The best first contact science fiction novels

Who am I?

I like this topic/theme because I’ve always enjoyed alien contact (in the future) in all forms of entertainment, also it is what I first took to when I began writing and I find this subject comes to me most readily. I guess it’s always on my mind since I’ve written every day for the past 13 years, mostly sci-fi novels/novellas of a similar theme, all these books influence my writing, even the comedy.


I wrote...

The School of Hard Knocks

By Oliver Strong,

Book cover of The School of Hard Knocks

What is my book about?

Rick and his crew live where the law is what you make it and the taxman doth fear to tread. While a war rages he profiteers on the misery of others, a parasite of dignity.

Despite his plan to sit it out from the sidelines he's drawn in. As time passes the choice between his conscience and cold hard cash is not so simple.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Enemy Mine

Oliver Strong Why did I love this book?

“Why should I read this book you ask?”, well it won the Nebula award for best novella in 1979, and the Hugo award in 1980, it was made into a movie in the mid-eighties, at the time I didn’t read much, so I’d seen a pretty good Hollywood movie about a human space fighter pilot, fighting a race call the Drac. Later I read a book of the same name, not realising until a few chapters in that I’d seen the movie years before!

The interesting part was, that because they only fought via space fighter craft, neither race had seen the other. Two pilots crash land on an inhospitable planet during a space battle, one Human the other Drac.

Initially the pair have nothing but hatred for one another, pre-programmed by their respective governments, yet must rely on one another for survival.

While stranded they learn of one another’s culture and become friends, eventually attaining mutual respect, an excellent read and my favourite first contact sci-fi book.

By Barry B. Longyear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This version is the original award winning novella that inspired the 20th Century Fox motion picture ENEMY MINE starring Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett, Jr. It is the story of a human combat pilot, incomplete in himself, taught to be a human by the sworn enemy with which he is stranded, an alien who leaves with the human its most important possession: its future. This version of "Enemy Mine" is the winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for best novella (1980). Other versions available are expansions of this version.


Book cover of Childhood's End

Oliver Strong Why did I love this book?

OK, so one of the granddaddies of science fiction, this book didn’t get any awards, which is a crime against sci-fi in my opinion.

It’s been decades since I’ve read this book, but I’ll recall what sticks in my mind. As the space race begins the Soviets and Americans launch into space, alien spacecraft appear and rest above the major cities on the planet.

As I recall they render all weaponry ineffective, the aliens, known as overlords, scrutinise humanity, treating them something like a cross between children and a lab experiment, though never intruding on human affairs other than to remove only the most horrific examples of barbarism.

The overlords never show themselves and only communicate with one man directly, the main overlord in the story is something like a governor sent to watch us, who speaks to a human (I forget his name also) they’ve selected, talking through one-way glass.

It’s an interesting take on an alien invasion story, as the aliens are pretty much benign, the only downside is a loss of freedom. Eventually, the Overlord’s true intentions become clear, and they make plain their plans for the human race, a rather unique turn in the plot.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Childhood's End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur C. Clarke's classic in which he ponders humanity's future and possible evolution

When the silent spacecraft arrived and took the light from the world, no one knew what to expect. But, although the Overlords kept themselves hidden from man, they had come to unite a warring world and to offer an end to poverty and crime. When they finally showed themselves it was a shock, but one that humankind could now cope with, and an era of peace, prosperity and endless leisure began.

But the children of this utopia dream strange dreams of distant suns and alien planets, and…


Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Oliver Strong Why did I love this book?

Yes I know, but it is technically an alien first contact, just not the one your granddaddy would have read. So why? Because it’s hilarious and a great read.

Interestingly, this was adapted from a BBC radio show into a book, then a TV show, then a film, just like the book's lead character, they got it all the wrong way around!

Characters are hilarious, from Arthur Dent, the unlikely lead, a man who escaped the Earth’s destruction, in order the Vorgons (I think that was their name) might construct a galactic motorway, finds himself the last human alive in a galaxy full of aliens where Dent lurches from one crisis to the next.

