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The Greatest Science Fiction

Greatest Works | Greatest Short Stories

The literati often scorn science fiction works as "space operas", as if they're all about starships zipping around the galaxy battling aliens. And, to tell the truth, this does describe a part of the field—a small part. However, serious readers of science fiction know it as literature exploring all possibilities of human experience. Past or future. In this reality or elsewhere. With or without an emphasis on science and technology.

This speculative literature may be as psychologically, philosophically, politically or sexually charged as so-called mainstream literature. Indeed, it's often difficult to know where to draw the line between it and other forms of literature. (See our analysis of What is science fiction?)

Whether you call it science fiction, speculative fiction, SF, scifi or something else, for this list we are selecting from among the works that a consensus of readers and writers think comprise the genre. Titles are chosen based on the same two decades of research and surveys that created the Greatest Literature of All Time and all our other "greatest" lists. Hundreds of sources have been consulted.

Recently we split short stories off from our main science fiction listing. The resulting list below is for only major works in the field (mainly novels, novellas, series and collections). Briefer works are reserved for the greatest science fiction stories list.

Like all our lists, this one is a continual work in progress. Changes are made as new titles in the genre are acclaimed and established titles are reassessed.

Latest update: October 13, 2022

The 222 greatest science fiction works of all time

Click linked titles and authors for details, critiques and comments.

1638
The Man in the Moone
Francis Godwin
England
Novel
1657–1662
Other Worlds
Sauvien Cyrano de Bergerac
France
Novel
1752
Micromégas
Voltaire
France
Novel
1818
England
Novel
1827
A Voyage to the Moon
Joseph Atterley
United States
Novel
1864
A Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Jules Verne
France
Novel
1865
From the Earth to the Moon
Jules Verne
France
Novel
1870
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Jules Verne
France
Novel
1872
England
Novel
 
The Novel of the Next Century
Maurus Jokai
Hungary
Novel
1874
The Mysterious Island
Jules Verne
France
Novel
1884
Edwin A. Abbott
England
Novella
1887
Les Xipéhus
J.-H. Rosny
France
Novel
1889
Mark Twain
United States
Novel
1893
The Angel of the Revolution
George Griffith
England
Novel
1893–1994
Omega: The Last Days of the World
Camill Flammarion
France
Novel
1895
The Time Machine
H.G. Wells
England
Novella
1896
Beyond the Earth
Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy
Russia
Novel
 
The Island of Doctor Moreau
H.G. Wells
England
Novel
1897
Two Planets
Kurd Lasswitz
Germany
Novel
 
The Invisible Man
H.G. Wells
England
Novel
1898
The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells
England
Novel
1912
The Lost World
England
Novel
1912–1917
A Princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
United States
Novel
1920
R.U.R.
Karel Čapek
Czechoslovakia
Novel
1922
Ayelita
Alexy Tolstoy
Russia
Novel
 
The Girl in the Golden Atom
Alexy Tolstoy
Russia
Novel
1924
We
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Russia
Novel
 
The Land That Time Forgot
Edgar Rice Burroughs
United States
Novel
1926
Metropolis
Thea von Harbou
Germany
Novel
 
The Garin Death Ray
Alexy Tolstoy
Russia
Novel
1928
The Machine Stops
E.M. Forster
England
Novella
1929
The World Below
S. Fowler Wright
England
Novel
1930
Last and First Men
Olaf Stapledon
England
Novel
1932
England
Novel
1935
Odd John
Olaf Stapledon
England
Novel
1936
War With the Newts
Karel Čapek
Czechoslovakia
Novel
1937
Star Maker
Olaf Stapledon
England
Novel
1937–1954
Lensman
E.E. "Doc" Smith
United States
Novel series
1938
Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell
United States
Novella
1938–1945
The Space Trilogy
C.S. Lewis
England
Novel series
including Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength
1939
Lest Darkness Fall
L. Sprague de Camp
England
Novel series
1941
By His Bootstraps
United States
Novella
 
Universe
United States
Novella
1942
Nerves
Lester del Rey
United States
Novella
1946
The Best of Science Fiction
ed. Groff Conklin
United States
Story collection
 
Adventures in Time and Space
ed. Rymond J. Healy, J. Francis McComas
United States
Story collection
 
The Marching Morons
C.M. Kornbluth
United States
Novella
 
Vintage Season
C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner
(as Lawrence O'Donnell)
United States
Novella
 
The Skylark of Space
E.E. "Doc" Smith
United States
Novel
 
Slan
A.E. Van Vogt
United States
Novel
1948
The World of Null-A
A.E. Van Vogt
United States
Novel
 
The Humanoids
Jack Williamson
United States
Novella
1949
England
Novel
 
Earth Abides
George R. Stewart
United States
Novel
1950
United States
Story collection
 
