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Fueled by the opinions of hundreds of sci-fi fans like yourself, each week we spark a new debate where you guys battle it out over which books rank at top of best ever lists.
Ordered from 10 to 1 below based on your votes in the group, we kicked off our “top 10” list with a bang seeking out the winner for best sci-fi book of all time.
Click on any of the links to pick up copies of those you're missing from your collection, and then add your comments at the bottom of this post (or in our Facebook group) to let us know if you agree (or not!).
10. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
“Johnnie Rico never really intended to join up—and definitely not the infantry. But now that he’s in the thick of it, trying to get through combat training harder than anything he could have imagined, he knows everyone in his unit is one bad move away from buying the farm in the interstellar war the Terran Federation is waging against the Arachnids.”
Rounding out the top 10 list is cult classic Starship Troopers (the first of 3 books by Robert A. Heinlein that made this list). In this controversial Hugo Award-winning bestseller, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle against mankind’s most alarming enemy…
9. 1984 by George Orwell
“In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.”
At number 9, George Orwell’s 1984 has taken on new life with extraordinary relevance and renewed popularity in recent days. Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
8. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
“In Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, “Loonies” are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death.”
Widely acknowledged as one of Robert A. Heinlein's greatest works, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress rose from the golden age of science fiction to become an undisputed classic–and a touchstone for the philosophy of personal responsibility and political freedom. A revolution on a lunar penal colony–aided by a self-aware supercomputer–provides the framework for a story of a diverse group of men and women grappling with the ever-changing definitions of humanity, technology, and free will–themes that resonate just as strongly today as they did when the novel was first published.
7. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
“On a beautiful world called Pern, an ancient way of life is about to come under attack from a myth that is all too real. Lessa is an outcast survivor—her parents murdered, her birthright stolen—a strong young woman who has never stopped dreaming of revenge. But when an ancient threat to Pern reemerges, Lessa will rise—upon the back of a great dragon with whom she shares a telepathic bond more intimate than any human connection. Together, dragon and rider will fly . . . and Pern will be changed forever.”
Coming in at #7, read Dragonflight and you're confronted with McCaffrey the storyteller in her prime, staking a claim for being one of the influential fantasy and SF novelists of her generation – and doing it, remarkably, in the same novel.
6. Ringworld by Larry Niven
“Louis Wu, accompanied by a young woman with genes for luck, and a captured kzin – a warlike species resembling 8-foot-tall cats — are taken on a space ship run by a brilliant 2-headed alien called Nessus. Their destination is the Ringworld, an artificially constructed ring with high walls that hold 3 million times the area of Earth. Its origins are shrouded in mystery.”
Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel, RINGWORLD remains a favorite among science fiction readers, and came in at #6 according to the DSF community.
5. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
“Ender's Game tells the story of a young boy, Ender Wiggin, who is sent to a training academy named Battle School, located in orbit above the Earth, built to train people to become soldiers that will one day battle against a vast alien race known as “Buggers”. Ender goes up there, trying his best to become promoted in the difficult training scheme; his brother and sister are trying to restore the world and to make it a better place. For Ender, the training is tough. He is granted a very special teacher, who will help him to become a commander to save humanity from the Third Invasion.”
This futuristic tale involves aliens, political discourse on the Internet, sophisticated computer games, and an orbiting battle station. Yet the reason it rings true for so many is that it is first and foremost a tale of humanity; a tale of a boy struggling to grow up into someone he can respect while living in an environment stripped of choices. Ender's Game is a must-read book for science fiction lovers, and a key conversion read for their friends who “don't read science fiction.”
4. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
“Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever…”
Robert Heinlein's Hugo Award-winning all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a science fiction classic.
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
“Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway.”
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read, Discover Sci-Fi fans agree, placing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams at #3 on your top sci-fi book list.
You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue. The Hitchhiker's Guide is rich in comedic detail and thought-provoking situations and stands up to multiple reads. Required reading for science fiction fans, this book (and its follow-ups) is also sure to please fans of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and British sitcoms.
2. Dune by Frank Herbert
“This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the “spice of spices.” Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence.
The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.”
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
1. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
“The Foundation Trilogy is a series of tales set so far in the future that Earth is all but forgotten by humans who live throughout the galaxy. Yet all is not well with the Galactic Empire. Its vast size is crippling to it. In particular, the administrative planet, honeycombed and tunneled with offices and staff, is vulnerable to attack or breakdown. The only person willing to confront this imminent catastrophe is Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian and mathematician. Seldon can scientifically predict the future, and it doesn't look pretty: a new Dark Age is scheduled to send humanity into barbarism in 500 years. He concocts a scheme to save the knowledge of the race in an Encyclopedia Galactica. But this project will take generations to complete, and who will take up the torch after him?”
Coming in at #1 , The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov is loved by sci-fi fans the world over. Asimov was one the world's most celebrated and prolific science fiction writers, having written or edited more than 500 books over his four-decade career. Your choice of Foundation being the top read in sci-fi is recognized by sci-fi fans everywhere. In 1966, the Foundation Trilogy received the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series, beating out the Lord of the Rings.
Well, what do you think of that list? Do you agree, or do you feel as though your most-loved book is missing/didn't place as you think it deserved? Feel free to join us here in our Facebook group to chime in on the debate, and then check out our most recent poll while you're there. Don't have Facebook? Feel free to add to the comments below.
*All book-related copy in this post was pulled from Amazon and Wikipedia.