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Last year we called on Tor Online to name your favorite science fiction novels. The goal was to compile a list of the 100 best science fiction books of all time. And here they are at last, our top 100 best sci-fi novels. Have fun exploring!

Good novels don't get better just because they're older. Only the imprint that they leave on the collective cultural memory of society, or at least the science fiction scene, grows larger. Our top list "The best science fiction books EVER" does not only mean the past centuries and decades, but also the last four to five years.

We are not claiming that the following 100 titles are the most original, successful, sophisticated, and influential science fiction books of all time. This list cannot claim to be complete. The list also does not contain a ranking. Nevertheless, our list of the best is a representative cross-section of classics and current science fiction novels (more about our selection process below the list), which we hope will encourage you to read one or the other. For a better understanding, editor Markus Mäurer has outlined the content of all 100 titles in 4 separate articles. You can find the articles here:

Link list

The 100 best science fiction books

(in alphabetic order)

  • When there were still people - Clifford Simak (City, 1952)
  • Andymon - Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller (1982)
  • On two planets - Kurd Laßwitz (1897)
  • Extinction - Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation, 2014)
  • Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks (Consider Phlebas, 1987)
  • Binti - Nnedi Okorafor (2015)
  • Blade runner (Androids dream of electric sheep) - Philip K. Dick (Do Android's Dream Of Electric Sheep, 1968)
  • Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon, 1966)
  • The burning man (The cosmonaut's revenge, Tiger! Tiger!) - Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination, 1956)
  • Commander Perkins - H. G. Francis (1979, radio play 1976)
  • Contact - Carl Sagan (1985)
  • Cyberabad - Ian McDonald (River of Gods, 2004)
  • dusk - Octavia Butler (Dawn, 1987)
  • Dangerous visions - Ed. Harlan Ellison (1967)
  • The thinking forests - Alan Dean Foster (Midworld, 1979)
  • Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany (1975)
  • Doctor Ain - James Tiptree Jr.
  • A Door Into Ocean- Joan Slonczewski
  • The dragon riders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern, 1977 - 2012)
  • The three suns - Cixin Liu (三 體 / 三 体, 2008)
  • The marriages between zones three, four and five - Doris Lessing (T.he Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five, 1980)
  • A boy and his dog - Harlan Ellison (A Boy and His Dog, 1969)
  • Use of weapons - Iain M. Banks (Use of weapons, 1990)
  • Ender's game - Orson Scott Card (Ender's game, 1985)
  • It dies in me - Robert Silverberg (Dying inside, 1972)
  • evolution - Stephen Baxter (2003)
  • The eternal war - Joe Haldeman (The Forever War, 1974)
  • Expanse- Series - James A. Corey (2011-)
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (1953)
  • Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus - Mary Shelley (Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, 2018)
  • Foundation-Trilogy - Isaac Asimov (Foundation, 1951)
  • The wife of the time traveler - Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife, 2003)
  • Free spirits(Planet of the have-nots, The dispossessed) Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed, 1974)
  • Stranger in a strange world - Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land, 1961)
  • The futurological congress - Stanislaw Lem (Congress futurologiczny, 1971)
  • Gateway - Frederik Pohl (1977)
  • yellow - Jeff Noon (Vurt, 1993)
  • The hair carpet weavers - Andreas Eschbach (1995)
  • Hardboiled Wonderland and the end of the world - Haruke Murakami (Sekai No owari to Hādoboirudo Wandārando, 1985
  • Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
  • Birds used to sing here - Kate Wilhelm (Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, 1976)
  • Hell is the absence of God - Ted Chiang
  • Hyperion - Dan Simmons (1989)
  • I, the robot - Isaac Asimov (I robot, 1950)
  • The illustrated man - Ray Bradbury (The illustrated Man, 1951)
  • The island of Dr. Moreau - H. G. Wells (The Island of Dr. Moreau, 1869)
  • Children of time - Adrian Tchaikovsky (Children of Time, 2015)
