We’ve taken a look at mysteries and fantasies, now it’s time to check out the most popular Sci-Fi stories of 2021. Based on circulation figures at the library where I work, these were the most checked out titles last year.
10. Machine by Elizabeth Bear—A space station begins to unravel when a routine search and rescue mission goes dangerously awry.
9. The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird—In 2025, a deadly virus emerges that only affects men. This speculative fiction of an alternate reality is an immersive account of what happens to the women and the world left behind in the absence of men.
8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card—A talented child may be Earth’s only hope in an epic war with an alien enemy. This 1985 Nebula Award winner also won the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel and continued to be a popular read in 2021.
7. The Last Human by Zack Jordan—The death of humanity and a lone survivor’s existence may be “simply two moves in a demented cosmic game” played out by vast alien intellects.
6. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu—Intercepting a space signals from Earth, an alien civilization on the brink of destruction plans to invade the planet, where different camps begin to form, one to help the aliens take over a corrupt world, the other to fight against the invasion.
5. Dune by Frank Herbert—First published in 1965, this classic of the genre gained renewed attention in 2021. The inhospitable planet Arrakis is the only source of “spice” needed for space navigation and feudal interstellar factions of an empire vie for control of the planet. Paul Atreides and his mother flee into the deserts of Arrakis after his family is betrayed, setting him on a path to a grand destiny.
4. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson—Fictional eyewitness accounts present a story of climate change and its effects on the near future.
3. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert—The story of Paul Atriedes continues in the series’ second novel. Now emperor of the known universe, Paul faces the enmity of rival houses, political machinations, and a threat to his legacy.
2. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir—“A lone astronaut must save the Earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Martian.”
And the Number One SciFi Novel of the Year is …
- Reader Player Two by Ernest Cline — The 2020 sequel to Ready Player One (published in 2011) took the top spot in 2021. After winning James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts discovers a technological advancement that could change the world and the OASIS.
And there you have it, the most popular sci-fi reads of 2021. The Dune novels clearly benefited from the new movie hype with readers either refreshing their memories or picking up the stories for the first time in anticipation of the Denis Villeneuve adaptation.
So are you delighted or disappointed by the top reads of 2021? How many have you read? Which books made your 2021 top ten list? What are your speculations for 2022 and SciFi reading resolutions for the new year?