Top 10 Sci-Fi Books

This is my top 10 Science Fiction books of all time, in no particular order. However, if I had to be marooned on a desert isle with just one of these books (including the series of books it spawned), it would probably be either the Foundation series or Cryptonomicon.

Foundation Foundation
By Isaac Asimov (1951)
This is the first book in the Foundation series, it’s sci-fi on a grand scale; one of the classics of the field. The main topic of the series is the concept that history repeats itself, even 30,000 years in the future. It’s about the theory of science and math and predicting human sociobehavioral patterns millennia in the future so that you can set into motion events that will counteract catastrophes that had been predicted long ago.
Starship Troopers Starship Troopers
By Robert Heinlein (1959)
Many consider this Hugo Award winner to be Heinlein’s finest work, and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons (though this novel has them)- this is Heinlein at the top of his game talking people and politics.
It’s written in the first person narrative, about a young soldier in a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor. We follow the soldier in his career from recruit to non-comm to officer. All the while there’s an interstellar war going on between ‘the Bugs’ and mankind.
Dune Dune
By Frank Herbert (1965)
This book spawned 5 sequels, a big screen adaptation, 2 TV mini-series, a PC game, a board game and a handful of prequel novels.It’s Plato in spaceships meet the biggest nightcrawlers you’ve ever seen. to be honest though, I only enjoyed Dune and Children of Dune, after that I couldn’t take any more. But Dune is highly recommended.
Enders Game Ender’s Game
By Orson Scott Card (1985)
Set in Earth’s future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated third invasion, the world’s most talented children, including the very talented Ender Wiggin, are taken into Battle School at a very young age to prepare for their future as leaders of the next war.
Forever War The Forever War
By Joe Haldeman (1974)
I’m into Military history and fiction. Joe Haldeman delivers war, war heroes and a command of battlefield tactical situations. This novel is perceived as a portrayal of his time in the military during the ‘Nam war but through a space opera filter. Is also considered to be a response to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (see above).
The story is heavy on action and contemplation during an interstellar war following an elite military unit, that because of time dilation caused by their space travel, the soldiers age months while the civilization on Earth advances centuries.
Hyperion Hyperion
By Dan Simmons (1989)
This is a pretty complex novel, it features multiple time-lines and primary characters journeying together on the eve of Armageddon. Each of these pilgrims carries with them a terrible secret and hope. The most interesting aspect of this book to me is that it’s basically 7 different mini-stories as you hear each tale that led the characters to this backwater planet in search of ‘The Shrike’.
Cryptonomicon Cryptonomicon
By Neal Stephenson (1999)
This long story is short on plot but insanely detailed to the point that you become deeply drawn into that story. It follows two time-lines, one is the WW II code breakers for the Axis powers and the other time is present day descendants of those code breakers trying to build a data haven but are led into a search for treasure.This book is a geek’s dream. Non-technical readers will find the book a little difficult to read.Funny note: the book describes a fictional operating system called Finux (Linus Torvalds is from Finland, get it?)
Ringworld Ringworld
By Larry Niven (1970)
Spawned 3 sequels. In the year 2855 we follow 4 adventurers (made up of 2 humans and 2 aliens) as they explore a mysterious ‘ringworld’ which is an enormous, artificial, ring shaped structure that surrounds a star.This is another one of those great Science books that masquerades as fiction to get you into Math and Physical sciences again!
Stainless Steel Rat The Stainless Steel Rat
By Harry Harrison (1961)
In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own.When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be just like the Stainless Steel Rat. He’s just like James Bond, but a nice bad guy. Sort of like a Robin Hood meets Luke Skywalker, only he doesn’t give to the poor, he keeps the goods for himself!
Birthright the book of man Birthright the Book of Man
By Mike Resnick (1982)
All 26 chapters are essentially complete stories of themselves, similar to short stories. Each focuses on a different profession in chronological order during a timeline of 17 millennia.It describes the history of mankind’s departure from Earth, conquest of the galaxy, its treatment of aliens, internal politics, the development and growth of the human species to the decline and collapse of the race.Think of it as an ultra-futuristic version of the Rise and Fall of Rome.