The Martian Chronicles
United States
Story collection
 
The Dying Earth
Jack Vance
United States
Story collection
1951
The Day of the Triffids
John Wyndham
England
Novel
 
The Illustrated Man
United States
Story collection
 
L. Sprague De Camp
United States
Novel
1951–1953
United States
Novel series
including Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation
1952
The Martian Way
United States
Novella
 
City
Clifford D. Simak
United States
Story cycle
 
Baby Is Three
Theodore Sturgeon
United States
Novella
 
Player Piano
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Novel
1953
Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Bring the Jubilee
Ward Moore
United States
Novel
 
The Space Merchants
Frederick Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth
United States
Novel
 
More Than Human
Theodore Sturgeon
United States
Novel
1953–1954
Brain Wave
Poul Anderson
United States
Novel
1954
United States
Novel
 
Mission of Gravity
Hal Clement
United States
Novel
 
Richard Matheson
United States
Novel
 
A Mirror for Observers
Edgar Pangborn
United States
Novel
 
Untouched by Human Hands
Robert Sheckley
United States
Story collection
1955
The Chrysalids
John Wyndham
England
Novel
 
The Long Tomorrow
Leigh Brackett
United States
Novel
1955–1962
Cities in Flight
James Blish
United States
Novel series
1956
The City and the Stars
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
Double Star
Robert A. Heinlein
United States
Novel
1957
United States
Novel
 
The Midwich Cuckoos
John Wyndham
England
Novel
1958
A Case of Conscience
James Blish
United States
Novel
 
The Big Time
Fritz Leiber
United States
Novel
 
Clifford D. Simak
United States
Novella
1959
Starship Troopers
Robert A. Heinlein
United States
Novel
 
The Sirens of Titan
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Novel
1960
Rogue Moon
Algis Budrys
United States
Novel
 
Dorsai!
Gordon R. Dickson
United States
Novel
 
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller
United States
Novel
1961
Solaris
Stanislaw Lem
Poland
Novel
 
Dark Universe
Daniel F. Galouye
United States
Novel
 
The Moon Moth
Jack Vance
United States
Novella
1962
Hothouse
Brian W. Aldiss
England
Novel
 
The Drowned World
J.G. Ballard
England
Novel
 
A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess
England
Novel
 
The Ballad of Lost C'mell
Cordwainer Smith
United States
Novella
1963
Monkey Planet
Pierre Boulle
France
Novel
 
Way Station
Clifford D. Simak
United States
Novel
 
Simulacron-3
Daniel F. Galouye
United States
Novel
 
The Wanderer
Fritz Leiber
United States
Novel
1965
Frank Herbert
United States
Novel
1965–1993
World of Tiers
United States
Novel series
1966
J.G. Ballard
England
Novel
 
The Witches of Karres
James H. Schmitz
England
Novel
 
Harry Harrison
United States
Novel
 
Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
United States
Novel
 
The Last Castle
Jack Vance
United States
Novella
1967
The Cyberiad
Stanislav Lem
Poland
Story collection
 
Babel-17
Samuel R. Delaney
United States
Novel
 
The Einstein Intersection
Samuel R. Delaney
United States
Novel
 
Camp Concentration
Thomas Disch
United States
Novel
 
Dangerous Visions
ed. Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
including Riders of the Purple Wage (novella); Gonna Roll the Bones; Aye, and Gomorrah; and others
 
Riders of the Purple Wage
Philip José Farmer
United States
Novella
 
Lord of Light
Roger Zelazney
United States
Novel
1968
2001: A Space Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
Stand On Zanzibar
John Brunner
United States
Novel
 
Nova
Samuel Delaney
United States
Novel
 
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
United States
Novella
 
Rite of Passage
Alexei Panshin
United States
Novel
1969
Behold the Man
Michael Moorcock
England
Novel
 
Ubik
United States
Novel
 
A Boy and His Dog
Harlan Ellison
United States
Novella
 
Bug Jack Baron
Norman Spinrad
United States
Novel
 
Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Novel
1970
Tau Zero
Poul Anderson
United States
Novel
 
Ill Met in Lankhmar
Fritz Leiber
United States
Novella
 
Larry Niven
United States
Novel
 
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. I
ed. Robert Silverberg
United States
Story collection
1971
The Queen of Air and Darkness
Poul Anderson
United States
Novella  
1971–1983
United States
Novel series
including To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, The Dark Design, and others
1972
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
The Gods Themselves
United States
Novel
 
The Sheep Look Up
John Brunner
United States
Novel
 
Again, Dangerous Visions
ed. Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
including The Word for World Is Forest, When It Changed, With The Bentfin Boomer Boys On Little Old New Alabama, and others
 
