The Best Audiobooks for Fans of Dune

For many sci-fi fans, Dune is at the top of their “best” list. But here are some more out-of-this-world audiobooks that fans of the classic are sure to love.

Ever since its publication in 1965, Frank Herbert's Dune has set the bar high for epic science fiction. In fact, Herbert's beloved novel is considered to be one the best sci-fi books of all time. Dune was the recipient of multiple awards, including the inaugural Nebula Award for best novel in 1966. And in October 2021, more than 50 years after the novel's initial release, fans of Dune are being treated to a film adaptation, directed by Denis Villeneuve. So, there's no better time to not only give Dune another listen but also check out Frank Herbert's other works.

While Dune absolutely works as a stand-alone novel, Herbert actually ended up writing five sequels to his original bestseller: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune. After Frank Herbert's death in 1986, the author's son Brian Herbert took up the Dune torch with the help of science-fiction author Kevin J. Anderson. Their collaboration yielded several Dune prequels and two novels that take place after the events of the final books in Frank Herbert's original Dune series. 

Now maybe you've made your way through all of the Dune novels, and you're looking for even more audiobooks similar to Dune to keep the excitement going. Many science fiction books have been influenced by Frank Herbert's classic, so there are plenty of books like Dune to choose from. The real question: Which ones are the best? Which sci-fi stories are doing something new, inventive, and interesting? The audiobooks on this list represent just a few of the best of the best. 

Whether you love Dune because of its inventive setting, its unforgettable characters, or the epic scope of the storyline, these 15 audiobooks are perfect for every fan of Dune. 

Children of Time

Children of Time

Like Dune, Children of Time is an epic sci-fi novel that can be enjoyed as either a stand-alone or the start to an ambitious series. Children of Time looks at what happens when the last of humanity leaves a dying Earth and fights to survive on a terraformed planet. This audiobook, featuring the excellent narrative talents of Mel Hudson, is an absolute must listen for sci-fi fans.

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice is the first audiobook in Ann Leckie's best-selling Imperial Radch trilogy. Critics have often compared the exquisite storytelling and world-building in this series to that in Herbert's Dune. Set on a remote, icy planet, the debut novel introduces listeners to Breq, an AI soldier living in a human body. Following the destruction of her starship, Breq is now on a quest for vengeance. This gripping audiobook is brilliantly read by actress and award-winning narrator Adjoa Andoh.

The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is a sci-fi classic that has become as influential as Dune itself. This Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel tells the story of Genly Ai, a lone human emissary sent to an alien planet called Winter, where inhabitants can change their gender. Genly is tasked with convincing the people of Winter to join a growing intergalactic confederation—but culture clashes make negotiations difficult.

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season and the two follow-up novels in The Broken Earth trilogy were all recipients of the Hugo Award for Best Novel, distinguishing N.K. Jemisin as the first author to receive the award three years in a row. The series is set in a world with one single supercontinent called The Stillness. Every few centuries, the citizens of The Stillness experience what’s known as the fifth season, leading to massive and catastrophic climate events. Like Dune, The Broken Earth trilogy features a cast of fully developed characters that all feel real, and Jemisin's ability to create a believable world should also appeal to fans of Frank Herbert's novels. The Fifth Season features the talents of Audie Award-winning narrator Robin Miles, who is among the exceptional voice actors featured in our Narrator Hall of Fame.

Luna

Luna

The conflict between families in Ian McDonald's Luna: New Moon has been compared to both Dune and Game of Thrones. This is the first novel in a three-part series in which the moon is controlled by five families, otherwise known as the Five Dragons. If you love audiobooks with multiple narrators, you'll love hearing the magic that each of the cast’s narrators—Suzanne Toren, Soneela Nankani, and Thom Rivera—bring to the story through their performances.

Red Mars

Red Mars

Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars has been praised by scientists for its depictions of future advances in science. This Nebula Award-winning novel is also acclaimed for its character development, which fans of Dune should appreciate as well. After nine months of traveling through space, a group of scientists from around the world settle on Mars and make their home there. The first volume in the Mars Trilogy, which Richard Ferrone narrates in its entirety, Red Mars begins the story of the colony these scientists create and the conflicts that arise within in.

