Losing yourself in the fantastic world of science fiction has a certain allure. However, when new landscapes and realities are combined with outstanding audio performances, the experience becomes much more immersive. We’ve compiled a list of the top science fiction audiobooks, evaluated not only for their fascinating, superb voice, but also for their wonderfully constructed plots. So put on your headphones, click play, and relax while reality drifts away with our selection of sci-fi audiobooks.
The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel that follows Offred, a handmaid in the totalitarian ruins of the United States, now known as the Republic of Gilead. It is now both a literary classic and a blockbuster television series. Handmaids are one of numerous social classes designated to women in Gilead’s caste system, and they are charged for breeding, being forced to bear children for the ruling class’s infertility. The novel’s anticipated themes of morality, sexuality, and politics have served as a lightning point for debate for more than 30 years, since it was first published in 1985. Offred’s wrath and frustration are rawer and more visceral than ever, delivered in a clear, methodical cadence by Golden Globe winner Claire Danes, making The Handmaid’s Tale an exciting, suspenseful, and controversial listen that will have you engaged within seconds.
Brave New World
By Aldous Huxley
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is widely regarded as one of the best novels of all time, and with good cause. The story is set in the future, in a society where everyone is genetically produced and birthed from artificial wombs, an eerie and clinical world free of pain, age, disease, and unhappiness. When unlikely hero Bernard Marx meets a group of natural-born people for the first time, he becomes the only citizen prepared to challenge the status quo, no matter the repercussions. Michael York, an English icon, adds fresh layers to this haunting classic by deftly switching between characters that are moody, sardonic, and tender. As a result, he delivers a powerful performance that stays long after the recording has ended.
The Book of M
By Peng Shepherd
The Book of M is a unique post-apocalyptic jewel, a narrative of the world’s end that is filled with the gleam of optimism, with dual narration from voice actors James Fouhey and Emily Woo Zeller praised by Audible users as intriguing, fantastic, and wonderful. Ory and his wife, Max, live in hiding from The Forgetting—a plague-like phenomenon that robs victims of their memories, leaving a weird, unexplainable new power in its place—in a near future shaken by disaster. Max escapes to protect her spouse as she develops early symptoms of the mystery virus. But Ory, desperate to spend his final days with Max before she completely forgets about him, embarks on a journey through a world he scarcely recognizes. The Book of M is a thought-provoking sci-fi read that’s as heart-wrenching as it is unsettling, grappling with questions about love, survival, hope, and sadness.
By Octavia E. Butler
A list of science fiction books would be incomplete without a pick from Octavia Butler’s vast oeuvre. Butler was praised for her ability to mix social satire with completely realized futuristic settings, winning the coveted Nebula and Hugo awards, two of the genre’s most prestigious distinctions. This is the first episode in the Xenogenesis series, and it follows Lilith Iyapo as she awakens in a shadowy confinement and desperately tries to piece together the events that have occurred before her. Soon, the shocking truth emerges: she is one of the few survivors of Earth’s nuclear war… They’ve been rescued by an alien race that is very terrifying. With a pitch-perfect performance that alternates between tender and intense, narrator Aldrich Barrett elevates this allegory-rich narrative of identity and compassion.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
By Dennis E. Taylor
Robert Johansson, a wealthy businessman, chooses to have his head cryogenically stored after death so that he might be reanimated and start up where he left off when science allows. However, when he wakes up 117 years after dying in a car accident, his consciousness has been replaced by the AI of a computer matrix called the Bobiverse. Robert, now the intellectual property of Applied Synergetics, Inc., discovers that he’ll be used as an interplanetary probe to search for life in the farthest reaches of space. We Are Legion (We Are Bob), named Audible’s Best Sci-Fi Audiobook of 2016, is a crazy tongue-in-cheek interplanetary frolic that is hugely popular among listeners. What’s not to like about that? The first installment in Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobiverse series is sure to hook you with a wide range of characters, ever-evolving generations of Bob, and absolutely unmatched narration by the brilliant Ray Porter—who just so happens to be a former Narrator of the Year—the first installment in Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobiverse series is sure to hook you with a wide range of characters, ever-evolving generations of Bob, and absolutely unmatched narration by the brilliant Ray Porter—who just so
Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
Any fan of science fiction should listen to Ready Player One. Ernest Cline’s futuristic tale (which is both a love letter to 1980s pop culture and a thrilling, twist-filled adventure) is complemented by Wil Wheaton’s great narration, making for a nonstop nostalgia ride that’s a blast from beginning to end. The year is 2045, and the planet is overcrowded, resulting in a scarcity of resources. Many people live in squalor and poverty, but the virtual reality system provided by OASIS, a hyper-realistic gaming platform, provides a respite, an escape from the stresses of everyday life. Thousands of users check in to compete for possession of the OASIS after it is revealed that the program’s late developer has left behind three keys that, if found, will unlock ownership of the whole OASIS. Our protagonist, Wade Watts, is 18 years old and is looking for a way out of his tough home life. Instead, he finds himself on an amazing odyssey that leads him to the farthest reaches of reality.
