69 books like A Fire Upon the Deep

By Vernor Vinge,

Here are 69 books that A Fire Upon the Deep fans have personally recommended if you like A Fire Upon the Deep. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Book cover of Wool

Jennifer Lauer Author Of The Girl in the Zoo

From my list on cozy sci-fi and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sci-fi and fantasy give us permission to go places we might not go in this world. I am a big daydreamer and always have been. One of the most magical things about being a writer is that you get to design a world that lives only in your mind, and then share it with the reader. Like George R. R. Martin wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Jennifer's book list on cozy sci-fi and fantasy

Jennifer Lauer Why did Jennifer love this book?

The story of people living in an underground Silo who don’t know why they're there, and only that the outside world is toxic and they must survive.

The characters in this story are heroic and relatable. I just wanted this book to keep going, and luckily there are two more in the series – Shift and Dust. The TV series is also a great addition and keeps a similar tone to the book.

By Hugh Howey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SOON TO BE A MAJOR APPLE TV SERIES
__________________________
'Thrilling, thought-provoking and memorable ... one of dystopian fiction's masterpieces alongside the likes of 1984 and Brave New World.' DAILY EXPRESS

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don't. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others…


Book cover of The Risen Empire

Ronald A. Geobey Author Of Gods of Kiranis

From my list on science fiction and fantasy for exploring new worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

While Dune, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica (1980s), and other SF staples laid the foundation for my love of SFF, I was also reading about the universe from a young age. Along came Star Trek: The Next Generation in the ‘90s and the stage was set. Completing Bachelor’s Degrees in Ancient History & Archaeology; Religions & Theology; and a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Studies copper-fastened my passion for the ancient world and the history of religion, and along with reading historical fiction and fantasy, everything merged into the almost allegorical universe you’ll find in Kiranis. Lovers of all the above will find something here.

Ronald's book list on science fiction and fantasy for exploring new worlds

Ronald A. Geobey Why did Ronald love this book?

I had been reading Heroic and Epic Fantasy for years, and I’d purposely avoided reading Sci-Fi, convinced that it would influence my burgeoning plot development. I wanted to maintain my plot integrity and not be subconsciously led by other authors in the genre (but of course I couldn’t avoid the influence of the SF I watched on TV). Of course, I was missing out on some great writing. I was enthralled by this story—it combined an undead trope with space opera, as the ‘risen empire’ maintains its territory while facing an external threat from the technologically hybrid Rix. There’s a fascination with the potential of biological augmentation and the place of AI in our distant future (consider ‘immortal’ humans against potentially ‘eternal’ hybrid humans), but this story is extremely character-driven and concerned with the place of the individual. The fictional science was breathtaking and not without research, but what stuck…

By Scott Westerfeld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The undead Emperor has ruled his mighty interstellar empire of 80 human worlds for 1600 years. Because he can grant a form of eternal life-after-death, creating an elite known as the Risen, his power is absolute. He and his sister, the Child Empress, who is eternally a little girl, are worshipped as living gods. No one can touch them. No until the Rix, machine-augmented humans who worship planetary Al compound minds. The Rix are cool, relentless fanatics, and their only goal I to propagate such Als throughout the galaxy. They seek to end, by any means necessary, the Emperor's prolonged…


Book cover of Chasm City

Kali Wallace Author Of Dead Space

From my list on gritty and gripping mystery books set in space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved science fiction. I spent years studying to be a scientist before I became a writer (I have a PhD in geophysics), and I love fiction that uses, remixes, and twists our weird and wonderful universe in interesting ways. But stories don't really grab me unless there is a strong emotional core. I need characters--I need people. And that's where my love of mysteries and thrillers comes in, with all the tragedy and trauma they can hold. This is the recipe for my ideal fiction: creepy mystery, human trauma, big ideas, weird science, and a little bit of a murder, as a treat. 

Kali's book list on gritty and gripping mystery books set in space

Kali Wallace Why did Kali love this book?

Chasm City is part of Reynold's Revelation Space series, but this future-noir mystery is perfectly readable as a standalone. It follows a man on a mission of revenge, one that takes him into the crumbling, plague-ridden remains of a once-great civilization that has descended into chaos and squalor. The world-building is top-notch—this is a dying, decaying city that you can feel in your bones—and full mysteries that explore ideas of identity, memory, and redemption in a twisty mystery that ties together past, present, and future.

By Alastair Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Come to Chasm City and embark on a mind-bending ride through the universe of Revelation Space

Tanner Mirabel was a security specialist who never made a mistake - until the day a woman in his care was blown away by Argent Reivich, a vengeful young postmortal. Tanner's pursuit of Reivich takes him across light-years of space to Chasm City, the domed human settlement on the otherwise inhospitable planet of Yellowstone.

