Picking up a book is often like being transported to another world. Books have always been able to help us see outside ourselves and our reality to grasp larger ideas, but science fiction is different. The genre takes the other world idea to a whole new level. Sci-fi writers dream of alternate universes, and the genre is built on the idea of how future humans will live and the disturbing way our world could exist if we continue to treat it the way we currently do.
Widely considered as the founding father of modern science fiction writing, War of the Worlds writer Isaac Asimov famously said: "Today's science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact." Who knows? Maybe the inventions dreamed up by writers will one day help us fly. Maybe we’ll live on other planets. In sci-fi, anything is possible.
Picking up and thumbing through a paperback copy of a sci-fi novel or clicking through a Kindle book may be perfectly good ways to consume the genre, but audiobooks, with the right narrator, can change how we perceive the alternate worlds created within the pages. To prove our point, we’ve found the 10 best sci-fi audiobooks for your commute, road trip, or walk around town.
Ready Player One
Narrated by Wil Wheaton, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One takes us to the year 2044 when the U.S. is an ugly place. To escape, people dwell in a virtual reality simulation called the Oasis. In Ready Player One, listeners will hear a tale that’s part love story, part quest, and part virtual space opera.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This sci-fi classic, narrated by Stephen Fry, follows the story of friends Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect as they begin a journey through the galaxy seconds before the earth is demolished to build a galactic freeway. A relatively short audio read, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy clocks in under six hours, so you’ll be able to blaze through this book easily as you drive through town.
Set in the lone city on the moon, Andy Weir’s Artemis follows 26-year-old Jazz Bashara as she’s drawn into a smuggling scheme and finds herself in over her head. Performed by Rosario Dawson, who "clearly brings her experience as an actress who has portrayed so many roles in the sci-fi, fantasy, and action genres" to the role, according to an editor at Audible, listeners get a taste of the feisty heroine for who she is.
Ann Leckie’s Provenance tells a story of power, theft, privilege, and birthright. Read by Adjoa Andoh, the book follows Ingray and her charge, who return to her home planet to find it in political turmoil during an interstellar conflict. Together, they try to salvage Ingray's future before her family and world are lost to her for good.
We are Legion (We are Bob)
We are Legion (We are Bob) performed by Ray Porter is filled with irreverent wit. After Bob Johansson sells his software company, he dies while crossing the street. Once he wakes up 117 years later, he discovers he’s been cloned, and his clones have a different mission for humanity.
In Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon, aliens arrive off the coast of Lagos, but they’re nothing like the ones from the movies. The book switches narrational point of views to showcase this arrival, and the perspective of the new neighbors, so the audiobook utilizes a pair of narrators, Adjoa Andoh and Ben Onwukwe.
Ray Porter narrates the story of Eli Teague, who doesn’t want to leave his small town, even though it’s woefully behind the times in Peter Clines’s Paradox Bound. After Eli becomes curious about a traveler he encounters, he finds himself on a journey through two centuries of history with the past, present, and future of the U.S. at stake.
The Collapsing Empire
Narrated by Wil Wheaton, The Collapsing Empire details the discovery of the extradimensional force, The Flow, that transports beings to other worlds and around stars. Humanity flows from the world into space and forms a new empire with new interdependency that changes up the power structure. As things turn sour, three individuals are in a race against time to keep the interstellar empire from collapse.
Pierce Brown’s Red Rising takes a look at the first human-colonized Mars, where martian humans are divided into castes. Once a laborer realizes his work is a lie, he inspires a revolution. Read by Tim Gerard Reynolds, this audiobook will get you hooked on this sci-fi series.
The Singularity Trap
The Singularity Trap asks the question does our destiny lie in ourselves or in the stars? Read by Ray Porter, the book follows the story of Ivan Pritchard, a down-on-his-luck asteroid miner who has to protect the entire human race. The challenge alone will force Ivan to question his humanity in a world of AIs.
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