The best sci-fi books of 2024, and all time

We take a look at our favourite sci-fi books, including must-reads for 2024, and the best science fiction novels of all time.

From spectacular sequels and award-winning novels, to continuing adventures in science fiction's most popular universes, our list of sci-fi books includes some of the best new reads of 2024, the best of 2023 and our all-time picks. No matter what kind of science fiction fan you are – space opera, dystopian, or even classic sci-fi – our edit is packed full of must-reads

Service Model

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Meet CharlesTM, the latest in robot servant technology. Programmed to undertake the most menial household chores, Charles is loyal, efficient and logical. That is, until a fault causes him to murder his owner. Understandably perplexed, Charles finds himself without a master. Fleeing the household, he enters a world he never knew existed. Here an age-old human hierarchy is disintegrating into ruins, and an entire robot ecosystem devoted to its wellbeing is struggling to find a purpose. Charles is about to discover that sometimes all it takes is a nudge to overcome the limits of your programming. But can he help fix the world, or is it too badly broken?

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Stories of Your Life and Others

by Ted Chiang

A sci-fi classic in a brand-new edition. From a soaring Babylonian tower that connects a flat Earth to the firmament above, to a world where angelic visitations are a wondrous and terrifying part of everyday life; from a neural modification that eliminates the appeal of physical beauty, to an alien language that challenges our very perception of time and reality, Chiang’s unique imagination invites us to question our understanding of the universe and our place in it. Stories of Your Life and Others is Ted Chiang's masterful debut collection.

In the Lives of Puppets

by TJ Klune

In the Lives of Puppets is a queer retelling of the Pinocchio tale, from bestselling author TJ Klune. In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees live three robots – fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Vic Lawson, a human, lives there too. The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled ‘HAP’, he learns of a shared dark past between the robots – a past spent hunting humans. The family, once hidden and safe, are now exposed. 

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War Bodies

by Neal Asher

Rebellion could be their salvation – or their doom. War Bodies is a gripping, high-octane standalone set in Neal Asher's expansive Polity universe. In a world ruled by machines, the Cyberat face a rebellion when the human Polity arrives. Piper, raised as a weapon, seeks help from the Polity after his parents are captured by the oppressive regime. As war escalates, Piper must confront the enigmatic technology implanted in his own body. It could be the answer to their fight or the trigger for catastrophic consequences. The fate of civilization hangs in the balance as the battle unfolds.

Alien Clay

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

On the distant world of Kiln lie the ruins of an alien civilization. A great mystery awaits mankind: who were the builders and where are they now? These questions become brutally real for Professor Arton Daghdev, exiled from Earth to Kiln’s off-world labour camp due to his political activism. Facing the planet’s dangerous ecosystem and the camp's harsh regime, Arton fights for survival. Amidst these threats, Kiln holds a profound, fearsome secret, challenging the understanding of life and intelligence, and might be Arton's key to freedom.

Fractal Noise

by Christopher Paolini

On the planet Talos VII, twenty-three years before the events of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, an anomaly is detected: a vast circular pit, with dimensions so perfect that it could only have been the result of conscious design. So a small team is assembled to learn more – perhaps even who built the hole and why. Their mission will take them on a hazardous trek to the very edge of existence. For xenobiologist Alex Crichton this opportunity is a desperate attempt to find meaning in an uncaring universe. Fractal Noise is the thrilling prequel to To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini.

Starter Villain

by John Scalzi

John Scalzi brings us a turbo-charged tale of a family business with a difference, as Charlie discovers when he inherits it. It’s also way more dangerous than Charlie could ever have imagined, because his uncle had kept his supervillain status a secret. Divorced and emotionally dependent on his cat, Charlie wasn’t loving life. Now Charlie must decide if he should stay stuck in his rut, or step up to take on the business, the enemies, the minions, the hidden volcano lair. But there’s much more to being an Evil Mastermind than he suspected. Yet could this also, finally, be his chance to shine?

Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic

by Terry Jones

From the minds of Douglas Adams and Terry Jones comes Starship Titanic. This is the 2023 edition of the hilarious novelization of the third-best adventure game of 1999. Get ready for the launch of the Starship Titanic, the grandest and most advanced spaceship ever built. But as architect Leovinus inspects the ship, he discovers alarming flaws: shoddy craftsmanship, malfunctioning cybersystems, and clumsy robots. The next day, as the galaxy watches, the ship starts its journey but quickly succumbs to a catastrophic failure. In mere moments, the ambitious project meets its end, setting the stage for an intriguing tale to unfold.


by Blake Crouch

Upgrade is the mind-bending sci-fi thriller from Blake Crouch, author of Matter and Recursion. What if you were the next step in human evolution? If your concentration was better, if you could multitask quicker, read faster, memorize more? For Logan Ramsay, it’s happening. He knows that it’s not natural, that his genes have been hacked. He has been targeted for an upgrade, and with a terrifying plan in place to replicate his upgrade throughout the world’s population, he may be the only person capable of stopping what has already been set in motion.

Lords of Uncreation

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

After releasing Eyes of the Void earlier this year, Adrian Tchaikovsky brings us Lords of Uncreation, the final high-octane instalment in the Final Architecture space opera trilogy. Idris Telemmier has uncovered a secret that changes everything – the Architects’ greatest weakness. A shadowy Cartel scrambles to turn his discovery into a weapon against these alien destroyers of worlds. But between them and victory stands self-interest. The galaxy’s great powers would rather pursue their own agendas than stand together against this shared terror. If you are new to the series, discover all of Adrian Tchaikovsky's books in order below. 


by Hiron Ennes

A masterpiece of gothic sci-fi, Leech is unlike anything you've read before. In an isolated chateau, the baron's doctor has committed suicide, and the Interprovincial Medical Institute sends out a replacement. But the new physician soon discovers that his predecessor was hosting a parasite, which should have been impossible, as the physician was already possessed – by the Institute. For hundreds of years, the Institute has taken root in young minds and shaped them into doctors to protect humanity from the horrors their ancestors unleashed, but now there’s competition: a parasite is spreading.

Not Alone

by Sarah K Jackson

In the aftermath of a devastating microplastics storm that decimated humanity, Not Alone follows the journey of Katie and her son in a tale that intertwines heart-stopping adventure with the profound bond between a mother and child. Trapped within the confines of their apartment, they navigate a world where survival hinges on scavenging for sustenance. Katie, braves the dangers outside while Harry remains sheltered, oblivious to the truth of their existence. This remarkable debut delves into themes of love, trust, and hope while unmasking the imminent peril that looms over humanity as a whole.

The Kaiju Preservation Society

by John Scalzi

In New York, Jamie is a driver for food delivery apps, looking for any opportunity to escape his daily schedule. Then, after making a delivery to old acquaintance Tom, he gets the chance to escape more than just his delivery gig. Tom works for an animal rights organisation – but not any that you've heard of. Known as the 'Kaiju Preservation Society', Jamie unwittingly signs on with Tom to venture to the Earth of an alternate dimension, where massive dinosaur-like creatures called 'Kaiju' roam a human-free world. But they’re in trouble – the Society are not the only ones who have found their way to the Kaiju world. . .

Sea of Tranquillity

by Emily St. John Mandel

It's 1912, and eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew is on a journey across the Atlantic, having been exiled from society in England. Arriving in British Columbia, he enters a forest, mesmerised by the Canadian wilderness. All is silent, before the notes of a violin reverberate through the air. Two centuries later, and acclaimed author Olive Llewelyn is travelling over the earth, on a break from her home in the second moon colony. At the heart of her bestselling novel, a man plays a violin for spare change in the corridor of an airship terminal, as a forest rises around him. This compelling novel immerses the reader in parallel worlds, and multiple possibilities.

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by Neal Asher

Ursula has lived twice the normal human lifespan, courtesy of the latest technology. But now she’s struggling to find excitement and purpose, so signs up to the Polity’s military. But after botching a powerful new ammunition test, she’s dismissed from service. Hunting for a simpler, more meaningful existence, she heads for the stars. And after founding a colony on the hostile planet of Threpsis, Ursula finally feels alive. Then deadly raptors attack and the colonists are forced to adapt in unprecedented ways. The raptors also raise a deeply troubling question: how could the Polity miss these apex predators? And alien ruins? 

Exodus: The Archimedes Engine

by Peter F. Hamilton

Forty-thousand years ago, humanity fled a dying Earth and found a far cluster of stars with thousands of potentially habitable planets. In the years since, the Centauri Cluster has flourished. The original settlers evolved into advanced beings known as Celestials, and any remaining humans must fight for survival against overwhelming odds. Enter Finn. When another ark ship from Earth, previously thought lost, unexpectedly arrives, he sees his chance to embrace a greater destiny and become a Traveler – brave heroes dedicated to ensuring humanity’s future by journeying into the vast unknown of distant space.

