The best books taking you to science fiction worlds so real, you'll believe

Kate Rauner Author Of Glory on Mars: Colonization Book 1
By Kate Rauner

Who am I?

Growing up, I loved discovering how things work. That led me to a career in engineering, but I never left a certain quirkiness behind. Why else would I have raised llamas for thirty years? Or loved the stories I find in science fiction? Especially books that start in a real place occupied by believable people, then demand a leap of faith, a reach beyond what's known today. We have so much to learn – about planets and people – that possibilities spiral out into the universe. I hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.


I wrote...

Glory on Mars: Colonization Book 1

By Kate Rauner,

Book cover of Glory on Mars: Colonization Book 1

What is my book about?

The first settlers on Mars may be the last.

The tiny colony's psychologist just walked out of an airlock, but despite misgivings, Emma Winters takes the one-way journey to Mars. She gave up everything to explore with her walkabout robots, and each of her fellow colonists has a dream that only Mars can fulfill. But as more deaths and illnesses plague humanity's fragile foothold, Emma must discover the truth before the Red Planet kills them all. 

The books I picked & why

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Mark Twain on the Moon: Book One: Prospectors!

By Michael Schulkins,

Book cover of Mark Twain on the Moon: Book One: Prospectors!

Why this book?

What if humanity rocketed to the moon in the 19th Century? Then surely Mark Twain, aka Sam Clemens, would have gone to seek his fortune. I've never found a more compelling image of travel over and under the moon's surface. These adventures let me discover technology that fits the place and the time. One of my favorites is steam power – not as anachronistic as you might guess. I'm excited by real-life discoveries of water ice in lunar craters, possible fuel for future astronauts.

Twain's style is captured wonderfully, something I hadn't expected. He must keep from blowing himself to kingdom come as science and human nature mix in a delightful stew of troubles. I'm happy to see Twain may solve some of NASA's upcoming problems too.

Mark Twain on the Moon: Book One: Prospectors!

By Michael Schulkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a steampunk bestselling series!

In an alternate 19th century, young Samuel Clemens sets out for the mining camps of America’s wildest frontier: the Moon. Travel with Sam and his partner Calvin as they venture into the desolate, deadly wastes of the Mare Imbrium and the Montes Caucasus, in search of wonders, adventure, and a fortune in precious water ice. This is Prospectors!, the opening salvo in the epic saga of Mark Twain on the Moon, as told by the alternate Mark Twain himself.

"You will soon forget that it isn't Mr. Twain" -Melvin H. Wilson, Jr.

Top 20 in…


The Warehouse

By Rob Hart,

Book cover of The Warehouse

Why this book?

You and I may already have one foot in this near-future world with its chilling look inside the warehouse of a retail giant: Amaz… uh, Cloud. The company is named Cloud. Can powerful bosses possibly be benign overlords? Is a miserable existence good enough in a wretched world? Hmm, maybe not.

I loved the characters – a reluctant hero and a cold-blooded spy who join forces as an unlikely couple searching for the truth behind a colossal global company. I never guessed the ending, and that's always a plus.

The Warehouse

By Rob Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

“A thrilling story of corporate espionage at the highest level . . . and a powerful cautionary tale about technology, runaway capitalism, and the nightmare world we are making for ourselves.”—Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter

Film rights sold to Imagine Entertainment for director Ron Howard! • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Financial Times • Real Simple • Kirkus Reviews

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant…


Colony: Life on Mars

By Paul R. E. Jarvis,

Book cover of Colony: Life on Mars

Why this book?

Lots of stories are set on Mars, and each author makes the planet their own. I enjoyed how this story picks up steam as malfunctions and irritable colleagues balloon into deadly danger. I can see myself in this near-future crew, and I relate to the characters because they make mistakes as they prepare for the main colony's arrival. I was totally engaged.

Colony: Life on Mars

By Paul R. E. Jarvis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When no more frontiers remained on Earth, the heavens beckoned a new generation of explorer. Commander Kelly Brown and her small crew had one shared goal - to build a sustainable home for humankind on Mars.

It was meant to be a pivotal mission of discovery, but confinement, isolation and the hostile environment quickly take their toll. With one member critically ill and another missing, can the remaining crew of the Aeolis survive on the deadly planet?


Winter World

By A.G. Riddle,

Book cover of Winter World

Why this book?

I admire a book that leads me on a journey into space that's exciting without leaving physics behind. This is one I couldn't put down. It's a new Ice Age and, for a change, it's not humanity's fault.

The spaceships are cool, but I loved following the characters as they struggle and sacrifice. Instead of survivors of the catastrophe on Earth trying to kill each other – such a cliché – they organize and tackle life together. The story makes me proud to be human. The ending is breathtaking and believable. It satisfied my heart and my brain.

Winter World

By A.G. Riddle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Apocalyptic sci-fi at its best... The action is anything but frozen' DAILY MAIL.

WITHIN THREE MONTHS, ICE WILL COVER THE EARTH, AND LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WILL END.

It was the last thing we expected, but the world is freezing. A new ice age has dawned and humanity has been forced to confront its own extinction. Billions have fled the glaciers, crowding out the world's last habitable zones. They can run from the ice, but they can't escape human nature: a cataclysmic war is coming.

In orbit, a group of scientists is running the Winter Experiments, a last-ditch attempt…


The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The War of the Worlds

Why this book?

If you've only seen the movies, you may think you know this classic story. A few iconic scenes make it into every adaptation, but I recommend you read the book. I'm glad I did. This is immortal science fiction from the Victorian era, and remains surprisingly relevant today. Wells’ actual theme is fascinating: complacency is foolish and trusting the government to save you may be fatal.

The ending (which I bet you know, but just in case, I won't spoil it) is so basic to Earth, I've got to shake my head in awe. 

The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The War of the Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

But planet Earth was not only being watched - soon it would be invaded by monstrous creatures from Mars who strode about the land in great mechanical tripods, bringing death and destruction with them. What can possibly stop an invading army equipped with heat-rays and poisonous black gas, intent on wiping out the human race? This is one man's story of that incredible invasion, from the time the first Martians land near his home town, to the destruction of London. Is this the end of human life on Earth?


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Mars, robots, and steampunk?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Mars, robots, and steampunk.

Mars Explore 55 books about Mars
Robots Explore 71 books about robots
Steampunk Explore 53 books about steampunk

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Rendezvous with Rama, The Second World War, and The Road if you like this list.