMENTAL WORK IN THE ANNALS OF SCIENCE FICTION FOUNDATION begins a new chapter in the story of man’s future. The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city–intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. Here at last is the complete, uncut version of Heinlein’s all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a classic in a few short years. Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. In a nightmarish ruined world slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infant rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. In the year 2130, a mysterious and apparently untenanted alien spaceship, Rama, enters our solar system. Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, a cult that believes the human race is being manipulated by an alien entity they call the Starflyer.
Pursued by a Commonwealth special agent convinced the Guardians are crazy but dangerous, Johansson flees. Writing separately, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are responsible for a number of science fiction classics, such as the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ringworld, Debt of Honor, and The Integral Trees.
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars. John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars.
The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface.
Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. 2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender.
Alastair Reynolds’s critically acclaimed debut has redefined the space opera with a staggering journey across vast gulfs of time and space to confront the very nature of reality itself. For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world.
Felix is an Earth soldier, encased in special body armor designed to withstand Earth’s most implacable enemy-a bioengineered, insectoid alien horde. This is a remarkable novel of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat-and how the strength of the human spirit can be the greatest armor of all. Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.
In 1992 Vernor Vinge amazed the science fiction world with this epic novel of star-spanning adventure. Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber have earned their place as all-time classics of imaginative literature.
I've also included selected quotes from the comments, as well as my own notes on the books I've already read. PS: All book images in this post are copyright Amazon, and were retrieved using my Big Book Search Engine.
If you have a chance, track down the excellent full cast audiobook (unabridged!) released in 2007. To be honest, while I liked this book, I found the jokes somewhat less funny than expected. I'm currently deep into the second novel, Player of Games, which generally receives higher recommendations, but in my experience, Consider Phlebas was a fine starting point. There's a really incredible audiobook version of Fahrenheit 451 read by the author himself (with zeal!). Blamcast is a production of John Forsythe, a web designer and programmer working out of Ottawa, Canada. The genre forces both readers and writers to think beyond the confines of their own universe while considering major themes like morality, family, and war. The best sci-fi books show both the opportunities and consequences of human innovation, while demonstrating the infinite possibilities of what could happen when we push the boundaries of science. We recently uncovered two stellar Reddit lists (see them here and here) where Redditors voiced their opinions about the greatest sci-fi books of all time. Why are you asking me for personal information?We collect personal information including your contact and demographic information for the purposes of identification, account administration and display of personalised content and advertising. Farmer's masterwork, which along with four sequels makes up the 'Riverworld' saga, follows the unlikely interactions and adventures of both fictional characters and major historical figures. Severian is exiled for betraying his torturer's vows by helping the woman he loves commit suicide, and begins a journey that forces questions on the nature of both reality and sanity. One of the most academically fuelled novels on any list of science-fiction, Stephenson's 'Anathem' is based around a society that has corralled intellectuals -- the avout -- away to focus purely on study. However, the lines between the avout and secular worlds seem to fade when an unforeseen crisis appears that could affect everyone. When wealthy archaeologist and scientist Dan Sylveste discovers in 2551 that an ancient civilisation on that planet Resurgam was mysteriously wiped out, he fears the same fate for humanity.
Through near-faster-than-light travel, 'Revelation Space' interweaves several concurrent plots happening years and even decades apart.
Considered one of the first major works of feminist science-fiction, 'The Left Hand of Darkness' chronicles a human's attempt to convince a genderless race of aliens to join an intergalactic alliance. Le Guin's depiction of the Gethenians and their constantly-cold planet Gethen -- Winter, in English -- allows for an exploration of a world without dualities.

Fans of the Will Smith will find a lot to like about the source material, Asimov's nine short stories of the futuristic relationship between robots and humans. Central to 'I, Robot' is Asimov's 'Three Laws of Robotics,' a set of rules meant to ensure safety in his invented reality that serve as a driving theme for much of his work. Vonnegut may be best known for 'Slaughterhouse 5,' but his second novel 'The Sirens of Titan' is an interplanetary powerhouse that tackles everything from war and morality to the very purpose of human existence.
Along with the author's trademark wit and inventiveness, fans of Vonnegut's other works may recognise a certain alien race that makes an appearance.
Years after he entered America's homes with his PBS program 'Cosmos,' Sagan published his novel 'Contact,' in which Earth receives several messages from extraterrestrial beings. Many of the messages are based in the international language of mathematics, allowing the humans to reach out to and eventually interact with alien life. The entire trilogy spans centuries and focuses on scores of deeply developed characters, but this first instalment delves into the scientific, sociological, and potentially ethical issues at play for the humans on Mars. In a universe where hundreds of planets are connected by a series of wormholes, astronomer Dudley Bose witnesses a star disappearing one thousand light-years away and goes to investigate. Also in the mix are the Guardians of Selfhood, a cult that believes Bose's mission is being sabotaged and manipulated by an entity called Starflyer.
In 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems thanks to the invention of the faster-than-light Alderson Drive -- yet no other intelligent beings have been encountered.
600 years after a nuclear holocaust, a monk from the Order of Saint Leibowitz makes a discovery of the holy relics of the great saint himself that could be the key to mankind's salvation -- a fall out shelter and blueprint for an atomic bomb.
The book follows the evolution of humanity through three parts as we emerge from the dark ages, but once again face the precipice of another nuclear war. Two millennia ago, a black star called the 'Excession' mysteriously appeared on the edge of space that was older than the universe, and quickly disappeared. Now it's back, and it is diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen's job to discover the secret of the lost sun while his race is at war with a dangerously expansionist alien populace. The inspiration for the movie 'Blade Runner,' 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' is set in 2021, after a world war has killed millions of people, driving entire species into extinction. Because the androids are so realistic, it's impossible to tell them apart from real people.