Peter F. Hamilton's far-future novel is set in the same universe as new online RP game Exodus on which the author is a creative consultant.

Children of Memory

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Spanning generations, species and galaxies, best-selling author Adrian Tchaikovsky gives us the unmissable follow-up to Children of Time and Children of Ruin. Years after arkships were sent to establish new outposts following the failure of Earth, a fragile colony has managed to survive on Imir. But, existence here is a far cry from the paradise the initial mission intended. When strangers appear, society on Imir begins to fracture as neighbour turns against neighbour. But, perhaps some other intelligence is also at work, toying with colonists and space-fearing scientists alike . . .


by Ted Chiang

Named in Barack Obama's 2019 summer reading list, this groundbreaking collection of science fiction short stories is the second from acclaimed author Ted Chiang. In these nine stunningly original and poignant stories, we encounter a portal through time in ancient Baghdad, a scientist who makes a shocking discovery that will affect all of humanity and a woman who cares for an AI ‘pet’ for over twenty years. Addressing, among others, essential questions around the nature of the universe and what it means to be human, this is science fiction writing at its most thoughtful.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began life as a Radio 4 show in 1978 and has since spawned adaptations across almost every format, making it a staple on every respectable list of the best sci-fi books. Following the galactic adventures of Arthur Dent after his house's untimely demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route, this new edition of 'The Guide' features exclusive bonus archive material and a new introduction from Russell T. Davies. This classic science fiction novel is a must-read for fans of the genre. 

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Classic Science Fiction Stories

by Adam Roberts

Bringing you aliens from outer space, intriguing inventions, zany future tech and whole imaginative worlds to explore, this collection of short stories is a treasure. From the 1750s to the start of the twentieth century, it includes work by star authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft, as well as giving a voice to less acclaimed but equally brilliant writers including Florence McLandburgh and Ambrose Bierce. Macmillan Collector’s Library titles come cloth-bound, with gold foil edges and handy ribbon markers.

Invisible Sun

by Charles Stross

In this chillingly resonant dystopian adventure, two versions of America are locked in conflict. The New American Commonwealth is caught in a deadly arms race with the USA, its parallel-world rival. And the USA’s technology is decades ahead. Yet the Commonweath might self-combust first – for its leader has just died, leaving a crippling power vacuum. Minister Miriam Burgeson must face allegations of treason without his support, in a power grab by her oldest adversary. Invisible Sun is the final installment in Charles Stross’s Empire Games trilogy.

Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

On a snowy night in Toronto, renowned actor Arthur Leander dies on stage, coinciding with the arrival of a devastating virus in North America. Two decades later, Kirsten, a member of the Travelling Symphony, brings Shakespeare's words to life in the settlements that have emerged post-collapse. However, her newfound hope is jeopardized, prompting a critical question: in a world devoid of civilization, what is worth safeguarding? And to what lengths would one go to ensure its preservation? A dreamily atmospheric novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven is a must-read. 

Pandora's Star

by Peter F. Hamilton

Earth 2329: Humanity has spread across the galaxy, colonising hundreds of planets linked by wormholes. Finally, there is peace. But when stars thousands of light years away start to vanish, ex-NASA astronaut Wilson Kime is sent to discover the cause. Travelling in his faster-than-light spaceship, Kime arrives to find the stars imprisoned in an immense force field. Entire star systems are sealed off. But who could possess this technology? And were they trying to keep us out, or keep something else in? Pandora's Star is the first part of Peter F. Hamilton's epic Commonwealth Saga duology. 

A Desolation Called Peace

by Arkady Martine

This spectacular sequel to Arkady Martine’s Hugo Award-winning debut sci-fi book sees the Teixcalaanli Empire facing an alien threat which could bring about its complete destruction. Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is all that stands between the empire and all-out war, so in desperation, he sends an envoy to negotiate with the mysterious invaders. Whether they succeed or fail could change the face of Teixcalaan forever. Arkady Martine’s Teixcalaan duology is a must-read for fans of epic space opera. 

The City & The City

by China Miéville

A mind-bending tale of two cities that exist alongside each other in the same time and space, this award-winning book is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights. When the body of a woman is found in the decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined. China Miéville combines crime fiction with sci-fi in this strange and gripping tale of murder and conspiracy.

