Ah, sci fi! One of the great book genres! But what are the best sci fi books ever made?

Today, let’s take a look at the best sci fi books. Whether you’re a filmmaker, a photographer, or just a lover of sci fi literature, this list will have something for you.

If you’re an aficionado of the science fiction genre, then you may have read a couple of these already. We’ve tried to make the list accessible, but also over a few lesser-known gems that you may not have come across. This way, we can offer some suggestions to even the most hardcore sci fi reader.

The Best Sci Fi books

So, let’s jump right in and take a look at what we consider to be the best sci fi books.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is one of the most common novels that I see when students come up to me and say, “Can you correct my paper?”

It’s a science fiction classic and a behemoth in the field of dystopian literature, but we’re yet to see a decent adaptation. That’s a shame, especially because in many ways it’s more relevant than ever.

Brave New World
  • Brave New World
  • Aldous Huxley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 10/18/2006 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

Amatka by Karin Tidbeck

When it comes to books being made into movies, we’ve seen a recent uptake in the number of dystopian flicks, from the rise of post-apocalyptic zombie movies to the success of The Hunger Games.

Amatka takes dystopia and elevates it, showing us a world in which language has the power to shape the reality around it.

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Tidbeck, Karin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 06/27/2017 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

Ammonite bridges the gap between science fiction and the LGBT community and has the potential to become one of those inspirational films that stands the test of time.

It’s an award-winner that’s already become a cult classic since its 1992 publication, and it’s notable for being one of the most lauded sci-fi books to explore gender.

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Griffith, Nicola (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 360 Pages - 04/10/2002 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

When we’re thinking about making sci-fi movies based on books, we’d be remiss if we missed this one. Lord has been compared to Ursula K. Le Guin, and this epic story of hope, love and survival takes classic sci fi and gives it a more modern feel.

It’s also a thought-provoking novel that could have a huge impact on the big screen if it was adapted with the love and care that it deserves.

The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel
  • Lord, Karen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 02/04/2014 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Heralded as a masterpiece in the genre, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a Hugo Award winner that’s been in print ever since its initial publication sixty years ago.

Another post-apocalyptic story, it takes place in America in the aftermath of a nuclear war and is a sure contender when it comes to potential ports of sci fi books to movies.

A Canticle for Leibowitz
  • Eos
  • Walter M. Miller Jr. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 334 Pages - 05/09/2006 (Publication Date) - EOS (Publisher)

Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear

Published in 1999 as humanity was looking ahead to a new millennium, Darwin’s Radio is a multiple award winner that’s just as popular with readers as it is with critics.

The concept here is that humanity is dealing with a virus that rapidly evolves human beings while they’re in the womb and it raises all sorts of interesting questions that will make it more appealing to younger generations in particular.

Darwin's Radio: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bear, Greg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 03/04/2003 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. Delany is a giant in the science fiction field, and Dhalgren is one of the most cinematic of all of his novels.

Dhalgren is one of those books that’s so well-written that you can almost visualize it unfolding in front of you, although it helps that the setting is a familiar feeling city in the American Widwest.

It’s a survival story, but it’s also a story of hope that could have audiences on the edges of their seats.

  • Vintage
  • Delany, Samuel R. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 816 Pages - 05/15/2001 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh

Another Hugo Award winner, Downbelow Station has the potential to be the next big space epic, taking on the likes of everything from Apollo 13 to Gravity and The Martian.

It could be one of those sci-fi books made into movies that changes the way we think about what’s even possible.

Downbelow Station (Company Wars Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Cherryh, C. J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 430 Pages - 12/02/2008 (Publication Date) - DAW (Publisher)

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

The Female Man is a groundbreaking feminist sci-fi novel from the 1970s, following the story of four women who live in parallel worlds.

The Female Man asks the reader – and potentially the viewer – all sorts of interesting questions about gender norms and sexism that are just as relevant today as ever.

The Female Man (Bluestreak)
  • Beacon Press MA
  • Russ, Joanna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/17/2000 (Publication Date) - Beacon Press (Publisher)

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Where do we start with this cult classic!? This truly is a case of last-but-certainly-not-least on the list of the best sci fi books.

Isaac Asimov is to science fiction what J. R. R. Tolkien was to fantasy, and he also holds the unique distinction of being the only author to have books published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal system.

Foundation is his masterpiece, a unique series that really has to be read to be believed. It has major themes of predicting the future and survival on a mass scale and is the kind of story that sticks with people for months and years to come.

Sci Fi Books As Film Adaption

There’s been a big boom in recent years of books being made into movies, and there’s a good reason for that. When they adapt a book into a movie, filmmakers can be pretty sure that they’ll be able to tap into an existing audience.

Picking a well-known and well-respected sci-fi novel as the basis of your script can help you to write a powerful film proposal that will help to secure financial backing and interest actors. When you’re working on a book to movie adaptation, it makes it much easier for you to communicate what your movie is about because the story itself is already a part of popular culture.

best sci fi books

For example, this list includes one of Elon Musk’s favorite books, and just imagine the kind of movie you could make with his financial backing.

Or imagine if some Hollywood A-lister said that Brave New World is their favorite novel and offered to waive their usual fee and to star in exchange for a nominal fee paid for charity.

When you base a movie on a sci-fi novel, you also have a rich existing lore that you can tap into to make your fictional world feel more real. This is particularly relevant for sci-fi film-makers, because those movies often take us away from the world we know and introduce us to something entirely different.

Having a book as a reference can be invaluable, but with so many books on the market, how do you tell which one to go with? The good news for you is that we created this article to put forward a few suggestions.

The Best Sci Fi Books – In Conclusion

Science fiction is often seen as a niche genre that’s only read by a hardcore elite, but that’s simply no longer true. Even in the early days, science fiction classics like The War of the Worlds were able to capture the imagination of the general public, notably with Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast.

Nowadays, science fiction is a mainstream genre that can draw in huge audiences at the box office, but it takes a certain talent to be able to write a story that can withstand the test of time.

The good news is that you can take a shortcut by adapting a classic sci-fi novel into a movie because if the story is still relevant today, there’s a good chance that it’ll continue to be relevant for the months and years to come.

best sci fi books

What once was science fiction is now science fact thanks to the relentless march of technology, which is one of the reasons for the genre’s enduring popularity.

By reading science fiction novels – and by watching science fiction movies that are based upon them – we’re given the opportunity to peek into the future. What we do with that knowledge is up to us.

Robert Everett is a science fiction fan and freelance writer who’s inspired by everything from sci-fi classics to Andy Weir’s The Martian.