Top science fantasy / science fiction books

A definition, offered by Rod Serling, is that science fiction makes the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible plausible. The meaning is that science fiction describes unlikely things that could possibly take place in the real world under certain conditions, while science fantasy gives a veneer of realism to things that simply could not happen in the real world under any circumstances. Another interpretation is that science fiction does not permit the existence of supernatural elements; science fantasy does. Even the usage of this definition is difficult, however, as some science fiction makes use of apparently supernatural elements such as telepathy. For many users of the term, however, science fantasy is either a science fiction story that has drifted far enough from reality to feel like a fantasy, or a fantasy story that is attempting to be science fiction. While these are in theory classifiable as different approaches, and thus different genres (fantastic science fiction vs. scientific fantasy), the end products are sometimes indistinguishable.

The Martian

1. The Martian by Andy Weir
Score: 99
Our rating: 9.8 | 1 positive reader reviews
I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of [...]

The Obelisk Gate

2. The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin
The Broken Earth #2
Score: 95
Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews
The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night. Essun has found shelter, but not her missing daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request only Essun can grant. [...]

The Scar

3. The Scar by China Mieville
New Crobuzon: Book 2
Score: 93
Our rating: 9.2 | 1 positive reader reviews
A colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination. A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden miracle about be revealed... These are the ingredients of an astonishing story. It is the story of a prisoner's journey. Of [...]

A Scanner Darkly

4. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick
Score: 91
Our rating: 9.0 | 1 positive reader reviews
Substance D is not known as Death for nothing. It is the most toxic drug ever to find its way on to the streets of LA. It destroys the links between the brain's two hemispheres, causing, first, disorientation and then complete and irreversible brain damage. The undercover narcotics agent who [...]

The Left Hand of Darkness

5. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
Score: 90
Our rating: 9.0 | 0 positive reader reviews
Ursula K. Le Guin’s groundbreaking work of science fiction—winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid. His goal is to [...]

Cinder

6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles: Book 1
Score: 87
Our rating: 8.7 | 0 positive reader reviews
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class [...]

A Wrinkle in Time

7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine LEngle
Score: 85
Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews
When Charles Wallace Murry goes searching through a 'wrinkle in time' for his lost father, he finds himself on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge pulsating brain known as 'It'. How Charles, his sister Meg and friend Calvin find and free his father makes this a ver [...]

Consider Phlebas

8. Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks
A Culture Novel
Score: 81
Our rating: 8.0 | 1 positive reader reviews
The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could [...]

Stranger in a Strange Land

9. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Score: 80
Our rating: 8.0 | 0 positive reader reviews
Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, an [...]

The Bone Ships

10. The Bone Ships by RJ Barker
The Tide Child: Book 1
Score: 78
Our rating: 7.8 | 0 positive reader reviews
For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted. Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the bal [...]

11. The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead
Bright Empires #1
Score: 58
Our rating: 5.8 | 0 positive reader reviews
Set in 17th century and 21st century London, the Enlightenment-era court of the Hapsburgs, China during the Qing Dynasty and ancient Egypt, Bright Empires is a five-volume fantasy. In The Skin Map, Kit Livingstone and his great- grandfather, Cosimo, are brought together to find a map originally t [...]