Best Science Fiction Books

Over the years we've recieved lots of complaints that we've abandoned science fiction for fantasy, which has been true. Well, NO MORE. We've been hard at work creating a sister site to the BestFantasyBooks that's ONLY about science fiction. For a highly detailed list of the best science fiction books including a boat load of science fiction subgenre lists, check out our new sister site,

You can continue browsing the "Old Top 10 Best Fantasy Books List" (it's heavily outdated ) below or you can visit the new site, check out the hugely detailed list, or read our picks for the Top 25 Best Science Fiction Books Ever.

On the eve of its ascendance to the stewardship of planet Arrakis, House Atreides is betrayed by a rival noble house. Cast out to die into the barren deserts of Arrakis, Paul Atreides, young heir of House Atreides, finds refuge with wandering desert tribes. For most, Arrakis is a planet of exile, a world of harsh desert, towering dunes, and savage tribes. But for Paul, destiny cannot be denied. Here, on the barren sands of Dune, a boy becomes a legend, an army will gather, and an empire will fall.

The Science Fiction version of Lord of the Rings, Dune is the most famous science fiction book ever written. A novel that literally redefined the entire Science Fiction genre, Dune is a sweeping epic of a byzantine galactic struggle between noble houses of a corrupt empire. If there is only one science fiction book you ever read, it should undoubtedly be Dune.

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A recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against humankind's most frightening enemy.

For most, war is hell, but for Heinlein's character Juan Rico, war is heaven -- and for those reading the book too! This is one classic you should read. Bootcamp in space, high tech battle toys, bone-jarring battles, romance, and a critique on politics thrown in for good measure. Heinlein is on the top of his game in what is considered his finest novel. Read it! If you have seen the terrible movie adaption, forget it! The book is much, much better.

Amazon Book Description
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

A classic and considered one of the top science fiction novels ever written. It's got everything that makes science fiction compelling.

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One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building. The story of our future begins with the history of Foundation and its greatest psychohistorian: Hari Seldon. For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation. But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves--or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.

Arguably the greatest work of science fiction ever written (it's a toss up with Frank Herbert's Dune). Those who love science fiction with grand ideas and epic storylines, pick this one up. Note: this book is for people who are into deep science fiction. Grand concepts and vision carry the weight of this story, but characterization is not the focus of the novel. For those who want an entertaining "thinking" read, the Foundation series will provide that.

Meet Hiro Protagonist: hacker, samurai swinging swordsman and pizza delivery boy. When his best friend dies of a brain fry and his ex girlfriend asks for his help, Hiro switches from part- time pizza boy to full-time hero. Weaving everything from Sumerian myth to the postmodern vision of a futuristic world on the brink of collapse, Stephenson creates a genre defining book.

This novel is Stephenson's breakout novel, a dystopian cyperpunk thrill ride. If you liked the gritty, loveless world of Blade Runner, you're going to feel right at home in Stephenson's Snow Crash. It's a classic of the sci-fi genre and one hell of a thrill ride and a must read.

War really is hell in Haldman's The Forever War: it's bloody, brutal, and entirely pointless. If you reveled in Robert Heinlein's glorification of war in Starship Trooper, then The Forever War is going to flush your joy down the toliet. Both a cautionary tale against the triviality of war and the story of a man's quest to find meaning in a meaningless world, The Forever War is a pillar of Science Fiction and utter proof that Science Fiction can be literature.

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Space is not the only void... In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp. But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it "The Reality Dysfunction." It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

Night's Dawn is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale. If you like your science fiction with heavy waistlines, give this series a shot. It's epic space opera Science Fiction that's about as big as they get: big battles, grand plots, and lots of characters. Hands down, this is one of the best space opera series out there. Peter Hamilton has a certain style of writing: his books tend to be massive with fully realized universes and complex characters. I usually find that Science Fiction is all about the world and not about the characters, but Hamilton is able to find a happy compromise between the two: you get grand worlds, epic plots, and complex characters -- talk about having your cake and eating it too! It's enough to make the sci-fi buff weep with joy. Peter Hamilton is one of the best science fiction writers and Night's Dawn is one of his finest works; it's a great segue into his other, compelling science fiction novels.

