10 of the Most Disturbing Science Fiction Stories Ever Read

Are you searching for the craziest science fiction stories to get lost in for a spell? You've got company. Recently someone asked, “What is the most disturbing science fiction story you've ever read? It's probably I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison for me.”

“For those, who aren't familiar with it, the Americans, Russians, and Chinese had constructed supercomputers to manage their militaries. One became sentient, assimilated the other two, and obliterated humanity.”

“Only five humans survive, and the Computer makes them immortal so that he can torture them for eternity. His existence is an incredible anguish, so he's seeking revenge on humanity for his construction.” Here are the top-voted replies. 

1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

“This book honestly haunts me at least once a week, and it's been a year since I finished it. So I couldn't bring myself to read the sequel,” one person admitted. “Man, that book has stuck with me like few others. That ending is bleak,” another confessed.

“When trying to explain to people that sci-fi can be great literature, this book is my go-to evidence. And the follow-up, Children of God,” a third person commented. 

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2. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. D.

One user mentioned, “If you've ever been addicted to hard drugs or seen others in its grips, you'd probably really find A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. D. pretty disturbing and emotionally moving; I know I did.” “Reading it genuinely made me feel stoned. You can tell PKD had a lot of experience with drugs,” another person commented. 

3. There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

“Mine is There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury. It's a short story, and I know it's not “disturbing” in an upfront way. But the slow realization of what was happening in the story was sobering for teenage me,” one person confessed.

Another added, “This story was visionary: it was published in 1950 when the threat of nuclear annihilation was not as present as in the decades after. It also makes it more shocking to know how narrowly we avoided such a fate.”

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4. The Jaunt by Stephen King

“For me, it's Stephen King‘s The Jaunt; one person expressed, “The implications are horrifying.” “I played this for my wife when we were doing a long drive. She was irrationally angry with me after. She still holds a grudge that I would do such a thing to her,” shared another. 

5. The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

“Oh, Jesus. I read The Veldt (in The Illustrated Man's book of short stories) when I was 13, then again a few years ago. I'm 67 now. That freaking story has haunted me for 54 years, and I'm not kidding,” claimed one user. Another shared, “I read The Veldt last week, and the ending made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.”

6. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

One person exclaimed, “I LOVED the Annihilation novels. They made me feel completely insane, like a fever dream in text. Vandermeer is good at creating an atmosphere that feels profoundly alien and destabilizing!”

“I second Annihilation,” another said, “The Area X trilogy was a life-changing read for me. I particularly loved listening to the third book via audible — fantastic voice actors and background ambiance that drew the whole story together.”

7. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin. A fantastic but disturbing short story,” one person expressed. “Omelas genuinely shaped my life and career path. I even have an Omelas-based tattoo,” another volunteered. Finally, a third commenter said, “Definitely one of the short stories I think about most. You can't walk away from it.”

8. Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

“Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica. It's more about a dystopian future, but it's sci-fi. My wife wanted to listen to the audiobook on our drive to the beach last year. I spent the whole vacation haunted by this book. I would do it again,” one person confessed. “This would be my vote too. It's so rational. It's creepy.”

9. Blindsight by Peter Watts

Someone nominated “Blindsight by Peter Watts. The central premise has plenty of holes you can poke into it on thoughtful examination, but putting down the book after finishing it for the first time, I felt a bone-deep horror at the ideas presented.”

10. Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Finally, one user said, “Hyperion by Dan Simmons has multiple levels of disturbing.” “The first story with the priest and the cruciform was so mind-blowing I couldn't get over the ending. Amazing book. Easily one of the best sci-fi books I've read,” another agreed. 

We hope you enjoyed this Reddit picks list of the most disturbing science fiction books people have ever read. Also, check out these science fiction books that all sci-fi lovers should read immediately.

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