You know what they say: the pictures are better on radio. That's true of audio books, too. So, checking out a sci-fi or science fantasy classic on Audible can be especially rewarding, with no dodgy CGI, no unconvincing sets and wobbly doors, just the story, persuasively read by outstanding readers. Here are some of the best sci-fi books you can hear, on a free 30-day trial.
A Game Of Thrones
If you love the TV series, now's the time to hear the original classic. And you really should. For a start, it's a big read: this is volume one of A Song Of Ice And Fire and it lasts over 33 hours! It's read by Roy Dotrice, a veteran actor who had a staggeringly varied career and even appeared in the TV series of the books as Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer. If you haven't watched the TV version, the George R R Martin epic is a violent, unpredictable story of clashing dynasties, the bloody battle for the Iron Throne, oh, and a trio of dragons.
Ready Player One
In the near future, humans are locked into virtual reality to escape their bleak surroundings, with a treasure hunt which has defeated millions, until Wade Watts stumbles across a clue. That's the premise for Ernest Cline's novel, recently filmed by Steven Spielberg. Here, it's read by Wil Wheaton, known for playing Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation and himself in The Big Bang Theory. Like many Audible books, it's unabridged, so you get every bit of the original.
Mythos is unlike any other sci-fi or fantasy book: it's the great Greek myths, as retold by Stephen Fry. And not just rewritten, the author narrates here, too, bringing his celebrated performance skills to bear. The myths include the birth of Athena, the stories of King Midas and of the beautiful Artemis and many more. All told in a fresh, exciting way that's fascinating and enjoyable, and brought to life brilliantly by the actor.
The Talon of Horus is one of a series of audiobooks based on the tabletop miniature wargame series, Warhammer 40,000. Here, the story focuses on Abbadon, one of the Warmaster's followers, who until now has gone unheard for years. This is a world of battles and weapons, of which the Talon of Horus is one, a large, archaic Lightning Claw, since you ask. If you don't know the games (tabletop or video versions) you may find these books a little inaccessible, but the stories are strong and told with pace.
The Way of Kings
The legends say that mankind used to live in Heaven, called the Tranquiline Halls. But when they were banished by the Voidbringers, man settled on the world of storms, Roshar. Nowadays, only mystical weapons called Shardblades survive from previous eras in a world at war with itself. Michael Kramer and Kate Reading share narration duties in this celebrated book, the exciting first in a trilogy.
Before the movie, there was Michael Crichton's novel chronicling a great experiment: take the DNA from dinosaurs and bring them back to life in a theme park. What could go wrong? Scott Brick narrates in riveting style and this tautly written book comes to life brilliantly. Crichton is a master storyteller with rich, convincing characters and a dramatic plot, all brought to life compellingly here.
Alien: River of Pain
There are seven voices in this, an Audible Original drama which tells the story of Ellen Ripley. Finally back on Earth, she learns of plans to colonise the world where the deadly aliens were first discovered. The cast is impressive: Anna Friel, Colin Salmon, Marc Warren and Philip Glenister. Not to mention William Hope as Lieutenant Gorman, the part he originally played in the movie, Aliens.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The seventh Star Wars movie has been expertly adapted into a novel by Alan Dean Foster. Darth Vader may be gone, but peace did not last long before new battles raged. Of course, the characters include Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, not to mention the mysteriously absent Luke Skywalker. Marc Thompson's full-on narration is matched with skilful sound effects and, of course, that utterly evocative Star Wars theme tune.
Frank Herbert's Dune remains one of the most exciting and readable science fiction novel series. This is the original, set on the planet Arrakis, a desert where the young Paul Atreides is thrust into avenging the plot against his family. It skilfully balances the worlds of politics and international trade with intergalactic creatures who can fold space and even a convincing mysticism. It's a great achievement of the imagination and is here read by five skilled actors.
The Lord of the Rings
How do you like your Tolkien? On Audible, you can choose from the individual books of The Lord of the Rings (and other books like The Hobbit) narrated in unabridged versions or turn to thrillingly dramatised versions, originally adapted by Brian Sibley for the BBC and with a deeply impressive cast including Ian Holm, Michael Hordern and Robert Stephens. And here there's an extra treat: new beginning and end narration, recorded by Ian Holm.