Zone One

by Colson Whitehead

Book cover for Zone One

 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead was inspired to write this apocalyptic sci-fi novel because of his teenage fascination with the work of Stephen King and Issac Asimov. A plague has ravaged the planet, and the population is divided into the living and the living dead. Mark Spitz is working on a task force to clear the infested from ‘Zone One’, but things quickly go from bad to worse . . . 


by Blake Crouch

This high concept sci-fi thriller asks the question: what if someone could rewrite your entire life? When Detective Barry Sutton is called to help a woman threatening to jump from a building, he’s unaware of the series of events the incident will trigger. Unable to stop the woman taking her own life, the last words she says to him are ‘My son has been erased.’ As Barry begins to investigate her case, he finds she’s not the only one making such claims. All over the country, people are waking up to different lives, an epidemic the media have dubbed ‘False Memory Syndrome’. But what if the cause is more sinister than a disease?

A Memory Called Empire

by Arkady Martine

Arkady Martine's debut sci-fi book is an immersive political space opera for fans of Ann Leckie and Iain M. Banks. A Memory Called Empire introduces the idea of a technology by which a select few can carry their predecessors in their minds and take advantage of their wisdom and memories. Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next. This is the first book in the Texicalaan duology

War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells

The inspiration for countless science fiction stories and novels, H. G. Wells’s sci-fi classic is a must for any science fiction fan’s bookshelf. Written in semi-documentary style, the 1938 radio adaptation famously caused panic when listeners believed the fictional new bulletins were real, and this novel about a terrifying alien invasion still grips readers to this day. 

The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells was among the first to express a plausible scientific method of time travel, and he also coined the term ‘time machine’ in this science fiction novella. The book has been adapted into three different films, and still influences science fiction writers today. The Time Machine is a pioneering classic that is considered by many to be the most influential sci-fi book of all time.

Shards of Earth

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shoot into outer space with Adrian Tchaikovsky's high-octane, far-future space opera series. Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete. Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? Shards of Earth is the first epic story in the Final Architecture trilogy. 


by Nnedi Okorafor

Book cover for Binti

Binti is the first person in her family to be accepted at the prestigious Oomza University, but to take up the place will mean leaving all she knows for a new life travelling among the stars. And there are dangers in this new life, for the university has long warred with a nightmare alien race called the Meduse . . . This Hugo Award-winning novella is the first in Nnedi Okorafor’s science fiction series. 


by Frank Herbert

Book cover for Dune

Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic is one of the bestselling sci-fi books of all time and was adapted into the film of the same name directed by David Lynch. Set 20,000 years in the future, the universe depends on the supply of Melange, a rare element, which can be used for everything from extending life-spans to interstellar travel. This precious element is found on only a single planet, Arrakis. And whoever controls Arrakis controls the universe . . . 


by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley's story of a man who creates a monster he cannot control was a precursor of modern science fiction and a must-read for any sci-fi fans wanting to understand the history of the genre. Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant but wayward scientist, builds a human from dead flesh. Horrified at what he has done, he abandons his creation. The hideous creature learns language and becomes civilized but society rejects him. Spurned, he seeks vengeance on his creator. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four

by George Orwell

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most famous and influential novels of the 20th century. The year is 1984. The country is impoverished and permanently at war, people are watched day and night by Big Brother and their every action and thought is controlled by the Thought Police. Winston Smith works in the department of propaganda, where his job is to rewrite the past. Spurred by his longing to escape, Winston rebels. This terrifying dystopia, which he created in a time of great social and political unrest, remains acutely relevant and influential to this day.

Lovecraft Country

by Matt Ruff

An imaginative blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two Black families, Matt Ruff's sci-fi horror is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism – the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. Set in Chicago, 1954 – Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip, along with his uncle and childhood friend, in search of his missing father. But soon they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales Uncle George devours. 

The Black Locomotive

by Rian Hughes

Prepare for a riveting tale that explores the delicate balance between progress and the timeless wisdom of bygone eras. Within the robust framework of London's concrete and steel, the city thrives on innovation and progress. However, as the clandestine Crossrail extension beneath Buckingham Palace is constructed, an enigmatic anomaly emerges, presenting an archaeological enigma that has the potential to reshape our perception of history and the very genesis of London. Should our contemporary society crumble, we may find ourselves compelled to embrace the ancient technologies of the past to safeguard our future.


by Octavia E. Butler

Book cover for Kindred

The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred is a cornerstone of American literature. Dana's 26th birthday takes a surreal turn when dizziness overcomes her during a move into a new apartment.  In an instant, she is transported to a verdant wood by a sprawling river, where a distressed child's cries pierce the air. Acting instinctively, she rescues him, only to face the alarming sight of an aged rifle in the hands of the boy's father.  The next thing she knows she's back in her apartment, soaking wet. It's the most terrifying experience of her life . . .  until it happens again.