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Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson retums with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us. Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed locked out of his way. Those who didn't ended up in the lockup--or dead. But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallory's Bar & Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice. Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer--until she met up with Thermopyle. But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated. Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleek frigate fitted for deep space. Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course. What nobody expected was how quickly it would be over--or how devastating victory would be. It was common enough example of rivalry and revenge--or so everyone thought. The REAL story was something entirely different. In The Real Story, Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.

Ah, sci-fi so dark you can almost see the shadows. Those who relish the Star Trek-type world where the universe is full of (semi) perfect humans who have collectively evolved into a peaceful and harmonious society, look elsewhere. This is one hell of a dark and twisted roller coaster ride, a free fall down into an abyss without hope. Ok, I'll stop with the metaphors, but seriously, it's a dark series -- the darkest one I've yet read. But it's also brilliant. Donaldson, author of the critically acclaimed Thomas Covenant series, brings his writing chops to bear in this Sci Fi series. Donaldson has ever been about the characters, especially the anti-heroes. If you love characters that don't quite fit into the mold of hero or villain, you'll love his series. Several of his main characters are put through extreme tribulation, so be warned.

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The first volume in this mesmerizing story takes readers to the near-future, when a global conspiracy threatens to sacrifice the Earth for the promise of a far more exclusive place--Otherland, a universe where any fantasy can be made real.
Cyberpunk sci-fi for the modern age, Otherland is an epic novel in every sense of the word. If you want the Matrix in written form, well, Otherland is about as close as you'll get. Tad Williams is a gifted writer with novel ideas and prose so sweet you want to lick the pages. It's a long saga, but it's worth every bit of the effort.

After dying in a particularly gruesome death, ex UN-envoy Takeshi Kovacs wakes up to find himself "re-sleeved" into a fresh body with a job offer: find who killed Laurens Bancroft , the richest man in the Bay city. But for Kovacs, a man with a brutal past and a questionable future, nothing is ever that simple...

This is dystopian cyberpunk with grand style and punishing action. One you start reading this book, you won't be stopping -- for anything. Richard Morgan is a master tale spinner with visionary ideas (literally, the ideas explored are completely novel), fascinating characters, twisted plots, and pounding action. If you love Blade Runner, Snow Crash, and William Gibson's Neuromancer, this novel will delight.

Honorable Mentions

Hyperion (Dan Simmons)

Amazon Book Description
The winner of a 1990 Hugo Award follows seven pilgrims on a voyage to the world of Hyperion--dominated by the all-powerful creature, the Shrike--where they hope to learn the secret that will save humanity.

This science fiction novel is really really good. Intense Space Opera with a sweeping scope, Simmon's narrative is extremely imaginative, full of interesting concepts, peoples, and landscapes. He juggles a large inter-planet conflict with the deeply personal stories of seven people as they seek to find the secret that will save humanity. Many people consider Hyperion right up there with Dune, Starship Troopers, and Foundation as a classic (though a newer one) of Science Fiction. The only problem is the book is incomplete -- you need to read the sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, to complete the story.

Necromancer (William Gibson)

Book Flap Description
Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn't just explode onto the science fiction scene--it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology. Today, there is only one science fiction masterpiece to thank for the term "cyberpunk," for easing the way into the information age and Internet society. Neuromancer's virtual reality has become real. And yet, William Gibson's gritty, sophisticated vision still manages to inspire the minds that lead mankind ever further into the future.

The father of cyberpunk and visionary of future ideas, William Gibson's breakout Science Fiction book, Necromancer started it all. Gibson invented the concept of "Cyberspace" and pioneered the "cyberpunk" culture that Hollywood often uses in futuristic movies such as Blade Runner and the Matrix. Necromancer is one hell of a crazy read. If you are interested in Science Fiction literature at all, you should read this novel.