The book follows their adventures on Ringworld, a large, mysterious artifact 600 million miles long rotating around a star, as they attempt to discover its secrets -- and then escape. From the author of 'Childhood's End' and 'Rendezvous with Rama,' '2001: A Space Odyssey' follows a scientific mission after a 3 million-year-old enigmatic monolith is found buried on the moon that points towards Saturn. The best of earth's scientists are sent to investigate with the ultra-advanced HAL 9000 computer. Written by a Vietnam veteran as an allegory of the Vietnam War, 'The Forever War' follows reluctant soldier William Mandella as he leaves earth to battle the mysterious alien race, the Taurans. But because of time dilating during his spaceship travels, he ages 10 years while 700 years pass by on earth. Hiro Protagonist may only be a pizza delivery guy in futuristic Los Angeles, but in the 'Metaverse' he's a sword-wielding warrior prince. When a new drug known as 'Snow Crash' begins killing off his fellow hackers in the Metaverse, Hiro must team up and find out where the dangerous narcotic is coming from. This futuristic crime caper follows Case, a burnt-out hacker and cyber thief whose ability to 'jack in' to cyberspace is restored by a miracle cure. This Hugo Award-winning novel is the first in a series about seven travellers who set out on a mission to find the mysterious monster Shrike and save mankind from impending doom. All seems well, but scientist Hari Seldon predicts that the Empire is about to collapse and send humanity into a new Dark Age for 30,000 years. The first book of the series, 'Ender's Game' begins when Ender is only six years old, and follows him through his first years of training.
I found this chart online and thought it illustrated a fascinating breakdown of the book markets. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib.
Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. As the Old Empire crumbles into barbarism throughout the million worlds of the galaxy, Hari Seldon and his band of psychologists must create a new entity, the Foundation-dedicated to art, science, and technology-as the beginning of a new empire.
Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. With the advent of peace, man ceases to strive for creative greatness, and a malaise settles over the human race. There is gravity, and with high walls and its proximity to the sun, a livable new planet that is three million times the area of the Earth can be formed.
It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the man from Mars who taught humankind grokking and water-sharing. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind.
From here the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.
The first product of an alien civilisation to be encountered by man, it reveals a world of technological marvels and an unparalleled artificial ecology.
Bradley Johansson, leader of the Guardians, warns of sabotage, fearing the Starflyer means to use the starship’s mission for its own ends,. Together they have written the critically acclaimed bestsellers Inferno, Footfall, and The Legacy of Heorot, among others. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself.
For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change—and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . But Felix is also equipped with internal mechanisms that enable him, and his fellow soldiers, to survive battle situations that would destroy a man’s mind. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Being a fan of sci-fi, and wanting to expand my own reading list, I thought it would be helpful to tally the results and preserve them here for future reference.
An interesting collection of "how we got here" stories, told from multiple viewpoints (some of which you'll enjoy more than others).
I revisited it many years later in the form of an audiobook read by the author himself (complete with soundtrack)! The concepts in this book may not hold the same novelty they once did, but if everything in Snow Crash seems familiar, it's because Stephenson inspired a generation of internet nerds to turn his ideas into reality. He manages to expose our collective terribleness in a way that's both hilarious and depressing. Don't be put off by Anathem's monstrous size or strange vocabulary, this is a rich and rewarding experience. When not performing magic with Drupal, he writes music, takes photos, and rides his bike in the snow. The so-called Moties are welcoming, but they're also harboring a dark problem -- one that has haunted them for a million years. The book follows the rigorous training the men go through in the boot camp, and the psychological state of the recruits and their commanders. He's hired by a mysterious man named Armitage, but as his hacking mission continues he soon finds someone -- or something -- else is pulling the strings. With the entire galaxy at war and on the eve of Armageddon, the seven pilgrims are the last hope of humanity. He concocts a scheme to save the knowledge of the human race in an encyclopedia, and re-erect the empire over a series of generations.
His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long.
FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE describes the mighty struggle for power amid the chaos of the stars in which man stands at the threshold of a new enlightened life which could easily be destroyed by the old forces of barbarism. And yet, William Gibson’s gritty, sophisticated vision still manages to inspire the minds that lead mankind ever further into the future. Seriously funny, stunning, and tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over one thousand light-years away, a star . And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Now, with the long awaited sequel The Children of the Sky about to be published, we are proud to offer the first-ever trade paperback edition of this big-screen SF classic.
And it’s all because of the impenetrable gray shield that slid into place around the solar system on the night of November 15, 2034.
Witness the titanic battle for supremacy waged on Earth, in the Courts of Chaos, and on a magical world of mystery, adventure, and romance.
It largely serves as the setup to the second book, Fall of Hyperion, which follows a more traditional narrative structure. The Gibson-narrated version is no longer for sale, but fortunately, it's easy to find on Google. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. As civilization approaches the crossroads, will the Overlords spell the end for humankind .
Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random.
It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath).
Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces–for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining. A thousand light-years away, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery whose unleashing will threaten to destroy the Commonwealth . But Bester is best known for his science-fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce–and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. Now, with Pandora’s Star, he begins a new multivolume adventure, one that promises to be his most mind-blowing yet. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for fifty years.
And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. His passionate novels of worldly adventure, high intellect, and tremendous verve, The Stars My Destination and the Hugo Award winning The Demolished Man, established Bester as a s.f. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat. Bester also was an acclaimed journalist for Holiday magazine, a reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and even a writer for Superman. In command is Wilson Kime, a five-time rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot whose glory days are centuries behind him.

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