About Andy

I'm an eternal optimist, follow a Buddhist philosophy, geek of many areas, practicing yoga and TaiChi, learning the Chinese language, a die-hard sports fan, love politics and nuclear submarines.
Just geeky, Word Geek

8 responses to Top 10 Sci-Fi Books


  1. Starship Troopers is one of the worst books ever written and is given accolades for absolutely no reason. What is the reason it’s in the top 10? The chapter where he reminisces about his math teacher? The chapter where he meets his dad on the ship and nothing happens?

    I’ve never understood why people refuse to see how HORRIBLE Heinlein wrote that book. I mean for fuck’s sake – THE MOVIE WAS BETTER, and the movie sucked ass.

    Secondly – Ringworld. “The story of a ring where nothing happens.” Niven is a great worldbuilder. And that’s it. Another really boring book. Absolutely anything ever written by Orson Scott Card is better than those two writers combined.

  2. Hey Wanaka, you’ve been absent far too long, you tend to spice things up around here. I figured you would have chimed in on the ‘Top 10 Tech Topics i’m boycotting’ post from the other day :)

    I won’t try to refute your opinions because they’re valid reasons for you, but I can give a little more insight for mine. It would be really cool to get your top 10 sci-fi books though because you may be more knowledgable than your average sci-fi book geek. If you’re interested in having them posted I’d be happy to let Geeknews be your forum.

    Starship Troopers deals with a topic that I enjoy above most else: Sci-Fi + Military. Heck, Hammer’s Slammers could probably be on my list and I just now thought of it! I do agree that by today’s standards ST is probably not up to par and it’s not even Heinlein’s best novel either.

    But ST was ahead of its time and from that book, as a child in 1980, I romanticized about being in the military and going to war and defending my society (and then along came Red Storm Rising, my favorite military fiction, bar none, to help reinforce my desire). Because of this book’s influence I spent 10 years in Submarines and it helped make me the person that I am today and helped make me (in my opinion) relatively successful in life thus far. It might be pure luck, but this book is one of the roots I’ve identified that got me on the path to success decades ago.

    Ringworld : I believe its popular because it’s a mystery. How and why was the ring in place? What happened to the race that built it, why is it abandoned? Why were these 4 alien individuals brought together specifically for this mission? There are many mysteries in this book and each time the characters theorize the best possible answers for one it opens up even more as they trek across that massive ring.

  3. I didn’t want to upset the boycott, that’s why I didn’t say anything. :P

    I have to admit I came on kinda strong in my response and I apologize. I just read through Troopers ages ago and absolutely [i]hated[/i] it. I know it was nothing like the film (which at first I thought was a good thing) but it was just so dry and didn’t move along as fast I prefer. The Powered Armor thing was cool and the politics (of which I’m not a big fan) were ok. It was just like I wanted to shout “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING – ANYTHING!” when I read it.

    Ringworld upset me because it didn’t answer anything. To it’s credit, I have to admit it was somewhat realistic in that if something like that actually happened in our world, it would end just like that. We really *wouldn’t* know who/what/why/when. So I’ll give Niven that much. I haven’t read the sequels as I’ve heard they aren’t as ‘good’ as the first. I like Asmiov, of course but I always feel like I’m reading a dictionary of scientific terms when I read his material. All said and done, the Foundation story is phenomenal. Asimov is like the Sci-Fi equivalent of Tolkien. Bad (to me) writing, great story.

  4. dan

    2001: a space odyssey????

  5. Gene

    I am trying to find an old science fiction story I read years ago (like 55-57 years!). It detailed a society which depended on its citizens to consume all the product being produced by its robots. You were not allowed to work until you had reached an old age, and then the jobs were a reward for your conspicuous consumption. Does anybody recall its name or author?

  6. Don

    Frederik Pohl’s “The Midas Plague” Is what you are thinking of I think.

    I hope this gets to you.

  7. Jack Colby

    No Phillip K. Dick? What about Childhood\’s End, A Canticle for Leibowitz?? Very amatuer list

  8. Mike

    For me, Heinlein was great when I was a teenager, now I find his philosophy rather boring.
    The one book I would add is Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge.

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