The best brain ‘splosion sci-fi books

Who am I?

The human body. The solar system. The science and math discoveries of ancient cultures. The power of taking care of neighbors and making everyone our neighbor. All amazing, all inspiring, so I write stories about them. Stories are what entertain us. Stories are what teach us. Stories can be misused to mislead us. Most importantly, the good stories, the right stories, can prompt us to grow. Expand. Empathize. Heal. I could use some of that. You too. Let’s read.

I wrote...

Space Boots

By Derick William Dalton,

Book cover of Space Boots

What is my book about?

Leo Jones wants nothing more than to become a surgeon, but a misplaced terrorist bomb destroys his chance. His plan B finds him cleaning a Navy starship, saving for school, and running out of patience. Hophnia Zimmerman wields her willpower with even more skill than her violin bow. As a new Navy officer, she's disappointed her first battle is not against an invader, but Leo's traitorous captain. She vows to bring him down, but agonizes over the collateral lives.

In the confusion, Leo creates more problems for Hophnia than a misplaced bomb did for him. As they struggle to save the ship and limp back to Earth, they find the battle isn't over. There are vindictive traitors who are not biding their time.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Why did I love this book?

I’m convinced Douglas Adams peered across the Atlantic and into my soul before typing out this radio drama and subsequent novel, because his story resonated to perfection. I first saw the round green cover guy, thumbs in ears and tongue protruding in mockery, on my grandmother’s kitchen table. Her taste in literature helped me learn the foreign and delicious flavor of British comedy. Wry humor about physics made a connection I’d never had before. Douglas Adams showed me I wasn’t alone in the universe.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

The Time Traveler's Wife

By Audrey Niffenegger,

Book cover of The Time Traveler's Wife

Why did I love this book?

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was a good movie first and superhero flick second, which made it my favorite action film at the time. Similarly, Audrey Niffenegger’s debut novel nudged time travel from the main focus to a clever plot device used to explore a romantic relationship. More interested in the sci-fi at first, I was soon fascinated by how she wove it into the story with such subtlety and skill. Much the way Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh featured a blended family in Phineas and Ferb without making a big deal out of it. Niffenegger’s story also reframed my own view of chronology and of my relationships. Such world-building! So much character depth! So real to me it felt more biography than anything else.

By Audrey Niffenegger,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Time Traveler's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a series on HBO starring Rose Leslie and Theo James!

The iconic time travel love story and mega-bestselling first novel from Audrey Niffenegger is "a soaring celebration of the victory of love over time" (Chicago Tribune).

Henry DeTamble is a dashing, adventurous librarian who is at the mercy of his random time time-traveling abilities. Clare Abshire is an artist whose life moves through a natural sequential course. This is the celebrated and timeless tale of their love. Henry and Clare's passionate affair is built and endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap…

Jurassic Park

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of Jurassic Park

Why did I love this book?

Michael Crichton taught me more about biology than all my previous teachers combined. Genetic manipulation? Dinosaurs? My high school brain ate it all up. Mr. Crichton is a big reason I developed an interest in medicine. That led to a high school internship with a radiology technician at a hospital, and eventually grad school to become a physician assistant. I later learned Crichton was a Harvard-trained medical doctor who chose writing over treating patients. After the COVID-19 pandemic, I can see the appeal.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Jurassic Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crichton's most compulsive novel' Sunday Telegraph
'Crichton's dinosaurs are genuinely frightening' Chicago Sun-Times
'Breathtaking adventure. . . a book that is as hard to put down as it is to forget' Time Out


The international bestseller that inspired the Jurassic Park film franchise.

On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now one of mankind's most thrilling fantasies has come true and the first dinosaurs that the Earth has seen in the time of man emerge.

But, as always, there is a…

Book cover of Out of the Silent Planet

Why did I love this book?

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite people. He was of the British generation who endured Nazi air raids and was the first-ever to halt the advance of Hitler’s army. Narnia! Inklings! Noted by Tolkien as a critical supporter of Middle-Earth’s creation!

Out of the Silent Planet fascinated me as a work of history as much as sci-fi. Through Lewis’ eyes, we get a glimpse of humanity’s circa 1930s grasp of interplanetary physics, cosmic radiation, and aerospace medicine. At the risk of exposing my chronocentric arrogance, it was much more detailed and accurate than I expected. At times, it seems one of the antagonists is meant to represent scientific endeavors as a whole. If so, Lewis has contributed to a culture that has made my past and present jobs as a biology teacher and physician assistant much more difficult. However, do I detect a well-placed jab at Britain’s history of imperialistic colonialism? All is forgiven!

By C. S. Lewis,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Out of the Silent Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in C.S. Lewis's classic sci-fi trilogy which tells the adventure of Dr Ransom who is kidnapped and transported to Mars

In the first novel of C.S. Lewis's classic science fiction trilogy, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet's treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the 'silent planet' - Earth - whose tragic story is known throughout the universe...

Almost Super

By Marion Jensen,

Book cover of Almost Super

Why did I love this book?

Rafter, Benny, and Juanita protagonate (yep, that’s a word) in a bizarre amalgamated world that could have been dreamed up by Stan Lee, the Andy Griffith Show writers, and Beverly Cleary. Dreamed up as a joke. Abandoned with a good comeraderific laugh (also a word). Then picked up, dusted off, and polished by Marion Jensen. But that’s not what happened. Jensen created the whole adventurous, hilarious, uplifting, good-buddy superhero story with his own solitary brain. My kids and I have laughed at his story many times.

By Marion Jensen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Almost Super as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Pixar's The Incredibles, Almost Super is a fresh, funny middle grade adventure about two brothers in a family of superheroes who must find a way to be heroic despite receiving powers that are total duds. Filled with humor, heart, and just the right kind of heroics, Almost Super is a winning story that will satisfy would-be heroes and regular kids alike. Everyone over the age of twelve in the Bailey family gets a superpower. No one knows why, and no one questions it. All the Baileys know is that it's their duty to protect the world…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space horror, and good and evil?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraterrestrial life, space horror, and good and evil.

Extraterrestrial Life Explore 187 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Horror Explore 19 books about space horror
Good And Evil Explore 104 books about good and evil

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and The Once and Future King if you like this list.