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

Who am I?

My lifelong passion for history and culture led me to become a science fiction writer. I like to view history as not only the story of what has already happened, but also what is going to happen to humanity. I love to spend time thinking about the vast universe and what humanity’s evolving role will be, should we manage to survive our own self-destructive tendencies. I love history so much that I wish I were immortal, just so I could witness it all, and that, naturally, has led me to read so many sci-fi books featuring forms of immortality, and incorporating my own version of technical immortality into my writing.


I wrote...

The Immortality Game

By Ted Cross,

Book cover of The Immortality Game

What is my book about?

Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child. When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Risen Empire: Book One of the Succession

By Scott Westerfeld,

Book cover of 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.

Chasm City

By Alastair Reynolds,

Book cover of 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.

A Fire Upon the Deep

By Vernor Vinge,

Book cover of 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.

Broken Angels

By Richard K. Morgan,

Book cover of 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.

Leviathan Wakes

By James S. A. Corey,

Book cover of 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space warfare, and spacecraft?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraterrestrial life, space warfare, and spacecraft.

Extraterrestrial Life Explore 99 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Warfare Explore 20 books about space warfare
Spacecraft Explore 18 books about spacecraft

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Old Man's War, The Star Wars Trilogy, and Dawn if you like this list.