Beyond Apollo
Barry N. Malzberg
United States
Novel
1973
The Embedding
Ian Watson
United States
Novel
1974
The Forever War
Joe Haldeman
United States
Novel
 
The Dispossessed
United States
Novel
 
The Mote in God's Eye
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
United States
Novel
1975
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delaney
United States
Novel
 
Deathbird Stories
Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
including The Whimper of Whipped Dogs, Adrift Just off the Islets of Langerhans, The Deathbird, and others
 
Catch That Zeppelin!
Fritz Leiber
United States
Story
 
The Female Man
Joanna Russ
United States
Novel
 
Norstrilla
Cordwainer Smith
United States
Novel
1976
Man Plus
Frederick Pohl
United States
Novel
 
Houston, Houston, Do You Read?
James Tiptree, Jr.
United States
Novella
1977
Stardance
Spider and Jeanne Robinson
Canada
Novel
 
Gateway
Frederick Pohl
United States
Novel
1978
Dreamsnake
Vonda M. McIntyre
United States
Novella
 
The Persistence of Vision
John Varley
United States
Novella
1979
The Fountains of Paradise
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
The Walking Shadow
Brian Stableford
England
Novel
 
Engine Summer
John Crowley
United States
Novel
 
Enemy Mine
George R.R. Martin
United States
Novella
1979–1992
England
Novels
including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and more
1980
Timescape
Gregory Benford
United States
Novel
 
Riddley Walker
Russell Hoban
United States
Novel
 
The Snow Queen
Joan D. Vinge
United States
Novel
1980–1987
The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe
United States
Novel series
1981
Downbelow Station
C.J. Cherryh
United States
Novel
 
The Saturn Game
Poul Anderson
United States
Novella
1982
No enemy But Time
Michael Bishop
United States
Novel
1982–1985
Helliconia
Brian W. Aldiss
England
Novel series
1983
Startide Rising
David Brin
United States
Novel
1984
Neuromancer
William Gibson
Canada
Novel
 
The Eye of the World
Robert Jordan
United States
Novel
 
Press Enter[]
John Varley
United States
Novella
 
Blood Music
Greg Bear
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Contact
Carl Sagan
United States
Novel
1986
United States
Novel
1987
Consider Phlebas
Iain M. Banks
United States
Novel
 
Watchmen
Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
United States
Graphic novel
1988
The Player of Games
Iain M. Banks
Scotland
Novel
 
Cyteen
C.J. Cherryh
United States
Novel
 
The Last of the Winnebagos
Connie Willis
United States
Novel
1989
The Mountains of Mourning
Lois McMaster Bujold
United States
Novella
1989–1999
Hyperion Cantos
Dan Simmons
United States
Novel series
including Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion, and stories
1990
The Difference Engine
William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
Canada, United States
Novel
1991
Beggars in Spain
Nancy Kress
United States
Novella
1991–1993
The Thrawn Trilogy
Timothy Zahn
United States
Novel series
1992
Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson
United States
Novel
 
A Fire Upon the Deep
Vernor Vinge
United States
Novel
 
Doomsday Book
Connie Wills
United States
Novel
1992–1996
Mars
Kim Stanley Robinson
United States
Novel series
1994
Mother of Storms
John Barnes
United States
Novel
 
Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge
Mike Resnick
United States
Novel
1995
The Terminal Experiment
Robert J. Sawyer
United States
Novel
 
The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson
United States
Novel
1997
Forever Peace
Joe Haldeman
United States
Novel
1999
Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson
United States
Novel
2000
The Ultimate Earth
Jack Williamson
United States
Novella
2002
Stories of Your Life and Others
Ted Chiang
United States
Story collection
2003
Oryx and Crake
Canada
Novel
 
Paladin of Souls
Lois McMaster Bujold
United States
Novel
 
The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
United States
Novel
2005
Spin
Robert Charles Wilson
Canada
Novel
 
Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro
England
Novel
2006
The Road
Cormac McCarthy
United States
Novel
2007
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Michael Chabon
United States
Novel
2008
The Three-Body Problem
Liu Cixin
China
Novel
2009
The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi
United States
Novel
2010
Blackout/All Clear
Connie Willis
United States
Novel
2011
The Man Who Bridged the Mist
Kij Johnson
United States
Novella
 
The Martian
Andy Weir
United States
Novel
2013
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
United States
Novel
2015
Binti
Nnedi Okorafor
United States
Novella
2015–2017
Broken Earth
N.K. Jemisin
United States
Novel series
including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
2017
All Systems Red
Martha Wells
United States
Novella
2018
The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette Kowal
United States
Novel
2020
Network Effect
Martha Wells
United States
Novel

 
What is science fiction?