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42 Classics: Every Book That Has Won a Philip K. Dick Award

How many have you read?

all the philip k dick award winning books that sci fi fans need to read

The Philip K. Dick Award is an American science fiction honor given annually to one of the genre's most iconic and influential authors. 

It is awarded to the best original paperback published each year in the U.S., and the competition has been tight over the past forty years. Some of the biggest names in sci-fi have been nominated for the award, and some of the most recognizable figures have lost!

If you’re looking for a quick insight into the best and brightest novels in SFF publishing, then this list of every Philip K. Dick Award-winning book is an excellent place to start. 




By Rudy Rucker

Boppers are sentient robots that overthrew their human overlords during a great battle. Cobb Anderson, their creator, is now an aging alcoholic smothered by guilt. 

He's not prepared for the boppers' new plan: to meld all of life into a giant and singular consciousness. But the smaller boppers aren't keen on the idea either, and might have to rely on humans to survive.

RELATED: 12 Books About Robots Taking Over


steampunk books anubis gates tim powers

The Anubis Gates

By Tim Powers

Brendan Doyle, a specialist in 19th century poetry, has agreed to serve as a tour guide for time-traveling explorers. 

While giving a lecture in 1810 Regency London, he becomes stuck in time. Unfortunately he's stuck with plenty of people out to get him, including Egyptian sorcerers.

RELATED: Arthur C. Clarke Award-Winning Books




By William Gibson

Few books have defined cyberpunk as thoroughly as Neuromancer and the other works of the iconic William Gibson

Within the matrix of Neuromancer, Henry Dorsett Case works as a data thief, stealing crucial details from powerful enemies. 

Now, he has a new target: a wildly powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan.



Dinner at Deviant's Palace

By Tim Powers

In the 23rd century, Los Angeles has been reshaped by nuclear fallout. 

Gregorio Rivas, a former cult de-programmer turned folk musician, is hoping to carve out a peaceful life for himself. Those dreams are dashed when Urania, his former love, is kidnapped by the sinister Jaybird cult with whom he has far too much experience. 

To save her, Gregorio must face hemogoblins and other monstrosities across the dystopian landscape of California.

RELATED: Locus Award Winners and Nominees That Were Instant Classics




By James P. Blaylock

In the London of an alternate 1870s, Langdon St. Ives is a man of science dedicated to building a spaceship in his silo. 

Over the city skies, a mysterious airship reigns, piloted by a dead man and full of terrible secrets. 

Many people want to know what happens inside the ship, and St. Ives is tasked with leading a group of explorers to the clouds to find out what's going on.

RELATED: Unique Steampunk Books from the Past 35 Years


strange toys

Strange Toys

By Patricia Geary

Pet is a young woman with fantastical powers, desperate to protect her family from the horrors predicted in her strange older sister's book of secrets that seem doomed to come true. 

As she ages, Pet must gain the strength to fight her older sister and uncover the scars of their respective pasts. 


four hundred billion stars

Four Hundred Billion Stars

By Paul McAuley

1988 was the first year where two novels shared the Philip K. Dick Award. 

Four Hundred Billion Stars follows a telepath and scientist named Dorothy Yoshida. She's sent to a small planet to investigate unusual behavior that could reveal meddling by forces far beyond the power and comprehension of humanity. 




By Rudy Rucker

Wetware is the sequel to the 1982 winner Software. In this follow-up, the Moon-based boppers combine humans and boppers into a new species, with catastrophic implications.  

RELATED: Hugo-Award Winning Books


subterranean gallery

Subterranean Gallery

By Richard Paul Russo

Rheinhardt is a former sculptor living in dystopian near-future San Francisco. There doesn't seem to be much of a place for an artist like him in the unforgiving city.

He's soon abducted by a mysterious Vietnam vet and led to an enigmatic world below the city, where he finds the Subterranean Gallery.



Points of Departure

By Pat Murphy

Points of Departure is a collection of short stories written over the course of ten years in author Pat Murphy's career.

Each entry is connected through themes of the speculative, including tales about a farmer who grows a wife from seeds and a chimpanzee whose brain is implanted with the personality of a recently-deceased young girl.

RELATED: Must-Read Nebula Award-Winning Books


king of morning queen of day

King of Morning, Queen of Day

By Ian McDonald

Emily Desmond is a typical teenage girl living in Ireland in the early 20th century, one who entertains herself through her imagination. But now her mind is growing inexplicably powerful, and she's suddenly willed a faerie into existence. 

Her power is dangerous, but also irresistible. Emily is unable to let it go even as it begins to impact her family in the future, including her granddaughter Enye.


through the heart

Through the Heart

By Richard Grant

A young boy, Kem, is traded by his father to Oasis, a massive vehicle akin to an entire town on wheels. Oasis moves across the wasteland of the planet after climate change has dried it to a husk. 