  • War of the Clones - John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, 2005)
  • war of the Worlds - H. G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, 1898)
  • War with the pig - Karel Čapeks (Válka s mloky, 1936)
  • The long earth - Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett (The Long Earth, 2012)
  • The long road to a small, angry planet - Becky Chambers (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, 2015)
  • The last of mankind - Walter Tevis (Mockingbird, 1980)
  • The last day of creation - Wolfgang Jeschke
  • Love is the plan - James Tiptree Jr.
  • The left hand of darkness (The winter planet) - (The Left Hand Of Darkness, 1969)
  • Little brother - Cory Doctorow (2008)
  • The Mars Chronicles- Ray Bardbury (The Martian Chronicles, 1950)
  • The Martian - Andy Weir (The Martian - 2001)
  • The Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars) - Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars, 1992 - 1996)
  • The machines - Anne Leckie (Ancillary Justice, 2013)
  • Metro 2033 - Dmitri Glukhovsky (2007)
  • The moon is a dear lover (Revolt on Luna, Moon psurias) - Robert Heinlein (T.he Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, 1966)
  • Morning world - John Brunner (Stand on Zanzibar, 1968)
  • Aftermath-Trilogy (Star Wars) - Chuck Wendig (Aftermath 2015 - 2017)
  • Neuromancer - William Gibson (1984)
  • The oracle from the mountain- Philip K. Dick (The Man in The High Castle, 1962)
  • Otherland by Tad Williams
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1979)
  • Perdito Street Station(The moths/The Weaver) - China Miéville (2000)
  • Perry Rhodan - Clark Dalton
  • Picnic by the wayside - Arkadi and Boris Strugatzki (Picnik na obochinje, 1972)
  • The journey to the centre of the earth - Jules Verne (Voyage au center de la terre, 1864)
  • Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clark (Rendezvous with Rama, 1973)
  • The maid's report - Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985)
  • Ringworld - Larry Niven (Ringworld, 1970)
  • Beautiful new world - Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, 1932)
  • Slaughterhouse 5 or The Children's Crusade - Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, 1969)
  • Simulacron-3 - Daniel F. Galouye (1963)
  • Snow crash - Neal Stephenson (1992)
  • Solaris - Stanislaw Lem (1961)
  • Spin - Robert Charles Wilson - (2005)
  • The splinter in the eye of God - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (The Mote in God's Eye, 1974)
  • Starship Troopers(Star warrior) - Robert Heinlein (1959)
  • The Triffids - John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids, 1951)
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick (1969)
  • Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (Clockwork orange, 1962)
  • The immortality program - Richard Morgan (Altered carbon, 2002)
  • Utopia - Thomas More (De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia, 1516)
  • The forgotten world - Arthur Conan Doyle
  • What became of the people - Cordwainer Smith (2011, includes short stories from 1928 to 1966)
  • Who fears death - Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death, 2010)
  • We were beside ourselves with happiness - David Marusek
  • The word for world is forest - Ursula K. Le Guin (The Word For World Is Forest, 1972)
  • The desert planet by Frank Herbert (Dune, 1965)
  • The time machine - H. G. Wells (The Time Machine, 1895)
  • Broken earth - N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season. 2015)
  • 1984 - George Orwell (1949)
  • 2001 - Arthur C. Clark (1968)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, 1869)

A few final thoughts on the leaderboard and its purpose

"Another list of the best."

"Hasn't that happened often enough."

"How original."

Those were some (few!) Reactions from long-time science fiction fans to our call to search for the 100 best science fiction books. And it is also true that such lists have been in abundance in a wide variety of forms. But if you stop at some point and no longer find new lists, newer authors have no chance of getting on a list of the best.

Science fiction is not in a deep sleep, but flourishes and continues to develop. If you didn't create a new leaderboard or a new canon, you would only find the same old and long-dead authors on it (who of course are still worth reading).

