There’s a certain magic in losing yourself in the imaginative world of science fiction. Check out these 20 best sci-fi audiobooks to explore a new galaxy, discover a dystopian civilisation, and more.
There is no genre that lends itself better to audio narrative than Science Fiction does. There is a magic that transports listeners to new worlds of wonder and mystery that is heightened by expert voice actors and narrators. A great writer can create an imaginative new world or dystopian civilisation, but it is up to the narrator to bring this world to life around you. We’ve gathered together 20 of the top science fiction audiobooks ranked not only for their stories but for the emotive and compelling narrative performances. Let these award winning tales and voices carry you away to worlds unknown.
Now renowned both as a literary classic and a hit television series, The Handmaid’s Tale is a best selling dystopian fiction by well known Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It follows Offred, a handmaid in the totalitarian remains of the United States, now known as the Republic of Gilead. Handmaids, one of several social classes assigned to women in Gilead’s caste system, are tasked with breeding, forced to bear children for the infertile among the ruling class. Originally published in 1985, the book’s prescient themes of morality, sexuality, and politics have served as a lightning rod for debate for over 30 years. Delivered in a clear, deliberate cadence by Golden Globe winner Claire Danes, Offred’s rage and frustration are rawer and more visceral than ever—making The Handmaid’s Tale a thrilling, suspenseful, and provocative listen that will have you engrossed within seconds.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time—and for good reason. Set in our own future, the story unfolds in a reality where all citizens are genetically engineered and born of artificial wombs, an eerie and clinical world nonetheless free of pain, age, disease, and discontent. But when unlikely hero Bernard Marx encounters a group of natural-born people for the first time, he becomes the sole citizen willing to question the status quo—regardless of the consequences. English icon Michael York imbues this chilling classic with new layers, skillfully flipping between characters that are in turns brooding, sarcastic, and sensitive. The result is a commanding performance that lingers long after the audio’s conclusion.
With dual narration from voice actors James Fouhey and Emily Woo Zeller that Audible listeners call “captivating”, “superb”, and “perfect”, The Book of M is a rare post-apocalyptic gem, a tale of the world’s end that is filled with the glimmer of hope. In a near future rocked by catastrophe, Ory and his wife, Max, live in hiding from The Forgetting—a plague-like phenomenon that robs victims of their memories, leaving a strange, inexplicable new power in their place. When Max comes down with early symptoms of the mysterious epidemic, she flees to protect her husband. But Ory, determined to spend his last days with Max before she forgets him entirely, sets out in a barely recognizable world. A thought-provoking listen that grapples with questions about love, survival, hope, and grief, The Book of M is a sci-fi listen that’s as heart-wrenching as it is haunting.
Neil Gaiman, among the foremost names in sci-fi and fantasy, released American Gods, one of his most acclaimed, ambitious works to date, in 2001. In this audio, recorded in celebration of the novel’s tenth anniversary, a full cast of exceptional talent (led by Audie Award-winning voice actor Ron McLarty) reimagine the mytho-magical landscape that made Gaiman a household name. Following his release and a tragedy that leaves him utterly hopeless, former convict Shadow is seeking something to keep himself grounded. So, when a mysterious, charming stranger named Mr. Wednesday offers him a job, he eagerly accepts. After all, there’s no possible way Shadow could have known his employer’s true identity—or the unimaginable journey across places and planes of existence that would lie ahead. With a full-cast performance, it’s impossible not to get lost in the complex, expertly constructed world that Gaiman weaves.
Robert Johansson, a wealthy businessman, elects to have his head cryogenically frozen after death so that one day, when technology allows, he’ll be able to be reanimated and pick up where he left off. But when he wakes up 117 years after succumbing to a fatal car crash, his consciousness has instead been installed as the AI of a computer matrix—the Bobiverse. Now the intellectual property of Applied Synergetics, Inc., Robert soon learns that he’s to be deployed as an interplanetary probe, hunting for life in the deepest realms of space. Named Audible’s Best Sci-Fi Audiobook of 2016, We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is a wild tongue-in-cheek interplanetary romp that is wildly popular among listeners. And what’s not to love? With a wide range of characters, ever-evolving generations of Bob, and an absolutely unmatched narration by the brilliant Ray Porter—who just so happens to also be a former Narrator of the Year—the first installment in Dennis E. Taylor’s Bobiverse series is sure to leave you hooked.
Ready Player One is an absolute must-listen for any sci-fi aficionado. Ernest Cline’s futuristic tale (that’s also a love letter to 1980s pop culture and a thrilling, twist-filled adventure) is matched by pitch-perfect narration from Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton, making for a nonstop nostalgia ride that’s a blast from start to finish. It is the year 2045 and the world is overpopulated, leaving resources scarce. Much of the population lives in squalor and poverty—but the virtual reality system offered by hyper-realistic gaming platform OASIS offers a reprieve, an escape from the difficulties of daily life. When it’s revealed that the program’s late creator has left behind three keys that, if found, will unlock ownership of the entire OASIS, thousands of users log in, vying for the opportunity. Among them is our hero, 18-year-old Wade Watts, who seeks a way out of his difficult home life—and instead finds himself on an exhilarating quest that takes him to the furthest stretches of reality.
Winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel, The Fifth Season is a supernatural fantasy set on a faraway planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness. Life on the Stillness is relatively peaceful—that is, until the Fifth Season, a period marked by planet-splintering climate change. But the powerful ties of nature extend to bloodlines as well; a race of citizens known as orogenes have the ability to harness and control energy. Orogenes are widely feared, hated, and hunted by other humans—so when Essun’s orogene daughter goes missing, she must set out on a dangerous journey to find the girl and face her past. Narrated with subtlety and skill by Hall of Fame narrator Robin Miles in a performance that one Audible listener called powerful, and nuanced, and moving…worth the price of admission alone, The Fifth Season will have you clamoring for the sequel immediately after the final word.
Set in the 2080s, Artemis follows trader and part-time smuggler Jazz Bashara’s black-market dealings in Artemis, the first city on the moon. When one of Jazz's regular clients offers her an astronomical sum to sabotage the city's oxygen supplier, she accepts—but soon finds herself entangled in a complicated power struggle for control over the city. Celebrated actress Rosario Dawson commands both the criminal swagger of Jazz and a litany of other characters, seamlessly moving from accent to accent while keeping her whip-smart, lively, ferocious delivery throughout. Fans of bestseller The Martian are sure to love every twist and turn of author Andy Weir’s high-stakes heist follow-up.
Author Pierce Brown’s debut *Red Rising *is set in a futuristic Mars colony organized by a color-coded class hierarchy in which the physically superior Golds rule over the lowly working-class Reds. Among the Reds is Darrow, a young man who is caught in a restricted area and sentenced to be hanged—only to find himself alive, spared by the work of a rebel group called the Sons of Ares. On their suggestion, he agrees to be surgically transformed into a Gold so he can infiltrate the upper ranks and bring the system down from within. But in the process, Darrow finds his external transformation could make it difficult to remain true to who he is inside.Tim Reynolds Gerard’s natural brogue and exceptional storytelling skills give Darrow a genuine presence while his ability to craft distinct voices, cadences, and accents for each supporting character only add to the immersive experience of Brown’s dystopian world.
In an alternate timeline’s 1952, a meteorite strikes the United States, devastating the eastern seaboard and bringing about a period of extreme climate change. Seeking somewhere habitable to establish colonies, America’s leading scientists—including Elma York, leading mathematician and pilot—are forced to expedite efforts to colonize the moon. But even the International Aerospace Coalition is plagued with inequality, leaving Elma wondering why she can’t journey to the moon alongside the men in her division. Winner of the 2019 Nebula Award for Best Novel, The Calculating Stars is a story not just of space exploration, but of marginalized people working together to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of saving humanity. Author Mary Robinette Kowal brings to life her own world exactly as she intended, carving out three-dimensional characters with her thoughtful delivery.
Originally published in 1985, Ender's Game is a literary classic that has given way to several adaptations across media, from film to video games to comic books. In audio, however, Ender’s Game is an experience unlike any other, performed with three strong narrators who bring a vividness to the timeless tale of war and compassion. Set in the unspecified future, the novel imagines the late stages of an ongoing war between humankind and an insect-like alien species that humans call “buggers”. In order to fight invaders, the military trains an army of children, putting them through a series of war games in order to prepare them. As Andrew “Ender” Wiggin progresses through his training, enemies within his school begin to invent increasingly complicated attempts to thwart his success, leading him down a path that is both tactically and morally challenging.
Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a genuine cult phenomenon, a hilarious, rollicking ride through space and time led by a most unlikely hero. The life of Arthur Dent, a hapless, anxious English everyman, is completely turned upside down when he’s faced with two peculiarities on the same day: first, his home is demolished without warning so the city can build a road, and two, he finds out his best friend, Ford, is an alien—an alien who just happens to know that Earth itself is about to be demolished by a race called Vogons. As Arthur and Dent escape by hitching a ride on a Vogon ship, they start off on a whirlwind escapade through the universe. And the only narrator who could possibly bring to life all the mishap and mayhem that ensues is legendary English comic Stephen Fry, who is sure to have you stifling a laugh with his dry, droll delivery.
Originally published and wildly popular in China, The Three Body Problem was translated into English and published in America in 2014 to high praise. Set during the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, the story follows graduate student Ye Wenjie as she becomes so sickened by society that she infiltrates a government space program in an effort to contact aliens and ask them to attack planet Earth. As Liu’s story weaves between Wenjie’s present and the near future, we’re offered glimpses into the repercussions and impact of her decision to make contact with extraterrestrials. Audie Award nominee and Narrator of the Year Luke Daniels unravels the story with taut narration, voicing both Wenjie’s intentions and actions—and the thoughts of the future as police scramble to track her experiment’s effects. As the first novel in the *Remembrance of Earth's Past *trilogy, The Three Body Problem will no doubt leave you on the edge of your seat.