The Fifth Season
By N. K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, is a supernatural fiction set on a distant world with a single supercontinent known as the Stillness. Life on the Stillness is largely peaceful—at least until the Fifth Season, when the planet’s climate begins to disintegrate. Nature’s tremendous bonds extend to bloodlines as well; orogenes, a race of citizens, has the ability to harness and regulate energy. Humans detest, hate, and hunt orogenes, so when Essun’s orogene daughter goes missing, she must embark on a perilous quest to find her and confront her past. Hall of Famer Robin Miles narrates with elegance and expertise in a performance that one Audible listener described as “strong, nuanced, and poignant… The Fifth Season is worth the price of admission alone, and you’ll be clamoring for the next audiobook in the trilogy as soon as you finish it.
By Andy Weir
Artemis is a film set in the 2080s that chronicles the black-market operations of dealer and part-time smuggler Jazz Bashara in Artemis, the first city on the moon. When one of Jazz’s regular clients offers her a large sum of money to disrupt the city’s oxygen supplier, she accepts—but quickly finds herself embroiled in a complex power battle for control of the city. Rosario Dawson, a celebrated actress, masters both the criminal swagger of Jazz and a slew of other roles, smoothly shifting from dialect to accent while maintaining her whip-smart, vivacious, furious delivery. Fans of Andy Weir’s breakout best book The Martian will adore every twist and turn in this high-stakes heist sequel.
By Pierce Brown
Red Rising, the debut novel by Pierce Brown, is set in a futuristic Mars colony with a color-coded class order, with the physically superior Golds ruling over the inferior working-class Reds. Darrow, a young man captured in a restricted area and ordered to be hung, is among the Reds, only to be saved by the activity of a rebel group known as the Sons of Ares. He agrees to be surgically converted into a Gold at their advice so that he might enter the highest levels and bring the system down from within. However, Darrow discovers that his external alteration may make it impossible for him to remain loyal to who he is on the inside. Darrow has a palpable presence because to Tim Gerard Reynolds’ natural brogue and great storytelling talents, and his ability to construct various voices, cadences, and accents for each supporting character further adds to Brown’s dystopian world’s immersive experience.
The Calculating Stars
By Mary Robinette Kowal
A meteorite strikes the United States in an alternate timeline in 1952, destroying the eastern seaboard and causing significant climate change. America’s best scientists—including Elma York, a talented mathematician and pilot—are pushed to speed their attempts to settle the moon in search of a viable environment. But even the International Aerospace Coalition is rife with inequity, leaving Elma perplexed as to why she can’t go to the moon with her division’s soldiers. The Calculating Stars, winner of the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novel, is a narrative of disenfranchised people working together to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of humanity’s salvation. With her meticulous delivery, author Mary Robinette Kowal brings her own universe to life just as she intended, sculpting out three-dimensional people.
By Orson Scott Card
This sci-fi classic, first published in 1985, has spawned numerous adaptations in a variety of media, including movies, video games, and comic comics. Ender’s Game, on the other hand, is an audio experience unlike any other, with three powerful narrators bringing a vividness to the timeless tale of battle and compassion. The story is set in an undisclosed future and depicts the final stages of a long-running struggle between humanity and an insect-like alien civilization known as buggers. The military prepares an army of youngsters to fight invaders by putting them through a series of war games to prepare them. As Andrew Ender Wiggin’s training advances, his school’s foes devise increasingly complex schemes to prevent his achievement, sending him down a path that is both militarily and morally difficult.