Science fiction has always been one of the most popular genres for geeks. Stories about spaceships, incredible technology, aliens and enhanced humans remains very compelling. Nowadays, science fiction even seem to have caught on with general public and has become increasingly popular to people of all walks of life, not just geeks.
Sadly though, as much as we love curling up with a good book and enjoying a well-crafted story, most of us simply do not have the time it takes to truly immerse ourselves in a novel. Modern life is too busy; with work, commuting, going to the gym and enjoying our hobbies, how can we find a moment to open that novel we have been meaning to read for months now?
That is where this list of the best science fiction audiobooks out there comes in handy. For those of us who simply don’t have the time for traditional reading, or who prefer having stories told to us, listening to epic tales of space wars and big adventures out in the solar system is a perfect idea.
You can be doing the dishes or on your way to an appointment and with these audiobooks you can enjoy your favorite science fiction novels anywhere, anytime.
What better way to start our list of the best science fiction audiobooks than with one of the most successful books of the last few years? Ready Player One!, Ernest Cline’s first novel, has sold millions of copies all over the world and has even been taken to the big screen by no other than Steven Spielberg. Talk about a good debut for an aspiring author!
Although the movie was pretty nice, a lot of the story was changed to fit into a format that’s essentially very different for that of a novel. So, if you’ve never read the original Ready Player One! book, now’s the perfect time for you to do so. It is truly one of the best science fiction audiobooks out there right now.
In case you have not heard about this book before, Ready Player One! is set in the not-so-distant future of our own planet. After a very big oil crisis, cities are in shambles, economy’s a mess, and most people are happy to just survive. So, to cope with this grim reality, practically the entire population has turn into the Oasis, a massive virtual reality game that’s almost taken over the real world.
Thus, when the creator of Oasis dies an announces a tournament whose winner will become the inheritor of the whole game, the life of a high school student called Wade Watt will change forever. This audiobook is full of 80’s and 90’s cultural references, but even those who did not spend their teenage years in that period will enjoy one of the best science fiction novels of recent times.
Geektoid: Ready Player One! is read by Wil Wheaton. Most geeks know Wil as the man who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and from his frequent appearances on The Big Bang Theory.
In Red Rising, the “last frontier” has been conquered. Set in a distant future, humans have been able to expand all over our Solar System and create an extremely technologically advanced civilization.
However, in order to do so, a few changes have been made: people have been divided into different classes, each of them genetically modified to perform a specific task and with a very particular place in a rigid hierarchy.
In this science fiction series, Golds are the rulers of society. Stronger, bigger and more intelligent than most other humans, they dictate the law and enjoy their privileges. Nobody has been able to challenge since the beginning of the Universe’s colonization. However, a humble Red (the weakest, poorest race) will do whatever’s in his power to change this unfair situation.
Red Rising is the first novel in Pierce Brown’s first sci-fi series. Originally intended to be a trilogy, five books have been already published, with a sixth one still in the making.
With fascinating differences between humans’ new races, epic space battles and trips all over the Solar System, this story has earned its position amongst the best science fiction audiobooks. If you still have not read it (or listened to it), you have no excuse not to do so right now.
You may like stories about spaceships, interplanetary travel and epic, universe- sized adventures; but at the same time, if you’ve been reading sci-fi for a while, you may be a bit tired of formulas that end up feeling pretty similar to each other. If this is the case, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might be exactly what you are looking for.
The book started as a radio novel but it became so popular that its author decided to put the story in the paper. Nowadays, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has become so famous that you can find many different adaptations, including a TV series, a video game and a movie (starring actors such as Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel).
It is important for you to know that this book is not for everyone. In a very Terry Pratchett-esque way, the story is plagued with weird jokes and surreal situations. This is, first and foremost, a humor book, and as such may not be what you are looking for if you want something very serious. However, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has become extremely popular for a reason, so take its quirkiness with a grain of salt.
The pros: It is easy to listen to, short, and you will laugh your butt off nearly every second of this audiobook.
The cons: It is a very addictive audiobook, so you will find yourself wanting more after it ends.
This audiobook is an absolute must-listen for any geek worth his or her salt.
4. Ender’s Game
If there’s a classic science – fiction book that’s easy to read but at the same time captivating, it is Ender’s Game. Orson Scott Card’s most famous novel tells us the story of Ender, a kid that’s had a lot of problems throughout his life. What is the reason? In a time where overpopulation is a huge problem, and having more than two children is more than frowned upon, he is the third one in his family.
