Listverse offers a list of what they consider the top 15 sci fi books of all time.
Now the trouble with these lists is that they are informed opinion at best and very seldom will two people completely agree on such a list.The list as offered
1. H.G. Wells The Time Machine
Indeed a well done and well considered work but I prefer his War of the Worlds
but then both are great works. I don't know about #1 to but great.
2. Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
a bizarre and intriguing study of human society. Indeed a major work but with a caveat that it is a mixture of brilliance and nonsense like much of Heinlein's writing. By 1976 I had read every book that was listed as written by him but read him less and less after that. Honestly I prefer Starship Troopers, Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel,
and All Methuselah's Children
to Stranger in a Strange Land.
3. Doc Smith The Lensmen Series
. Embarrassing to admit but I have never read them.
4. Arthur C. Clark 2001 A Space Odyssey
a bit esoteric but the book is far superior to the movie and actually I thought the book made more sense than the movie.
5. Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451
Actually I preferred his books The Martian Chronicles
and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
He was actually just a great writer who wrote many brilliant stories. Some of his best stuff is his short stories. Any of these books could be included in this list.
6. Isaac Asimov The Foundation Series
I am no fan of Mr. Asimov. Yes he was brilliant but I found his fiction to be uninspiring. Let the death threats and hate mail begin!
7. Kurt Vonnegut When I was 15 I thought Slaughterhouse 5
was wildly entertaining. Today I find it uninteresting.
8. Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
. A cult favorite that I have a love for, except for the last book Mostly Harmless
which has considerably less humor and ends in absolute despair which was the logical conclusion of Mr. Adams' beliefs and philosophy. I disagree with Mr. Adams' world view but do enjoy the series.
9. Frank Herbert The Dune Series
. The first three books were brilliant and the fourth wasn't bad, but he should have known when to stop. (Chapterhouse Dune
and Heretics of Dune
were both monstrosities in my opinion; I don't know why I forced myself to read them.)
William Gibson Neuromancer
. Never heard of this one.
11. Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
I read this when I was in the Navy but it really didn't make an impression on me.
12. Fredrick Pohl Gateway
I never read this one.
13. Orson Scott Card Ender's Game
I have never read this one either.
14. George Orwell 1984
. A well written and well thought out novel of a terrifying future. Certainly is a classic but I don't know if I consider it Science Fiction.
15. Aldous Huxley Brave New World
This is actually one of my favorite books period and one I wish I could get everyone in America to sit down a read and think about. I would rank it in the top 5.
Some that should have at least been considered.
Something by Jules Verne. My favorite was Around the World in 80 Days
but I think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
is probably his most popular work.
Larry Niven's Ringworld
Most people don't consider this legitimate Sci-fi novels but the novelization of the original three Star Wars
movies are very good and carry a lot of stuff that is missing from the movies.
Actually there is only English language writers listed. And that is a major lacking. I am sure that Russia, Germany and Japan have produced some quality stuff that is worth considering even if I am unfamiliar with it.