The best sci-fi books to enjoy while expanding your mind

The Books I Picked & Why

The Risen Empire: Book One of the Succession

By Scott Westerfeld

The Risen Empire: Book One of the Succession

Why this book?

The Succession duology (The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds) is one of the best sci-fi series that few people seem to have heard about. Westerfeld does a masterful job of portraying high-tech, futuristic military combat both on the ground and out in space. It felt so realistic, and I learned so much about spaceship combat that I had never even imagined before. The stories in these books stuck in my head for years, and I find I keep returning to read them again every so often, which only happens with the very best books.


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Chasm City

By Alastair Reynolds

Chasm City

Why this book?

Chasm City is such an amazing blend of sci-fi genres that it’s difficult to classify. It has space opera, technothriller, cyberpunk, and generation ships, all seamlessly blended into an action/mystery storyline set in a fantastical cityscape. I had not been thrilled with the first ‘Revelation Space’ novel, but this second one more than made up for the first one’s deficiencies.


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A Fire Upon the Deep

By Vernor Vinge

A Fire Upon the Deep

Why this book?

One of the deepest and most compelling sci-fi novels I have read yet written so brilliantly that it is accessible despite its complexity. It covers so much, from superhuman intelligences to space battles to genocide to variable physics. You learn an incredible amount while reading this without ever feeling you are being lectured. It’s a truly mind-blowing work.


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Broken Angels

By Richard K. Morgan

Broken Angels

Why this book?

Everyone has heard of Altered Carbon, but I actually prefer this second book in the series. The idea of digital immortality in these books really made me wonder what that very advanced technology might have been like when it was just being invented. That eventually led me to develop my own answer to that question in my own sci-fi novel. I so love the scene where Kovacs buys cortical stacks in bulk in a street market so he can fish through them to find appropriate team members to help him out on his mission.


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Leviathan Wakes

By James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes

Why this book?

A space opera series that feels like it could happen, and is as good as space opera can get. If you’ve seen The Expanse show based on these novels, you really owe it to yourself to read the entire series. I love to ponder where history might take the human race over the coming centuries, and there’s nothing better in my opinion than a story that feels right on so many levels, as this one does.


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