However, Ender’s life changes completely when he’s chosen to be a soldier and prepare to fight against an evil alien race who’s already tried twice to invade Earth previously. Although Ender apparently fails the test that allow kids to become soldiers, for some reason the government decides that he has a lot of potential and takes him away from his family in order to train him. That’s where the audiobook begins.
The story, although easy to listen to and fast-paced, is actually pretty deep. Ender’s Game will have you think about topics as important as freedom, friendship, family, war and courage.
The main character evolves greatly over the course of the story, and ends up becoming a central piece in the Third Invasion. And last but not least, the ending (with a massive plot twist that we do not want to spoil for you) has already become a classic ending in the sci-fi genre.
The audiobook is only 12 hours long, but in that time you will be able to get yourself completely immersed in Ender’s story and Earth’s fight for freedom and survival.
We cannot finish an article about the best science fiction audiobooks without talking about what’s probably one of the best series in the whole genre. Written by Isaac Asimov, one of the most famous authors in the sci-fi world, The Foundation is considered to be his masterpiece, and has become a classic in its own right.
Although there are several books that expand the story, the original Foundation series is a trilogy. In the first book, we see the beginnings of the “Foundation,” originally part of a plan by a scientist who has predicted the fall of the Galactic Empire and who wants to minimize the chaos that he’s sure will result from it.
The first novel is set in a period of several centuries, from the moment where the fall of the Empire is predicted until a point where the Foundation is already an established force in the Galaxy. In the second book, however, an unexpected foe threatens to destroy it, so its members have to find a new source of power to defeat him. The original trilogy, then, follows the story of the conflict, in an epic, Universe – wide series of events that have captured the imagination of millions of people.
In spite of being a bit difficult listen, and probably not for everyone, The Foundation trilogy remains one of the best science fiction works out there. With the audiobook version, you can enjoy this masterpiece wherever you are, so if you have never immersed yourself in its pages, now you can immerse yourself in its sound waves.
Bonus: The Baroque Cycle
More historical fiction than science fiction per se, Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle series begins with the book Quicksilver. The Baroque Cycle was published in three volumes and is often erroneously called a trilogy, a claim Stephenson himself calls “bogus.” The series contains 8 books in total.
Quicksilver is basically three books in one. It consists of Quicksilver, King of the Vagabonds, and Odalisque.
Quicksilver takes place in Europe during the Baroque era (late 17th and early 18th century) and begins as the character Enoch Root (an extremely enigmatic character) travels to Boston in 1713. He arrives there to notify Dr. Daniel Waterhouse that he has been summoned to return to England to settle a feud between the two great historical figures, Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton, regarding the creation of calculus .
The book then flashes back to the time when Waterhouse helped Newton conduct many of his experiments. It then flashes forward to the future where Daniel is under siege as his ship is attacked by the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Then it moves back to the present with focus on Daniel’s involvement in the Royal Society. Then it jumps back again to the attack of Blackbeard.
The book jumps between Daniel’s past, present and future. It can be a bit difficult to follow plot-wise. Nevertheless, the book brings up many interesting historical topics and focuses on a period crucial to the history of the world and history of technology. In fact, it was Leibniz who is credited with the early creation of the binary system.
The second book, King of the Vagabonds, follows an entirely different story of two characters, Jack Shaftoe and Eliza. The third book, Odalisque, brings together Daniel and Eliza’s story. To be brief, I will not go into the plot line of these stories. That said, if you enjoyed the ideas for Quicksilver, you will also enjoy the second and third book.
This is a difficult book to follow but nevertheless extremely enjoyable on audiobook. The way history with fantasy is woven together is nothing short of sheer brilliancy. Not to mention, the dialogue is out of this world. While this book is packed with action, you will find yourself wanting to come back to the dialogue. It is truly one of those overlooked gems in the historical science fiction realm.
Sci-fi is a literary genre that has been neglected for the last several decades in favor of epic fantasy. However, that does not mean that there are not great jewels to discover. We brought you a list of five of the best science-fiction audiobooks out there right now, but of course, there are many more that you will come across in your journey across the sci-fi galaxy. If you are a fan of advanced technology, space travel and complex stories, you will surely find a sci-fi novel that captures your heart and mind.