Armor (John Steakly)

Wearing nuclear-powered battle armor, one man might fights an impossible war against impossible odds. This is his story...

A novel about the intense pain, personal suffering, and trauma of the human psyche. Armor brings to life the realities of war like no other science fiction author. You follow Felix into battle against an unstoppable and monstrous enemy. Every heart-pounding moment is brought to life with such a clarity that you will sweat with fear. If you ever wanted to find yourself smack in the middle of terrible battles against implacable foes, Armor will drop you into the very cockpit of Felix's suit; just bring a barf bag along for the ride, cause you're going to need it.

A more cerebral version of Starship Troopers. Steakly explores the cost of war through the eyes of a soldier. If you love Star Ship Troopers, then you should definitely read this one!

Market Forces (Richard Morgan)

From the Inside Flap
From the award-winning author of Altered Carbon and Broken Angels--a turbocharged new thriller set in a world where killers are stars, media is mass entertainment, and freedom is a dangerous proposition... A coup in Cambodia. Guns to Guatemala. For the men and women of Shorn Associates, opportunity is calling. In the superheated global village of the near future, big money is made by finding the right little war and supporting one side against the other -- in exchange for a share of the spoils. To succeed, Shorn uses a new kind of corporate gladiator: sharp-suited, hard-driving gunslingers who operate armored vehicles and follow a Samurai code. And Chris Faulkner is just the man for the job. He fought his way out of London's zone of destitution. And his kills are making him famous. But unlike his best friend and competitor at Shorn, Faulkner has a side that outsiders cannot see: the side his wife is trying to salvage, that another woman-a porn star turned TV news reporter-is trying to exploit. Steeped in blood, eyed by common criminals looking for a shot at fame, Faulkner is living on borrowed time. Until he's given one last shot at getting out alive...

Governments are corporations; conflicts are resolved by dueling to the death in armored cars; wars are means to corporate wealth. Need I say more? Market Forces is one fascinating read with a disturbing future that could just be real...

Necroscope (Brian Lumley)

Amazon Book Description
Except to Harry Keogh, Necroscope. And what they tell him is horrifying. In the Balkan mountains of Rumania, a terrible evil is growing. Long buried in hallowed ground, bound by earth and silver, the master vampire schemes and plots. Trapped in unlife, neither dead nor living, Thibor Ferenczy hungers for freedom and revenge. The vampire's human tool is Boris Dragosani, part of a super-secret Soviet spy agency. Dragosani is an avid pupil, eager to plumb the depthless evil of the vampire's mind. Ferenczy teaches Dragosani the awful skills of the necromancer, gives him the ability to rip secrets from the mind and bodies of the dead. Dragosani works not for Ferenczy's freedom but world domination. he will rule the world with knowledge raped from the dead. His only opponent: Harry Koegh, champion of the dead and the living. To protect Harry, the dead will do anything--even rise from their graves!

This book is just pure fun. A great many science fiction books take themselves too seriously. Lumley pulls out all the stops and creates an over-the-top joy ride that it is ridiculously entertaining. If you want to take a break from the serious stuff, this sci-fi novel is your fix.

Fallen Dragon (Peter Hamilton)

Amazon Book Description
Lawrence plans to rob a colony of their fabled gemstone, the Fallen Dragon, to get the money he needs to buy his place in a better corporation. However, he soon discovers that the Fallen Dragon is not a gemstone at all, but an alien life form.

I really love this standalone book. It's got a time-travel plot that holds together quite well and some pretty good plot twists. At its heart, Fallen Dragon is a love story wearing sci-fi shoes, but this just makes the novel all the more compelling. For those non-Romeo types, Fallen Dragon's got an enticing plot and a truckload full of action. Hamilton's characterization is really top notch here, superior to his Night's Dawn series. If you are in the mode for a fabulous read with some really strong characterization, get yourself a copy of Fallen Dragon.

Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Amazon Description
In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars. For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny. John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life...and death. The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed. Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.

Another science fiction classic and a work of astounding magnitude. Red Mars follows the day-to-day tribulations of group of humans seeking to do the impossible: transform Mars into a habitable planet. This is a story of humanity's greatest triumphs and failures -- it's all brought to vivid life by Robinson. Mars is a book with some serious vision, but Robinson pulls it off. Pick up this book and get ready to enjoy a grand ride into the future of humanity. Red Mars is such a magnificent story, you will want to move on to the sequels, Green Mars and Blue Mars.

Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke)

A seminal science fiction book with far-reaching influence into science, art, and pop culture. A look into the future (well, an alternative future, now that we are past 2001) of mankind and a cautionary tale of machine intelligence, this novel forces us to confront relevant issues. Read it. This makes my best Science Fiction books list for a reason.

word of jinn

Please check out our sister science fiction site, for our updated sci-fi lists.



Ender's Game, extremely overrated. The Gap series is fun, but not top notch science fiction.

David Sims

Ender's Game series was overrated. Ender's Game the book was pretty good. Card's views on inter-species conflict isn't as good as Heinlein's was in Starship Troopers.

Chris Gilchrist

I liked Necroscope, but I never thought of it as science fiction. Definately horror. Later books failed to live up to it.


Have you ever had a trip, a real one? That's what spice is referring to.


I was obsessed with the Necroscope series in high school; i credit them with getting me addicted to reading. Dune, Otherland, Hyperion and the Gap series are also excellent. I would however, like to mention one that is not on this list, "The Pride of Chanur" by C.J. Cherryh, probably one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read in my life.


I believe Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness deserves a mention. Also, probably not the Heinlein I would have chosen... though he has written one for every occasion, as it were. Also curious about where Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ended up.

Carl Cox

Isn't the name of the Gibson book Neuromancer, rather than Necromancer?

Tom K

Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light should definitely be on this list. Sure, it's written like a fantasy book (in the sense that technology is so advanced and unknowable to the general public that it might as well be magic) but then again so is Dune. It puts a really cool twist on the Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, with the rulers of society effectively transforming themselves into Hindu Gods and the main character taking on the identity of the Buddha. It's such an awesome concept and it's insanely well-written, unlike Zelazny's other famous works, the Chronicles of Amber.


Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow belongs on one of these lists. It was marketed as mainstream literary fiction, but fans of fantasy and sci-fi are sure to enjoy this thought-provoking novel. A SETI program finally pays off and the mission to meet the senders finds two sentient races on the planet. Story told through the eyes of the lone anguished survivor. The Sparrow stands alone from its sequel, Children of God.

Martin Levasseur

Yep, that should be corrected to Neuromancer.

Sybil Galer

I predominately agreed with your Fantasy Lists but think your Sci Fi list is limited in scope and breadth. You have completely missed most of the classic greats like Bradbury, Piers Anthony's cluster series, Asimov's I Robot, Niven and Pournelle, any early Heinlein etc. You have also neglected the authors who came to prominence in the 70's through 90's such as CJ Cherryh whose Foreigner series is one of the most finely crafted human/alien encounter works ever written. You have even neglected the Military Sci Fi sub-genre of Honor Harrington, Miles Vorkosigan, and the Seaforth Saga. Granted, well crafted Science Fiction has taken a nose dive with the emergence of Fantasy but Sci Fi still lives and deserves better coverage. Contact me for my lists.


I'd argue that Hyperion deserves to be in the top ten of this list, as it's easily one of the best, most compelling books i've every read. I would suggest moving it up the list and moving the Night's Dawn saga down(i found this book too clunky and full of jargon, i gave up after 400 pages or so of the reality dysfunction because nothing had happened yet).

Also, whilst i'm here, the Sci-Fi section of this website definitely needs to be expanded upon, and somewhere in here, there needs to be a mention of Iain M Banks' Culture novels!


Why oh why is this set of books here?

