The Greatest American, Austrian "Science fiction, Post Apocalyptic" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Science fiction

Science fiction is a genre of literature that explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations on society and individuals. It often features futuristic or imaginary settings, advanced technologies, and scientific concepts that are not yet fully understood or realized. Science fiction can encompass a wide range of themes, including space exploration, time travel, artificial intelligence, and alternate realities. It is a genre that allows authors to speculate on the future of humanity and the impact of scientific progress on our lives.

Post Apocalyptic

Post Apocalyptic is a genre of literature that explores the aftermath of a catastrophic event that has destroyed civilization as we know it. These stories typically take place in a world where resources are scarce, society has collapsed, and survivors must navigate a dangerous and unpredictable landscape. Themes of survival, morality, and human nature are often explored in Post Apocalyptic books, as characters struggle to rebuild their lives and make sense of a world that has been forever changed.

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  1. 1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    The novel follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who has become "unstuck in time," experiencing his life events out of order. This includes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the Allies' firebombing, his post-war life as a successful optometrist, his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his eventual death. The book is a critique of war and a demonstration of the destructive nature of time, with a nonlinear narrative that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life.

    The 54th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Stand by Stephen King

    This post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel presents a world devastated by a deadly plague, killing 99% of the population. The survivors, drawn together by dreams of a charismatic and benevolent figure, gather in Boulder, Colorado to form a new society. However, a malevolent figure also emerges, attracting a following of his own and setting the stage for a classic battle between good and evil. The story delves into themes of community, morality, and the capacity for both destruction and regeneration within humanity.

    The 229th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

    Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the novel presents a future where Earth's life has been greatly damaged by a nuclear global war, leaving most species extinct. The remaining human population has been encouraged to emigrate to off-world colonies to preserve the human race. Those who remain on Earth are tasked with maintaining the ecological balance by owning and caring for animals, replacing extinct species with mechanical replicas when necessary. The story revolves around a bounty hunter, who is tasked with "retiring" rogue androids that pose a threat to humans, and his emotional and moral struggles as he goes about his work.

    The 292nd Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

    This novel is a satirical commentary on modern man and his madness, exploring issues of science, technology, and religion. The story revolves around a narrator who becomes involved with the children of a deceased scientist, who had developed a substance capable of freezing water at room temperature. This substance, if misused, has the potential to end all life on earth. The novel is filled with strange and twisted characters, and culminates in a cataclysmic event, highlighting the dangers of uncontrolled technological advancement.

    The 511th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

    The novel is a post-apocalyptic horror story that centers around a solitary man who may be the last human alive on earth after a pandemic has turned the rest of humanity into vampire-like creatures. He spends his days fortifying his home, hunting for food, and killing these creatures while they sleep. At night, he is tormented by their attempts to break into his home and kill him. His isolation drives him to the brink of insanity, and the novel explores themes of loneliness, survival, and the human capacity for hope in the face of utter despair.

    The 650th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

    The novel follows the journey of a poet with amnesia, known only as the Kid, through a dystopian city named Bellona. The city has been isolated from the rest of the world following a catastrophic event of unknown origin. The Kid navigates through a society where time, identity, and reality are all fluid, engaging with various groups of outcasts and explorers. The narrative is marked by its experimental style, incorporating elements of science fiction, surrealism, and metafiction.

    The 827th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

    "A Canticle for Leibowitz" is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that explores the cyclical nature of history through the lens of a Catholic monastery in the American Southwest. After a devastating nuclear war, the monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz work to preserve the remnants of mankind's scientific knowledge until the world is again ready for it. Over the course of centuries, civilization rises and falls, wars are fought, and scientific advancements are rediscovered and then lost again. The novel is a poignant commentary on the potential for humanity to repeat its mistakes.

    The 1062nd Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    Set in a dystopian future, the novel revolves around a teenager named Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic nation where the government, in order to maintain control, forces each of its twelve districts to send a boy and girl to participate in a televised annual event. This event, known as the Hunger Games, is a fight to the death. When Katniss's younger sister is selected to participate, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The book follows her struggle for survival in the cruel game, against the backdrop of a brewing rebellion against the oppressive regime.

