Audiobooks are an awesome way to enjoy science fiction. Not only do they allow you to enjoy your favorite sci-fi stories no matter where you are, whether stuck in traffic or at the gym, but they also add a layer of enjoyment that isn’t present in the print versions. How? The best sci-fi audiobooks have gripping narrators, wonderful character voices, and even immersive sound effects. You’ll see that the absolute finest and most prestigious science fiction is well worth your attention in audiobook format.
If you want to check out any of these titles for free, you can do so with Audible's one month free trial.
Is there any format Andy Weir’s The Martian cannot triumph in? Not content with releasing only a smash hit self-published ebook, and film adaptation, The Martian is also an epic audiobook. Listeners have praised the ability of the audiobook to narrate even the more difficult hard science fiction concept found in The Martian in an understandable and enjoyable way. Highly suggested for fans of the movie, book, or even newcomers to Weir’s work.
L Ron Hubbard
Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard is an absolutely iconic work of science fiction. Widely regarded as Hubbard’s finest fiction work, the book version has a proud place on the shelves of many sci fi lovers. So how does the audiobook version shape up? Well, to call it an audiobook doesn’t really do it justice. This is like nothing else. It contains a full cast of voice actors, a soundtrack, and an epic collage of sound effects. Seriously, this is unique. Check it out and you’ll be sure to agree.
Fans of Stephen King have long enjoyed 22.11.63, his time travel novel exploring one man’s attempt to go back and stop the JFK assassination from occurring. The story has been picked up for TV, and its audiobook format is another fantastic way to enjoy King’s work. The main character, Jake, is a relatable English teacher. The story also manages to mix in many fascinating deals about the assassination. Fascinating stuff.
Ready Player One
Ready Player One has become a much-loved favorite of millions since it was first released, and has since gone on to become a smash hit Spielberg blockbuster as well. The audiobook format does the story plenty of justice. It is narrated by Wil Wheaton who, in a very Cline style Easter egg, actually has a cameo in the story itself. Listeners have almost universally praised Wheaton’s narrative style, attesting it is perfect for the story.
Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game is a true phenomenon. People who read it often tend to fall in love with it. As you can imagine for such a significant story, the audiobook version had to be something truly special. Well, Scott Card managed to do it justice. How? As well as an epic audio version of the story itself, this version contains a unique and exclusive postscript written and recorded by the author himself. Absolutely essential for fans of Ender’s Game to check out.
One Second After
William F Forstchen
One Second After has long been a favorite of survivalist science fiction fans, having set the template for stories dealing with EMP attacks and their fallout. Fans have praised the narrator of the audiobook version, Joe Barrett, for doing the original material justice. If you’re interested in exploring how America would cope if it was forced to get by without technology, this is the audiobook for you. Which, if you think about it, makes it an enjoyable ironic way to check out the tale!
World War Z
World War Z by Max Brooks was adapted into a blockbuster movie, and the audiobook is another great way for fans to access the work. The plot line deals with a zombie apocalypse, and the attempts of survivors around the world to cope with the never-ending surges of undead invaders. There are two versions of the audiobook, an original, abridged edition, and an expanded movie tie-in edition with multiple voice actors. The latter is the suggested option for those new to the story.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does a fantastic job of narrating Brown’s tale, Red Rising. The story is set in a world in which society has been stratified into a strict caste system, based around the colors. Red is the lowest caste. Hence, the title of the story refers to a caste uprising. A lot of people really struggle to stop listening to Red Rising, due to the fact it is so gripping and packed with suspense, twists, and plenty of turns. Well worth a listen.
Dune is unarguably one of the most epic, legendary tales in the whole of science fiction. The book version has been a fan favorite since its release, and it is an example of serious sci fi that is loved by many who wouldn’t normally check out the genre. So is the audiobook version also worthy of your attention? Absolutely. It contains narration and a full voice cast, bringing the words truly to life. Well worth listening to, especially if you felt let down by the movie.
Brave New World
Fans of dystopian science fiction have long praised Huxley’s Brave New World for its darkly humorous examination of a future society. A society in which Soma numbs the population to reality. So is the audiobook version capable of conveying the same sense as the book? It is indeed. Listeners have praised narrator Michael York’s proficiency at conveying the sardonic tone where appropriate, and switching up his cadence and pace for the dialogue. A classic version of a classic story.
