Nothing quite excites the imagination like pondering on the future.
What would life be like thousands of years down the line, once humans have taken to the stars? What kinds of experiences would we have? What kinds of technology would we now be using?
Science fiction is great for exploring these questions.
And not only is science fiction great for exploring ideas surrounding the future, but it is also a great avenue for exploring other realities, such as post-apocalypses, zombie takeovers, and alien invasions.
The only problem is because the sci-fi genre is such a long-time staple in fiction, it can be difficult to get the best experience with it.
That’s why we are here today to show you 25 of the very best science fiction book series that you simply need to read through.
Each of these books represents the genre at its very best and offers a very different experience within the genre, so you can truly become a master of all things sci-fi and understand what it is that makes the genre so enduring.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
To kick off this list, let’s start with one of the best twists on the sci-fi genre, the six-part trilogy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
This series, written by the late-great Douglas Adams is celebrated as not only one of the greatest science fiction series ever, but also one of the very best series of comedy novels ever released.
The story follows Arthur Dent, an ordinary man dragged into an interplanetary adventure when the Earth is suddenly demolished to make way for an interplanetary highway.
The adventures that Arthur Dent, the titular Hitchhiker, experiences are simultaneously mind-blowing, and display all of the wonders of sci-fi, but also incredibly hilarious.
What will Arthur Dent do when he finds himself at the end of the universe, and the hunger pangs begin to kick in? And what will he do when he discovers the terrible secrets behind Earth’s original existence?
You’ll have to read this series yourself to find out!
- Incredibly humorous.
- Despite its comedy, it remains a very believable sci-fi tale.
- A great introduction to the genre.
- Unfortunately, the series never officially concluded, as Douglas Adams died just short of finishing the fifth book.
A book series previously considered to be unadaptable to film for its sheer creativity, Dune is easily one of the most prolific science-fiction book series of all time.
The series follows the hero Paul Atreides, a young man who faces an immense destiny as he is charged with leading his people into the future on the harsh planet he calls home.
This series is acclaimed because of its immense world-building, with a political intrigue that makes everything feel so immediately believable.
This series may be full of in-world jargon that can be tough to wrap your mind around, to begin with, but stick with it because it’s so worth it!
- One of the most recognizable science fiction series of all time.
- Full of detail.
- The world of the series is so detailed that it can sometimes be difficult to understand.
His Dark Materials
The His Dark Materials series recently received a highly acclaimed and high-budgeted HBO adaptation that did more justice to the source material than anything that came before it.
However, nothing quite beats reading through the original Philip Pullman works!
This series of books really play around with concepts of time and space as our hero Lyra fights to stop her uncle Asriel from building a portal to another world.
This series is full of suspense, and has one of the best-built worlds in fiction!
- Incredibly well-written.
- If you enjoy the books, don’t forget to try out the TV series.
- Very long.
The Space Odyssey Series
Most people recognize the name 2001: A Space Odyssey thanks to its association with the fantastic 1969 Stanley Kubrick masterpiece film of the same name.
However, written simultaneously with the film, the 2001: A Space Odyssey novel explores the same concepts in more depth, and its subsequent novels reach further into the distant future.
If you have ever enjoyed the 2001 film, then you simply need to read this series of books that not only explores the deepest cosmos but also our relationship with the technology that helps us to explore them!
- Enriches the story of the classic film.
- Explores further than the film.
- Some have described the book as being rather dry.
The Wheel Of Time
If you’re ready to dedicate your focus to a slightly longer series of books, then you will definitely want to check out the Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan, which recently received a high-budget Amazon Prime adaptation.
This series is prized as one of the greatest in the genre thanks to its immense commitment to detail and fidelity within its fictional world.
Every aspect of its world is rendered with such care that it is difficult to not be drawn in.
It may take some work to get started with the series, but reading through each of the series entries is a joy in itself!
- A rich and realized world.
- Has a high-budget TV adaptation.
- The sheer length may prove too daunting for some.
