SF CORE Best Lists
- Best Modern Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Series
- Best Stand Alone Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Underrated Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction by Women
- Best Science Fiction Books for Young Adults
- Best Science Fiction Books for Children
- The Alternative Top 25 Best Science Fiction List
- Top 25 Science Fiction Books
- Top 100 Best Science Fiction Books
- Top 50 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time
- Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century
- Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Graphic Novels
SF ERA Best Lists
- Best Science Fiction Books of 2014
- Best Contemporary Science Fiction Books
- Best New Wave Science Fiction Books
- Best Classic Science Fiction Books
- Best Early Science Fiction Books
- Best Proto-Science Fiction
- Best Modern Science Fiction Classics
SF GENRE Best Lists
- Best Hard Science Fiction Books
- Best Cyberpunk Books
- Best Space Opera Books (OLD AND MERGED WITH NEW)
- Best Dystopian Science Fiction Books
- Best Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction Books
- Best Alternate History Books
- Best Time Travel Science Fiction Books
- Best Robot Science Fiction
- Best Artificial Intelligence Science Fiction
- Top 25 Best Mars Science Fiction Books
- Best Literary Science Fiction Books
- Best Books About Science Fiction
- Best Space Opera Books
- Top 25 Post Human Science Fiction Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Mystery Books
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books About the Moon
- Best Non-English Science Fiction Books
- Best Science Fiction Games of All Time
- Best Science Fiction Comic Books
- Best Science Fiction Anime
- Top 25 Military SciFi Books
OTHER Best Lists
Best Artificial Intelligence Science Fiction
Which sub-genre of sci-fi can claim both the literary greats, the grandmasters of science fiction, like Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, and the recently departed Iain M. Banks and the gritty, depths of fiction shown in the dirty sex and drugs and rock'n'roll of Robert Heinlein, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson? It's artificial intelligence. Closely related to robot fiction and often over lapping with other sub-genres such as dystopian fiction, space opera fiction and cyberpunk fiction, artificial intelligence raises deep moral and philosophical issues that force us to look deep within ourselves and question what is it, exactly, that makes us human, when computers and machines can learn, educate themselves and others, show morality and ethics, and most importantly, understand and exhibit human emotions of love, anger, and fear. Artificial intelligence fiction shows us what the future can look like and how we need to be responsible and accountable for the things that we create. And not to be too serious, it usually comes with a healthy slathering of flesh on flesh and blood and guts. This list outlines the best of the best of artificial intelligence novels.
A.I. book are somewhat different in nature to books that focus on robots (at least we think so!). So be sure to check out our similar yet different Best Robot Books list.
Books in Hyperion Cantos Series (3)
Dan Simmons has written an incredible range of books, from mainstream to horror, but if you like The Hyperion Cantos, you really should give his other science fiction duology a read: Illuim and Olympus. They are fantastic books that also borrow literary conceits and reuse them in an extravagant science fiction setting; in this case, Simmons takes on the Odyssey and the Illiad but shifts the events of the Trojan War to a far future Earth and Mars. Hell there's even discussion about Shakespeare by some of the characters. A must read.
For a wild ride into big space opera territory, give Peter Hamilton's works a go. You could start with his Night's Dawn Trilogy which includes The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God -- it's an absolutely massive space opera series with a gripping plot that includes the souls of the dead coming back to possess the living, that keeps you glued to the page from the start to the very end. For a vast space opera with a huge universe, massive cast of characters, a quality story, you should also take a good look at Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, Misspent Youth, Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained.
Hyperion Cantos is a dark series with themes of death, suffering, and tragedy pervading the story. For the ultimate "downer" science fiction space opera, give Stephen R. Donaldson's five-volume Gap Cycle a go. It deals with adult themes and the world presented is not a sugar-coated "the future is bright and human kind is good" kind that most space operas follow.
Books in The Ender Quintet Series (3)
Books in Culture Series (11)
Books in Otherland Series (3)
Books in Space Odyssey Series (3)
For similar reads, give those three alternative choices a read -- Childhood's End, The City and the Stars, and Rendezvous with Rama.
The idea of first contact and an alien civilization's (or knowledge of such a presence) effect on human society is a common theme in science fiction literature. Here are some outstanding works that deal with first contact.
First Contact by Carl Sagan. This is 'the' first contact novel you should read. Sagan's work has lot a lot of the presteige it had when it came out years ago, yet it still remains a seminal work in the genre about a first contact situation. And of course, there was the Jodie Foster movie.
Blindsight by Peter Watts. A contact novel with a twist. Brilliant and strangely depressing.
For a space opera novel where first contact change the game (and with a lot of emphasis on action, politics, and ship to ship battles), read The Expanse. This series has become a science fiction pop culture phenomenon -- hugely popular with readers looking for compelling action packed old school science fiction and now a hugely successful SyFy TV series which is regarded now as one of the best science fiction tv series ever made so far.