The Time Traveller's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife is one of the most emotionally potent stories on the whole list, dealing with a marriage between two people whose relationship is especially unique. How so? The husband of the story’s title, Henry, has a condition where he sometimes is forced out of the proper timeline and into a different moment. The story explores how the couple cope with Henry’s out of control time travel. Listeners have praised the dual narration from Fred Berman and Phoebe Strole, emphasizing its superiority over the movie adaptation.
Old Man's War
Seriously, if this list of sci fi audiobooks has many more heavyweight titles, it’s going to start resembling a boxing hall of fame. Next up is Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, a novel which has been deeply loved by most who discover it since its release. The plot deals with a war in which only senior people are needed, in order to pass on their life experience. They are banished from Earth, never to return. Should they survive, they will be granted a home on an alien planet to keep. The narration by William Dufris is superb in conveying both the excitement of the battle scenes and the potency of the romantic aspects. A must-listen.
The Gemini Effect
Phil Gigante does a fantastic job of narrating The Gemini Effect. The original story, by Chuck Grossart, has been widely praised for its blending of science fiction and even some more horrific elements into a cohesive and gripping story. The Gemini Effect is incredibly fast paced, packing a lot of action into its almost 9 hour listening time. Fans of the book are sure to enjoy this audio adaptation.
The Forever War
In terms of science fiction clout, The Forever War is absolutely dripping with it, having won both the Nebula and Hugo awards upon its release. When books are as highly regarded as this one is, there is often some trepidation on the part of readers to check out the audio version, in case it doesn’t do things justice. There’s no need to worry here. George Wilson has done such a brilliant job with the narration that many listeners have admitted to devouring this in a single sitting. A fitting audiobook version of a true classic.
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Douglas Adams’ best work narrated by Stephen Fry. I’m fairly confident that’s all you need to know! If you’re a fan of Hitchhiker’s, you’ll probably know that Adams released his own audio version back in the day, taking the form of a radio series. Although that was enjoyable, the general consensus is that Stephen Fry does an almost perfect job, surpassing Adams’ original. This is entertaining, funny, and all around enjoyable, truly doing justice to the original tale. Far better than the film adaptation.
Are All Science Fiction Audiobooks Full Length?
Many sci-fi audiobooks have been abridged, while others are full-length recordings of the print story.
Just because an audiobook has been abridged, it doesn’t necessarily worsen the experience. Of course, fans of the original books often complain, but if you’re new to a story, an abridged version can be a nice way to encounter it for the first time. It always gives you the option of later going on to enjoy the full length print version.
When a sci-fi audiobook is full length, it’s vital to have a competent narrator. Full length audiobooks can be really lengthy listens, and it’s vital to have someone with an engaging voice.
Some of the best full-length, unabridged sci-fi audiobooks are elaborately produced, with an extensive recording cast, and top-notch audio effects. This can help keep the reader immersed throughout. In fact, some fans of print books, having checked out both the movie and audiobook versions, say the audiobook is better. Why? It keeps the story of the book but adds the excitement of the movie. Best of both worlds!
What Some Factors To Consider When Choosing A Science Fiction Audiobook?
It can be tempting to select sci-fi audiobooks in the same way as you would print books. However, this isn’t always the best idea. Not every good print sci-fi story translates well into the audio format. So, what are some of the things you need to think about before picking a sci-fi audiobook title?
Length. How long is the listen? Do you have enough time set aside to finish the story, or is it likely to end up half-finished? A good way of thinking about it is along the lines of ‘this sci-fi audiobook will take me two weeks in the gym to get through’.
Narrator. The importance of the narrator cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Have you ever heard someone butcher one of your favorite songs by singing it? Well, imagine that, but about eight hours long. Be sure to read reviews of the narrator first, and ideally try and listen to their voice.
Reviews. Check out reviews ahead of time, especially from people who have both read the book and heard the audiobook. Often, something will sound great on paper, but the actual listening experience isn’t up to par. Avoid such disappointments by checking out reviews ahead of time.
Get These Best Science Fiction Audiobooks for Free!
By now, you're probably itching to treat your ears to some beautifully narrated science fiction. Here are two ways of doing that for free:
1. Signup with Audible's One Month Free Trial: By signing up for Audible's free month trial you can download any two books you choose for free. If you decide you like Audible then you can pay a small monthly fee of $14.95 and get one book a month. If you decide you do not like Audible you can cancel your trial and keep your two free books.
2. If you want to try something other than Audible you could also try Playster. Playster's One Month Free Trial works with either ebooks or audiobooks. You can pay for a membership at $14.95 per month and receive unlimited books. However Playster does not offer as many book options. If you would like to listen to all of Playsters books you will need to use the premium which is $29.95. ]