Isaac Asimov is considered to be one of the most significant authors in the entirety of the science fiction genre, and when you read the Foundation series you will find that it’s not hard to tell why.
The Foundation series focuses on an empire that is seeing its end days, and how its people set about starting up a new one.
The story is incredibly gripping and full of political intrigue against the backdrop of an expansive sci-fi world.
- Expansive worldbuilding.
- Realistic stakes.
- Occasionally the plot can feel meandering.
If you want a mystery and intrigue story that is set against the backdrop of space exploration and speculative futures, then you will love The Expanse, which sees a vast interplanetary conspiracy unraveling at the seams as humanity fights to survive in the new frontier of space.
We loved the central characters of this series, and how they took archetypes, like the detective, and put a modern and sci-fi spin on them! I
t helped to keep the series enjoyable from the first book to the last!
- Features incredible characters.
- The inspiration for a successful television series.
- Some of the books in the series are light on action.
The Murderbot Diaries
Some of the best science fiction of all time explores concepts of consciousness within robotics and artificial intelligence, to explore real human anxieties about forced obsolescence as a result of automation.
However, some of the very best take a look at human consciousness, and what it takes to be truly human.
In exploring this, The Murderbot Diaries follows a murderous android who has grown to despise humans and wishes to better understand itself.
It’s very intriguing reading through the thoughts of this android, as he grapples with what it truly means to be alive and to have thoughts and feelings. It’s truly immense and life-changing.
- Explores deep concepts.
- Extremely well written.
- The subject matter may be too dark for some people.
If you want another great sci-fi dealing with concepts of time, space, and fate, then give some time to Revelation Space.
This immense book series of three books will truly bend your mind and awaken you to the possibilities within the genre that has yet to be touched on.
- One of the shorter series on this list, making it easy to digest.
- Highly regarded.
- Some readers were disappointed by the series’ ending.
This list is largely populated by sci-fi classics from decades past, but this does not mean to suggest that there is not plenty of fantastic sci-fi being published to this very day.
Wayfarers is one of the most acclaimed modern sci-fi series packed full of action, intrigue, and philosophical questions.
The books explore concepts such as family and what it means to belong somewhere in such a vast and often uncaring universe.
We loved this series for its out-of-this-world setting but also its ability to explore down-to-earth themes and ideas.
- One of the more digestible series on this list.
- Easy to wrap the mind around.
- More hardcore sci-fi fans may find this series a little too simplistic.
The Final Architecture
Idris, the lead character of the Final Architecture series is a genetically modified super soldier designed to help save the human species to survive in the harsh and immense universe that surrounds them.
However, when soldiers of Idris’ kind suddenly find themselves becoming obsolete, he must contend with his existence and find out what new purpose he could possibly have.
This is a very challenging novel that will influence you to consider a massive number of things about human existence. It’s fascinating.
- Author Adrian Tchaikovsky won the Arthur C. Clarke award for his work.
- Explores very deep subjects.
- Portions of the series are very slow.
Children Of Time
If you want to better understand the immense work of modern sci-fi master Adrian Tchaikovsky, then we strongly recommend giving the Children Of Time series of three books a read as soon as you can!
These immense books saw Adrian Tchaikovsky winning the highly coveted Arthur C. Clarke award, which made him a superstar within the genre.
The story follows a select group of humans charged with finding a new home planet for humanity.
As the group arrives at their new Eden, they soon find themselves embroiled in a conflict over who is the rightful heir of the planet, setting off a saga of intrigue and political turmoil!
- Adrian Tchaikovsky’s most celebrated fictional work.
- Easy and gripping to read.
- Some of the characters are a little thin on personality.
The Ender Sextet
Orson Scott Card’s saga about child soldiers genetically engineered to fight and die in a brutal interplanetary war has become one of the most cherished sci-fi works of recent years thanks to its willingness to explore some often harrowing topics.
The concept of child soldiers is already horrifying enough, but the idea of those same soldiers being bred purely for warfare brings up a whole new moral quandary that this series devotes its time to exploring.
