Science fiction plays a key role in the development of new ideas in a society. The genre has wormed its way into mainstream entertainment and pop culture. At the very heart of it, the human imagination begins to reveal hopeful yet frightful things about our own society.
Sci-fi authors have an innate ability to foretell how humans will go about experiencing a world with all the technologies we’re creating. It’s important to understand how people react to these innovations that they ultimately yearn for in technology.
With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of the best sci-fi audiobooks that frame up a digital-forward future for your immersive experience. Some of the earliest science fiction audiobooks on this list predicted where we would be with technology today. Grab your headphones and get sucked into a whole new world with audiobooks perfect for commutes, long bike rides, or just cleaning the house. Enjoy this required listening!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton
A beloved worldwide bestseller from American science fiction novelist and screenwriter is what this. Ernest Cline’s debut novel became a masterpiece that would eventually have its film adaptation directed by Steven Speilberg.
Ready Player One is a sci-fi audiobook set in a dystopian vision of the 2040s. The world is gripped by a crisis causing widespread social and economic problems. The primary escape from this grim for all humanity is a virtual universe called the OASIS.
Length: 15 hours and 40 minutes
The virtual reality game is a series of clues left by geek genius James Halliday to find an Easter Egg that will grant fortune and total control of his OASIS to whoever unlocks it. The incredible tale follows the viewpoint of teenage Wade Watts on his search for the easter egg, even as millions have struggled to attain the prize for years.
Lovers of the 1980s pop culture and video games will thoroughly enjoy irresistible nostalgia as the relevant, yet pervasive references are crucial to finding James Halliday’s egg. James stumbles upon his first puzzle and is suddenly swarmed by competitors who will stop at nothing to beat him to the prize. Wade knows that for him to win the ultimate prize, he has to face the very reality he’s been struggling to escape. The stakes are much higher.
The accomplished voice and screen actor Wil Wheaton provides narration for this geeky nerd haven audiobook release. Cline’s highly anticipated sequel Ready Player Two was released in 2020, and Wheaton also jumps on this one.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry
Outstanding in every aspect, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first book of its trilogy by British author, screenwriter, and humorist Douglas Adams. Originally a BBC radio comedy, the comedy sci-fi novel was adapted to a comic book, TV show, stage play, and film.
Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes
Adams’ boundless creativity and imagination transport the listener to a galaxy where Arthur Dent has just had a shocker of a day. His home planet has been destroyed. And he finds out that his friend Ford Prefect who’s plucked him from the planet just before demolition has been a hitchhiking alien all along. Ford is a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Dent finds himself on an adventure across space, running into aliens of all kinds.
Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams is the duo you never knew you needed! The book is one of the strongest narratives from one of the best writers. The reading is well executed by one of the best audiobook narrators. Fry’s added flair to Adam’s humorous tidbits about the universe and its inhabitants is a delightful earworm. The chapters are notably short and should get you through your morning commute.
The Fifth Season by N.K Jemisin narrated by Robin Miles
Sci-fi book lovers will want to debate on whether this is fantasy or science fiction. It’s a genre-bending tale that you should shelve under epic. That’s it.
Length: 15 hours and 27 minutes
The award-winning Nora Keita Jemisin is the author of The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth trilogy. All three books in the trilogy won the prestigious Hugo Award. The critically acclaimed darling is a world-building marvel. Jemisin favors chopping her narrative up chronologically and not really explaining to the listener what comes before or after. Neither does she spell out the twists and turns; you’re left to piece it all together. This works effectively here.
The Fifth Season is a fully imagined world of hope and casual cruelty filled with beautiful, tragic, and desperately human characters. In the far future earth, the cruelties pass without comment and are sometimes welcomed with gratitude. A few people inhabit the world of hope.
The world is on the cusp of a collapse as a tectonic shift opens it across. The great red rift rips the heart of the earth, resulting in volcanoes that spew ash enough to darken the sky for centuries. Meanwhile, Essun’s daughter has been kidnapped by her husband. The oregenes have the impossible ability to control the earth (by quelling volcanic eruptions) and manipulate its people. Essun will go to great lengths to hide this from the dying land because her kidnapped daughter is an oregene. Her revenge mission is all she cares about. She must pursue her family’s wreckage to save her daughter.
Robert Miles’s layered performance in dozens of accents sheds light on the xenophobic nature of a cruel world. Her suspenseful sequences between characters will keep you on your toes. It’s one of those sci-fi books that are dark, thought-provoking, but worth listening to.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter
Get to know the Bobs! The Bobiverse is a rich universe filled with danger and quite a lot of Bob. Dubbed the next Douglas Adams, Dennis E. Taylor is the man behind all the Bobs in the Bobiverse trilogy. The light-hearted, fast-paced science fiction romp revolves around Bob Johansson, a newly minted tech billionaire. Bob has just sold his company for a lifetime of leisure and splurging. First on his list: signing up his head to be cryogenically frozen in the event of his death.
Length: 9 hours and 56 minutes
Of course, he’s killed by a passing car across the street, but his story doesn’t stop there. Waking up a hundred years later, Bob discovers his mind has been uploaded into a space probe with the ability to clone itself. The AI replicant is now also a pop culture junkie on a mission to find humanity new colony worlds. Bob creates more of himself to spread out around the universe, looking for an inhabitable planet. Bob and his clones have to deal with armed crazy rivals, potential alien life, and the ironic possibility of saving humanity.
Even with its ludicrous sci-fi references, it’s still a solid listen. Taylor’s geeky and hilarious look into the future filled with witty storytelling offers Ray Porter much more room to convey all the emotion, humor, and dialogue in a magnificent performance. Ray has narrated over 400 narrated titles available on Audible. The blockbuster Audible Original Bobiverse series is a fan favorite. You can also listen to Taylor’s other far-future hilarity in his most recent installment titled Heaven’s River, which Ray also narrates.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini, narrated by Jennifer Hale
Fantasy megastar Christopher Paolini sat through 9 long years of furnishing his first foray into sci-fi with dazzling details, and it shows. The fast, gripping, well-written, and heart-pounding sci-fi audiobook is quite different from Paolini’s previous works.
Length: 32 hours and 29 minutes
Kira Navárez is fascinated by life in other new worlds. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a book revolving around the third-person perspective of the xenobiologist who finds an ancient alien relic during a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet.
When the ancient dust around her begins to move, Kira soon realizes the alien relic is far more than she bargained for, and first contact isn’t what she imagined. What was hidden there was placed away for a good reason. Now she and her crew will have to face dramatic consequences, including galactic wars and the threat of alien invasion.
The audiobook production won an AudioFile Earphones Award thanks in part to the enthralling voice work of Jennifer Hale. So sit back and let the veteran voice actor upgrade your listening experience with her very first audiobook narration. It’s space operas and epic world building at its finest.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, narrated by Robin Miles
The award-winning novel is well-deserving of the Hugo and Nebula Awards it won. The book **is ideal for sci-fi fans who prefer a quick listen. Nigerian writer Nnedi Okorafor offers a neat glimpse into a dystopian future where individual culture is still present.
Length: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Binti is a teenage math whiz and the first and only Himba ever to be offered a place at the galaxy’s most prestigious institution, Oomza University. She’s not allowed to move away from her ancestral land, but she does anyway. She is caught in the middle of a long-standing war between alien Meduse and Oomza Uni and they will put her in harm’s way as she travels. The spaceship she’s meant to be on has just encountered an alien invasion. The journey will not be easy.
Robin Miles’s narration of Nnedi’s space exploration is filled with rich emotion and exceptional vocal range for the cast of characters. The well-written bold adventure offers fantastic lessons and takeaways. Some of Nnedi’s listeners thought Binti felt unfinished with regards to plot and storyline. Hopefully, a sequel?
Artemis by Andy Weir narrated by Rosario Dawson
Readers clearly love Andy Weir’s books. The writer’s thrilling and successful debut, The Martian, won the best sci-fi in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards and made the New York Times bestseller list. It’s what thrust him into the limelight. After being a hit with his audience, the sci-fi book was later adapted into a film starring Matt Damon. He played the role of Mark Watney who became the first person to walk on Mars. Matt Damon (together with the film) received an Oscar nomination for his role.
Length: 8 hours and 57 minutes
Now Weir is back with a follow-up book titled Artemis. This book also won the best sci-fi novel of 2017. Admittedly, The Martian is a tough act to follow. But Weir certainly knows how to keep his listeners hooked. However, we would suggest listening to Artemis first before The Martian because most of the critics’ reviews for this book are in direct comparison with Andy’s first book.
Set on the moon city in the 1980s, the space adventure follows Jazz Bashara, a smuggler of sorts, as she lands in the middle of a conspiracy. After a meeting with wealthy businessman Trond Landvik who asks her to commit the perfect heist in exchange for lucrative cash, she accepts. The crime is the least of the anti-hero’s troubles as she soon discovers she’s stepped right into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.
The talented Actress Rosario Dawson captures Jazz’s first-person view and brash personality quite well. As she immerses herself into a cast of characters, Rosario’s interpretation of them gives the story legs—a sublime listening experience.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, narrated by Adjoa Andoh
Ann Leckie’s debut novel earned the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. It’s the first of the Imperial Radch Space Opera trilogy. An incredible feat!
Set thousands of years in the future on a remote planet, the story follows Breq in the present storyline, who’s the sole physical manifestation of a starship destroyed. In the Radch empire, which rules civilization, ships are sentient and control physical bodies called ancillaries. After the destruction of her ship “Justice of Toren,” Breq goes on to seek vengeance and justice for said destruction.
Length: 12 hours and 45 minutes
Adjoa Andoh’s warm silky voice gives each compelling character a distinct voice allowing listeners to follow along easily.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
Up until this point, you’ll notice that most of our picks are the first of a trilogy. Whether that speaks to the remarkable debuts that are arguably hard to beat or the fact that we’d like you to get an idea of how the first book anchors your favorite sci-fi sequel is open to interpretation.
Length: 16 hours and 12 minutes
Red Rising is no different. The beloved New York Times bestseller is the first of the Red Rising series by the incomparable author. The American novelist introduces the listener to Darrow, a member of the Red caste, the lowest caste in the color-coded futuristic society. He toils all day, believing that he and fellow Reds will make the surface of Mars habitable for generations to come. Darrow soon discovers the ultimate betrayal; the surface of Mars has been habitable all along. The dominant Gold caste has been flourishing in sprawling cities and parks across the planet. He intends to infiltrate the ruthless Gold in a transformation like no other. And he will stop at nothing to achieve this.
Tim Gerard Reynolds’s narration makes the phenomenal tale of Darrow come alive. The accent master brings the story to a perfect edge as the protagonist moves toward his ultimate goal. Darrow’s story is rich in color and deep in meaning. The memorable characters, emotion, and suspenseful moments make this audiobook one to remember for a very long time.
What is the best selling audiobook of all time?
The answer is quite tricky to pin down. There aren’t official lists like we have for weekly print lists. For audiobooks, the sources are limited. Retailer lists are heavily controlled by advertising and primarily focus on exclusive releases. The New York Times lists are monthly, and the rest are user-generated.
What is the best audio book?
What you consider the best audio book might rank lowest on another user’s list. According to Goodreads, which covers every book that’s ever been published, The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the best audiobook. It’s followed closely by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Is the dune audiobook good?
The early classic of the sci-fi genre by Frank Herbert is a bit dated today, but Dune is still such potent fodder. The brilliant retelling of the destruction of the earth through the story of Paul Atreides is well worth listening to. The audiobook’s expert production has the listener in mind. The audiobook is about 21 minutes, so Dune should do if you have a road trip planned out.
What audiobooks should I listen to?
We’d suggest losing yourself in the imaginative world of science fiction first and the list of sci-fi audiobooks we’ve provided is a great start!