As Kem investigates his new home, he begins to wonder and worry at the puzzle that is the Oasis' reason for existing. What is going on beneath the Oasis' surface?


growing up weightless

Growing Up Weightless

By John M. Ford

In Growing Up Weightless, the hero Matthias Ronay has never known any life but that on the moon, where his politician father rules the roost. But Matthias is determined to change the future for the better at any cost.

RELATED: World Fantasy Award-Winning Books That Deserve a Home on Your Shelf




By Jack Womack

Elvissey is a satirical sci-fi book about a couple tasked with kidnapping the young Elvis Presley and bringing him back to the present day to serve as cult leader for a corporation. But the king of rock and roll has other ideas...




By Robert Charles Wilson

A mysterious radioactive artifact has been found in an archaeological dig and taken to a remote area in Michigan, near the small town named Two Rivers, for further research. 

One night, there is a shock of light in the sky, and when the town residents wake up, they discover that they're in a parallel universe

Things are far more dangerous in this new existence, and the citizens of Two Rivers must band together to discover the truth and take on the shady government forces trying to suppress it.




By Bruce Bethke

When programmer Jack Burroughs is fired from his job, he is quickly offered a strange new opportunity. 

Jack becomes a spy of sorts, using his tech skills under the guise of his online alter ego, Max Kool. Soon, he's one of the most powerful cybernetic surfers on the InfoBahn, but with that title comes a whole load of trouble...



The Time Ships

By Stephen Baxter

There is a secret passage through time...and it leads all the way to the end of Eternity. Those who make the journey, however, must do so at a terrible cost. 

Stephen Baxter's reimagining of the classic sci-fi novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells depicts how meddling with time impacts the present, future, and people who encounter it.




By Stepan Chapman

A surreal and genre-bending novel, Troika follows three unfortunate travelers who have spent centuries walking across an endless, desolate desert.

Throughout their journey they have encountered no living beings and no water, yet there are perfectly preserved cities. The travelers have no idea who they are, either. Is there a way to escape this hell?


253 the print remix

253: The Print Remix

By Geoff Ryman

A London tube train, with all of the seats occupied, carries 252 passengers, plus the driver. Each one has a secret history and each person's story takes a single page (comprised of exactly 253 words) to tell in this novel. 

Geoff Ryman’s experimental work is as gripping as it is ambitious.


Vacuum Diagrams

Vacuum Diagrams

By Stephen Baxter

The fifth book in Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence took home the award in 1999. 

The expansive franchise spans several billions of years, and describes the future exploration of mankind across the universe and its ongoing war with an alien race known as the Xeele.


only forward

Only Forward

By Michael Marshall Smith

Stark lives in Colour, a neighborhood of color-coded residents.  

Next door is Sound, where residents can't make any noise except for their scheduled daily hour of screaming. Then there's Red, which is just as tempestuous as its name would suggest...


ship of fools

Ship of Fools

By Richard Paul Russo

The generation starship Argonos has crossed through the galaxy for centuries. Its inhabitants' hopes of finding other signs of life are growing hopeless, but then an enigmatic transmission draws them toward a nearby planet. 

Bartolomeo, resident of the upper levels of the Argonos, is chosen to lead a hand-picked crew to explore this terrifying new territory.


the mount

The Mount

By Carol Emshwiller

Charley is a human mount, legally the property of alien colonizers known as Hoots. His family is missing, with his father reportedly hiding out in the mountains with the other Free Humans. 

If Charley wants his freedom and the fate of humanity to change, he'll need to rebel.


altered carbon

Altered Carbon

By Richard K. Morgan

Before it was a Netflix show, Altered Carbon was the first book in the series that made Richard K. Morgan famous. 

400 years in the future, mankind has colonized the solar system and a human consciousness can be downloaded into new bodies after death.

Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into a new body and is given an ultimatum: discover who murdered the last body of a shady billionaire, or risk permanent death.

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By Gwyneth Jones

Life takes the form of a fictional biography to tell the story of Anna Senoz, a scientist who makes a momentous discovery about the X and Y chromosomes. 

Anna's revelations threaten to tear apart society and its rigid understanding of gender and sexuality, as well as Anna's own life and family.



War Surf

By M. M. Buckner

What would you do if you were rich, bright, immortal, and utterly bored with life? How about take up a new extreme sport? 

Nasir Deepra, two and a half centuries old, leads his fellow aging friends to "surf" speedy runs through the war zones of the 23rd century.


spin control

Spin Control

By Chris Moriarty

Arkady is a clone who defected from the Syndicates to Israel, bringing along a weapon capable of causing human extinction. 

Israel plans to sell Arkady and the weapon, but the Artificial Life Emancipation Front sends in Major Catherine Li to intervene.


Nova Swing

Nova Swing

By M. John Harrison

The Kefahuchi Tract is an asteroid under an ocean of light that holds some mysterious secrets. 

Ed Chianese, a drifter and adventurer, made a fateful trip there and now watches on as the tract expands and fall to Earth. 

