Some of the sci-fi I've read, sorted by the product of (recommended * obscure), descending. You'll notice a few trends:
Stories of Your Life and Others
by Ted Chiang, 2002
Short Story collection. Required reading. My top 3 favorites are Understand, Story of Your Life, and Division by Zero.
by Andy Weir, 2011
Castaway but on Mars. Excellent story. Cool science. Highly entertaining. Total page turner. Loved it (and the movie, rare!) a lot, lower only because it is so popular.
by Ramez Naam, 2012
Highly enjoyable world-building set in a Neuralink future.
by Ted Chiang, 2019
Short Story collection. Required reading. My top 3 favorites are Exhalation, What's Expected of Us, and The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate.
His Master's Voice
by Stanislaw Lem, 1968
Carl Sagan's Contact but for adults.
Project Hail Mary
by Andy Weir, 2021
One of my top favorite alien portrayals, strikes a good balance between plausible, interesting and entertaining. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect
by Roger Williams, 2006
A twisted, raw, curious portrayal of a future with an AGI gone... mixed.
by Stanislaw Lem, 1986
A most interesting alien contact. Inventive, cool.
by Greg Egan, 1994
Simulation. Artificial Life. Aliens. Highly inventive, enjoyable.
by Carl Sagan, 1985
Alien contact. Liked the book quite a lot more than the movie (though the movie is great too).
Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline, 2011
VR Metaverse. Super nerdy. Down with corpo. Highly enjoyable. Total page turner.
Rendezvous with Rama
by Arthur C. Clarke, 1973
Really fun mystery alien contact page turner. I refuse to acknowledge the sequels.
by Fred Hoyle, 1957
Highly inventive alien contact. Very enjoyable.
The Andromeda Strain
by Michael Crichton, 1969
An alien microscopic organism makes first contact with humans and it ain't pretty. A bio-heavy hard sci-fi all the way from 1969, an era that was otherwise decidedly all about space.
by Robert Forward, 1980
Highly inventive and fascinating alien contact. A little too long.
The Three Body Problem (books 1,2,3)
by Liu Cixin, 2006
Several fantastic diamonds of novel ideas sprinkled about, but mixed in with a large mass of goo, soulless characters, narrative/logical inconsistencies, poor choices of what to expand on and what to omit, and a really disappointing conclusion.
by Isaac Asimov, 1950
Early robot short stories. Read it a very long time ago but only medium enjoyed, would like to re-read.
A Fire Upon The Deep
by Vernor Vinge, 1992
Incredible first chapter, bit downhill from there. Disliked everything about the Tine race of sentient ... dogs?
by Isaac Asimov, 1951
Incredible first chapters and macro world building. Love the concept of psychohistory and story arch. Disliked the societies that are indistinguishable from 1950s as they quabble with each other and smoke tabacco.
by Arthur C. Clarke, 1953
Alien contact sci-fi. Independence Day but friendly. With a twist. Humanoid aliens who speak English and have faces not super my cup of tea.
Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes, 1959
A man undergoes a procedure to increase his intelligence. Inventive, clever, interesting.
by Daniel Suarez, 2006
A story of an AI take over. Highly inventive, but also a bit inconsistent and tedious at times.
by Iain M. Banks, 1996
Read a very long time ago, remember really enjoying select parts having to do with a highly mysterious superintelligence. Note to re-read.
by Stanislaw Lem, 1961
Another genuinly interesting treatment of an interesting alien from Lem. A little too frustrating/tedious to read in all other aspects.
by George Orwell, 1949
A bit too much of a caricature but very enjoyable. A little too real. Newspeak.
Children of Time
by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 2015
Interesting alien civilization premise, a little too long. Loved the idea of a "classicist".
by Frank Herbert, 1965
Love the world building (e.g. the lore behind the deliberate absence of any AI), dislike everything else.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein, 1966
Made it about halfway then lost interest. Some interesting ideas (rock throwing), but implausible AI, imo. Note to give another shot later.
by Orson Scott Card, 1985
A bit like Harry Potter in space, but less fun and inventive. Fun twist at the end.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
by Dennis Taylor, 2016
Cartoony characters bickering with each other while exploring naive notions of Universe and alien life.
Old Man's War
by John Scalzi, 2005
Space opera sci-fi, a bit too bland on ideas and scope.
by Peter Watts, 2006
Alien contact that didn't capture me.
by Olaf Stapledon, 1937
Intriguing concept. I really wanted to like it.
by Dan Simmons, 1989
Tales of human relationships that happen to take place in future. A good example of a very popular "sci-fi" that I really disliked.
The Player of Games
by Iain M. Banks, 1988
At one point there were some alien females wearing jewels and I just couldn't continue. A good example of sci-fi where my taste departs from popular taste. I simply cannot tolerate or accept antropomorphic aliens, it makes me angry.
A for Andromeda
by Fred Hoyle, 1962
Alien contact, but no. Can't recall exactly but something upset me about the treatment of AI in this book.
by Neal Stephenson, 2015
Didn't finish. "The moon exploded, humanity is on the brink of extinction and I just might die of boredom."