Classic Sci-Fi Books to Get You Started in the Genre

Sci-Fi books have been around for a while. They have a wide range of styles and genres, so it can be difficult to know where to start. You might think you don’t like Sci-Fi, but there’s a good chance you just haven’t found the right book yet. Here are some of the most popular Sci-Fi books, from classics to new releases.
Pick one or find your own adventure with these Sci-Fi Books that will get you started in the genre!

Classic Sci-Fi Books

Science fiction widely covers topics like time travel, space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Sci-fi has been around for over a century with some of the best science fiction books being written in the late 19th or early 20th century. Here are some classics you should read to get to know the genre.

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Illustrated Edition

by Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent is having an ordinary Thursday morning… until his house is demolished. Shortly after, the Earth is destroyed to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and Arthur’s best buddy has revealed that he is an extraterrestrial. Arthur must navigate through a perilous cosmos with just a towel, a small yellow fish, and a book in the company of a group of untrustworthy aliens. Fortunately, the fish can communicate in a variety of languages. And the book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… which has the words DON’T PANIC in large, cheerful letters on its cover, which is quite helpful.

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2. Neuromancer (Sprawl Trilogy Book 1)

by William Gibson

Neuromancer was the first completely realized picture of humanity’s digital future—a startling vision that has challenged our preconceptions about technology and ourselves, revolutionized the way we communicate and think, and permanently changed the landscape of our imaginations. Case was the matrix’s most cunning data thief—until he crossed the wrong people and had his nervous system paralyzed, expelling him from cyberspace. Now he’s been recruited by a mysterious new employer for a last-ditch attempt at creating an unimaginably powerful artificial intelligence. Case is ready for the adventure that increased the ante on a whole genre of literature, with a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, keeping an eye on his back.

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3. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

by Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, is widely regarded as one of Robert A. Heinlein’s finest works. Risen from the golden age of science fiction to become an uncontested classic—and a touchstone for the philosophy of human responsibility and political liberty. A story about one diversified group of men and women contending with the ever-changing concepts of humanity, technology, and free will is set against the backdrop of a revolt on a lunar penal colony, aided by a self-aware supercomputer.

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4. 1984

by George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1984 takes on new life in this edition, with astonishing relevance and tremendous popularity. In 1984, London is a desolate metropolis in Oceania’s totalitarian regime, where Big Brother is always monitoring and the Thought Police can literally read your thoughts. For the sheer reason that his memory still works, Winston Smith is in severe danger. Winston finds the confidence to join The Brotherhood, a secret revolutionary organization dedicated to the downfall of the Party.

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5. Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s widely recognized novel Fahrenheit 451 continues as a classic of world literature set in a gloomy, dystopian future over seventy years after its first publication. Its message has never been more pertinent than it is now. Guy Montag works as a firefighter. His mission is to eliminate the most unlawful of commodities, the printed book, as well as the homes where they are stored. Montag never questions the devastation and ruin his activities cause, returning each day to his mundane existence and wife, Mildred, who spends her days with her “family” on television. Montag begins to doubt all he has ever known after meeting an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a history where people didn’t live in dread and a present where people view the world through the ideas in books rather than the meaningless chatter of television.

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Sci-Fi Books by Women Authors

Sci-Fi books by female authors are a great way to explore new worlds and dimensions. They also provide an interesting twist on the traditional sci-fi genre. Sci-fi novels by women offer a fresh perspective on the future, as well as some ideas for what our own planet might turn into.

Kindred Book Cover

1. Kindred

by Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is abruptly kidnapped and transported to the antebellum South from her home in California. She has been summoned to save Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, who is drowning. Dana is drawn back to the slave quarters over and over again, and each time the stay becomes longer, more difficult, and more hazardous until it is unclear whether Dana’s life will end long before it has a chance to begin.

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2. Ice: 50th Anniversary Edition

by Anna Kavan

Destruction abounds in a frozen, post-apocalyptic landscape: massive ice walls engulf the globe, and clandestine nations struggle for power. An unidentified narrator sets out on a hallucinatory search for a weird and elusive “glass-girl” with silver hair in this surreal, yet hauntingly familiar broken world. He travels over freezing oceans and frozen plains, searching for her in shattered cities and ransacked chambers, all in the hopes of rescuing her from a dictator known only as the warden before the ice closes in all around them.

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3. Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 1)

by Margaret Atwood

Before mankind was wiped out by a pandemic, Snowman was known as Jimmy, and he is now battling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, lamenting the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the lovely and elusive Oryx whom they both adored. In search of answers, Snowman sets out on a journey through the lush wilderness that was once a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. With the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake, he travels through the lush wilderness that was once a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.

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Sci-Fi Books for The Newcomer

If you’re new to the sci-fi genre, this list of books will give you a great introduction to what this genre has to offer. Sci-fi combines elements of both science fiction and fantasy. It is not just about robots, aliens, time travel, and space exploration. It is also about the social impacts of these topics on culture and society.

1. Old Man’s War

by John Scalzi

On his 75th birthday, John Perry accomplished two things. He began by paying respects to his wife’s grave. He then enlisted in the army. The good news is that humanity has successfully entered interstellar space. The bad news is that habitable planets are few, and aliens eager to fight for these planets are plentiful. The Colonial Defense Force controls the majority of humanity’s resources. Everyone is aware that once you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want folks with decades of experience and understanding. You’ll be whisked away from the planet and never allowed to return. John Perry is taking the deal. He has a hazy concept of what to expect. Because the war itself, thousands of light-years away, is far, far more difficult than he can imagine—and what he will become is far stranger.

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2. The Sirens of Titan

by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan is a hilarious adventure through space, time, and morality. Malachi Constant, the world’s richest and most immoral man, is offered the opportunity to travel to faraway worlds with a lovely woman by his side. Of course, there’s a catch–and a prophetic insight about the meaning of human life that only Vonnegut has the nerve to share.

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3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by Philip K. Dick

By 2021, the World War has massacred millions of people, wiped out entire species, and forced humanity to leave the planet. Those who remain are captivated by any living creature, and for those who cannot buy one, corporations have developed amazingly lifelike replicas of horses, birds, cats, and sheep. They’ve even created human beings. Immigrants to Mars are given androids that are so advanced that they can’t differentiate between biological men and women. The government prohibits artificial humans from Earth, fearful of the damage they might cause. Unauthorized androids have been forced into hiding and are living among humans undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is tasked with tracking down and “retiring” rogue androids. When cornered, though, androids fight back—and with lethal ferocity.

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