The best sci-fi books about unorthodox families and friendships

Why am I passionate about this?

In my day job, I’m immersed either with technical equipment or managing people and I enjoy the duality of both challenges. It’s difficult to say which I like best, but because part of my job is people focused, I’ve enjoyed learning to understand the social and interpersonal dynamics between coworkers and clients alike. So books with strong character relationships and stories that are driven by their wants and desires, however right or wrong they may be, are a favorite of mine. The science fiction aspect comes with my love for technology, mainly in music and film and I find many parallels between those arts and writing books. 


I wrote...

A Call to the Sky

By Marc B. DeGeorge,

Book cover of A Call to the Sky

What is my book about?

In a world with no ground, only flight keeps you alive. Toume d’Nezuhmy only wanted to be a pilot, just like his mother. His clan had trained him to fly well, then sent him to bury his head in books. He would have stayed in them, if not for the high priestess of the Drahken clan, who offers him a curious mission. There’s no pay, but if he’s successful, he will win the right to marry her daughter. 

Rival clans stand in his path to success, and danger fills the mission. Should he fly wrong, he could wind up dead, or worse—a failed union between him and the Drahken heir would destroy the only alliance that protects his clan from destruction.

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

The books I picked & why

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

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for found families and motley crews. The Outsiders is a great example of this kind of story, though this book doesn’t have greasers per se, the connection that this multi-specie ship crew is one I can relate to.

I’ve been a performer most of my life, and the relationship that develops when people share a common passion and goal, such as putting on a performance, can run deep. That’s mainly because the thing created is greater than the sum of its parts, and that can be beautiful. This book reminds me of that feeling.

By Becky Chambers,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEY'S WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

'A quietly profound, humane tour de force' Guardian

The beloved debut novel that will restore your faith in humanity

#SmallAngryPlanet

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix,…


Book cover of Merchanter's Luck

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did I love this book?

The crews on this ship are literally family.

Imagine living on a ship with 1,000 of your relatives. Everyone looks out for each other (mostly) and even when strangers enter the fold, if they’re accepted, they’re treated just like family.

I had a landlord like that. He treated me like a son, and I’ll never forget it, even if my apartment, just like space, was always cold. 

Book cover of Children of Time

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did I love this book?

We know there are families in the animal world, and we know there are bigger social constructs, too.

I’ve read about how animals have emotion and show compassion for one another, and even for other species. It makes me wonder about the why and how of the human dynamic and a book like this one that takes that and creates a looking glass for me to consider that is a good brain story for me.

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Children of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 30th anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed, stand-alone novel Children of Time, is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the…


Book cover of A Fire Upon the Deep

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did I love this book?

My sister and I were only close because we’re only two years apart. But recently we’ve had some tragedy in our family, and that brought us closer.

While I was making this list of books, I was reminded of this story and how much I enjoyed it, not just for the prose, which I take notice of and will drop a book if it’s bad, but for that reminder of the brother and sister story here. Not to mention the rescue crew of odd characters which reflects a belief of mine: truth is universal.

Any human or alien can understand compassion and suffering and choose the better of the two.

By Vernor Vinge,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Fire Upon the Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fleeing a menace of galactic proportions, a spaceship crashes on an unfamiliar world, leaving the survivors - a pair of children - to the not-so-tender mercies of a medieval, lupine race. Responding to the ship's distress signal, a rescue mission races against time to retrieve the children.


Book cover of For Love of Mother-not

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did I love this book?

When I was fifteen, I worked as a busboy in a restaurant. One of the waitresses there left a serious impression on me because she treated me with such care and kindness.

I really felt like she was my surrogate mother. If she had been taken, like what happens in this book, I would have scoured the earth to find her and save her. She had that much of an impact on my life. I was thinking of her when I re-read this book recently. 

By Alan Dean Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For Love of Mother-not as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sold from an auction block to Mother Mastiff, Flinx, a freckle-faced, redheaded kid with a deadly flying snake as a pet, is raised by his new mother, but when she disappears, he must set out to trail her kidnappers. Originally in paperback.


You might also like...

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of Legacy of the Witch

Kirsten Weiss Author Of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

Kirsten's book list on how to read Tarot

What is my book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division, and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths...

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Legacy of the Witch

By Kirsten Weiss,

What is this book about?

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, division and despair are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths.

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space horror, and extraterrestrial intelligence?

10,000+ 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 extraterrestrial intelligence.

Extraterrestrial Life Explore 227 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Horror Explore 23 books about space horror
Extraterrestrial Intelligence Explore 48 books about extraterrestrial intelligence