Science fiction books have the power to change our perspectives about the world and ourselves, both in the near and distant future. To help you find some good reads, we’ve compiled this list of top 5 science fiction books of all time.
#1. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)
The classic 1984 by George Orwell is one of, if not THE most important sci-fi book ever written. The world we live in today would be nothing like it without it. This book was first published in 1949 and since then has spawned countless adaptations. Everytime I watch any movie based on a novel set in a dystopian future I can’t help but wonder about how much 1984 influenced it (and still does). It was and will always be, one of greatest novels ever written.
#2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
A must-read for any sci-fi geek, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (the first in a five-part series) is an excellent example of witty British humor at its best. It follows Arthur Dent as he is whisked away by his alien friend Ford Prefect to escape Earth’s destruction. This series touches on everything from politics and economics to philosophy and religion, but it's best known for its inventive approach to science fiction writing. The fun begins when Arthur visits a robot restaurant, discovers that Earth has been destroyed, meets an alien with two heads who never lies but still manages to be deceitful, and ultimately meets God himself. And there are lots more twists in store throughout these three books!
#3. Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert A. Heinlein)
Stranger in a Strange Land is a science fiction novel published in 1961, written by Robert A. Heinlein. The story is about Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on Mars and raised by Martians. The book details his interaction with—and eventual transformation of—terrestrial culture. Stranger in a Strange Land is considered one of Heinlein's best works, and it established him as an important voice for his time, though critical reviews have tended to focus on its sexual content more than literary merit. It became one of the most influential books on hippies and their counterculture movement during the 1960s.
#4. The Man in the High Castle (Philip K. Dick)
Philip K. Dick has had a fantastic run with film adaptations in recent years, starting with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’s Blade Runner and continuing through to The Adjustment Bureau and now (as we write) with an adaptation that’s in development for his novel Ubik . The Man in the High Castle is one of Dick’s less overtly sci-fi novels, instead relying on an alternate history twist; what if Germany won World War II? An Amazon pilot based on The Man in High Castle was announced back in September 2011 but never materialized into a full series. If you've got a hankering for alternate history, though, there's no substitute for Philip K. Dick.
#5. I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
Robots are a staple of science fiction, and Isaac Asimov’s classic is an excellent place to start. Written in 1950, it’s set in a future where society has been transformed by three robotic laws: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with either of these two laws. These are interesting concepts that work well within the framework established in each chapter and make for compelling reading.
With so many books to choose from, picking the best is no easy task. As you’ll see in our list below, we have a wide variety of opinions on what science fiction books are truly outstanding. If you ask five other sci-fi readers, they might give you a different list entirely. Everyone has their favorites and these classics will never get old (or alienate an entire gender). Here are our picks for great science fiction books that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. May your life be as exciting as Star Wars or better than The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy!
Private Detective, London