But things are only getting weirder thanks to the Saudade Event Site: a zone of strange geography, twisted physics, and frightening psychic onslaughts. And cats.


emissaries from the dead

Emissaries from the Dead

By Adam-Troy Castro

2008 was another year of two winners!

Under order from the Diplomatic Corps, Counselor Andrea Cort must journey to One One One, an artificial ecosystem, to investigate a homicide.


terminal mind

Terminal Mind

By David Walton

In Terminal Mind, Mark McGovern, the privileged son of a wealthy politician, lives a hedonistic life in the city-state of Philadelphia. 

But Mark stumbles into hell when he and his best friend accidentally release a sophisticated virus called a 'slicer' into the net.


bitter angels

Bitter Angels

By C.L. Anderson

Terese Drajeske is a former field commander of the Erasmus System who has been dragged back into active duty to investigate the murder of her friend. Bianca Fayette was immortal, so how did she end up dead? 

Terese is plunged into a dark world of smugglers, warring crime families, and an impending battle for the fate of the solar system.


the strange affair of spring heeled jack

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

By Mark Hodder

Sir Richard Francis Burton is a man of many talents, whose reputation is ruined following the vanishing of his former partner. Algernon Charles Swinburne is a sadistic poet who never had a good reputation to begin with. Together, they're caught in the epicenter of an empire torn by conflicting forces. 

Victorian London is at risk and this unlikely duo are sucked into its seedy underworld when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack. They just need to look out for the werewolves, eugenicists, and drugs.


the samuil petrovich trilogy

The Petrovich Trilogy

By Simon Morden

Samuil Petrovitch survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone—the last city in England. He's used to outwitting others and keeping to himself, but then he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress and discovers that he’s saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London. 

Now Samuil is involved in something way bigger, which includes mobsters, technological warfare, and some very scary people.


lost everything

Lost Everything

By Brian Francis Slattery

In the near future, a man takes a boat trip up the Susquehanna River, intent on reuniting with his son. But he's not alone.

An army is following, and the smithereens of civilization. Can he hold onto hope as he looks for his family?


countdown city

Countdown City

By Ben H. Winters

There are just 77 days to go before an apocalyptic asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Hank Palace is at a loss. It's bad enough that he's unemployed, but what's the point in solving crimes when the apocalypse is coming? 

Yet Hank can't let one case go: the story of a man who disappeared without a trace. With the handful of clues he has, Hanks looks for answers as the world crumbles.

RELATED: 16 Powerful Post-Apocalyptic Books


Books like The Handmaid's Tale

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

By Meg Elison

In the wake of a fever that wiped out the earth’s population, killing women and children and making childbirth a death sentence, the midwife is a figure of utmost importance. 

She travels through the remnants of Earth to protect the few women who are alive and retain her freedom as the will of men grows mightier.

RELATED: Alarming Books About Apocalyptic Plagues




By Ramex Naam

Unrest is spreading across the globe, aided by the power of an experimental nano-drug named Nexus which can link humans together via their minds. 

The third book in Ramez Naam's Nexus series follows a mysterious force known as the Apex that seeks to replace humanity altogether.


the mercy journals

The Mercy Journals

By Claudia Caspar

This book is set 30 years in the future, with the world in ruins after climate change led to the collapse of governments and eradication of a third of the global population. 

One of the survivors, a former soldier nicknamed Mercy, suffers from PTSD and is haunted by guilt and lingering memories of his family. 

When his long-lost brother arrives with news that Mercy's children have been spotted, the two brothers travel into the wilderness to look for them.




By Carrie Vaughn

After climate change and economic disaster erodes much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region seems to be the only place where humans can hope to live freely. 

Enid of Haven is an Investigator, called on to resolve conflict and protect the community. Her first serious case involves the suspicious death of a local pariah. Is it murder?



Theory of Bastards

By Audrey Schulman

Francine Burke is an evolutionary biologist recruited to study mating behavior of bonobo apes, animals known for their intelligence. 

She's convinced that they'll make perfect test subjects for her astonishing theory of reproduction, which could change the world for the better. But when ecological disaster strikes, there is so much more on the line than Francine's hypothesis.


sooner or later everything falls into the sea

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea

By Sarah Pinkser

Sarah Pinsker's novels are highly celebrated, but it was her collection of short stories that impressed the Dick Award jurors. 

The tales in this collection tackle everything from music and memory to love and loss to technological follies. 

There are cruise ships and murder houses, astronauts and time travelers. Pinsker covers it all with her trademark warmth and ingenuity.


Road Out of Winter

Road Out of Winter

By Alison Stine

Stine offers a glimpse of an all-too-possible future in her dystopian sci-fi novel that's been compared to The Road and Station Eleven

Wylodine has been left alone to tend to her family's illegal marijuana crop as the extreme winter refuses to relinquish its grip on the planet. To save the business, she begins a treacherous journey to start over in hopefully warmer and safer land, but a harrowing encounter with a dangerous cult sees her become a target to a whole new sort of danger.