- Very action-packed.
- Tackles some interesting moral issues.
- Some readers have noted some volumes are a little slower paced.
Sci-fi stories about war are nothing new, and this can make it difficult to find books that deal with the concept exceptionally well.
This series from Iain M. Banks has arguably one of the most intriguing and well-realized conflicts in all of sci-fi.
Check out this series if you are looking for your next obsession.
- An interesting twist on interplanetary conflict.
- Beautifully written.
- Requires significant time investment.
This space opera series is something of a cult classic within the science fiction community because it features a truly interesting story that can easily draw readers in.
The central character, Honor Harrington must navigate the social and political horrors that come with exploring deep space and expanding the human race.
The series is thus able to touch on some great humor and social commentary while also being a sci-fi epic for the ages.
- Features gripping and three-dimensional characters.
- Humorous and engaging.
- One of the lengthiest series on this list.
Old Man’s War
This is a series that is treasured as a perfect entry point for new sci-fi readers and those well-versed in the genre.
The war for new human colonies depicted here is bloody and brutal but never difficult to follow.
The series’ clarity is easily one of its strongest suits!
- Perfect for beginners.
- Well realized.
- Potentially a daunting length.
If you want to further understand why Arthur C. Clarke is such a revered name then try out this story about a spaceship filled with evidence of advanced civilizations on a collision course with the sun!
- Features Arthur C. Clarke’s masterful writing.
- One of the best-selling series on this list.
- Some readers noted the fourth book losing a bit of steam.
What do you do when you discover a weirdly-shaped world with a sun at its center? You send a crack team of a human and a cat-like alien to investigate its many secrets.
But what will be discovered over the course of the journey to understand the titular ‘Ringworld’? Make sure to read this series to find out for yourself!
- A riveting adventure.
- Features well-developed central characters you’ll love.
- The midpoint of the series can drag.
This trilogy of novels explores the ‘Second Empire of Man’, as the Empire expands to the furthest reaches of space. But what happens when this long-held Empire faces its biggest threat yet?
This series explores what it would be like if humanity really did expand into the farthest reaches of space, and its political commentary could easily be applied to the real world.
- Incredibly engrossing.
- Very current despite its futuristic setting.
- The final novel changes authors, which may be a drawback for some.
The Takeshi Kovacs Series
This series of books actually gave way to the development of the popular Altered Carbon Netflix series.
The books follow Takeshi Kovacs, an agent who had actually previously died, and now is housed in a new body one hundred and eighty light years into the future.
It’s a truly remarkable story that discusses the concept of human existence and what it actually means to be a human being.
- The Netflix series, as well as the novels, have received significant acclaim.
- Beautiful prose.
- Understanding the reading order can be annoying.
The 3 books in the New Sun series are amongst some of the best sci-fi stories we have ever had the joy of partaking in, and we have no doubt that you will enjoy these novels just as much as we did.
The novels are often compared to the works of Tolkien. To understand why you’ll have to read this sci-fi masterwork for yourself.
- Tolkien-quality writing.
- Immense world-building.
- Some readers have suggested that three novels are not enough to explore everything the series touches upon.
Zones Of Thought
This is a sci-fi series that not only explores the endless bounds of space, but also the endless spiritual bounds of the mind.
The story explores a universe that has been divided into distinct regions of thought, and how it is navigated. It’s truly fascinating, and will have your own mind feeling incredibly twisted!
- Explores the psychology of space travel.
- Features deep themes.
- Perhaps a little obtuse for newer sci-fi readers.
The Uplift Saga
The ‘Uplift’ is a secret and mysterious force that guides species to want to look to the stars above, to see what lies across those vast distances. But only one species has ever achieved anything without the ‘uplift’. Humans.
This series explores the human question of the meaning of life and plumbs some surprising depths!
- Very introspective and deep.
- Very innovative.
- A very long series.