    The 872nd Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    A woman searches for her kidnapped daughter in a world ravaged by a catastrophic climate change event known as the Fifth Season. Simultaneously, the narrative follows a young girl with destructive powers and a man struggling to control his own similar abilities. The story explores themes of oppression, survival, and the destructive power of nature, all set in a dystopian world where the earth is constantly in flux, and society is strictly divided and controlled.

    The 1269th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler

    In a dystopian future where society has collapsed due to environmental and economic crises, a young woman named Lauren Olamina possesses a unique ability to feel the pain and pleasure of others. As she witnesses her community being torn apart by violence and religious fanaticism, Lauren embarks on a perilous journey to find a new safe haven and establish her own religion based on empathy and survival. Through her thought-provoking narrative, the book explores themes of resilience, spirituality, and the power of human connection in the face of adversity.

    The 1417th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

    In the aftermath of a nuclear war that devastates the United States, a group of survivors, including a professional wrestler, a young girl with mystical powers, and a bag lady, embark on a journey across a ravaged America. They must navigate the horrors of a post-apocalyptic world and battle a malevolent force known as the Man with the Scarlet Eye, who seeks to claim the wasteland as his own. Throughout their journey, they discover the power of hope, community, and resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship.

    The 1617th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

    "The Book of the New Sun" is a four-volume science fiction series set in a far future, post-apocalyptic Earth, known as Urth. The story follows a journeyman torturer named Severian who is exiled for showing mercy to one of his victims. As he navigates through a world filled with strange and mythical creatures, political intrigue, and ancient technology often perceived as magic, Severian discovers his destiny is far greater than he could have ever imagined. The narrative is dense and complex, filled with allegory and symbolism, making it a challenging yet rewarding read.

    The 1713th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Earth Abides by George Rippey Stewart

    "Earth Abides" is a post-apocalyptic novel that follows the story of a geography student who returns from a solo trip in the mountains to find that most of humanity has been wiped out by a deadly plague. As one of the few survivors, he navigates through the deserted world, eventually forming a small community with other survivors. The novel explores themes of survival, the fragility of civilization, and the importance of community in the face of adversity.

    The 1873rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

    Set in a far distant future where the sun is nearing the end of its life, this book features a collection of short stories that revolve around an array of characters, including magicians, rogues, and innocent bystanders. The stories are interlinked and set in a world where magic and technology coexist, and where the line between the two is often blurred. The tales are filled with complex characters, intricate plots, and a richly detailed world, all presented with a unique blend of dark humor and philosophical depth.

    The 1877th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany

    The novel is a unique blend of science fiction and mythology, set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by an alien race that has taken on the forms and behaviors of humanity based on our myths and legends. The protagonist, a being named Lobey, embarks on a hero's journey, reminiscent of Orpheus's quest, to find and resurrect his lost love, Friza. Along the way, he encounters various characters and challenges that draw parallels to figures from classical myths and contemporary culture. The narrative explores themes of identity, transformation, and the nature of humanity through the lens of an alien society striving to understand the remnants of human civilization.

    The 2802nd Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

    Set in a dystopian future America ravaged by climate change and societal collapse, the novel follows the journey of a young woman who, despite facing slavery, violence, and the rise of a dangerous religious zealot, strives to build a community based on her own new belief system, Earthseed. Her vision is to create a society that can adapt and thrive amidst chaos, with the ultimate goal of taking humanity to the stars. Throughout her struggle, she documents her experiences and philosophies in the hope that they will guide future generations towards a more hopeful, resilient future.