Current developments and classics in science fiction literature

If such lists were not updated from time to time, readers interested in the genre, who would use them as an orientation aid for entering the genre, would always come across the same columnar saints of the genre, which are carved in stone and sometimes slightly dusty, due to age and antiquated narrative styles or images of society could be more of a deterrent to newbies.

Nevertheless: If you want to deal extensively with the genre of science fiction and get an overview, you cannot ignore the classics. But if you just want to read good SFs that deal with current developments and their possible consequences in the future, a list that only contains the old classics will not help.

The genre, which has always been culturally much more diverse and feminine than is commonly assumed, has become even stronger in the last two decades. It is constantly changing, crossing boundaries and tearing down ossified thought structures. Developments that a small part of the scene struggles with and prefer to stick with the sacred classics.

We hope to do justice to the developments in the genre without forgetting the tradition of science fiction. Because the authors stand on the shoulders of giants, even if they occasionally have to give them a little pat on the back of the head. One should not deny the roots of science fiction and its more and more branched growth that lasted for over a century. One can, however, also view their representatives critically and, in some cases, question them. In this respect, discussions, criticism and suggestions on our list are more than welcome.

And now for some statistics

At this point we would like to thank you once again for the numerous participation in the search for the 100 best science fiction books, and of course also to the jury, which selected 100 from 450 titles. These 450 titles were proposed by 219 participants in a total of 1099 nominations. The fact that there are a total of 450 titles from the 1099 is due to numerous multiple entries.

Unfortunately, of these 450 titles, only 75 are from women, which is also reflected in the ratio on the final list. There it is 20 out of 100 so exactly 20%. There is still room for improvement in the future.

Only 6 works are from German-speaking pens, one of them from the GDR. The following words are not used in English or German: China 1, Poland 2, Japan 1, Czechoslovakia 1, Russia 3 and France. Makes 17 non-English-language titles out of 100, which shows how dominant Anglo-American literature (especially in science fiction) is on the German-language book market and how strongly it has shaped the scene.

22 of the titles have appeared in the current millennium, i.e. a little over 20 percent. So the classics still enjoy a high reputation, especially with older fans (which was also clearly evident in the nominations). Which certainly reflects a certain conservatism of values ​​in the science fiction scene.

All participants in the survey were The desert planet most frequently nominated (44 times), followed by Hyperion (38) and Neuromancer (30). Those three books that are also at the top of most of such leaderboards, which our judges see similarly, since these titles were also nominated by all five. Then follows in fourth place The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with 21 nominations and 5 Free spirits at 18. Of the books that have appeared since 2000, only received The long road to a small, angry planet a two-digit nomination number, namely 17.

Although these numbers are not really representative, the survey was not about who gets the most votes from the start, which is why many participants decided not to nominate titles that had already been nominated by others.

Honorable mentions

The selection is of course open to debate, many of whom will sorely miss the authors they love, who have played a key role in shaping the genre. No Joanna Russ, no Brian W. Aldiss, no C. J Cherry. Greg Bear is missing, as is Greg Egan or Peter F. Hamilton or Alastair Reynolds. Paolo Bacigalupi just missed the list, as did Nancy Kress. Lois McMaster Bujold is not there, although she has been nominated for several novels from the Barrayar cycle and has also won numerous Hugo Awards. We have forgotten some American authors, people like James Blish, Poul Anderson, Mike Resnick. Briton James Graham Ballard didn't make it, and objectivist Ayn Rand couldn't garner enough sympathy. Even authors from the Pulp era who did not produce literary masterpieces but shaped the genre, such as E. E. "Doc" Smith or Edmond Hamilton, are not included. And I personally miss Michael Marrakech too Lord Gamma painfully on the list. Who do you think is missing? Discuss with us here in the comments or on our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

By the way: Until A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski (a title set by the jury) all books are published in German.

We hope you enjoy discovering, browsing, rediscovering and of course discussing this top list!