science fiction lookout for my list of the best sci-fi books

Top 17 Best Sci-fi Audiobooks

So most of my information here is for authors, but as a huge book nerd myself (it’s literally in the name), I really can’t help but spend some time talking about the genres I love.

And one of those is science fiction.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about science fiction audiobooks, because that’s primarily how I consume things these days, and a good audiobook with a good narrator can really make or break a story for me.

So, let’s dive into my best sci-fi audiobooks that I’ve found, and that you can get through Amazon, Audible, your favorite library app, or wherever you get your audiobooks.

Keep in mind, if you click some of these links and buy something, I get a small piece of that. It costs you nothing extra and every bit goes to my coffee fund, for which my day job thanks you.

The Best Sci-fi Audiobooks

Here’s the full list if you wanted to see it all scrunched up into a cozy guide. I’ve ordered these from worst to best (although the worst one is still one I would highly recommend, and keep in mind that this is all my little opinion).

For a more detailed breakdown of each book, continue reading below…

17. We Are Legion (We Are Bob), by Dennis E. Taylor

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We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Dennis E. Taylor (Author) - Ray Porter (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/20/2016 (Publication Date) - Audible Originals (Publisher)

When I first started listening to a book that included “We Are Bob” in title, I didn’t really think I expected it to be all that good, to be honest.

But you know what? It actually was!

The story is about a guy who pays money to have his head cryogenically preserved upon his death. Decades after he dies, his brain is reawakened and he’s now an AI. It’s a really unique sci-fi, with a light-hearted comedic flair, which I really like. (You’ll soon see that I have very few of the depressing options on this list).

This started out as an Audible original, so it’s made for audio. And it won Audible’s own Best Science Fiction Book of 2016. Go check it out.

16. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

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Red Rising
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Pierce Brown (Author) - Tim Gerard Reynolds (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/28/2014 (Publication Date) - Recorded Books (Publisher)

This is one of those books that almost doesn’t feel like a science fiction. It feels almost more like a high-tech epic military fantasy. But it’s definitely sci-fi. It’s just got a lot of armies and classes and hero’s journey-ings that it feels more like an epic.

But this book by Pierce Brown is a great one. It’s about a guy from a genetically engineered race of humans, bred to be a servant class, who rises up to overthrow the superiorly bred humans and leads this huge revolution. I’m not doing it justice. It’s great.

It’s read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, who is an amazing narrator. You’ll see his name pop up all over the place, particularly with some of the epic fantasy/sci-fi books out there.

The series has also spawned a lot of sequels, including a graphic novel, which is great.

15. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Aldous Huxley (Author) - Michael York (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/16/2008 (Publication Date) - Blackstone Audio, Inc. (Publisher)

We had to fit a couple of classics into this list, and Brave New World is one of the best. It’s a dystopian novel, which aren’t my favorite if I’m being honest, but it’s also one of the dystopian novels that started it all. It and one more that I’ll talk about shortly.

The novel is set in the year 2540 AD and deals with the ramifications of certain scientific technologies, imagining a world with completely different ideas about reproduction, and psychology.

There are many different versions of this audiobook, since it was published way back in 1932. But this is the latest and greatest, with Michael York as the narrator. With the renewed interest in this book due to that new Peacock version, you know the one with Han Solo, I thought I had to include this on the list.

14. 11-22-63: A Novel, by Stephen King

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11-22-63: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Stephen King (Author) - Craig Wasson (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/08/2011 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

Okay, I’m not always a huge Stephen King fan. Just not that into horror.

But hot damn, I have never been so riveted to a story as I was when I listened to 11-22-63.

This is more of a loose science fiction. The only sci-fi part of it is that the main character goes back in time. There isn’t much explanation as to why, and little thought about it other than as a mechanism to accomplish the real goal: stop President Kennedy from being assassinated.

It’s really a great story, enough to make me think that Mr. King should really give more thought to doing more books of this type. I quite prefer his non-horror books.

13. Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky (Author) - Mel Hudson (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/02/2017 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

This is one of those newer books that I read and was like, hey, this is actually surprisingly good!

