The best scrappy space adventure books

Paige Daniels Author Of Project Eleutheria: The Singularity Wars
By Paige Daniels

The Books I Picked & Why

Artificial Absolutes

By Mary Fan

Book cover of Artificial Absolutes

Why this book?

Full disclosure, Mary Fan and I partner on editing the Brave New Girls series. However, that doesn’t make this book any less awesome. Jane Colt is 20-something working a boring corporate job until she witnesses her friend, Adam, get kidnapped. Before she knows it, she’s embroiled in an interstellar chase along with her brother who has a past in the most lawless corners of the galaxy. This book is a little Blade Runner and a little Firefly, and it explores what it means to be human and the real meaning of family. I love this book because it is fast-paced with a fun and sometimes bratty (in a good way) main character. I’m a sucker for across-the-galaxy adventures and this book definitely delivers.

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The Martian

By Andy Weir

Book cover of The Martian

Why this book?

Okay, I know me, and zillion other people love this movie and book. And I also know that it’s super cliché to say that the book was better (I do love the movie though). But I’m listing this book here because as an engineer I found the banter between everyone in the book so genuine, engaging, and funny. It reminded me of times when I used to get to work in the labs with a team on a project. The energy projected is just so real. The book goes into a lot more detail about how Watney survives on Mars. I love how he MacGvyers his way through a gauntlet of scientific and technical challenges. I love the teamwork and the chemistry between all the characters. 

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The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel

By Mary Robinette Kowal

Book cover of The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel

Why this book?

This is somewhat science fiction, but more of an alternate historical fiction novel. This is the first in the Lady Astronaut series. It starts off with a bang, literally, when a meteorite hits Earth in 1952. This meteorite destroys much of the east coast and sets off a ticking time bomb where Earth will no longer be habitable in a matter of decades. Now there is a full effort to colonize space so humans can find another home. Women who were once thought not able to become astronauts are now able to vie for spots in the Astronaut Corps along with their male counterparts. I love science history and reading about the women “calculators” of this area (Katherine Johnson, Rear Adm Grace Hopper, etc.). So if there’s a space adventure set in this era, count me in!

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Polaris Rising

By Jessie Mihalik

Book cover of Polaris Rising

Why this book?

This book is just pure fun. As you probably guessed, I’m a huge fan of Firefly and this book really sated my Firefly need. Set in the far future, an heiress of one of the major houses or large corporations that run the “ ‘verse” is on the run from her family to avoid a political marriage. She and one of the galaxy’s most ruthless outlaws are forced to team up to stay alive. This book has it all: sexy outlaw dudes, space chases, snarky heroines, and political espionage.   

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By Marissa Meyer

Book cover of Cress

Why this book?

This is actually the third book in the Lunar Chronical series, a sci-fi/fairy tale mash-up. I totally enjoyed the whole series, but if I was forced to pick my favorite in the series this would be it. I think this one stood out to me because the main character, Cress, is so different from most heroines in novels I read. Obviously, I love the outspoken, snarky, adventurous females in these books, but Cress was a little different. Cress, a hacker stuck on a satellite since childhood, is quiet and thoughtful and not the guns blazing type. Cress lacks a lot of self-confidence your typical sci-fi heroines have and I really enjoyed the journey watching Cress gain that self-confidence. 

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