Best science fiction novels

If you’re a new (or avid) reader of science fiction and fantasy, the list of novels that have won Hugo and Nebula awards is an essential resource to guide your fiction selections. We’ve highlighted novels that won both awards simultaneously (or were tied) and ticked those we feel you should give special attention to.

Hugo and Nebula award winners

Hugo and Nebula awards are presented annually for achievements in science fiction and fantasy literature. The Hugo award, named in honour of one of the founders of magazine science fiction in the US, Hugo Gernback, is determined by popular vote of members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). There are four award categories: novel, novella, novelette, and short story.

The Nebula award, in contrast, is determined by votes of members of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and, as the name suggests, includes fantasy works. Founded by Damian Knight, the SFWA is a non-profit organisation with over 1,200 writers, artists and editors in its ranks. There are five award categories: novel, novella, novelette, short story and script.

Surprisingly, while Frank Herbert won a Nebula for Dune in 1965, none of the other six books in the classic Dune series ever won a Hugo or Nebula. 

Hugos were first awarded in 1953, while Nebula awards began in 1965.

Legend

  • If a book won both the Nebula and Hugo awards, they’re highlighted in yellow.
  • If votes resulted in a tie in any particular year, they’ve been highlighted in grey.
  • Books marked with a are recommended by the Galactic Brain team.
Nebula awards Hugo awards
Nebula awards Hugo awards
2017 The Stone Sky, N. K. Jemisin The Stone Sky, N. K. Jemisin
2016 All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders The Obelisk Gate, N. K. Jemisin
2015 Uprooted, Naomi Novik The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu (Translator)
2014 Camouflage Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy), Jeff VanderMeer Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch), Ann Leckie
2013 Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch), Ann Leckie Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi
2012 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson Among Others, Jo Walton
2011 Among Others, Jo Walton Blackout/ All Clear, Connie Willis
2010 Blackout/ All Clear, Connie Willis The City & The City, China Mieville and The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
2009 The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
2008 Powers (Annals of the Western Shore), Ursula K. Le Guin The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel, Michael Chabon
2007 The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel, Michael Chabon Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge
2006 Seeker, Jack McDevitt Spin, Robert Charles Wilson
2005 Camouflage, Joe Haldeman Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
2004 Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold
2003 The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon Hominids, Robert J. Sawyer
2002 American Gods, Neil Gaiman American Gods, Neil Gaiman
2001 The Quantum Rose, Catherine Asaro Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
2000 Darwin’s Radio, Greg Bear A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge
1999 Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
1998 Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman
1997 The Moon and the Sun, Vonda N. McIntyre Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
1996 Slow River, Nicola Griffith The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
1995 The Terminal Experiment, Robert J. Sawyer Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold
1994 Moving Mars, Greg Bear Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
1993 Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson Doomsday Book, Connie Willis and A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge (tie)
1992 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold
1991 Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick The Vor Game, Lois McMaster Bujold
1990 Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin Hyperion, Dan Simmons
1989 The Healer’s War, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
1988 Falling Free, Lois McMaster Bujold The Uplift War, David Brin
1987 The Falling Woman, Pat Murphy Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
1986 Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
1985 Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card Neuromancer, William Gibson
1984 Neuromancer, William Gibson Startide Rising, David Brin
1983 Startide Rising, David Brin Foundation’s Edge, Isaac Asimov
1982 No Enemy But Time, Michael Bishop Downbelow Station, C. J. Cherryh
1981 The Claw of the Conciliator, Gene Wolfe The Snow Queen, Joan D. Vinge
1980 Timescape, Gregory Benford The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke
1979 The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre
1978 Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre Gateway, Frederik Pohl
1977 Gateway, Frederik Pohl Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm
1976 Man Plus, Frederik Pohl The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
1975 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
1974 The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
1973 Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov
1972 The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip José Farmer
1971 A Time of Changes, Robert Silverberg Ringworld, Larry Niven
1970 Ringworld, Larry Niven The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
1969 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
1968 Rite of Passage, Alexei Panshin Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
1967 The Einstein Intersection, Samuel R. Delany The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
1966 Babel-17, Samuel R. Delany and Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (tie) Dune, Frank Herbert and This Immortal, Roger Zelazny (tie)
1965 Dune, Frank Herbert The Wanderer, Fritz Leiber
1964

N/A

Way Station, Clifford D. Simak
1963

N/A

The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
1962

N/A

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
1961

N/A

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
1960

N/A

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
1959

N/A

A Case of Conscience, James Blish
1958

N/A

The Big Time, Fritz Leiber
1957

N/A

N/A

1956

N/A

Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein
1955

N/A

They’d Rather Be Right (The Forever Machine), Mark Clifton & Frank Riley
1953

N/A

The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

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