Dent discovers Earth was a supercomputer, built to compute the meaning of life, yet it was destroyed moments before the answer could be retrieved, however… there’s good news… Arthur Dent having been pulled out of harm's way at the last moment holds those answers, trapped in his mind… now comes the bad news… there’s a group of aliens that want that information!

The book is funny, the characters are richly hilarious, the many different species and their crazy motivations and how they live their lives will crack you up, this is alien first contact plus comedy, you have to read it.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

30 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…


Book cover of Enterprise Stardust

Oliver Strong Why did I love this book?

So some of you are sitting there thinking “Perry who?” well imagine him as the West German (it was first published in 1961) alternative to our Flash Gordon.

In book number one, Rhodan and his crew take off and make the first moon landing, their mission is disrupted by a crashed spacecraft. This is where they meet the Arkons, a sort of tall, large-headed alien with silver eyes, or hair, or both… it’s been a long time so don’t hold me to any of the details!

So these aliens from a super-intelligent species (Rhodan later in the series uses a device similar to the one in Battlefield Earth to increase his intelligence and psionic powers above even that of the Arkons) assist Rohdan in ending the cold war on Earth and uniting the planet.

The series runs for 126 books, mostly novellas, it’s typical Flash Gordon when it’s action time, but it does have some hard sci-fi mixed in, naturally, he finds his alien love interest later on, it’s all good in my opinion.

By Karl-Herbert Scheer, Walter Ernsting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fate of Earth depended on one man deep in space.


Book cover of Terms of Enlistment

Oliver Strong Why did I love this book?

I like this because I enjoy Dystopian sci-fi, sure Star Trek is good and all but I like it down and dirty, also I enjoy a military sci-fi read every now and then and this scratches both itches, even better … it’s a series.

So it’s 2018 and Earth is a crap hole, filled to the brim people are squashed into tiny apartments, living off welfare, and plagued by crime. The only sure way out is to enlist with the military. This book follows Andrew Grayson on his journey off the hell hole that is Earth, into basic training.

The aliens, “Lankies” are 80 feet tall and not very hospitable. Turning up on a colony, Grayson, who signed up during peacetime, finds he’s fighting an almost invincible alien opponent as Earth is pushed out of its colonies.

This is a Starship Trooper-esque book/series that I’m sure most will enjoy, framing the military in a better light than usual, as earnest yet grim, I’d recommend this for anyone who enjoyed Starship Troopers or The Forever War.

By Marko Kloos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Terms of Enlistment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There is nobody who does [military SF] better than Marko Kloos. His Frontlines series is a worthy successor to such classics as Starship Troopers, The Forever War, and We All Died at Breakaway Station." -George R. R. Martin

The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements: You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world . . . or you can join the service.

With the colony…


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The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

By J.M. Unrue,

Book cover of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

J.M. Unrue Author Of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’m an old guy. I say this with a bit of cheek and a certain amount of incongruity. All the books on my list are old. That’s one area of continuity. Another, and I’ll probably stop at two, is that they all deal with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances—those curveballs of life we flail at with an unfamiliar bat; the getting stuck on the Interstate behind a semi and some geezer in a golf cap hogging the passing lane in a Buick Le Sabre. No one makes it through this life unscathed. How we cope does more to define us than a thousand smiles when things are rosy. Thus endeth the lesson.

J.M.'s book list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do

What is my book about?

The Festival of Sin is a three-story light sci-fi arc about a young boy rescued in 6000 BCE and taken to the home planet of the Hudra. Parts two and three are exploratory excursions. It's a fish-out-of-water series. More than fish-out-of-water. Fish-on-another-planet.

Plus, there are two fantasy stories dealing with people who must overcome "supernatural" circumstances, things well beyond the realm of common understanding. 

The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

By J.M. Unrue,

What is this book about?

The Festival of Sin is a three-story light sci-fi arc about a young boy rescued in 6000 BCE and taken to the home planet of the Hudra. Parts two and three are exploratory excursions. It's a fish-out-of-water series. More than fish-out-of-water. Fish-on-another-planet.

Plus, there are two fantasy stories dealing with people who must overcome "supernatural" circumstances, things well beyond the realm of common understanding. 


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