I had so much fun compiling the Required Apocalyptic Fiction list that I decided to put together a Required Science Fiction list as well. This was much more challenging because science fiction is obviously a broader subject area. There are over 150 books on my list of personal favorites alone. Beloved books are bound to be sacrificed in winnowing that down to just 10 must-reads.
I started with the crowd-sourced Best Science Fiction Novel list at LibraryThing, which is a very good list. You won’t go wrong picking something to read from any of its top 100 listings. The top 10 selections are all books I have read and can highly recommend. I also added my honorable mentions that come from my own personal top 20
10 (I had to update and expand my honorable mentions list because there were some books I just could not leave off.) I tried not to cross over too much with the apocalyptic fiction list, but of course there will be some shared selections, since apocalyptic fiction is generally considered a sub-genre of science fiction. Click the book title to read my review.
10. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - Stephenson’s first novel is now considered a classic of cyberpunk (or is it post-cyberpunk?) fiction. I haven’t read it since it first came out in 1992. Time for a reread, I think.
9. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury - This collection of connected stories is a classic story of Martian colonization.
8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Along with 1984, this is one of the grandfathers of dystopian literature.
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - The classic work of comic science fiction.
5. 1984 by George Orwell - One of the most influential novels ever written, this is a dystopian classic.
4. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. – The highest-ranking book on the apocalyptic fiction list definitely deserves a place here.
3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card - This sci-fi classic about alien invasion and child soldiers was a huge influence on many young readers.
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin - Le Guin is the only author to get two books in the top 10 (and I can’t resist mentioning how awesome it is that she is a female sci-fi writer); this is her magnum opus, about an alien planet whose inhabitants can change their gender.
1. Dune by Frank Herbert - This space opera epic has it all: an inhospitable planet, a young man with a destiny, an interstellar empire, and insightful commentary on politics, religion and environmentalism.
Animal Farm by George Orwell - Is this science fiction? That’s debatable, but many have categorized it as such, and it is a classic dystopia.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler - Butler deserves a place here, and I think this post-apocalyptic dystopian novel is her best work.
Your turn. What would you include on your top 10 science fiction list?