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Top Ten Sci Fi Books of All Time

Updated on June 11, 2013

A Cluster of Stars

Best Sci Fi Novels

The science fiction genre does have its gems and share of great authors. Listed below are 10 titles of the all-time great science fiction books selected by me.

1. Frankenstein (1818) one of the finest examples of Gothic science fiction was written by Mary Shelly. It was a novelty which showcased man's progression into the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. In response to man's newly found arrogance, he now decides to trend on the ground of God. Man would play God in the form of Dr. Frankenstein and bring humans back to life. But this human being, who once lived, was nothing more than a monster put together with spare parts. The monster even begins to think, understand and would eventually kill. He would kill again once resurrected within a new body. But as time went by, he started to blame Dr. Frankenstein for creating him and allowing him to endure humiliation, as the world sees him as a monster on the outside. Frankenstein was a fine example of science fiction which shows the consequence of actions going beyond scientific unexplored boundaries.

2. Brave New World (1932) Aldous Huxley wrote a novel well ahead of its time. Brave New World features the knowledge of reproductive technology, a utopian socialist state and the loss of individualism set within the future utopia of 2540 AD. In addition to that, within this utopian future, 20th century issues were addressed within that fictional world some decades later. Socialism, as addressed in Brave New World was always a hot topic, especially after the First World War. It started to gain acceptance due to its theory of economics and altruism, but never actually included a spiritual element. It has always been counter capitalism and the UK at that point, like the United States of America is now, was a huge leader in technological wizardry. The novel shows that technological progress and socialism can co-exist, but not without consequences.

It was also stated that Huxley was worried about the fate of Europe, especially Great Britain, because America's pop culture had a significant influence on its culture. One could suggest that Huxley was a British conservative afraid at the thought of the once culturally-dominated Anglophiles coming to an end.

3. The War of the Worlds (1898) this landmark novel may be the best example of invasion literature to ever be written. It detailed one of the first conflicts between humanity and an alien species, the Martians, which would become extremely popular with the coming of movies and television. Expertly written by H.G Wells, it explains the experiences of an unnamed narrator who witnesses an alien invasion while traveling through London's suburbs. The War of the World is split into two parts, the Coming of the Martians and the Earth Under the Martians.

Done from a journalistic point of view, The War of the Worlds was more of an attack on the British Victorian manners mixed with a unique social Darwinist approach. Like the British Empire colonized the continent of Africa, Australia and North America over powering a more inferior race of man; the perspective here was that a more superior species would colonize England showing cultural disregard. War of the Worlds was a great example of also showing natural selection at work as humans, as previously thought, were not exactly the most advanced species in the galaxy.

Of all the early science fiction novels of the 19th century, the War of the Worlds is one of the most remembered. It was one of the first science fiction novels showing humanity that they can be invaded. Second, War of the Worlds showed that man was not the greatest beings in the universe, but looked rather primitive when compared to the Martians. War of the Wars is a prime example of excellent science fiction writing. Here is a sculpture of a Martian tripod from H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, in Woking, Surrey, England.

4. I, Robot (1950) Written by Isaac Asimov, this landmark group of nine science fiction stories further advanced the ideas of robots that have artificial intelligence. I, Robot showcase the interaction between robots, humans and a moral code which influences the robot's behavior just like human laws influence human behavior. The stories are set in the 21st century around the character, Dr. Susan Calvin, and her position as a chief robopsychologist. She works for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., a major maker of robots. Dr. Calvin's chief concern is dealing with the peculiar behavior of robotic mental states.

Also included within I, Robot is the prime directive explanation known as the Three Laws of Robotics. These are the laws in which all robots are governed. I, Robot shows that artificial intelligence may indeed realize that it is as real as human beings, but what about spiritually as that concept is a new world to them.

