SF titles from Reddit’s Top 200 Books

Science-Fiction

Title Author Description Google Books Good Reads Gutenberg
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Link Link N/A
1984 George Orwell Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time. Link Link N/A
Dune Frank Herbert Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. The story explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis and its “spice”. Link Link N/A
Slaughterhouse 5 Kurt Vonnegut Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. Link Link N/A
Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card Government drafts genius child Andrew “Ender” Wiggin to defend against alien Buggers, but rejects sadistic brother Peter and beloved sister Valentine. In orbiting Battle School, rigorous military training, skill and natural leadership elevates boy to isolated position, respected by jealous rivals, pressured by teachers, afraid of invasion. Link Link N/A
Brave New World Aldous Huxley Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role. But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has 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… Link Link N/A
Snow Crash Neal Stephenson In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. 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. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately. Link Link N/A
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein This novel tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised from infancy by Martians, who returned to Earth in early adulthood with seemingly magical powers. The novel explores his interaction with—and the eventual transformation of—Earth culture. The title is an allusion to the phrase in the Biblical Book of Exodus 2:22. According to Heinlein, the novel’s working title was “The Heretic”. Several later editions of the book have promoted it as “The most famous Science Fiction Novel ever written.” Link Link N/A
The Foundation Saga Isaac Asimov For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire–both scientists and scholars–and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. Link Link N/A
Neuromancer William Gibson Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction. Link Link N/A
The Giver Lois Lowry Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back. Link Link N/A
The Road Cormac McCarthy A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. Link Link N/A
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Phillip K. Dick A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep . . . even humans. Link Link N/A
Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes In this classic story that inspired the hit movie by the same name. Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled adult who cleans floors and toilets, becomes a genius through an experimental operation. Link Link N/A
The Hyperion Cantos Dan Simmons The Hyperion books are credited with single-handedly reinventing and reinvigorating SF in the 1990s. A broad canvased, hugely imaginative and exciting SF epic, the books draw on the works of Keats and provide a uniquely intelligent and literary approach with cutting edge science, compelling characterisation and edge-of-your-seat excitement. Link Link N/A
A Canticle for Leibowitz Walter M. Miller Jr. Down the long centuries after the Flame Deluge scoured the earth clean, the monks of the Order of St. Leibowitz the Engineer kept alive the ancient knowledge. In their monastery in the Utah desert, they preserved the precious relics of their founder: the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list and the holy shrine of Fallout Shelter. Link Link N/A
Ringworld Larry Niven A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. 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. We can start again! Link Link N/A
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Robert A. Heinlein It is the year 2076, and the Moon is a penal colony for the rebellious and the unwanted of Earth. The exiles have created a libertarian society in order to survive in their harsh and unforgiving environment, their motto being TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Looming over them is the Luna Authority, the heavy-handed Earth administration, who trades life necessities to the “Loonies” in exchange for grain shipments to the starving populations of Earth. Link Link N/A
The Forever War Joe Haldeman The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand—despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. Pvt. Mandella is willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But “home” may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries. Link Link N/A
Contact Carl Sagan It is December 1999, the dawn of the millennium. A team of international scientists is poised for the most fantastic adventure in human history. After years of scanning the galaxy for signs of somebody or something else, this team believes they’ve found a message from an intelligent source–& they travel deep into space to meet it. Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sagan injects Contact, his prophetic adventure story, with scientific details that make it utterly believable. It’s a Cold War era novel that parlays the nuclear paranoia of the time into exquisitely wrought tension among the various countries involved. Sagan meditates on science, religion & government–the elements that define society–& looks to their impact on & role in the future. His ability to pack an exciting read with such rich content is an unusual talent that makes Contact a modern sci-fi classic. Link Link N/A
The Diamond Age Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer is a postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson. It is to some extent a science fiction coming-of-age story, focused on a young girl named Nell, and set in a future world in which nanotechnology affects all aspects of life. The novel deals with themes of education, social class, ethnicity, and the nature of artificial intelligence. Link Link N/A
Starship Troopers Robert A. Heinlein In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe–and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most frightening enemy. Link Link N/A
Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits — just behind a Raman airlock door. Link Link N/A
Childhood’s End Arthur C. Clarke Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends–and then the age of Mankind begins…. Link Link N/A
The Book of Ler M.A. Foster Out of print since 1985, these three classic novels form a trilogy that chronicles the history of an alternate human race, the Ler, from their origins as a bioengineered “superhuman” race on Earth to their complex civilizations in space. Together, the books form a challenging examination of what it means to be human. Link Link N/A
A Fire Upon the Deep Vernor Vinge Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact 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, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization. Link Link N/A
The Saga of Seven Suns Kevin J. Anderson In the far future, Ildirans give Earth the stardrive. Two archaeologists glean forbidden knowledge from the ruins of a dead world. Robot servants of ruling insectoid Klikiss guard the Klikiss Torch, which has the power to create suns. The reasons for the fall of the Klikiss empire may return. Link Link N/A
The Mote in God’s Eye Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle In 3016, the 2nd Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a lightsail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, & an expedition is dispatched. In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization–at least one million years old–that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming & kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they’ve been unable to solve in over a million years. Link Link N/A
The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people “jaunte” a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men – and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable and dangerous man alive. The Stars My Destination is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledged master of science fiction. Link Link N/A
The Dispossessed Ursula K. Le Guin Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. he will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change. Link Link N/A
Red Mars Kin Stanley Robinson John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. 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. And for the genetic “alchemists, ” Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life…and death. Link Link N/A
The Day of the Triffids John Wyndham Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever. But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia. Link Link N/A
Book of the New Sun Gene Wolfe “The Shadow of the Torturer” is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession — showing mercy toward his victim. Link Link N/A
The Baroque Cycle Neal Stephenson Set against the backdrop of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Quicksilver tells the intertwining tales of 3 unforgettable main characters (ancestors of characters from Cryptonomicon) as they traverse a landscape populated by mad alchemists, Barbary pirates, and bawdy courtiers, as well as historical figures including Ben Franklin, William of Orange, Louis XIV, and many others. Link Link N/A
Cloud Atlas David Mitchell The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity’s dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are a journalist in Governor Reagan’s California, and genetically-modified dinery server on death-row. Finally, a young Pacific Islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilization. Link Link N/A
The Chrysalids John Wyndham The Chrysalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, who exist in a state of constant alert for any deviation from what they perceive as the norm of God’s creation, deviations broadly classified as ‘offenses’ and ‘blasphemies.’ Offenses consist of plants and animals that are in any way unusual, and these are publicly burned to the accompaniment of the singing of hymns. Blasphemies are human beings; ones who show any sign of abnormality, however trivial. They are banished from human society, cast out to live in the wild country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work. David grows up surrounded by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT. At first he hardly questions them, though he is shocked when his sternly pious father and rigidly compliant mother force his aunt to forsake her baby. It is a while before he realizes that he too is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce him to a new, hitherto-unimagined world of freedom. The Chrysalids is a perfectly conceived and constructed work from the classic era of science fiction. It is a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when genetic and religious fundamentalism are both on the march, as when it was written during the Cold War. Link Link N/A

Speculative Fiction

Title Author Description Google Books Good Reads Gutenberg
Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. 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 search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining. Link Link N/A
Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods- -World War II and the present. Our 1940s’ heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, crypt analyst extraordinaire, and gung-ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They’re part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702,and he explains the unit’s strange workings to Waterhouse. “When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first… Of course, to observe is not its real duty–we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed… Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious.” Link Link N/A
The Handmaids Tale Margaret Atwood Published in 1985, it echoes Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, but a vibrant feminism drives Atwood’s portrait of a futuristic dystopia. In the Republic of Gilead, we see a world devastated by toxic chemicals and nuclear fallout and dominated by a repressive Christian fundamentalism. The birthrate has plunged, and most women can no longer bear children. Offred is one of Gilead’s Handmaids, who as official breeders are among the chosen few who can still become pregnant. Link Link N/A