The best sci-fi books for visiting alien worlds

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1966, I traveled to brave new worlds with the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Star Trek immediately became my lodestone, the focal point of my ten-year-old self, and I never missed an episode. A few years later I found Dune, and my love for the SF genre was cemented. I freely admit that I am not a hard science writer. I like to have fun with my stories, to play with ideas. I write first to entertain myself, and hopefully a reader or two along the way. I am a philosopher, a reader, and a writer.


I wrote...

A Desperate Gamble

By Charley Marsh,

Book cover of A Desperate Gamble

What is my book about?

Clones. Emotionless as droids, highly specialized clones mediate negotiations galaxy-wide. Failure to close the deal means certain–and immediate–termination. When clone T564 cannot break the impasse between two parties who refuse to compromise, her owners give her twenty-four hours to find a solution or die. In a galaxy where clones are little more than slaves... What happens when a clone defies her owners and goes off script?

The first book in an exciting new sci-fi series, A Desperate Gamble introduces an unlikely hero: a clone who dares the unthinkable.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of You Sexy Thing

Charley Marsh Why did I love this book?

I couldn’t imagine what this book could be about with a title like this, but I enjoy Cat’s short stories so I took a leap of faith. I’m glad I did.

You Sexy Thing is the name of a sentient bioship that believes it is being stolen. Fast-paced and action-packed with great characters, You Sexy Thing also has depth–found family, personal ethics, and a pirate king bent on revenge. Immensely entertaining.

By Cat Rambo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.

Just when they thought they were out…

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can’t ever be escaped,…


Book cover of The Renegat

Charley Marsh Why did I love this book?

Take the concept of diving on shipwrecks and move it into space, then add a mystery and a whole lot of adventure, and you have Rusch’s awesome Diving series.

The Renegat is the 10th book in the series and the most ambitious one yet. Rusch is a master of character and world-building and it shines here. I can’t recommend this series enough.

By Kristine Kathryn Rusch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a young recruit, brilliant engineer Nadim Crowe accidentally destroys an entire Scrapheap full of ships. Now, decades later, he ends up on the crew of the Renegat, the only ship in the Fleet ever sent on a mission backwards to investigate an ancient Scrapheap.

Something invaded that Scrapheap and the Fleet wants to know what. Or who.

The Renegat: The only ship the Fleet dares risk. The Renegat: A ship of misfits and screw-ups sent on an impossible mission. All alone in deep space.

A thrilling new addition to the Diving Universe.

Praise for the Diving Series:

Rusch's handling…


Book cover of Machine: A White Space Novel

Charley Marsh Why did I love this book?

A space hospital for aliens–what a clever idea.

The second book in Bear’s White Space series, Machine is an entertaining blend of SF adventure and multiple mysteries that sucked me right in. A space hospital begins to experience escalating mishaps after a rescue mission returns with the cryo-suspended crew of a stranded generation ship along with its memory-challenged ship’s mind.

Trust is a key theme in Machine, and you can trust Bear’s capable writer hands to tell a whopping good story.

By Elizabeth Bear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn't had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years.

The first part of her job involves jumping out of perfectly good space-ships. The second part requires developing emergency treatments for sick aliens of species she's never seen before.

She loves it.

But her latest emergency is also proving a mystery:

Two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a dangerous embrace.
A mysterious crew suffering from an even more mysterious ailment.
A shipmind trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.
A murderous virus from out of time.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens…


Book cover of Ringworld

Charley Marsh Why did I love this book?

Ringworld might be a little dated after 50+ years, but it’s still entertaining and clever.

Ringworld is a giant wheel that rotates around a star with a habitable inner surface. When four travelers crash their ship on Ringworld’s surface, the adventures begin. This is hard science fiction that doesn’t go over your head with impossible-to-understand jargon. It’s a classic for a reason.

By Larry Niven,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pierson's puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. The artefact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its centre - the Ringworld. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of…


Book cover of Dune

Charley Marsh Why did I love this book?

Arguably the best-selling SF novel ever, Dune does not go away. (Frank’s son Brian has teamed up with another great writer, Kevin J. Anderson, to keep the Dune franchise humming along.)

This is the book that inspired my love of all things science fiction. The book came out of research Frank Herbert did for the US Department of Agriculture for ways to stabilize sand dunes. Creative world building and politics set on a desert planet with giant sand worms. What’s not to love?

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…


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Exchange Student

By Michael R. Lane,

Book cover of Exchange Student

Michael R. Lane Author Of The Gem Connection

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I read a wide variety of books. Of the fiction genre mystery and suspense remain my favorite. From the classics to the gritty, a well-told mystery is a literary gem. As my mystery palette has aged—like my taste in wine—so are my demands of what makes a good mystery novel. The best mysteries for me contain more than a serpentine journey toward the hidden truth. They have intriguing characters, crisp dialogue, interesting settings, formidable foes, and of course indispensable heroes or anti-heroes. My writing goal is aimed at achieving the same level of literary penmanship of the mysteries I enjoy reading so much.

Michael's book list on African American mysteries

What is my book about?

Daniel “Dan” Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world’s leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, “Better environment through industry.”

Unable to stay awake on his drive home after work, the loving husband and father stopped for coffee at a familiar coffee shop. The place was empty, aside from a lone barista. A young woman with a sacred Maori chin tattoo and an infectious smile. Shortly afterward, Dan…

Exchange Student

By Michael R. Lane,

What is this book about?

Daniel "Dan" Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world's leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, "Better environment through industry."

Unable to stay awake on his drive home after work, the loving husband and father stopped for coffee at a familiar coffee shop. The place was empty, aside from a lone barista. A young woman with a sacred Maori chin tattoo and an infectious smile.

Dan decides to…


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