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The Greatest Science Fiction

The literati often scorn science fiction works as "space operas"—as if they all involve starships zipping around the galaxy, battling bug-eyed aliens. And, to tell the truth, this does describe a part of the field—a small part. Fans know science fiction as literature that explores all possibilities of human experience: past or future, in this reality or elsewhere, with or without science and technology. This speculative literature may be psychologically, philosophically, politically or sexually charged. Like 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 this 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 critics 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.

And the work continues, as new titles in this genre are acclaimed and established titles are reassessed.

Latest update: August 3, 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
François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
France
Novel
1816
The Sandman
E.T.A. Hoffmann
France
Story
1818
England
Novel
1827
A Voyage to the Moon
Joseph Atterley
United States
Novel
1835
The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall
United States
Story
1839
The Man That Was Used Up
United States
Story
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
Hungary
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
1901
The First Men in the Moon
H.G. Wells
England
Novel
1907
The Iron Heel
Jack London
United States
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
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
 
The Next Chapter: The War Against the Moon
Andre Maurois
France
Novel
1930
Last and First Men
Olaf Stapledon
England
Novel
1932
England
Novel
1934
Twilight
John W. Campbell
United States
Story
 
A Martian Odyssey
Stanley G. Weinbaum
United States
Story
1936
War With the Newts
Karel Čapek
Czechoslovakia
Novel
1937
Star Maker
Olaf Stapledon
England
Novel
 
Call Me Joe
Poul Anderson
United States
Story
1938
Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell
United States
Novella
 
Helen O'Loy
Lester del Rey
United States
Story
1938–1945
The Space Trilogy
C.S. Lewis
England
Novel trilogy
1940
The Roads Must Roll
United States
Story
1941
United States
Story
 
Universe
United States
Novella
 
Microcosmic God
Theodore Sturgeon
United States
Story
1942
Nerves
Lester del Rey
United States
Novella
 
The Weapon Shop
A.E. Van Vogt
United States
Story
 
Mimsy Were the Borogroves
C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner
(as Lewis Padgett)
United States
Story
1944
Arena
Fredric Brown
United States
Story
1945
First Contact
Murray Leinster
United States
Story
1946
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
 
With Folded Hands...
Jack Williamson
United States
Novella
1948
That Only a Mother
Judith Merrill
United States
Story
 
Scanners Live in Vain
Cordwainer Smith
United States
Story
 
The World of Null-A
A.E. Van Vogt
United States
Novel
1949
England
Novel
 
Dark they Were, And Golden-Eyed
United States
Story
 
Earth Abides
George R. Stewart
United States
Novel
1950
United States
Story collection
 
The Martian Chronicles
United States
Story collection
 
Coming Attraction
Fritz Leiber
United States
Story
 
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 trilogy
1952
The Martian Way
Isaac Asimov
United States
Novella
 
Surface Tension
James Blish
United States
Story
 
A Sound of Thunder
United States
Story
 
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
 
The Nine Billion Names of God
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Story
 
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
 
United States
Story
 
Mission of Gravity
Hal Clement
United States
Novel
 
The Cold Equations
Tom Godwin
United States
Story
 
Richard Matheson
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 tetralogy
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
 
Tunesmith
Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
United States
Story
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
 
The Moon Moth
Jack Vance
United States
Novella
 
Harrison Bergeron
Kurt Vonnegut
United States
Story
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
 
A Rose for Ecclesiastes
Roger Zelazny
United States
Story
 
Simulacron-3
Daniel F. Galouye
United States
Novel
 
The Wanderer
Fritz Leiber
United States
Novel
1965
'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman
Harlan Ellison
United States
Story
 
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
 
Neutron Star
Larry Niven
United States
Story
 
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
Various, ed. Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
 
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
1969
Super-Toys Last All Summer Long
Brian W. Aldiss
England
Story
 
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
Ringworld
Larry Niven
United States
Novel
1971
Inconstant Moon
Larry Niven
United States
Story
1971–1983
United States
Novel series
1972
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
England
Novel
 
Roadside Picnic
Arkady and Boris Strugatski
Russia
Story
 
The Gods Themselves
United States
Novel
 
The Sheep Look Up
John Brunner
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
Story
1975
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delaney
United States
Novel
 
Deathbird Stories
Harlan Ellison
United States
Story collection
 
The Female Man
Joanna Russ
United States
Novel
1976
Man Plus
Frederick Pohl
United States
Novel
1977
Stardance
Spider and Jeanne Robinson
Canada
Novel
 
Gateway
Frederick Pohl
United States
Novel
1978
The Persistence of Vision
John Varley
United States
Story
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
 
Sandkings
Barry B. Longyear
United States
Story
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 tetralogy
1981
Downbelow Station
C.J. Cherryh
United States
Novel
1982–1985
Helliconia
Brian W. Aldiss
England
Novels
1983
Startide Rising
David Brin
United States
Novel
1984
Neuromancer
William Gibson
Canada
Novel
 
Blood Music
Greg Bear
United States
Novel
 
United States
Novel
 
Contact
Carl Sagan
United States
Novel
 
The Road Not Taken
Harry Turtledove
United States
Story
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
1989–1990
Hyperion Cantos
Dan Simmons
United States
Novel tetralogy
1990
The Difference Engine
William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
Canada, United States
Novel
1991–1993
The Thrawn Trilogy
Timothy Zahn
United States
Novel trilogy
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 trilogy
1994
Mother of Storms
John Barnes
United States
Novel
1995
The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson
United States
Novel
1997
Forever Peace
Joe Haldeman
United States
Novel
1999
Cryptonomicon
Neal Stephenson
United States
Novel
2002
Stories of Your Life and Others
Ted Chiang
United States
Story collection
2002–2003
The Neanderthal Parallax
Robert J. Sawyer
Canada
Novel trilogy
2003
Oryx and Crake
Canada
Novel
 
The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
United States
Novel
2005
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 Martian
Andy Weir
United States
Novel
2015–2017
Broken Earth Trilogy
N.K. Jemisin
United States
Novel trilogy
2018
The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette Kowal
United States
Novel

 
What is science fiction?