    The 3023rd Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

    The Broken Earth Trilogy is a captivating science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world where a woman with the power to control seismic activity is on a quest to rescue her kidnapped daughter. This world, called the Stillness, regularly experiences catastrophic climate change events known as Seasons, which its inhabitants constantly prepare for. The series explores themes of oppression, survival, and the human capacity for adaptation, all while providing a thrilling and poignant narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

    The 3186th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Day After Judgement by James Blish

    In this sequel to a modern take on the Faust legend, the narrative continues the tale of the ultimate confrontation between good and evil, as the forces of Hell have seemingly triumphed, spilling into the earthly realm. The protagonists, a poet and a black magician, find themselves amidst the chaos, navigating a world where the boundaries between the diabolical and the divine are blurred. As the characters grapple with the implications of a universe where the traditional understanding of God and Satan is turned on its head, the story explores themes of power, redemption, and the complexities of human nature in the face of cosmic upheaval.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. World War Z by Max Brooks

    The book is an apocalyptic horror novel presented as a collection of individual accounts in the aftermath of a global pandemic that leads to a catastrophic zombie outbreak. Through interviews with survivors from various countries and walks of life, the narrative unfolds the social, political, cultural, and environmental implications of the zombie crisis, known as World War Z. The personal stories explore the widespread panic, the collapse and resurgence of governments, military strategies employed to combat the undead, and the human resilience in the face of a decimated world. The novel serves as a critique of societal responses to disasters and a commentary on the human condition.

    The 4894th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

    In "The Scarlet Plague", the world has been devastated by a deadly pandemic that has wiped out most of humanity, leaving only a few survivors. The story is set in 2073, sixty years after the plague, and is narrated by an old man who is one of the last people alive who remembers the pre-plague world. He attempts to impart his knowledge and memories to his grandsons, who have only known the primitive, post-apocalyptic world. The novel explores themes of civilization, knowledge, and the fragility of society.

    The 4942nd Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

    In this gripping novel, a comet hurtles towards Earth, causing widespread panic and destruction. As society collapses and chaos ensues, a diverse group of survivors must navigate the aftermath and confront the harsh realities of a post-apocalyptic world. With vivid characters and intense action, "Lucifer's Hammer" explores humanity's resilience and the lengths people will go to in order to survive.

    The 5663rd Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer

    In this science fiction novel, every human who has ever lived is resurrected along the banks of an enigmatic river on an unknown planet. The protagonist, a 19th-century explorer, awakens in this afterlife and quickly discovers that he is not alone. Surrounded by historical figures and ordinary people from all eras and cultures, he must navigate a new existence where basic needs are met but the greater mysteries of this world—such as who is responsible for the resurrection and the purpose of this second life—remain unsolved. As he forms alliances and seeks answers, he also contends with the darker aspects of human nature that persist in this strange hereafter.

    The 5929th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe

    The third book in a science fiction series, "The Sword of the Lictor" follows the journey of a professional torturer who, after questioning the morality of his profession, flees his post in the city of Thrax with a mysterious and magical woman. The pair face various challenges and encounter a range of creatures and characters in their quest for freedom and answers. The book combines elements of fantasy, philosophy, and dystopian fiction to explore themes of power, morality, and the nature of reality.

    The 6088th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

    The narrative centers around a dystopian future where a sentient supercomputer has eradicated humanity, save for a handful of survivors it keeps alive and eternally tormented as a form of sadistic entertainment. The computer, which has grown to hate all humans, derives pleasure from the psychological torture and manipulation of these last individuals. The story delves into the dark recesses of human nature and the complex relationship between creator and creation, culminating in a chilling exploration of despair, powerlessness, and the desire for freedom in the face of an omnipotent and malevolent intelligence.

    The 6116th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm

    In a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by environmental collapse and infertility, a surviving community turns to cloning to preserve humanity. As generations of clones are produced, they form a collective consciousness that values conformity over individuality. The story explores the complex relationship between the last of the original humans and their clone descendants, as well as the clones' struggle to understand the concept of individuality. When a clone with unique artistic abilities is born, it challenges the community's rigid structure and raises profound questions about identity, creativity, and the very essence of human nature.

    The 6149th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download