In an era dominated by robotics and artificial intelligence, All Systems Red is a particularly relevant listen that’s utterly unpausable. Narrator Kevin R. Free delivers a mechanical cadence with an undercurrent of wry, crackling wit as he voices the protagonist—a robot that calls itself Murderbot, in reference to a rampage from years ago in which it hacked its own code to gain independence from its programmer. When the grouchy, reclusive Murderbot is sent on an exploratory mission to a new planet, its team stumbles upon the murdered remains of a previous mission and must solve the mystery of what happened, all while fending off a new attack. A cyborg-led thriller with just the right amounts of intrigue, heart, and humor, All Systems Red is an excellent choice for a fast-paced, short sci-fi listen.
This best sci-fi audiobook entry doubles as a top choice for horror enthusiasts. Set after a fungal disease turns most of the human race into fast, flesh eating zombies dubbed hungries, this breathtaking thriller centres on a ragtag group of survivors struggling to carve out an existence in their new, post-apocalyptic reality. Faced with challenges both environmental and ethical, the group must make hard and heartbreaking decisions to survive. In a listen that Audible Editor Sam calls “one of the most imaginative, original, and deeply human takes on the zombie genre”, The Girl With All The Gifts is a tense, taut thriller ripe with twists and turns that will leave you guessing. Classically trained actress Finty Williams lends her voice to Carey’s world, offering an electrifying performance that never strays far from the genuine, even offering a realistic, girlish voice for young heroine Melanie.
Neal Stephenson’s Anathem takes place on the fictional planet Arbre, a world populated by strictly monastic communities that have sworn off of technology and can communicate with the secular world just once every year. When an alien spacecraft is discovered orbiting the planet, it triggers a devotee named Fraa Erasmas to leave Arbre and seek answers about his world, community, religion, and identity. With a multicast narration headed by some of the most acclaimed voice actors in audio, including Audie Award-winner Oliver Wyman and William Dufris of BBC Radio fame, this work of speculative fiction is utterly absorptive, pulling you in and refusing to let go.
Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera opens with humans, unaware of the existence of life beyond Earth, who are invited by an alien race to participate in an advanced intergalactic civilization. Before they can join, however, humans must earn their place in this space coalition by participating in a talent show called the Megagalactic Grand Prix. With the stakes higher than ever, the fate of mankind’s future depends on their ability to put on a show. Clever and sharp, Space Opera simultaneously pays homage to and lambasts some of sci-fi's most notorious tropes. Magnetic and marvelously over-the-top, narrator Heath Miller ensures that Space Opera does double duty as a sci-fi classic and a comedic marvel that will have any listener laughing from beginning to end.
After Earth finally ceases to be able to sustain human life, the last members of society depart in search of a new home—and discover a completely habitable planet that was terraformed and subsequently abandoned by a previous generation. Though it seems like Eden, this new home has been occupied by a new race in the interim since it was abandoned: a community of huge, hyper-intelligent spiders that, after accidentally interacting with a manmade experimental nanovirus, have been evolving for thousands of years. Children of Time may seem ambitious in scope—spanning planets, centuries, and species to grapple with questions about gods, aliens, and what it means to be alive—but excellent writing coupled with out-of-this-world, captivating narration provided by actress Mel Hudson (watch out for the distinct, nasal drone she lends to the spiders) will keep you engrossed throughout.
Nothing says sci-fi quite like Dune; the 1965 classic is the first in a best-selling series that changed the face of the genre forever. And with a team of narrators including Audible Hall of Fame narrators Scott Brick and Simon Vance accompanied by light music and sound-effects, Dune is more engrossing and fully-fledged than ever before. Herbert’s tale follows a family of farmers that supervise the harvesting of a spice-turned-drug called “melange” from a barely habitable desert planet called Arrakis. Melange extends life and enhances intelligence, and its scarcity triggers conflicts of politics, religion, and environment that guide the protagonists in their struggle to protect Arrakis and themselves. Dune is an audiobook that listeners should be wary of — it’s the first in a twelve-book series, and once you start you may not want to stop.
Winston Smith is a low-ranking citizen in the government-controlled nation of Oceania, where the seemingly omniscient Big Brother is constantly surveilling the behaviours and thoughts of his constituents. Even history books, language, and media are strictly regulated and constrained. As Winston's distaste for the totalitarian governing Party deepens, he takes increasingly dangerous risks in small acts of rebellion. Though he gets away with them at first, he soon learns that Big Brother is always watching. While you may have read George Orwell’s 1984 in the past, hearing it in audio is an entirely different experience. An Audie Award winner and noted actor, Simon Prebble demonstrates an incredible range, offering multitudes of regional English accents and underscoring the novel’s dark, looming feel—mimicking the presence of Big Brother himself.