The best science fiction about life-changing journeys of survival by women

The Books I Picked & Why

The Left Hand of Darkness

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Why this book?

One of my all-time favourites! This book re-formed my expectations and dreams for science fiction. Set on Gethen, a winter world where people only have gender for a couple days every month, the story is character-driven and deeply philosophical. The crux of the novel is the relationship between Genly Ai, an envoy from an interplanetary network, and Estraven, an exiled member of the Karhide royal court. My favourite part of this book is the long Arctic-inspired crossing of a glacier in order to return back to Karhide. Le Guin uses Genly’s records, folklore from Gethen, and Estraven’s point of view to develop the universal theme of the desire for connection—between peoples and planets.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

A Gift Upon the Shore

By M.K. Wren

Book cover of A Gift Upon the Shore

Why this book?

One of the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read to date! Mary and Rachel survive a nuclear apocalypse in Rachel’s seaside home. After many long years of surviving and making a new life for themselves, a strange man appears on their shores. Mary decides to make a long journey that changes life for her and Rachel forever. The characters in this book and the writing are so believable, and the centering of books, art, and hope makes this a stand-out from the gray zombie-infested wastelands of recent mainstream post-apocalyptic stories.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers

Book cover of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Why this book?

I picked this book up on a whim and was whisked away into a space adventure unlike any I’d read before. In the tradition of Star Trek, the book explores the interpersonal relationships onboard a spaceship. However, humans are not the center of the universe and are considered from the ‘backwater’ of space: many other sentients are featured in the crew, each with their own ways of communicating and understanding the universe around them. I loved reading about how the characters related to each other. I definitely felt like I was a part of the crew on this unforgettable journey through the stars.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel

Book cover of Station Eleven

Why this book?

This book changed my life! Before reading Station Eleven, I’d only read classic post-apocalyptic books. It was so refreshing to find a book that declared “survival is insufficient.” The idea of a traveling theater troupe and comic books in a post-apocalyptic world appealed to me; it continues to inspire me to value art and beauty as having value for their own sake, as being part of humanity. Station Eleven asks really good questions about what humanity will bring into the future as we face the consequences of the Anthropocene era.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1

By N.K. Jemisin

Book cover of The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1

Why this book?

The first book of this award-winning trilogy was impossible to put down! The story shows us a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of characters on different sides of an eons-spanning conflict that has created a brutal hierarchy of power. The narrative voice is engaging and breaks the status quo by directly addressing the reader. The long journey the protagonist is on spans years and identities, tying her to her past as she strives to bring about a more hopeful version of the future. Even if the world as she knows it has to be broken to get there.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists