Best Science Fiction Authors of All Time: 13 Writers To Read

Are you looking for the best science fiction authors? Here are some of the top sci-fi writers of all time, and pick up amazing science fiction novels today!

There is nothing quite like the world of science fiction. It has the ability to instantly transport you to another world, leaving Earth behind. You also get to explore the capabilities of time travel, interact with androids, and consider artificial intelligence all while imagining what the future might be like.

In many ways, the worlds discussed in sci-fi novels encourage people to shoot for the stars, dream big, and model their futures after what we learn about in these sci-fi novels. Who are some of the top sci-fi writers of all time, and what are some of the best books sci-fi books that they wrote? If you enjoy this article, check out our N.K. Jemisin masterclass review. It’s a must for all wannabe fantasy and sci-fi writers.

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Best science fiction authors

Top 13 Science Fiction Authors You Must Read

1. Isaac Asimov, 1920 – 1992

Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov via Wikimedia, Public Domain

Isaac Asimov is considered to be one of the best authors of all time, let alone one of the best sci fi writers ever. He was an American writer and professor, teaching biochemistry at Boston University. He wrote or edited more than 500 books during the course of his storied career. Even though he explored multiple elements of Science Fiction, he is best known for his works on androids, robots, and other sentient life.

In many ways, he is considered to be the father of the modern science fiction genre. A lot of his books remain best-sellers, and he is particularly well known for several series, notably Foundation, which was recently adapted into a TV series. He is also the author of I, Robot, which was turned into a movie. Before you check out his works on the big screen, you may want to pick up a copy of the Foundation series for yourself.

2. Arthur C. Clarke, 1917 – 2008

Arthur C. Clarke
A portrait of Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C Clarke is an English science fiction writer. In addition to his work as an author, he also hosted a television series, explored the depths of the ocean, and made a career as an inventor. In addition to his novels, he published a variety of essays focusing on space travel, encouraging man to shoot for the stars. He even had the ability to predict the future, predicting that man would eventually be able to instantly contact people anywhere on Earth, long before the invention of the internet. 

Even though a lot of his works are listed among the greatest science fiction stories of all time, he is best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey, a work that would later become a critically-acclaimed movie as well. Before you check out the famous movie, you may want to pick up a copy of his book for yourself. You can find 2001: A Space Odyssey on Amazon. Looking for more sci-fi novels to add to your reading list? Check out our round-up of the best Cyberpunk authors!

3. Frank Herbert, 1920 – 1986

Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert via Wikimedia, Public Domain

Frank Herbert is a storied American science fiction author. He was always fascinated by writing, starting to read the newspaper from cover to cover from an early age. Eventually, he developed a passion for science fiction, thinking about what the future might look like. In particular, he is known for the novel Dune, which he published in 1965. It became a massive hit, inspiring five sequels to be published after it. In addition, the popular series has been adapted to the big screen multiple times. In addition to his work as an author, he also worked as a newspaper journalist, ecological consultant, photographer, and lecturer.

The Dune series is set in the distant future, taking place over thousands of years. It explores the variety of themes that the human species will have to tackle to expand to other worlds. It was also turned into a hit film in 2021 directed by Denis Villeneuve, for more recommendations like this, check out our guide to hard science fiction.

4. Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin
A portrait of Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most popular American science fiction authors of all time. Most of her works were set in the unique Hainish universe, and she is best known for her Earthsea fantasy novels. Her career lasted more than 60 years and included dozens of novels and countless short stories. She earned her master’s degree in French, and she started writing full-time in the late 1950s. Some of her most popular books include A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness won her the Hugo award and the Nebula award, both for the best novel. She was the first woman to win either award. You might want to check out The Left Hand of Darkness on Amazon.

5. H. G. Wells, 1866 – 1946

H.G. Wells
A portrait of H.G. Wells

H. G. Wells was an English writer who published during the last half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Even though he published works in a variety of areas, including biographies, satires, historical fiction, and social commentary works, he is also one of the pioneers of science fiction, entering into the area as one of its early writers.

In many ways, he had a progressive vision for the future. A popular futurist, he wrote about nuclear weapons, space travel, planes, satellite TV, and the internet long before any of these became reality. He envisioned something of a utopia in the future, explored the possibility of time travel, and discussed the possibility of invisibility. Some of his most popular works include The War of the Worlds, The War in the AirThe Time Machine, and The Invisible Man. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times. 

6. Neal Stephenson, 1959

Neal Stephenson
A portrait of Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson is one of the most popular contemporary American science fiction writers. Even though he has been interested in the applications of future technology for nearly his entire life, his work in the science fiction area has explored a lot of new areas. His work has been described as cyberpunk, with a marriage of historical fiction, science fiction, and cryptography. In addition to his work as a novelist, he also publishes regularly in technology publications, including Wired

His unique cyberpunk work creates a dystopian world where low-lives are married with high-tech, creating an interesting dynamic. Some of his most popular works include The System of the World, The Confusion, and Cryptonomicon. You might want to check out The System of the World for yourself, which is available on Amazon. If you like reading sci-fi books, you might want to explore our round-up of the best authors like octavia butler.

7. Dan Simmons, 1948

Dan Simmons is a popular American science fiction writer. He was born in Peoria, Illinois, and earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Wabash College. He went on to earn his Master’s in education from Washington University in St Louis. He started writing short stories at an early age, but his career did not flourish until 1982. At that time, he published a short story, called The River Styx Runs Upstream, and it was published in the Twilight Zone Magazine, earning him a lot of recognition for his work.

Today, Simmons is best known as the author of the Hyperion Cantos series of science fiction novels as well as the Ilium and Olympos science fiction novels. He has the ability to bring multiple genres together, frequently blending horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. He also won a World Fantasy Award for his work Song of Kali in 1985. You can check out some of his work for yourself by picking up a copy of the Hyperion Cantos series from Amazon.

8. Philip K. Dick, 1928 – 1982

Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Philip K Dick is one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time. During his career, he wrote more than 44 novels and 121 short stories. Most of his short stories appeared in science fiction magazines. His work explored a variety of areas including the nature of reality, human nature, perception, and the idea of identity. He also told stories that took place in alternate realities, none of them involving altered states of consciousness. 

Even though he was born in Chicago, he spent most of his time growing up in the San Francisco Bay area. He published his first stories in 1952 when he was only 23 years old. His career started off slowly, but he garnered critical acclaim for his work, The Man in the High Castle, an alternate history novel in 1962. It earned him the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The book was also adapted into a popular TV series. Some of his other popular works include Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.

You may want to check out his book, The Man in the High Castle, for yourself. It is available on Amazon. If you like science fiction, you’ll love our round-up of the best Edgar Rice Burroughs books.

9. Liu Cixin, 1963

Liu Cixin
A portrait of Liu Cixin

Liu Cixin is a Chinese science fiction author behind the Three-Body Problem. That’s hard science fiction series about the future of humanity and what would happen if we found alien life. The series is unlike anything else on this perhaps due to Liu writing from the point of view of China and not Western society. The series is being turned into a television show by the showrunners behind Game of Thrones. His work is regarded as hard science fiction.

10. Jules Verne, 1828-1905

Jules Verne
Jules Verne via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France. He’s regarded as the father of science fiction and many of his books have been turned into films, plays and even video games. His first book was Five Weeks in a Balloon, published in 1863. Some of his most famous works include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eight Days. He died of complications related to chronic diabetes and a subsequent stroke.

11. Robert A. Heinlein, 1907-1988

Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Heinlein was born in Missouri, the third of seven children. He served in the US Navy and was also married multiple times. He’s well known for his advice to writers, known as Heinlein’s rules of writing. These are:

  1. You must write.
  2. Finish what you start.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put your story on the market.
  5. You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Friday, Glory Road, I Will Fear No Evil and Starship Troopers are some of his most famous works. Director Paul Verhoeven turned that last book into a satirical film in 1997. For more, check out our guide to the best satirical authors.

12. Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Bradbury was born in Illinois. He spent much of his early life reading and writing and penned his first story aged 12. He published his first story, Hollerbochen’s Dilemma, aged 19. He contributed regularly to film magazines and became a full-time writer aged 24. He was a big believer in the importance of writing every day. Some of his most famous works include I Sing the Body Electric, Fahrenheit 451, and The Martian Chronicles. You might also enjoy these authors like Michael Crichton.

13. Edward Rice Burroughs, 1875-1950

Edward Rice Burroughs
Edward Rice Burroughs via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Edward Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago. He began writing fiction in his thirties to earn a side income. He said about this period of his life, “… if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.”

Burrough turned writing a series of books into a fine art and earned a good living. He even self-published or printed his own books in the 1930s. His most famous works include the Tarzan series, the Barsoom series and the Venus series. For more, check out our guide to the best Edward Rice Burroughs books.

14. Iain M. Banks

Iain M. Banks
Iain Banks via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Iain Banks (1954-2013) was a mainstream fiction and science fiction author. From Scotland, He achieved fame writing science fiction through his pseudonym, Iain M. Banks, with the novel Consider Phlebas. That was published in 1987. 

Banks’ science-fiction novels, especially the 10-book Culture series, amassed a cult following and constantly received critics’ praise. According to his official website, Banks was lauded as “the most imaginative novelist of his generation” by The Times, while The Guardian called him “the standard by which the rest of SF is judged.” 

Sadly, in April 2013, Banks revealed he was suffering from late-stage cancer, and died the following June, leaving an enormous gap in contemporary science fiction. For more, read our guide to the best Ian Banks books.

“The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t.”

Iain M. Banks

Final Word on the Best Science Fiction Authors

These are a few of the most popular science fiction writers of all time. The science-fiction genre is massive with many great books worth reading. In many ways, the world of science fiction gives us a goal to shoot for, pushing us to move forward as a race. Even though many science fiction books can show what our future might look like at its worst, these books can also inspire us to be our best. As a result, many science fiction books have led to amazing TV shows, movies, and technological leaps, showing the power these books have.

If you want an introduction to this genre, you may want to take a look at some of the works by the writers above. You will quickly find that the science fiction area has a lot of sub-genres as well. You might even find that many of the books have inspired some of your favorite characters from movies and TV shows. 

FAQs About the Best Science Fiction Authors

Who is the best science fiction writer of all time?

Some of the best science fiction writers of all time include Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury,  Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein and Ursula Le Guin.

Are there any other science fiction authors I may want to check out?

Check out books by John Scalzi, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Ann Leckie, Octavia E. Butler and Andy Weir. Many of their books are available on Amazon, and you can learn more about this amazing field of writing. 

What are some other science fiction works I may want to check out?

There are a lot of amazing works in this field. You may want to check out Frankenstein, Cixin, Niven, Starship Troopers, Snow Crash, and even a space opera novella or two. Many of these works take place in a strange land, and you can experience what life might be like in another universe.

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