The 35 best sci-fi books of 2023, and all-time

We take a look at the most exciting new sci-fi books of 2023, look back to 2022 and choose 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 2023, as well as the best of 2022 and all-time. No matter what kind of science fiction fan you are – space opera, dystopian, or even a classic sci-fi book fan – our edit is packed full of science fiction must-reads

Fractal Noise

by Christopher Paolini

Book cover for Fractal Noise

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.

The Kaiju Preservation Society

by John Scalzi

Book cover for The Kaiju Preservation Society

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. . .


by Neal Asher

Book cover for Weaponized

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? 

Lords of Uncreation

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book cover for Lords of Uncreation

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. 

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Sea of Tranquillity

by Emily St. John Mandel

Book cover for Sea of Tranquillity

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.

In the Lives of Puppets

by TJ Klune

Book cover for In the Lives of Puppets

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. 

Children of Memory

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book cover for Children of Memory

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 Blake Crouch

Book cover for Upgrade

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.

A Desolation Called Peace

by Arkady Martine

Book cover for A Desolation Called Peace

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. 

Classic Science Fiction Stories

by Adam Roberts

Book cover for Classic Science Fiction Stories

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

Book cover for 
Invisible Sun

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.

Jack Four

by Neal Asher

Book cover for Jack Four

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. . .


by Hiron Ennes

Book cover for Leech

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.


by Terry Miles

Book cover for Rabbits

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 . . . 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

Book cover for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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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The Invisible Man

by H. G. Wells

Book cover for The Invisible Man

An absolute classic of early science fiction, H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man blends high tension with sharp wit and fear. A stranger arrives at a rustic Sussex inn on a chill wintery night, his face wrapped in bandages and his body enveloped in a heavy coat. Locked away in his room, the man mixes chemicals in elaborate glass bottles. His secret? The man is invisible, a scientist desperately trying to find a cure for his unhappy, perilous fate. 


by Ted Chiang

Book cover for Exhalation

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.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

by Christopher Paolini

Book cover for To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is the masterful epic science fiction novel from New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author, Christopher Paolini. The novel follows xenobiologist Kira Navárez as she discovers an alien relic that thrusts her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact. Epic space battles for the fate of humanity ensue, taking her to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and, in the process, transform not only her – but the entire course of history.

Lovecraft Country

by Matt Ruff

Book cover for Lovecraft Country

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. 

Remote Control

by Nnedi Okorafor

Book cover for Remote Control

From Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Nnedi Okorafor comes Remote Control. An alien artefact turns Fatima into the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death, and from that day on she would be known not as Fatima, but as Sankofa­­. Her touch is deadly and entire town can fall with a single glance, but is there a greater purpose for Sankofa as she searches for the object that fell from the sky and changed her life forever?

The Time Machine

by H. G. Wells

Book cover for The Time Machine

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.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

by Douglas Adams

Book cover for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk is a self-styled private investigator at the Holistic Detective Agency, whose mission is to prove the essential connectedness of everything – linking a computer whizz kid with a dead cat, an Electric Monk, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and lots and lots of pizza. He also plans to save the human race – at no extra cost. This classic novel by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has given birth to endless radio, television, theatre and comic book adaptations. 


by Blake Crouch

Book cover for Recursion

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

Book cover for A Memory Called Empire

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


by Peter F. Hamilton

Book cover for Salvation

The first book in bestselling science fiction author Peter F. Hamilton’s series the Salvation Sequence boasts genetically engineered soldiers, alien shipwrecks and voyages across the galaxy – what more could a space opera fan want? It’s AD 2204, and a mysterious shipwreck appears on a planet at the edge of the galaxy. Its cargo is troubling, so a team led by Security Director Feriton Kayne is sent to investigate. But what they discover raises bewildering questions – and could predict humanity’s demise.

War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells

Book cover for War of the Worlds

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. 

Deep Wheel Orcadia

by Harry Josephine Giles

Book cover for Deep Wheel Orcadia

Deep Wheel Orcadia is a remote and failing space station that is struggling for survival as the pace of change threatens to leave the community behind. It is here that Astrid and Darling first meet – Astrid on her way home from art school on Mars and searching for inspiration, and Darling, fleeing a life that never fit, searching for somewhere to hide. The strikingly unusual sci-fi setting is mirrored in the unique form of this verse novel, which is written in the dialect of the Orkney islands, with a parallel English translation. Magical and compellingly readable, Deep Wheel Orcadia is an outstanding literary creation by Orcadian poet and performer Harry Josephine Giles.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

by Jules Verne

Book cover for Journey to the Centre of the Earth

When the chance discovery of an ancient cryptogram reveals a path to the Underworld, the adventurous Professor Otto Lidenbrock sets off to Iceland, determined to reach the centre of the earth. But nothing can prepare him and his nephew Axel for what they will find beneath the ground; measureless caverns and vast subterranean seas reveal all of the earth's known history and more, while dinosaurs do battle, giant men herd mastodons, and danger and excitement wait around every corner.

Parable of the Sower

by Octavia E. Butler

Book cover for Parable of the Sower

No list of the best sci-fi books is complete without Octavia Butler’s science fiction classic Parable of the Sower. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles in a crumbling America, Lauren Olamina struggles to survive in a world destroyed by drugs, disease and war as she battles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

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 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. 

American War

by Omar El Akkad

Book cover for American War

Nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Omar El Akkad's vision of a plague-ridden America embroiled in a second Civil War is deeply imaginative and immensely powerful. In 2074, Sarat and her family find themselves caught deep in the middle, and must face the most devastating policies and deadly weapons of the country they call home. 


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

Book cover for Frankenstein

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. 


by Blake Crouch

Book cover for Pines

Pines is the first book of the smash-hit Wayward Pines trilogy – a brilliant mystery tale and a genre-bending saga of suspense, science fiction, and horror. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a mission: locate two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He ends up in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. And as the days pass, Ethan’s investigation turns up more questions than answers with each step closer to the truth taking him farther from the world he knew.