The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl is the debut sci-fi novel from acclaimed and award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi. While many of the audiobooks on this list are set in space, this listen is set on Earth, in a future version of Thailand where global warming has raised ocean levels and carbon fuel sources are depleted. Though it doesn't take place on a distant planet, the world-building in The Windup Girl should appeal to those who love Dune. The audiobook is narrated by Jonathan Davis, whose narration has been described by Audible listeners as superb and engaging.

The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem imagines a future world where a secret military project has made contact with an alien civilization. With their own world on the brink of destruction, the aliens make plans to invade Earth. The Three-Body Problem features a wide range of interesting and complicated characters, and 2012 Narrator of the Year Luke Daniels does a stellar job at bringing each distinct voice to life.

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

In Parable of the Sower, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Octavia E. Butler imagines a future world where society has collapsed due to greed, classism, and climate change. If what you appreciate most about Dune is its ability to invent an entirely new world while also examining the political and economic issues of the world we currently live in, then Parable of the Sower is the perfect listen for you. Although Butler's novel is set in the future, this story is truly a scathing and accurate dissection of the problems in our modern world.

The Real Story: The Gap into Conflict

The Real Story: The Gap into Conflict

In The Real Story: The Gap Into Conflict, acclaimed author Stephen R. Donaldson vividly imagines a future where people can travel between the stars using faster-than-light gap drives and a private company called United Mining Company runs law enforcement for the entire universe. Scott Brick, who also performed the audiobook edition of Dune, narrates this novel expertly, bringing this imaginative story and its characters to life.

The Shadow of the Torturer

The Shadow of the Torturer

Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer is the first of four science fiction books in the epic The Book of the New Sun series. This first installment is the story of Severian, an apprentice Seeker for Truth and Penitence on a planet called Urth. He has been exiled for committing the worst sin of his profession as a torturer: showing mercy for his victim. This audiobook is narrated by the incomparable Jonathan Davis, a multi-Audie-winning fan favorite performer.

The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings

Although an epic fantasy rather than science fiction, The Grace of Kings belongs on this list for the way it handles building up tension in characters' rivalries, as well as author Ken Liu's ability to create a vividly detailed world. Kuni Garu is a bandit; Mata Zyndu is the son of a deposed duke. They are polar opposites in many ways, and yet they come together in the uprising against the emperor. But when the emperor is overthrown, and Kuni and Mata find themselves heading separate factions with very different ideas about how the world should be run, old rivalries return.

Red Rising

Red Rising

Pierce Brown's Red Rising marks the beginning of another excellent sci-fi series driven by political and economical turmoil, set in a future where people are divided into color castes. Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste. Like his fellow Reds, he is forced to work all day, making Mars inhabitable for coming generations. Or, at least, that's what Darrow thinks he's been doing. When he learns the truth—that Mars has been inhabited for generations with vast cities spreading across the planet—Darrow realizes that he and all the Reds are being used as slave labor by the ruling Gold caste. Then, he sets out to do something about it, even if it takes learning to pass as a Gold.

Hyperion

Hyperion

The first in a four-part series, Hyperion is set in a world dominated by the Shrike—a creature worshipped by some, feared by others, and targeted by those who have vowed to destroy it. Hyperion is remarkable for many reasons, but most notably, Dune fans will admire the way Dan Simmons fleshes out each and every character's story and motivation. The audiobook features a cast of phenomenal narrators—Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Pariseau, Jay Snyder, and Victor Bevine—who bring emotion and nuance to each character and scene, drawing the listener in.

Whipping Star

Whipping Star

Whipping Star is another novel from the mind of Frank Hebert that many consider to be just as good as Dune. In this listen, Herbert imagines a far future where humankind has made contact with different alien species—Gowachin, Laclac, Wreaves, Pan Spechi, Taprisiots, Caleban, and others—across the universe. In making contact with these aliens, human beings have helped create the ConSentiency, which governs between the species. If you loved Scott Brick's narration in Dune (and The Real Story), you'll be pleased to know he's back at the mic for Whipping Star.

If you're looking for even more excellent science-fiction listens to add to your list, check out this list of the most stellar sci-fi authors of all time. Or try some of these best sci-fi series in audio. The world of Dune is incredible, but there are plenty of other sci-fi worlds out there to explore. 


Emily Martin has a PhD in English and is a contributing editor at Book Riot.

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