Revelation Space books also deal with aliens and first contact.
If you like Heinlein then you should read more books by Heinlein of course. But what to read next? Well, there's so much work by Heinlein that everyone interested in science fiction should read, but here's a selection.
The Door into Summer is a novel that explores Heinlein's fascination with time travel. When inventor D.B. Davis is tricked out of his company, his former partners put him into cold sleep. But when he awakes, years later, he finds that many of the innovations in the world are credited to one D.B. Davis. Finding someone who has invented time travel, he goes back knowing how to change the world.
Starship Troopers, another Hugo ward winning novel, is one of the best known of Heinlein's books, a military adventure that traces the career of the central character from recruitment up to an interstellar war.
Stranger in a Strange Land is a Hugo Award winning novel that became a cult classic during the 1960s, and was named as one of the "Books that Shaped America" by the Library of Congress. It's the story of a human raised on Mars who returns to Earth and ends up transforming human society.
If you're fascinated by Heinlein's account of lunar colonies in revolt from Earth, you should check out Time Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick, which tells the story from the other side. RagelGumm lives in a 1950s small town where he makes his living winning newspaper competitions. But strange things start to happen; a soft drinks stand disappears leaving a slip of paper with the words SOFT DRINKS STAND written on it. Gradually, Gumm works out that the small town is not real, and that the newspaper competition is actually a way of predicting where the rebelling lunar colonies will bombard next. It's a novel full of Dick's typical undermining of reality, but it makes a fascinating counterpoint to Heinlein's novel.
Books in The Commonwealth Saga Series (5)
Peter Hamilton specialises in what Brian Aldiss called "wide-screen baroque", big sweeping sagas that guarantee the gosh-wow effect. And you'll find it just as much in his other great epic, The Night's Dawn Trilogy. These three huge novels, The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God, along with a collection of stories, A Second Chance at Eden, are set in a distant future of sentient cities, nanonics, faster than light drives and a host of other amazing technologies. But in this galaxy-spanning future, humanity finds itself at war with its own dead, who are returning to life through a form of possession.
Books in Childe Cycle Series (24)
Neuromancer was just the start of the Sprawl trilogy, so you should certainly go on to read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, not to mention the stories in Burning Chrome, which tell us yet more about this future of jacked-in cyber jockeys and street samurai, simstim and emerging machine intelligence. You simply can't understand cyberpunk, or anything that happened in science fiction afterwards, without these books. Note that while these books take place in the same 'world' they are unique stories and as such you can read Neuromancer (or the other loosely connected books) as stand alones.
Gibson has recently returned to science fiction with a powerful new novel, The Peripheral, in which people riding shotgun on an immersive game in the run-down near future end up witnessing a murder in the more distant future, and get caught in a time-travelling mystery of escalating violence and ever-increasing mystery. It can be hard going at first, but boy is it worth keeping on with the book.
If Neuromancer got the ball rolling with cyberpunk, there were an awful lot of great writers who quickly joined him. So if this sets you on fire, you absolutely must go on to read Schismatrix Plus by Bruce Sterling, the novel and stories set in his Shaper/Mechanist universe, a future in which humanity is divided between those who go in for genetic modification of the body, the Shapers, and those who prefer mechanical augmentation, the Mechanists. This is the point where cyberpunk started to mutate into stories of post-humanity.
Then there's Pat Cadigan, especially Synners and Fools, both of which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, making her the first person to win the award twice. These are dramatic stories of human/machine interface, and the way it affects our awareness of reality.
For more specific CYBERPUNK book recommendations, make sure you look at our 'Top 25 Best Cyberpunk Books list' and our Guide to the Cyberpunk Genre.
Neal Stephenson's novels have got bigger and bigger as his career has gone on. It's like he's trying to squeeze an entire world between the covers of a book. But however much detail you'll find in there, there's always a strong story that just keeps you turning the pages. There are several books that could equally well command a place in our Top 100 list.
Make sure you look at our 'Top 25 Best Cyberpunk Books list' and our Guide to the Cyberpunk Genre.
For similar recommendations, you should look at other cyberpunk works that have proved influential.
William Gibson's Neuromancer is the gold standard in cyberpunk and pretty much the founding father of the movement in science fiction.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep -- a highly influential work by PKD that's touched literature and film. The futuristic noir dystopian metropolis setting of the film has inspired generations of sci fi movies and video games. Truth be told, there have been few science fiction books as influential on pop culture as THIS work. As such, you absolutely should read it.
For a modern violent take on the cyberpunk genre, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. It's brutal, violent, dark, and has a mystery-detective tale that keeps you hooked from start to finish. This is one of the most exciting cyberpunk thrillers in the genre.
Books in Singularity Series (3)
Books in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Series (0)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch,