The best sci-fi books you’ll get lost in as they tickle your funny bone

Why am I passionate about this?

Comedy and science fiction have special places in my heart. I’m fascinated with the prospect of what AI and machine learning might bring us, and I believe to laugh and enjoy life is to be healthy and content. The best humor is revealed through character relationships. I grew up watching Doctor Who, a show that presented a serious story with lighthearted moments. Douglas Adams put that same formula in his books. For ten years I honed my writing skills producing graphic novels, where you had to tell a story and inject humor onto one page. Now novel writing is my means of bringing a little joy to the world.

I wrote...

Blanchland Blues

By Tom Dell'aringa,

Book cover of Blanchland Blues

What is my book about?

Since being dishonorably discharged from the Star Corps, John MacAlister has struggled to make ends meet with less-than-legal cargo runs across the cosmos. When he thinks he’s found “one last job,” some disaster lands him at square one. After crashing on the Moon, John finds himself in debt to a shady lawyer with an offer he can’t refuse: Return runaway Meryl Amelson or rot in jail.

In the inhospitable Blanchlands of Kaldikar-6, John discovers smart and scrappy Meryl is a witness to a murder ordered by the officer who kicked John out of the Corps. Finally, John has a purpose. Despite impossible odds, he vows to protect Meryl and expose his former commander no matter the cost. The challenge? Living long enough to do it.

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Tom Dell'aringa Why did I love this book?

I’ve always considered this book to be Adams at his best. Somehow he mixes Norse mythology (with a hilarious, confused Thor and an Odin who is constantly chasing a good night’s sleep), a detective story, and unique, satisfying humor you won't find anywhere else. (Like Dirk’s refrigerator, which has become so filthy he and his cleaning lady are trying to trick one another into opening it first.) The story is so clever and fun that you’re immediately lost in it. It’s like comfort food in book form. I read this when I was traveling and away from my family while struggling with some health issues, and it was just the balm I needed.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beloved, bumbling Detective Dirk Gently returns in this standalone novel from Douglas Adams, the legendary author of one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When a check-in desk at London’s Heathrow Airport disappears in a ball of orange flame, the event is said to be an act of God. But which god? wonders holistic detective Dirk Gently. And how is this connected to Dirk’s battle with his cleaning lady over his filthy refrigerator…or to the murder of his latest client? Or are these events just another stretch of coincidences in…

Book cover of We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

Tom Dell'aringa Why did I love this book?

Guy strikes it rich, splurges on cryogenically freezing his head then gets killed crossing the street. This is a story I can get behind! Bob is now a sentient AI—no body or external senses. This is a problem until he comes up with an innovative solution. Not only is this a book full of sharp and wacky humor, there’s a fantastic undercurrent of sci-fi thought experimentationand this really resonated with me. What would it be like to be a sentient AI? Imagine replicating yourself and dealing with your “other selves.” There are highs and lows for Bob, and great action sequences. The book is pure fun! I spent part of the summer walking and listening to the amazing audiobook, I looked forward to those walks every day.

By Dennis E. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We Are Legion (We Are Bob) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first…

Book cover of The Martian

Tom Dell'aringa Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for survival stories because they’re deeply rooted in the human conditionand this is one of the best. I find joy in books in the “can’t put it down” category. You feel transformed, as though you are experiencing the story yourself. Astronaut Mark Watney is left behind on Mars, hurt and without enough food to survive. From then on, we agonize with Watney on problem after problem, rejoice with each ingenious solution, and sorrow with his lowest of lows. My wife calls me “method man,” so it’s no surprise I love the way Watney thinks through each problem. The climax delivers on all cylinders, leaving you exhausted, joyfuleven tearful! If that’s the kind of experience you want in a book, don’t miss this one. 

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Martian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old human error are…

Book cover of Illuminae

Tom Dell'aringa Why did I love this book?

There really are no new stories, so when you find something that does feel new it’s amazing. Illuminae is a space opera epistolary novel—it’s presented in a series of letters and documents, including classified reports, censored emails, interviews, texts, and even some poetry. Although the reading experience is unique it feels natural and even modern. I found it interesting that this is how we tell our own stories to each other today! The main characters become refugees after becoming caught in a political crossfire, and most of the action takes place on ships in space. It’s a rollicking good time with loads of action and intrigue. If it were just a unique storytelling vehicle, it’d be worth reading—but the story delivers, and that makes it a must-read.

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Illuminae as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'Never have I read a book so wholly unique and utterly captivating.' Marie Lu

'It certainly filled the Battlestar Galactica-shaped hole in my heart.' Victoria Aveyard

The internationally bestselling first book in a high-octane trilogy

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she'd ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has…

Book cover of The Sheriff of Yrnameer

Tom Dell'aringa Why did I love this book?

I have so much love for this story and I can’t understand how it’s not a bestseller. This book helped me understand my own brand of humor could work in a novel. Michael Rubens has a unique razor wit like Douglas Adams, and what I cherish about this story is all the laugh-out-loud moments. When I read this book, I am smiling the whole time—it lifts my spirits! Cole, the main character, flees the galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter who wants to lay eggs in his brain. Things don't get any better when he smuggles a ship full of freeze-dried orphans. In the end, Cole has to make a tough choice, which always resonates with me. Do you want to be happy? Read this book!

By Michael Rubens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spirit of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is sci-fi comedy at its best—mordant, raucously funny, and a thrilling page-turner.
Meet Cole: hapless space rogue and part-time smuggler. His sidekick just stole his girlfriend. The galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter wants to lay eggs in his brain. And the luxury space yacht Cole just hijacked turns out to be filled with interstellar do-gooders, one especially loathsome stowaway, and a cargo of freeze-dried orphans. Cole gathers a misfit crew for a desperate journey to the far reaches of the galaxy: the mysterious world of…

You might also like...

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

Book cover of Magical Disinformation

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

What is my book about?

This book is a spy novel with a satirical edge which will take you on a heart-pumping journey through the streets, mountains, jungles, and beaches of Colombia. Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

What is this book about?

In the era of ‘fake news’ in the land of magical realism, fiction can be just as dangerous as the truth... Discover Lachlan Page’s Magical Disinformation: a spy novel with a satirical edge set amongst the Colombian peace process. Described by one reviewer as “Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.”

Oliver Jardine is a spy in Colombia, enamoured with local woman Veronica Velasco.

As the Colombian government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, Her Majesty’s Government decides a transfer is in order to focus on more pertinent theatres of operation.

In a desperate attempt…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in artificial intelligence, survival, and private investigators?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about artificial intelligence, survival, and private investigators.

Artificial Intelligence Explore 292 books about artificial intelligence
Survival Explore 195 books about survival
Private Investigators Explore 299 books about private investigators