2001: A Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke

Book cover for 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey takes readers from the ancient savannas of Africa to the outer reaches of our solar system. It is an allegory of humanity's quest for knowledge in the vast universe, and the universe's mysterious response. Follow the crew of the Discovery spacecraft as they venture towards Saturn, their mission overseen by the formidable HAL 9000, an advanced AI that challenges the boundaries of human intellect. Exploring themes of space exploration, technological risks, and the bounds of human potential, this marvel remains an enduring classic of monumental proportions.

Consider Phlebas

by Iain M. Banks

Book cover for Consider Phlebas

First published in 1987, Consider Phlebas is the first book in Iain M. Banks's The Culture series, a classic space opera about an interstellar post-scarcity society. The Idirans fought for their Faith, while the Culture defended its moral existence. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.


by Isaac Asimov

Book cover for Foundation

In the first novel in Isaac Asimov's classic science-fiction masterpiece, we travel to a sprawling galaxy on the brink of collapse. But a brilliant mathematician named Hari Seldon predicts the impending downfall. To safeguard civilization's future, Seldon establishes the Foundation, a covert organization tasked with preserving knowledge and shaping the course of history. As empires rise and fall, political intrigue intertwines with scientific brilliance, offering a captivating blend of epic scope, intricate plotting, and profound exploration of humanity's destiny.

Leviathan Wakes

by James S. A. Corey

Book cover for Leviathan Wakes

Set in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system, tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt threaten to ignite a catastrophic war. Amidst this turmoil, a missing person's case leads a hardened detective and a disillusioned ship captain to uncover a conspiracy that could plunge the entire system into chaos. James S.A. Corey weaves a masterful tale, blending exhilarating action, intricate world-building, and complex characters. With its seamless blend of mystery, political intrigue, and interstellar adventure, Leviathan Wakes is the first book in The Expanse series, now also a major TV series. 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by Philip K. Dick

Book cover for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, where the line between humans and androids blurs, Do Andorids Dream of Electric Sheep? follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter tasked with tracking down rogue androids hiding among society. As Deckard's pursuit intensifies, moral dilemmas arise, blurring the boundaries of empathy and identity. Dick's mesmerizing prose transports you to a world filled with existential questions, intricate plot twists, and profound reflections on what it means to be human. This masterpiece served as the basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner and is a dystopian sci-fi must-read. 

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Book cover for Brave New World

Largely set in a futuristic World State, inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, Brave New World anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist. With its seamless fusion of science fiction, social critique, and philosophical depth, the book challenges societal norms, sparks introspection, and reveals the delicate balance between freedom and conformity. 

The Martian

by Andy Weir

Book cover for The Martian

A survival story for the 21st century and the international bestseller behind the major film by Ridley Scott. Stranded alone on Mars after a mission gone awry, astronaut Mark Watney must summon every ounce of his resourcefulness and resilience to survive. With limited supplies, daunting challenges, and a tenacious spirit, Watney uses his scientific expertise to defy the odds and find a way back home. Weir's masterful storytelling, filled with equal parts wit and tension, immerses you in the harsh beauty of Mars while showcasing the indomitable human spirit. 


by Terry Miles

Rabbits is an electrifying, compulsive read based on the hit podcast from the Public Radio Alliance – perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Black Mirror. Rabbits is a secret, dangerous and sometimes fatal underground game. The rewards for winning are unclear, but there are rumours of money, CIA recruitment or even immortality. Or it might unlock the universe’s greatest secrets. But everyone knows that the deeper you get, the more deadly the game becomes – and the body count is rising. The eleventh round is about to begin, and what happens in the game, stays in the game . . . 

Jack Four

by Neal Asher

Set in the same world as Neal Asher's acclaimed Polity universe, Jack Four is a thrilling, fast-paced standalone novel packed with action. Jack Four – one of twenty human clones – has been created to be sold. His purchasers are the alien prador and they only want him for their experimentation program. But there is something different about Jack. No clone should possess the knowledge that’s been loaded into his mind. And no normal citizen of humanity’s Polity worlds would have this information. . .