We spent 28 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. If the modern world doesn’t hold enough grandeur and mystery for you, then you can always retreat into the haven of sci-fi. These books make bold — and often terrifying — predictions about the future of mankind, all while teaching us important truths about how we should best live today. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

10. Altered Carbon

Now a popular Netflix series, Altered Carbon is also an engrossing and thought-provoking inspection of the nature of the self. Humanity has devised a way to upload consciousnesses into fresh new bodies, which invariably leads to questions about how best to police it.

  • Timely look at class warfare
  • Reads like a detective novel
  • Plot bogs down towards the midpoint

Brand Del Rey Books
Model pending
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Ancillary Justice

A powerful warrior awakes on an icy planet, the victim of intergalactic treachery. That’s how Ancillary Justice begins, and from there it will take you on an action-packed, compelling ride through one woman’s quest for vengeance against a massive authoritarian empire.

  • Forces you to question your beliefs
  • Ambitiously structured
  • Descriptions can be confusing

Brand Ann Leckie
Model pending
Weight 10.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

8. House of Suns

House of Suns takes the long view of the species, as the narrative is set a whopping six million years in the future, when humanity has overtaken the entire Milky Way. The concepts discussed are so far-reaching and grand that the science often feels like fantasy.

  • Intense space battles
  • Uses realistic physics
  • Story meanders at times

Brand Ace Hardcover
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Red Rising

Red Rising is the story of a young man born into the lowest caste of a segregated Martian society who decides its time to rise up and claim equality. The world-building is exceptional, and the characters maintain their humanity — to distressing ends, at times.

  • In the vein of hunger games
  • Themes are ruthless yet captivating
  • Starts off slowly

Brand Pierce Brown
Model pending
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Old Man’s War

In the future, only the elderly are allowed to fight. This is the basis of Old Man’s War, a military adventure in which humans have to wait until retirement age to enlist in the armed forces, which represents their only hope at a better life.

  • Richly developed protagonist
  • Clever and witty dialogue
  • Supporting characters are weak

Brand Scalzi, John
Model pending
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Frank Herbert’s Dune

One of the most towering accomplishments in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune combines religion, politics, ecology, and much more in an engrossing yarn. It’s a pioneering book that’s managed to color both real-life science and pop culture in its wake.

  • Creates a vast and complex universe
  • Juggles many moving parts capably
  • May be too dense for casual readers

Brand Ace
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Children of Time

Mankind stumbles across a new planet that’s seemingly perfect for inhabitation in Children of Time. However, it quickly becomes clear that all is not what it seems, and their new home might be a trap. The story deftly weaves big-picture ideas with page-turning suspense.

  • Small chapters encourage bingeing
  • Explores development of societies
  • Includes alien perspectives

Brand imusti
Model pending
Weight 14.9 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Ender’s Game

If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, you can’t call yourself a true sci-fi fan. Young geniuses are trained as soldiers to fend off an alien invasion, giving you action and war paired with interesting, intelligent characters. It’s as much a rite of passage as it is a novel.

  • Surprisingly deep themes
  • Perfect for teens and tweens
  • Brisk and economical storytelling

Brand Orson Scott Card
Model pending
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Ready Player One

For a look at the future that takes you deep into your own past, check out Ready Player One. Filled with references to movies and video games that ’80s kids will love, it’s about a teen who enters a worldwide gaming tournament in hopes of winning the creator’s fortune.

  • Includes a strong female heroine
  • Incredibly hard to put down
  • Suitable for most ages

Brand Crown
Model pending
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. The Martian

If you want a novel that’s heavier on the “science” than it is on “fiction,” then The Martian is one of the most incredible — and educational — books in recent memory. An astronaut gets stranded on Mars, and has to use his knowledge to survive long enough to get home.

  • Gripping man vs the elements story
  • Makes science fun
  • Filled with gallows humor

Brand Weir Andy
Model pending
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0