The best sci-fi novels overflowing with intrigue and mystery

Dan Moren Author Of The Nova Incident
By Dan Moren

Who am I?

Growing up I devoured science-fiction and spy stories by the boatload—the only person I wanted to be more than James Bond was probably Han Solo. Of course, I couldn’t really become either of them, but I always knew the next best thing would be telling stories about those kinds of characters. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide whether to focus on space adventures or spies, so the only real answer was to smash those two genres together. Five years and four novels later, the world of the Galactic Cold War is humming along quite nicely. But I’m still always on the lookout for the next great sci-fi spy novel.

I wrote...

The Nova Incident

By Dan Moren,

Book cover of The Nova Incident

What is my book about?

When a bomb explodes in the bustling Commonwealth capital city of Salaam, responsibility is quickly claimed by an extremist independence movement. But after a former comrade, an ex-spy with his own agenda, is implicated in the attack, Simon Kovalic and his team of covert operatives are tasked with untangling the threads of a dangerous plot that could have implications on a galactic scale. And the deeper Kovalic digs, the more he'll uncover a maze of secrets, lies, and deception that may force even the most seasoned spy to question his own loyalties.

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The books I picked & why

A Memory Called Empire

By Arkady Martine,

Book cover of A Memory Called Empire

Why did I love this book?

A galactic empire. A space station on the outer fringes. Mysterious aliens coming from the darkness. I love how Arkady Martine’s twisty space opera is just teeming with life; she creates a world that seems so different from ours, but is instantly relatable. This story, of an ambassador dispatched from that remote station to the Empire she’s always admired, only to discover that her predecessor was murdered and the chip containing his memory sabotaged, kept me guessing throughout. Plus, you don’t want to miss the scene with some extemporaneous brain surgery.

By Arkady Martine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Memory Called Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This incredible opening to the duology recalls the best of John le Carre, Iain M. Banks's Culture novels and Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy.

In a war of lies she seeks the truth . . .

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire's interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn't accidental - and she might be next.

Now Mahit must navigate the capital's enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths. And while she hunts for the…

The Collapsing Empire

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of The Collapsing Empire

Why did I love this book?

I love a good space opera, and John Scalzi’s second to none in that department. In some ways, this book (and the two that follow it in The Interdependency series) remind me of the original Foundation, as an immense space empire under a new and untried leader struggles to come to terms with an imminent catastrophe that could bring it to its knees. I personally found the foul-mouthed and irreverent Lady Kiva Lagos a particular delight, as a force of nature that bulls her way through any obstacle. 

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Collapsing Empire is an exciting space opera from John Scalzi, the first in the award-winning Interdependency series.

Does the biggest threat lie within?

In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glorious empire. Now this interstellar network of worlds faces disaster - but can three individuals save their people?

The empire's outposts are utterly dependent on each other for resources, a safeguard against war, and a way its rulers can exert control. This relies on extra-dimensional pathways between the stars, connecting worlds. But 'The Flow' is changing course, which could plunge every colony into fatal isolation.…

Caliban's War

By James S. A. Corey,

Book cover of Caliban's War

Why did I love this book?

Okay, it’s the second book in the tremendously popular series The Expanse (perhaps you’ve heard of this little series turned TV show), but it’s also my favorite. That’s because Corey ramps up the intrigue as Mars, Earth, and the Belt find themselves enmeshed in an open war that has some decidedly murky underpinnings. This volume also introduces two of the series' best and most memorable characters: Martian marine Bobbie Draper and savvy Earth politician Chrisjen Avasarala. The book kicks off with a bang, and doesn’t let up, concluding with perhaps one of the most page-turning action sequences I’ve ever read.

By James S. A. Corey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Caliban's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The second book in the NYT bestselling Expanse series, Caliban's War shows a solar system on the brink of war, and the only hope of peace rests on James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante's shoulders. Now a Prime Original series.


We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening…


By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Book cover of Memory

Why did I love this book?

This is probably my favorite book of all time, from my favorite series of all time, The Vorkosigan Saga. Miles Vorkosigan, spy and accidental leader of a mercenary fleet, comes face to face with his mortality when he’s injured during a mission. As he recovers, he has to rebuild his life and his identity and find a new purpose in an empire that prizes warriors—a long-running challenge for this diminutive disabled hero. Meanwhile, one of his mentors, spymaster Simon Illyan, is dealing with a threat that could not only unravel his own life but decades’ worth of the Empire’s secrets. It’s funny, tense, and touching all at turns; I can’t think of that many sci-fi adventures that will have you laughing and crying. 

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dying is easy. Coming back to life is hard. At least that's what Miles Vorkosigan thinks, and he should know, having died once already. That was when he last visited Jackson's Whole, rescuing his brother. Thanks to quick thinking on the part of h

Book cover of Nightwatch on the Hinterlands

Why did I love this book?

Combining a murder mystery with a colorful sci-fi universe that’s full of magic? Yes, please. Odd couple Lieutenant Iari and Ambassador Gaer (who, don’t let the title fool you, is actually an alien spy) have to team up to discover why a retired battle-mecha killed someone—an occurrence that should be impossible. The rapport between Iari and Gaer is a delight, and the plot quickly unfolds from a mere murder to something far more sinister. I absolutely love the world that Eason creates—it has the scale of a video game-like Mass Effect while simultaneously creating compelling characters. 

By K. Eason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nightwatch on the Hinterlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the universe of Rory Thorne, this new sci-fi mystery follows an unlikely duo who must discover the motive behind an unusual murder.

THE TEMPLAR: When Lieutenant Iari hears screams in the night, she expects to interrupt a robbery or break up a fight. Instead she discovers a murder with an impossible suspect: a riev, one of the battle-mecha decommissioned after the end of the last conflict, repurposed for manual labor. Riev don't kill people. And yet, clearly, one has. Iari sets out to find it.

THE SPY: Officially, Gaer is an ambassador from the vakari. Unofficially, he's also…

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