Science Fiction Classic Books

50 Essential Science Fiction Books
Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books : NPR

This was a virtually impossible task. Put together a list of 50 must-read science fiction books and don’t make anyone angry. Science fiction is the most discussed and argued over genre in literature but it actually goes way beyond books and into film, TV, video games and even toys.

Here are the criteria I used. One book per author, so that was hard on the big three of science fiction – Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke, who each have multiple classic titles to their name. Attempt to show as many sub-genres of science fiction and plot themes as possible. Include early stories that influenced the genre as a whole and launched popular themes, even if those books appear a bit dated today.

I wanted to show the unbelievable breadth of this galactic-sized genre and, of course, I failed because this is just the tip of the spaceberg – there are probably 500 essential science fiction books, not 50.

The War of the Worlds is on the list, a famous example of invasion literature, but I could easily have used The Time Machine. For Ray Bradbury, there’s The Illustrated Man but I could have used Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles.

Many people include alternate reality novels as science fiction but I didn’t feel comfortable having them on the list as there’s not much science in that sort of fiction.

The list includes hard and soft science fiction. Hard science fiction features great attention to detail in the quantitative sciences, while soft riffs on the social sciences. You’ll also find space opera with its heroes and heroines on distant planets; cyberpunk, loved by nerds in goggles everywhere; time travel – a simple concept that’s been around since Mark Twain’s day; military science fiction where soldiers drive the narrative; dystopian fiction where society has usually gone awry; superhuman stories where humans develop new or greater skills (and that usually means trouble) and the always cheery apocalyptic fiction sub-genre (where we could be battling to avoid the end of Earth or struggling to survive after a catastrophe). There are many recurrent powerful themes such as machine and human relationships, aliens and human relationships, biological and ecological matters, and paranormal activities.

You are spoiled for choice – this list includes novellas, short story collections, a graphic novel and books from published 1864 to 2011.

For further reading recommendations, brush up on the Hugo and Nebula Awards - the winners and the shortlisted titles - and also the books published by Tor (who really know this genre, and fantasy, inside out), as well as Locus Magazine and the science fiction tags on


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You have a reputation in the science forum.

2012-05-23 17:33:48 by LMFAP

Absolutefutility is a pathological whackjob < Tanngrisnir1_2 > 05/17 15:24:03 and scientifically illiterate.

Science is what is real. Supernatural is unverified myth and legend. That's why supernatural topics are not in science books and are not taught at 99.99 percent of universities, except as fiction; in the same way universities have classes in classic literature.

I read the classics also

2007-11-09 20:16:03 by taruk2

But I also read everything else.
Science fiction, Westerns, nearly all of them. Read Lord Grizzly: by Frederick Manfred: now THERE is a writer. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gothic literature. I read more than 1000 novels, from so many categories that I cannot list them.
I did not just read all of Niezsche's books, but most of the philosophers: from Herodotus, Arostotle'es version of Socrates, the Roman Tacitus and others, to most of Kierkegarde's work, Sartre's Being and Nothingness, Camus, Kafka etc. From Descartes to Voltaire. I read many many books simply upon the principle that I had not yet read a boook of that time and culture

Has anybody read a good book lately?

2007-11-30 20:57:13 by iamstumped

I could use some suggestions for books to give as a gift to my mom. I have a hard time picking books for her because whether or not she'll like them is sort of hard to predict, plus I haven't had any time to read fiction lately, so I haven't been able to "pre-screen" any.
She mostly reads classics, but part of the reason she asks for books as a gift is so some one will pick something she wouldn't choose and break her out of her rut, so it wouldn't have to be a classic. Humor is tricky--some things I find funny she finds stupid. :) She likes a "good story"--whatever that means. She tends to complain about movies (somewhat less so about books) being "depressing"--tends not to like stories that are too dreary

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