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

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Rendezvous with Rama

Don Kinney Why did I love 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.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

8 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?


Book cover of Darwinia

Don Kinney Why did I love 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.

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.


Book cover of Sphere

Don Kinney Why did I love 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.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

4 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…


Book cover of The Accidental Time Machine

Don Kinney Why did I love 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.

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.


Book cover of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Don Kinney Why did I love 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.

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

8 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…


You might also like...

The Blue Prussian

By Eve Penrose,

Book cover of The Blue Prussian

Eve Penrose

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The Blue Prussian is a spellbinding story told by Blake O’Brien, a beautiful, young executive with a globetrotting career. Blake returns to her native Manhattan from San Francisco after escaping—or so she thinks—her marriage to a dashing man who turned out to be a prince of darkness. She had been hoping for a fresh start but learns that she has been poisoned with thallium—a deadly neurotoxin referred to as the poisoner’s poison.

Blake is treated with the only known antidote—Prussian blue—the same synthetic pigment with the deeply saturated hue used in dazzling masterpieces like The Starry Night and The Great Wave. Almost unfathomably, the alchemist who invented Prussian blue was the rumored inspiration for Mary Shelley’s character, Dr. Frankenstein. The similarities to Blake’s financier ex are striking as his true nature is revealed—including the discovery of a secret room in the brooding Victorian home where they lived their married life together.

The stylish enclaves of Beekman Place in New York City, Nob Hill in San Francisco, and the Mayfair neighborhood in London provide the backdrop as this chilling tale of treachery and betrayal unfolds. Blake’s resolve triumphs, and the camaraderie of her loyal and charismatic friends fortifies her as she takes the reader on a tantalizing international pursuit to try to catch her poisoner, who is known to the FBI as The Blue Prussian.

The Blue Prussian

By Eve Penrose,

What is this book about?

"A modern-day Gaslight"

The Blue Prussian is a spellbinding story told by Blake O'Brien, a beautiful, young executive with a globetrotting career. Blake returns to her native Manhattan from San Francisco after escaping—or so she thinks—her marriage to a dashing man who turned out to be a prince of darkness. She had been hoping for a fresh start but learns that she has been poisoned with thallium—a deadly neurotoxin referred to as the poisoner's poison.

Blake is treated with the only known antidote—Prussian blue—the same synthetic pigment with the deeply saturated hue used in dazzling masterpieces like The Starry Night…


Topics
  • Coming soon!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in spacecraft, astronauts, and time travel?

10,000+ 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 37 books about spacecraft
Astronauts Explore 63 books about astronauts
Time Travel Explore 363 books about time travel