5.1984(1949) Written by George Orwell, this is most-likely the greatest dystopian novel of all time. It shows the world, in the distant future, under a collectivist oligarchy which uses consistent mind control, has eliminated privacy and is at war constantly. Human beings are subordinate to the state only, not to any god or other political party which does not exist.

1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four) is about an Oceanian province of Airstrip One which has an enormous political party perpetuated by a civil servant, Winston Smith. He works for the Ministry of Truth which revises historical records to make the party seem omniscient at all times. Due to his shallow existence, he rebels against Big Brother which leads to his arrest, torture and reconversion back into the Ministry of Truth.

An outstanding novel, 1984 is great view on the human will vs. the human mind. And some of the terms within the novel 1984 have become common place such as Big Brother, fear of a government takeover or cover up which is a part of U.S. pop culture and conspiracy theories. The term "Orwellian" is also used to refer to government lies, manipulation and surveillance of the civilian population.

6. Star Maker (1937) this great novel written by Olaf Stapledon was extremely intelligent for its time. It did not detail alien invasions nor does it speak on artificial intelligence. It simply went on to show the universe as a living entity from a philosophical point of view. It tackled themes such as life and death and the relationship those two concepts have with the creator. Genetic engineering along with alien life forms is mentioned in this novel and may have been the first time that has ever been covered as topics so vividly.

Star Maker speaks on interstellar travel, the diversity of worlds, intimations of the Star Maker, other alien species, and vision of the galaxy. Of course that is not all because it is a very complex book.

The plot involves a person of English descent who has an out of body experience and finds himself able to explore other plants and species in other parts of the galaxy. These other species are on the same development level as human beings are and existed millions of years ago thousands of light years from Earth. At one point, his mind merges with the mind of an alien species which enables him to understand its culture and evolution. The writer says that he was somewhat influenced by the philosopher Spinoza and that the creator of the Universe is very cynical. The creator, the Star Maker, does not have feeling for the suffering and pain that is caused because the overall picture of the universe.

7. The Time Machine (1895) another classic which came just before The War of the Worlds and involved no alien invasion this time. It involved time travel. The bafflement of traveling forward or backwards through time is one of the most inspiring themes in the entire science world. What if you could go back and meet your mother, a woman who died when you were 3 years old, what about Jesus?

The Time Machine, another H.G Wells classic has inspired many works of fiction, movies and television shows. It is a part of the sub-genre known as the "dying Earth" genre and is its greatest example. It follows the exploits of a time traveler, a gentleman of the British Victorian Upper Middle Class, who shows his genius by creating a time machine which can penetrate the fourth dimension and go forward and even backwards in time. The story has a narrator and gives way to the time traveler himself when he returns to tell fellow scientists about what happens hundreds of thousands of years into humanity's future. The story's protagonist would even go millions of years into the future and see the Earth decay and eventually die off as humans are no longer present.

The story in the The Time Machine shows off Well's socialist political views. It even shows the reader that mankind is virtually living in a utopian society devoid of a class system, technology or even the crimes which plague earlier human societies hundreds of thousands of years prior. The, Eloi, the human race of the future is frugivorous, small, elegant and childlike. The Morlocks, on the other hand, are pale and apelike who dwell underground and feed on the Eloi. Both species have lost all touch of humanity previously when human society was at his peak socially and technologically. The protagonist, the time traveler learns of this and is decides to do away with the Morlocks.

8. The Invisible Man (1897) this classic science fiction novel was written by H.G Wells. It centers on a brilliant scientist named Griffith. He has a theory that if a person's refractive index is made to that of air, a person can thus become invisible. Dr. Griffith has a plan to create a race of invisible people to take over the world. He tells a fellow colleague and his idea is rejected. Next, he tries the serum on himself and becomes invisible. As he stays invisible he grows even more insane. The story is much deeper than what I have described it and very intriguing. But then again, many of these science fiction stories are on this list.

9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1870) how can I keep French novelist Jules Vernes off the list? He is considered the Father of the Science Fiction genre itself. It would be disrespectful not to place one of his classics on the list. This entry has been read by generations of science fiction enthusiasts.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a revolutionary science fiction classic that tells the story of Captain Nemo and his extremely advanced submarine called Nautilus. He has many adventures under the sea which involves battles with giant squids and even a giant octopus. Since the oceans were virtually unexplored, many people's minds were inexperienced with trying to understand how deep or how many creatures exist in it. This underwater science fiction adventure is one of the greatest books written during the end of the 19th century. Jules Vernes completed a great piece of literature adding famous symbolic myths and legends to fill in mental gaps.

10. Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) Another Jules Verne classic about humans doing the impossible. Like traveling deep within the ocean and seas, brilliant scientists now travel to the center of the planet. The story involves a German professor named Otto Lidenbrock who believes that volcanic tubes extend themselves to the center of the earth. He and his nephew, Axel along with their guide, Hans, decide to try and reach the center of the Earth. While doing so, they meet creatures thought to have been extinct and deal with the natural hazards involved.

This was a fantastic journey indeed.

Sources:

Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. (Pub) Wiley-Blackwell; 1 Original Edition (June 16, 2009). ISBN-10: 1405149078

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    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      I should have put up a top 20. A lot of H.G Wells novels would have been there.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      The Island of Dr. Moreau made my top 20. Much of what H.G Wells did made the top 20 that I came up with.

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      Petery 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      An interesting post, and I agree with many of your choices.You could include more HG Wells,such as his Island of Doctor Moreau.Wells wrote novels in almost every sub genre of Sci Fi, on time travel,space travel, alien invasion, and biological experimentation.Without him as inspiration,his imitators over the last century would have been lost for ideas,not to mention quite a few Hollywood scriptwriters would have to look for another job,because they could not rip off his plots.

      Frankenstein was influential, but I do not actually like it much as a novel. Mary Shelley was an original thinker,but what should be the most dramatic parts of the book,lack drama.The moment when the creature comes alive is described in one sentence.As if to make up for this apparent

      defect,every Frankenstein film makes it a big dramatic highlight,with a creature on the slab sequence,lasting several minutes.Shelley in some parts of the novel seems more interested in the science and philosophical speculation than in bringing her characters to life. It is that aspect of the book that is involving,not the characters or story.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      I agree, he is. He influenced many science fiction authors after him.

    • Sandy Frost profile image

      Sandy Frost 5 years ago from India

      H.G.Wells was the maestro of science fiction. Whether it is any futuristic simulation or some kind of metaphysics approach, his creations were excellent pieces of writings.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Arthur C. Clarke was great. Most lists I have seen contain a few of his books. His 2001: A Space Odyssey was brilliant next to The Fountains of Paradise.

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      Antares 5 years ago

      Good list thanks for sharing. I hope Arthur Clarke made it to the top 50 through one of his works. I personally consider him one of the pioneers of sci.fi over the history.

      Douglas Adams' H2G2 is a great work as well.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Davesworld, I had a top 50 list and both of these made it.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      I would suggest that two Jules Verne's in the list is possibly one too many. A possible replacement could be one of Michael Crichton's works. Not normally considered a science fiction writer, how else would you describe either "The Andromeda Strain," or "Jurassic Park?" Both are cautionary tales of the dangers that lurk in our head-long rush to expand the borders of science.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Thank you Quality. I hope this list gives justice to the great science fiction novels which paved the way.

    • Marquis profile image
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      Marquis 5 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      Thank you Two. I have had this list for some time now. I decided to go over it again and then publish it. I some some other lists and could not believe that they did not have Frankenstein or the other classics which opened the door for science fiction as #1.

    • QualityContent profile image

      QualityContent 5 years ago

      Excellent hub on Sci-Fi my favorite genre, thanks for sharing.

    • TwoBeeOne profile image

      TwoBeeOne 5 years ago

      Great list! I also lean toward many of these classics. Thanks for sharing it.