The best science fiction books that will take you on a journey

Karen McCreedy Author Of Unreachable Skies: Vol. 1
By Karen McCreedy

Who am I?

Although I’ve written non-fiction articles on films and British history for magazines, my fiction reflects my love of science fiction, which goes right back to when I watched Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, and Star Trek on television as a child. You can read – or watch – the stories as straightforward adventures in imagination, or take away clever commentaries on contemporary problems. The possibilities are endless, and I always enjoyed conjuring stories and scribbling them down – though it took a long time for those scribbles to translate into publishing success! My first novel, Unreachable Skies was published in 2018 by Mirror World, with Exile in 2019 and Ascent in 2020 completing the trilogy.


I wrote...

Unreachable Skies: Vol. 1

By Karen McCreedy,

Book cover of Unreachable Skies: Vol. 1

What is my book about?

Zarda, an apprentice Fate-seer to the winged Drax is half-trained and ill-equipped to deal with the consequences of a plague that has resulted in wingless hatchlings; but the death of her teacher sees her summoned by the Drax Prime just as his heir, Dru, hatches – without wings.

Fate-seers have predicted that Dru will eventually defeat their traditional enemy, the Koth, and this is enough to keep Dru and the other wingless hatchlings alive – for a time. But the Prime’s adviser, Fazak, has his own agenda, stoking prejudice and superstition against the wingless, leading to death for some and exile for others; while Zarda's own journey to understanding her role in events may lead her to abandon all tradition in order to protect her people's future.

The books I picked & why

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The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets

By Lloyd Biggle Jr.,

Book cover of The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets

Why this book?

I picked up a copy of this short, thought-provoking science-fiction novel in a library over forty years ago. I loved it so much I wanted a copy of my own – though in pre-internet days it was to be fifteen years before I finally found a secondhand copy in a bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London.

I hoped it would be as good as I remembered! It was, and I’ve read it again since several times. Cultural Survey Officer Forzon is sent to the planet Kurr in the hope that he will find a way to turn its people against their ruler, and discover democracy for themselves. An unlikely hero, Forzon is underprepared for his role, and unprepared for betrayal by one of his own. The result is a clever and engaging story of politics, prejudice, and beating the system by utilising the most unlikely tools.

The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets

By Lloyd Biggle Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The IPR Bureau (whose motto is "Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny") works to bring newly discovered planets up to the point where they have a planetary democratic government and then induct them into the galactic federation. Unfortunately, the planet Furnil offers problems. The continent of Kurr has a well-entrenched monarchy, and the citizens seem little inclined to change. In fact, they immerse themselves in art rather than politics...and have been doing so for more than 400 years! So what's a poor IPR agent to do...? Classic science fiction!


Hunting Party

By Elizabeth Moon,

Book cover of Hunting Party

Why this book?

Chock full of great characters, political scheming, spaceships, and conflict, Elizabeth Moon’s terrific space saga features a strong, believable female protagonist in Heris Serrano. As the story begins, Heris has been forced to resign from a space fleet she’d lived for, banished to what she believes to be a dead-end job on a private cruiser. The layers of intrigue that underly the action and interactions throughout the story are beautifully realised, and the characters are all recognisable individuals, distinct, human, flawed, each looking for a path to follow. A page-turner that will have you looking for Book 2 (Sporting Chance) as soon as you’ve read it

Hunting Party

By Elizabeth Moon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Heris Serrano was an officer born of a long line of officers, and a life serving in the ranks of the Regular Space Service was all she had ever known and all she ever wanted - until a treacherous superior officer forced her to resign her commission. This was not just the end of a career path; it was the end of everything that gave her life meaning.
But even ex-Fleet captains have to eat, and Heris finds employment as 'Captain' of an interstellar luxury yacht, working for the eccentric Lady Cecelia de Marktos. Being a rich old lady's chauffeur…


The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

By Jack Campbell,

Book cover of The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

Why this book?

Dauntless is the first in the six-book Lost Fleet series, and sets off on an epic SF journey like no other. Jack Campbell’s approach to space battles feels realistic; while the tensions and terrors of the characters are sharply realised. The opening chapters take an entire fleet of ships deep into enemy territory – and maroon them there, under the sudden and unexpected command of Captain “Black Jack” Geary. A space legend, due to his presumed death, his rescue from hibernation means he is by far the most senior officer on any of the ships – a cause for resentment and conflict on his own ship and around the fleet. And as if that’s not enough for him to deal with, his ships face annihilation from the duplicitous Syndics who lured them into a deadly trap. How will they find their way home?

The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

By Jack Campbell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in the New York Times bestselling Lost Fleet series!

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century—and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is a man who's emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized beyond belief....

Captain John “Black Jack” Geary’s exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic “last stand” in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance Fleet as it…


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers,

Book cover of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Why this book?

Becky Chambers’ books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Women's Prize for Fiction, among others. This, her first book, was originally funded by Kickstarter and self-published, but was then picked up by Hodder and Stoughton after word-of-mouth success pushed it up the Amazon charts.

The Wayfarer in Angry Planet is not a battlecruiser or a starship; it doesn’t fight wars, it doesn’t have any weapons to fire. It’s a patched-up rustbucket with a motley crew of diverse species and clashing personalities, all with their own secrets to hide. Their long journey to build a hyperspace tunnel speeds by as the characters clash, bond, argue, get on each others’ nerves, reconcile – and defend their own against outside forces no one has foreseen.  

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEY'S WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

'A quietly profound, humane tour de force' Guardian

The beloved debut novel that will restore your faith in humanity

#SmallAngryPlanet

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix,…


Gateway

By Frederik Pohl,

Book cover of Gateway

Why this book?

First published in 1976, Gateway was reissued by Gollancz under the ‘SF Masterworks’ banner in 2003, and is another book I’ve read several times. Notices from the ‘Gateway’ space station, log entries, transcripts from interviews, and a first-person narrator all weave together the story of a journey from ‘Gateway’ to a black hole – and the journey of the narrator to understanding what happened there and why. Though it’s the first of Pohl’s “Heechee” series, Gateway, which won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W Campbell awards, is complete in itself and can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

Gateway

By Frederik Pohl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time

Wealth ... or death. Those were the choices Gateway offered. Humans had discovered this artificial spaceport, full of working interstellar ships left behind by the mysterious, vanished Heechee.

Their destinations are preprogrammed. They are easy to operate, but impossible to control. Some came back with discoveries which made their intrepid pilots rich; others returned with their remains barely identifiable. It was the ultimate game of Russian roulette, but in this resource-starved future there was no shortage of desperate volunteers.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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