It is an okay read but nothing special, plot is rather poor and the book itself is extremely tedious and poorly edited with parts bolded that should not be bolded and poor sentence structure in some places. It honestly feels that the author couldn't be bothered to make a 3rd edit because the each of the books is around 1000 pages. Its not horribly written but I would not call it amazing either, though the fight scenes are okay. Its a decent/good book but not be any means great.

Likewise, Altered Carbon, while a good read does not belong on the top 10 list either.

Sir, you really need to read more science fiction to make an informed opinion.


You definitely need to get The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe on here. Seriously awesome...


Brave New World? Nineteen Eighty-Four?


Are u at all familiar with an author by the name of Philip K. Dick? You must not be apparently..

Skip A

I would highly recommend Connie Willis's books. I really enjoyed "To Say Nothing of the Dog" - which was a very light hearted but well written work. It may not end up in a normal top ten list because of its comic nature, but just because it is comic doesn't mean it is any less engaging. Her other novels (like the Doomsday Book) are well constructed too and probably more enjoyable for those who like heavier, darker alternate history science fiction. I also think David Brin's works are impressive and unique, though I feel a few (like The Uplift War) are higher quality than others. Some of his books try to be so epic they become impersonal.

So far as classic novels one of my favorites is a Canticle for Leibowitz - just a unique way to approach post-apocalyptic stories that for understandable reasons normally end up being very similar.

One comment on Dan Simmons - is it just me, or do I feel like every series he starts I read the first book and I am blown away with the possibilities, and by the end of the series I come away vaguely disappointed with the direction he took by the end (hyperion, illium, etc)? Maybe I just end up having too high of expectations.

Travis S

This list is so confusing, including lesser novels from good authors. It reads more like "the 10 best Sci-Fi novels I could find at my local library" rather than "the 10 best Sci-Fi novels of all time"


How in the world can you have missed Niven's and Pournelle's, "The Mote in God's Eye"?? Even Robert Heinlein said it was the best thing he's ever read!


I'm surprised there's nothing by ursuala le guin here. But then again, the list is pretty small too.


One of the few books, let alone series, I've ever thrown in the trash. The Thomas books were dark, dark, dark - with not a page of relief and a black ending. Depressing beyond words. The Gap was page after page and volume after volume of female degradation. (Stopped reading after about 50 pages but skimmed each vol. To see if Donaldson ever got out of the muck. Didn't land on a single redeemable page.)


No mention of John Wyndham!!!

Day of the Triffids, the Crysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos ........

Short, old, but definitely great sci fi.



I am very interested in your list of books that you mentioned. I am a huge fan of science fiction and I'd like to see what you have.


Aaron A. Aaronson

I see why Dune is your number one, it's pretty much fantasy.

I tell you what, if you started off any fantasy series by arriving in a spaceship on the foreign planet it was set in you'd get about as Sci-fi as Dune. I mean what are Bene-Js besides female witches, even Robert Jordan saw that and decided to emulate them for his Aes Sedai. Fantasy pretty much follows this rule; certain plot tools do certain action, why? magic. Science fiction needs more than that, so much about the 'Spice' is not explained. Why does it stop the deterioration of humans, magic? How does it fuel space travel, um... magic? How can Paul see into the future, well that's, no... yeah that's magic.

This book just showed that Star Wars wasn't the first thing to take fantasy archetypes and put them into a space travelling setting. The best aspect, and only scifi element about this book is the ecology of the planet, so hats off to you for that Herbert.


Wheres hitchikers guide? And Enders Game seems overrated to me.


I put this suggestion on the top fantasy list as well as this, i think it bridges both genres. The whole of humanity from pre-historic man to casualties of WW11 re-born along the banks of a seemingly endless river, and left to create civilizations under the watchful eye of mysterious being, to what end or purpose?? Read the books and find out and then put them on you list, honestly they are amazing!

Fiction book Reviews

Excellent choices. But I think I can guess your age by the books. Used
to own an Sf&F bookshop. I would choose Snow Crash instead or

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