The best science fiction novels for sci-fi newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by science and space since I was a child and naturally gravitated toward science fiction. In many respects, it was a form of escapism, as I didn’t enjoy school. I always preferred escaping into another world or being taken on a journey to another world. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that most great science fiction is a commentary on our own world and the issues we face daily. Science fiction, more than any other genre, does a better job of exploring and dissecting aspects of our world, which in turn helps us better understand our world and our relationship with it.


I wrote...

The Darkdrift

By Don Kinney,

Book cover of The Darkdrift

What is my book about?

Targeted LA cop Samuel Winter escapes the unforgiving Silanna cartel and flees to more familiar territory, New York City, where new enemies and friends—desperately bound to ancient text hidden in an otherworldly object—await his arrival and thrust him into a struggle to prevent a tragedy that may or may not occur, that may simply be shrouding a far greater catastrophe: the inescapable pull of the Darkdrift.

The books I picked & why

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Rendezvous with Rama

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Book cover of Rendezvous with Rama

Why this book?

Rendezvous with Rama (and its subsequent novels) is my favorite sci-fi series. I love the idea of an alien spacecraft passing through our solar system and us being able to intercept it and potentially learn more about our universe. (If that happened in real life, I would want to be a part of that.) I actually prefer the last three books in this series because it follows several generations of a family that’s travelling through space, the difficulties that creates, the obstacles they face, and the discoveries they make both along the way and at their final destination. But the first book, Rendezvous with Rama, sets it all up beautifully and is as unique a story now as it was back when it was published in the 70s.

Rendezvous with Rama

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Rendezvous with Rama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the year 2130, a mysterious and apparently untenanted alien spaceship, Rama, enters our solar system. The first product of an alien civilisation to be encountered by man, it reveals a world of technological marvels and an unparalleled artificial ecology.

But what is its purpose in 2131?

Who is inside it?

And why?


Darwinia

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Book cover of Darwinia

Why this book?

Darwinia was the first novel I read by Robert Charles Wilson, who I believe is the best modern-day science fiction writer. Darwinia was a novel I had to read twice to really grasp how brilliantly Wilson had woven everything together. This is one of those novels where the ending can sneak up on you and blow you away and you weren’t even remotely prepared, which is preferred over any ending that I can predict.

Darwinia

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In an alternative history of the twentieth century, Europe is replaced by a land of nightmarish jungle and monsters that contains the secret of human destiny.


Sphere

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of Sphere

Why this book?

Michael Crichton was the first author I fell in love with as a child. And it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how influential he was as a science fiction writer. His novels were always written so realistically that I never thought of them as science fiction, which always meant outer space to me growing up. Sphere is a great example of science fiction that blends together elements of other genres, which is something that I like to do as a writer. Sphere’s story is presented in a way that you start to believe this could legitimately happen in our world, and I find stories like that fascinating. Sphere is one of Crichton’s best and tends to get overlooked because of Jurassic Park. Read this instead.

Sphere

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sphere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Ingenious and beguiling.”
—Time

“Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Sphere may be Crichton’s best novel, but even if it ranked only second or third, it would be a must for suspense fans.”
—Miami Herald

A classic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, Sphere is a bravura demonstration of what he does better than anyone: riveting storytelling that combines frighteningly plausible, cutting edge science and technology with pulse-pounding action and serious chills. The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the…


The Accidental Time Machine

By Joe Haldeman,

Book cover of The Accidental Time Machine

Why this book?

The Accidental Time Machine is one of the few novels that I’ve read beginning to end in one sitting because I found it so interesting. This isn’t the type of novel that will change your life or change how you feel about something. It’s just good. A good, fun book that can be read in a couple of hours. Haldeman doesn’t waste any time getting the story going and from there he takes you on a ride more enjoyable than novels twice the length.

The Accidental Time Machine

By Joe Haldeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Accidental Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW IN PAPERBACK-FROM THE AUTHOR OF MARSBOUND

Grad- school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when he inadvertently creates a time machine. With a dead-end job and a girlfriend who left him for another man, Matt has nothing to lose in taking a time-machine trip himself-or so he thinks.


The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Why this book?

This is the best science fiction novel of all time, in my opinion. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a smart, thought-provoking masterpiece that does exactly what a great science fiction novel is supposed to do: force you to reevaluate the views and opinions you have of the world. If you don’t come out of reading this changed, then you might not be human.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2075, the Moon is no longer a penal colony. But it is still a prison...

Life isn't easy for the political dissidents and convicts who live in the scattered colonies that make up lunar civilisation. Everything is regulated strictly, efficiently and cheaply by a central supercomputer, HOLMES IV.

When humble technician Mannie O'Kelly-Davis discovers that HOLMES IV has quietly achieved consciousness (and developed a sense of humour), the choice is clear: either report the problem to the authorities... or become friends.

And perhaps overthrow the government while they're at it.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has been called…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in spacecraft, astronauts, and time travel?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about spacecraft, astronauts, and time travel.

Spacecraft Explore 24 books about spacecraft
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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