The story is about a group of refugees fleeing a dying Earth, going to a distant planet that is supposed to be terraformed for their purposes, but they encounter another civilization there. Awkward…

The audiobook is beautifully read by Mel Hudson, and is one of those Audible Originals that was really quite good, definitely optimized for audio. I highly recommend it.

12. 1984, by George Orwell

Sale
1984: New Classic Edition
  • Audible Audiobook
  • George Orwell (Author) - Simon Prebble (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/31/2006 (Publication Date) - Blackstone Audio, Inc. (Publisher)

So, I’m not a fan of dark or dystopian sci-fi. I like my speculative fiction to be hopeful and inspiring. That said, with everything that has been going on the last few years, I can’t not put 1984 on the list.

I mean, what can I say about this book. It’s the book that first created a scarily possible dystopian future onto paper. And having it in audio does not help with my nerves.

Granted, the narration is amazing, it’s just that this book can get creepily familiar at times, and I honestly don’t like it. That said, it’s a classic for a reason, and one that everyone should read in his/her lifetime, even if it touches on topics that might be a little uncomfortable.

11. Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey

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Leviathan Wakes
  • Audible Audiobook
  • James S. A. Corey (Author) - Jefferson Mays (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/30/2017 (Publication Date) - Hachette Audio (Publisher)

Ever seen the Expanse? It’s a great television show. Full of intricate worldbuilding (or I should say solar system building), with plenty of gritty details. Well, that was based on this series by James S. A. Corey, which is actually the pen name for two authors: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

The story is about an unusual alien entity being discovered in the solar system by some scientists who would use it for some not great reasons, all while there’s a cold war going on between Earth and Mars. Tensions escalate as everyone tries to get their hands on this proto-molecule, but it has plans of its own.

If you saw the show, you’ll definitely like the book. And even if you didn’t see the show, you should definitely start with the book first.

10. Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn

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Star Wars: Heir to the Empire: (20th Anniversary Edition), The Thrawn Trilogy, Book 1
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Timothy Zahn (Author) - Marc Thompson (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/06/2011 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

I had to get at least one Star Wars book on here…

And yes, I know, Star Wars is more like Space Fantasy, but I couldn’t help myself. I love a good Star Wars books.

And this is no ordinary Star Wars book, it’s the one written in 1991 that kind of launched the whole Star Wars publishing thing. It’s no canon in the same way that the new movies are, but elements from this story have definitely made it into other, more recent stories, such as the Mandalorian.

This version is a 20th Anniversary edition, and it’s read by Marc Thompson, who is a delight to listen to. It also has Star Wars music and sound effects to add to the immersion.

Get your hands on a copy, stat.

9. Galaxy’s Edge, by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

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Galaxy's Edge
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Jason Anspach (Author) - R.C. Bray (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 02/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Podium Audio (Publisher)

Speaking of Star Wars, I also had to get at least one indie title on here as well, and that had to be Galaxy’s Edge by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole. It’s a lot like Star Wars, and even shares a name with the Star Wars theme park. But these guys had the name long before Galaxy’s Edge ended up in Disney Land and Disney World.

This series was self-published as a kind of Star Wars fan letter, a Star Wars what-if story, even though it’s not actually a Star Wars story.

It’s since become so popular, that it’s gone and spawned a ton of sequels and side stories, including many by different authors. There’s even one written by Karen Traviss, who has actually written Star Wars books before.

8. Off to Be the Wizard, by Scott Meyer

Sale
Off to Be the Wizard: Magic 2.0, Book 1
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Scott Meyer (Author) - Luke Daniels (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/18/2014 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

Okay, so this one has one foot in science fiction and one in fantasy, but it’s really a sci-fi book because it involves time travel and digital wizardry.

It’s about a guy who discovers that there is a universal code governing the universe, and that he can manipulate it. So of course, he travels back in time so he can be seen as a wizard.

I’ve actually had a few people comment that this book wasn’t that great, but when I probe further, I learn that they read the Kindle version. They didn’t listen to the audiobook version.

This is one of those books that is essential to read in audio format. Luke Daniels is a brilliant narrator, and he really makes the comedy of this series come to life. I love him.

7. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

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Foundation (Apple Series Tie-in Edition)
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Isaac Asimov (Author) - Scott Brick (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 04/20/2010 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

Ever heard of Isaac Asimov? I’m pretty sure you have, especially if you’re into sci-fi. That’s because the guy kind of wrote the book (several books actually) defining science fiction. Things like the laws of robotics.

Anyway, the Foundation is one of his most well known, and for good reason. It’s a highly speculative look at how large empires that span solar systems rise and fall. It’s a great look not only at sci-fi ideals, but at sociology as well.

This particular version is read by Scott Brick, who is just such a phenomenal narrator. I could listen to his voice all day.

6. Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson

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Skyward
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Brandon Sanderson (Author) - Suzy Jackson (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 11/06/2018 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

If you’re a fantasy fan, you definitely know who Brandon Sanderson is. For the sci-fi fan, you’re in luck. He’s got one sci-fi series that starts with Skyward.

It’s kind of an Ender’s Game meets How to Train Your Dragon, kind of story. There’s a battle school, and the main character discovers a sentient spaceship that she then learns to fly. It’s a lot of fun, and full of classic Sanderson twists and turns.

Go get it, I highly recommend this author.

5. The Martian, by Andy Weir

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The Martian
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Andy Weir (Author) - Wil Wheaton (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

This is another one to keep you glued to…wherever you’re sitting/standing/lying down. The Martian is the tale of someone who gets left behind on Mars, and has to survive until an expedition can be sent back to pick him up.

It’s a hard science fiction, full of actual…well…science. And that’s part of what makes it so interesting. It’s actually not one of those books that a lot of people would think of as science fiction.

The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton, who if you didn’t know, is sci-fi royalty. Kind of. He was that kid in Star Trek the Next Generation that seemed to annoy everyone.

And speaking of Wil Wheaton…

4. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Sale
Ready Player One
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ernest Cline (Author) - Wil Wheaton (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 08/16/2011 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

Wil Wheaton also narrates this book by Ernest Cline, the story of a boy caught up in a huge scavenger hunt for billions upon billions of dollars, all in this virtual world.

It’s one of the nerdiest books to ever come out, full of just about every geek reference you could think of. So of course I loved it.

It’s also one of those books that is hard to put down…or to stop listening.

I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a crash course in about fifty different nerd things, but also a genuinely good book.

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

Sale
Ender's Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Orson Scott Card (Author) - Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, Gabrielle de Cuir (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/30/2001 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

When the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a young boy, you can bet we’re going to be in for some great sci-fi times.

I was lucky enough to not have the ending spoiled for me when I first read Ender’s Game, and I was glad I went in fresh. It’s got an incredible ending you guys. You just have to read it.

Ender’s Game is largely considered one of the best sci-fi stories ever, and tells the story of a young boy who is recruited into a space battle school to eventually fight and lead a war against an alien threat.

It’s good, you guys. Go read it.

2. Dune, by Frank Herbert

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Dune
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Frank Herbert (Author) - Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/31/2006 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

If you’re in any kind of sci-fi circle, you’ve heard of Dune. It’s largely considered the biggest and best science fiction novel of all time. And I would agree with that. It’s basically the Lord of the Rings of science fiction, with worldbuilding to rival even that of the professor.

The story is about a young boy who is the result of thousands of years of genetic breeding, who is thrown into a plot to destroy his whole house. It’s got so much worldbuilding, philosophy, theocracy, and character development. Seriously, you guys. You need to check it out.

So if it’s so great, why isn’t it number one? Well…

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Sale
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Douglas Adams (Author) - Stephen Fry (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 04/28/2005 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

When it comes to best sci-fi books, I probably would put Dune first, but this is a list about best sci-fi audiobooks. And with that in mind, I can’t not put Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first.

This is a book that is really meant to be read out loud. In fact, it’s based on a radio play that came out first.

This book is a comedy, and it’s read by the great comedian and voice artist, Stephen Fry. This mashup results in one of the best audio experiences I’ve ever had in my lifetime.

Hitchhiker’s Guide is 100% my top recommendation for the best sci-fi audiobooks. If you listen, you’ll understand. It doesn’t really get any better.

Final Thoughts

So those are my top picks for science fiction audiobooks. I hope you find these enjoyable, especially if you haven’t read some of these in the past. Take a look at all the links and see if there’s anything that tickles your fancy. You already know my favorites.

Cheers!

Jason

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