The Heechee Saga
With a series title like that, you should definitely expect a wild and fun time full of surprises, and it definitely does not lack in those departments.
The story focuses on an expedition to find a spaceship that may have the key to ending world hunger, but what they find on the ship instead is totally surprising and mindblowing.
Make sure to try this series for yourself to find out what it is!
- The central hook of the series is engaging.
- Superbly paced.
- The series is perhaps a little bit short.
The Gap Cycle
This series came hot off of the heels of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, an acclaimed series by Stephen R. Donaldson.
However, we believe that The Gap Cycle is deserving of this final spot thanks to how immense it is, and how well it tells its story.
The story is very classically styled, and explores things such as good and evil, amongst an exciting interplanetary backdrop!
- Written by an acclaimed author.
- Engaging from end to end.
- Some readers believe that 5 volumes is too long.
Now that you’ve seen some of the best that sci-fi has to offer, you’re likely feeling a bit daunted by choice. Well, join us below to find out how to pick the perfect sci-fi series for you!
Choose A Series Of The Perfect Length
Most of the series we have explored over the course of this list have very varying lengths, and this is something you are going to want to consider when picking the perfect series for you to read!
If you are someone that has trouble finding time to read, you may not be able to dedicate yourself to a 14-volume epic. In that case, you should instead opt for something closer to 3 volumes in length!
Choose A Book You Will Understand
Science fiction is a genre that seeks to immerse you in totally new worlds, and to this end, such books may often be packed to the brim with specialized jargon.
Such books are often considered to be best for veteran sci-fi readers.
If you are new to the genre, try to choose a series that is filled with less jargon and that is not strictly hard-sci-fi.
Choose The Right Topic
Sci-fi is a genre that touches on a massive number of topics and ideas, and as such, you can easily cater your experience of it by focusing on what interests you.
For instance, if you just have no interest in spaceships and spaceflight, then you may want to avoid series that touch on this!
Choose The Right Authors
Let’s say you read one of Arthur C. Clarke’s many acclaimed sci-fi series and you totally adored it.
The best next step would be to have a look at some of the author’s other works as you would most likely adore them!
Read Books Recommended By Friends
If you have a friend or a loved one that you greatly value the opinion of, then you would be able to get a lot of value out of asking them for some of their own favorite science fiction series.
This is one of the best ways to find a perfect series for you to read because the friend or family member will have a great understanding of who you are and what your tastes are, so they will be able to cater their recommendations accordingly.
Look For Critics Reviews
If you don’t have anyone within your immediate circle of friends that you could call upon for a series recommendation, then you could always rely on the guidance of trusted critics and reviewers within the world of fiction or even critics that specialize in science-fiction.
This can be a great way to discover some very underrated gems because of the fact that critics are employed to read countless different series to give their opinions on!
Ask Around Your Local Bookstore
Staff at your favorite bookstore may be more than happy to make some recommendations so you can find the perfect book for your tastes.
Make sure to depend on the expert opinions of those working there! You never know, you just might find something totally special and often overlooked and end up with a new favorite!
To Wrap Up
Though sci-fi is a genre with many masterworks, these are easily some of the best series of novels you could possibly read within the genre!
Why not try one of the entries for yourself? No doubt somewhere on this list is the perfect next obsession for you, and our handy buyer’s guide will help you to find the perfect series for your tastes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Most Sold Sci-fi Book?
Easily the highest-selling science fiction book of all time is the beloved Dune. This book has sold over 20 million copies, just ahead of the 4-million copies record set by 1984 by George Orwell.
What Is The Most Read Fiction Book?
Easily the biggest-selling and most widely-read book series in all of human history is Harry Potter, which has sold a collective 500 million copies, a truly impressive number that has yet to even be challenged.
The first book of the series, alone, has sold 120 million copies.
Is Harry Potter Science Fiction?
Many people often find themselves wondering if the Harry Potter series of books would fit into the label of a science fiction franchise.
Harry Potter would not be considered science fiction, and instead would be considered a fantasy series.
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