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The Greatest Science Fiction Series of All Time

Speculative fiction seems to lend itself well to serialization. Once an author has gone to the tremendous effort of creating a world with its distinctive characters and provocative themes—and once an intrigued readership has been drawn into sharing that world—we experience a natural desire to further explore that world. Sequels often delve deeper into new unsuspected features of the fictional universe and often they continue developing a story arc over the extended series—and sometimes they do both.

This list highlights the science fiction series that have most gripped the public imagination, based on the same voluminous research that produced The Greatest Literature of All Time and all our other lists.

An initial reaction to the list may be that it seems very short, far shorter than most of our other lists.

But bear in mind each of the series listed here comprises at least three standalone works and possibly dozens of titles. The books represented in this list number more than two hundred, more than enough to keep fans reading for years to come.

Like all our lists, this one is a continual work in progress, as new series are assessed, forgotten old series are rediscovered, and long-established series are reconsidered by readers and other experts.

Latest update: March 5, 2024

The 33 greatest science fiction series

In chronological order

1917–1941
Barsoom
Edgar Rice Burroughs
United States
novel series
including A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, John Carter of Mars, and others
1937–1954
Lensman
E.E. (Doc) Smith
United States
novel series
including Triplanetary, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, and others
1938–1945
The Space Trilogy
C.S. Lewis
England
novel series
including Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength
1950–1985
Robot series
United States
novel series
including I, Robot; The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn; and others
1951–1953
United States
novel series
including Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation
1955–1962
Cities in Flight
James Blish
United States
novel series
including They Shall Have Stars; A Life for the Stars; Earthman, Come Home; A Clash of Cymbals / The Triumph of Time
1964–2000
Hainish Cycle
United States
novel series
including Rocannon's World, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Word for World Is Forest, The Dispossessed, and others
1965–1993
World of Tiers
United States
novel series
including The Maker of Universes, The Gate of Creation, A Private Cosmos, Behind the Walls of Terra, and others
1965–1995
Frank Herbert
United States
novel series
including Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, and others
1968–1997
A Space Odyssey series
Arthur C. Clarke
England
novel series
including 2001: A Space Odyssey; 2010: Odyssey Two; 2061: Odyssey Three; 3001: The Final Odyssey
1970–2004
Larry Niven
United States
novel series
including Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, The Ringworld Throne, Ringworld's Children
1971–1983
Philip José Farmer
United States
novel series
including To Your Scattered Bodies Go, The Fabulous Riverboat, The Dark Design, The Magic Labyrinth, The Gods of Riverworld
1976–2004
Heechee Saga
Frederick Pohl
United States
novel series
including Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Heechee Rendezvous, The Annals of the Heechee, The Boy Who Would Live Forever
1979–1992
England
novel series
including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and more
1980–1987
The Book of the New Sun
Gene Wolfe
United States
novel series
including The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch
1982–1985
Helliconia
Brian W. Aldiss
England
novel series
including Helliconia Spring, Helliconia Summer, Helliconia Winter
1984–1988
Sprawl trilogy
William Gibson
Canada
novel series
including Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive
1985–2008
Ender series
Orson Scott Card
United States
novel series
including Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, and others
1986–present
The Vorkosigan Saga
Lois McMaster Bujold
United States
novel series
including Test of Honour, Dreamweaver's Dilemma, Shards of Honour, Barrayar and others
1987–1989
Lilith's Brood
Octavia E. Butler
United States
novel series
including Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago
1987–2012
Culture series
Iain M. Banks
Scotland
novel series
incl. Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, The State of the Art, and others
1989–1999
Hyperion Cantos
Dan Simmons
United States
novel series
including Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion, and stories
1991–1993
Thrawn trilogy
Timothy Zahn
United States
novel series
1992–1996
Mars trilogy
Kim Stanley Robinson
United States
novel series
incl. Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars
1992–2011
Zones of Thought series
Vernor Vinge
United States
novel series
incl. A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, The Children of the Sky
2006–2008
Mistborn: Era One
Brandon Sanderson
United States
novel series
including The Final Empire,The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages
2008–2010
Remembrance of Earth's Past
Liu Cixin
China
novel series
including The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End
2011–2021
The Expanse
James S.A. Corey
United States
novel series
including Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate, Cibola Burn, and others
2013–2015
Imperial Radch Trilogy
Anne Leckie
United States
novel series
including Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy
2015–2017
Broken Earth trilogy
N.K. Jemisin
United States
novel series
including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
2015–2018
Binti trilogy
Nnedi Okorafor
United States
novella series
including The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
2016–2018
Machineries of Empire
Yoon Ha Lee
United States
novel series
including Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, Revenant Gun
2017–present
The Murderbot Diaries
Martha Wells
United States
novel series
including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, and others