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Top 10 Greatest Sci-Fi Novels

Sci-Fi or Science Fiction novels are some of the most fantastic novels you may ever come across. Parallel universes, alien planets and wonderous technology, it is truly the writer’s playground.

Frank Herbert, the mastermind of the Dune series was born on October 8th 1920, so what better way to commemorate his birthday than to have a look at some of the greatest Sci-Fi novels ever written, and see where Dune finds itself.

Honorable Mentions – In no particular order

This novels make for fantastic reading but didn’t quite make the top ten.

Jurassic ParkMichael Crichton

A fantastic novel but the scope and scale of this story is much better served in a different format, perhaps a film?

Children of MenP. D. James

Brilliant concept and provoking story but an argument can made this is more dystopian than science fiction.

SolarisStanis?aw Lem

Solaris is a classic story based around the rationality of mankind but just missed the top ten by a hair

Childhood’s EndArthur C. Clarke

A genius plot tackling human mythology and the attachment between parent and child.

1984George Orwell

I doubt anyone could argue the merits and significance of this novel, but this is certainly more dystopian then Sci-Fi.

10. Consider Phlebas – Iain Banks – 1987

Consider Phlebas is the first novel of Iain Banks’ Culture series, and delves into the acts of individualism against a backdrop of intergalactic conflict. The novel asks questions of the reader about how the acts of one person can influence history and had also been considered for a TV adaption until the plans were cancelled in 2020.

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Consider Phlebas is novel that tows the line between Sci-Fi and Space Opera very carefully and did much to resurrect the more nuanced novels of the genre with a huge stage and how one person can be the director of such a big orchestra.

9. The Blazing World – Margaret Cavendish – 1666

It’s incredible to think that this novel, which discusses things like travelling to alien planets through a portal in the north pole, the roles of women in society and religion and waging war with craft like submarines and men that drop bombs was written in the same year as the great fire of London.

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The text is an early look in the beginnings of the genre itself and an early feministic text sprouting from an incredible mind. Unfortunately, Women in Sci-fi are often overlooked, especially writers, but Cavendish sets the bar high. It is a challenge to read, but worth every page.

8. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov – 1950

Isaac Asimov is the only author to feature on this list twice, and for good reason. His first entry on this list I, Robot is a collection of short stories written by Asimov where he discusses the future of robotics, humanities ultimate reliance on them and the infamous Asimov’s’ Laws of Robotics. So influential are those law, that they are still followed in respects to humanities development of technology.

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The book talks about the wider morals of humanity and the early discussions of Artificial Intelligence, and it’s place amongst our society.

7. Frankenstein – Mary Shelly – 1818

Frankenstein is quite simply iconic and is often regarded to one of the true origins of the Science Fiction genre. The book references parenthood, isolationism and ultimately what it is to be human. But it also uses science, industry and technology to drive it’s plot rather than magic, faith and religion.

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The book laid groundwork for the golden era of science fiction that would follow in the next few decades and will always be remembered for it’s questions of the human condition, and for getting the character’s name wrong.

6. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – 1985

This novel is the most recent on the list but features one of the most influential twists in literature. The novel centres on Ender Wiggin who is recruited, thanks to his imagination owing to his age, to defend earth against an alien invasion that threatens to wipe out humanity.

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The twist aside, the novel asks the reader questions of war, humanities’ place in the universe, genocide and first contact. Thanks to these themes, the novel is allegedly a key book read by officers in training for the United States armed forces.

5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Phillip K. Dick – 1968

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is almost as much a book of philosophy than it is a work of Science Fiction. The book asks more questions than it answers; on humanity and it’s actions, the nature of artificial intelligence and the ethics behind non-human beings. While the backdrop of the novel centres on a world decimated by the cold war, the ever looming climate disaster could be seen as almost predictable thanks to the novel.

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Late-stage capitalism, societies insistence in staying on trend and the dangers of falling in love with a virtual reality much better and more desirable than our own existence are all dangers that the novel warns us about, whether or not these dangers have been heeded, is not my job to answer.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams – 1979

The only novel on the list which is also a comedy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has gone down as a legendary book full of wit, heart and unforgettable quotes that have gone down in pop-culture. When you can convince a large selection of the world’s population that the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything is… 42. You have succeeded in creating a brilliant work.

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Not only that, but the wonders of humanity, its insignificance in the universe and some of the brilliant technology on display propel this novel just outside of the podium places.

3. Foundation – Isaac Asimov – 1951

Foundation, and the remainder of the series is Isaac Asimov’s magnum opus and represents the standard in the golden era of science fiction. Asimov writes a novel that tackles power, science, religion, cult of personality, tyranny, destiny, authoritarianism and how we function in a society with and without each other.

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The shear scale of this novel is hard to fathom, and rewards those who are patient and give the novel the respect it requires. The original trilogy of novels are classics of the genre but it all starts with the original and best in the series.

2. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells – 1898

The War of the Worlds has inspired an entire century of writers and readers with its plot, pacing, villains and ultimate resolution to the Martian invasion of Earth. The story is one of resistance and resilience in seeming ensured defeat and unfathomable circumstances that is sure to terrify, as it did in a famous radio reading of the story 1938 in which people believed the Earth was under attack.

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The idea of desperation in the way of dwindling resources, the effects of the climate on potential aliens and human nature have all become sci-fi mainstays thanks to the fantastic godfather of sci-fi and this would take top spot if it weren’t for the first entry on our list.

1. Dune – Frank Herbert – 1965

Here we are then, the number one spot, the best Sci-fi novel ever written, Dune. At it’s core, the story is simple, a coming-of-age tale centered on a young boy seeking revenge for his father’s murder. Except you have to add in the behind the scenes politics, the factor of money in a society, genetic breeding programs, physchoactive drugs that help you navigate space, oppression, rebellion and tyranny, oh and giant sandworms. This book has it all.

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The novel, away from being a fantastic story, helped inspire Star Wars, Star Trek, Tremors, The Matrix and so many other stories of Sci-Fi that we take for granted these days. If it weren’t for Dune, Sci-Fi would be a forgotten and neglected art form, but thankfully it isn’t. It is all thanks to Frank Herbert that we can all enjoy this wonderful genre of different worlds, incredible technology and brilliant creatures. Happy Birthday Frank.

So there is the list! Let us know on social media your thoughts, whether you agreed or more likely disagreed. Be sure to check out some of other stuff like our review of Barbenheimer.

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