But Chasm City is not what it was. The one time high-tech utopia has become a Gothic nightmare: a nanotechnological virus has corrupted the city's inhabitants as thoroughly as it…


Book cover of Broken Angels

Ted Cross Author Of The Immortality Game

From my list on sci-fi books to enjoy while expanding your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

My lifelong passion for history and culture led me to become a science fiction writer. I like to view history as not only the story of what has already happened, but also what is going to happen to humanity. I love to spend time thinking about the vast universe and what humanity’s evolving role will be, should we manage to survive our own self-destructive tendencies. I love history so much that I wish I were immortal, just so I could witness it all, and that, naturally, has led me to read so many sci-fi books featuring forms of immortality, and incorporating my own version of technical immortality into my writing.

Ted's book list on sci-fi books to enjoy while expanding your mind

Ted Cross Why did Ted love this book?

Everyone has heard of Altered Carbon, but I actually prefer this second book in the series. The idea of digital immortality in these books really made me wonder what that very advanced technology might have been like when it was just being invented. That eventually led me to develop my own answer to that question in my own sci-fi novel. I so love the scene where Kovacs buys cortical stacks in bulk in a street market so he can fish through them to find appropriate team members to help him out on his mission.

By Richard K. Morgan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifty years after the events of ALTERED CARBON Takeshi Kovacs is serving as a mercenary in the Procterate sponsored war to put down Joshuah Kemp's revolution on the planet Sanction IV. He is offered the chance to join a covert team chasing a prize whose value is limitless and whose dangers are endless. Here is a novel that takes mankind to the brink. A breakneck-paced crime thriller ALTERED CARBON took its readers deep into the universe Morgan had so compellingly realised without ever letting them escape the onward rush of the plot. BROKEN ANGELS melds SF, the war novel and…


Book cover of Leviathan Wakes

Morgan Biscup Author Of In Spite of the Inevitable

From my list on sci-fi books moral and perspective dilemmas.

Why am I passionate about this?

In writing character-driven space fantasy, heavily influenced by my training as an electromechanical engineer, I’ve realized a love for stories with a heavy emphasis on moral dilemmas and shifts in thinking. How does a character change direction after realizing much of what they always believed was a lie? When well-trained instincts pull them backward instead of propelling them forward? I love these stories, mirroring my own messy self-discovery journey through life. The settings and stakes are more fantastical, but that makes them more appealing. A way to confront my own trials without becoming burdened by them. If the characters can do it, so can I.

Morgan's book list on sci-fi books moral and perspective dilemmas

Morgan Biscup Why did Morgan love this book?

This book's storyline unfolds from the POV of two characters with similar but incompatible morals: a jaded, alcoholic Belter cop and an excessively honest Earther from Montana now serving as executive officer of a water hauler from Saturn's rings.

Their stories converge in unexpected ways as they chase down their own mysteries. They each have strengths the other lacks and weaknesses that put them at odds with each other, heightening the weight of their interactions as they strive to save the solar system, each in their own way.

I loved so much else about this book, from the full cast of characters to the unfolding mystery behind the growing war. The ending hit me hard in the best of ways, as opposing philosophies fought and converged to yield unexpected compromises.

By James S. A. Corey,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Leviathan Wakes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Humanity has colonized the planets - interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond. Now, when Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the…


Book cover of The Crucible of Time

C. S. Friedman Author Of This Alien Shore

From my list on aliens in science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind. What instincts and influences make us who we are? This Alien Shore grew out of research I was doing into atypical neurological conditions. It depicts a society that has abandoned the concept of “neurotypical”, embracing every variant of human perspective as valid and valuable. One of my main characters, Kio Masada, is autistic, and that gives him a unique perspective on computer security that others cannot provide. What might such a man accomplish, in a world where his condition is embraced and celebrated? Good science fiction challenges our definition of “Other,” and asks what it really means to be human, all in the context of an exciting story.

C. S.'s book list on aliens in science fiction

C. S. Friedman Why did C. S. love this book?

A planet in its equivalent of the stone age is passing through a galactic debris field. An alien stargazer realizes that sooner or later some object will strike the planet and destroy it. The only hope of survival his species has is to leave the planet before that happens. But the concept is a mere abstraction to his people, the equivalent of a Neanderthal saying “we need to travel to the moon,” and the task is further complicated by the fact that their technology is biological in nature, focused on the manipulation of living tissue. It is hard to imagine how such technology could ever produce a spaceship. 

The novel--structured as a series of novellas-- follows the development of a fascinating alien species from its primitive roots to an age of high technology, each chapter focusing on a different time period. Always the stargazer’s warning is proclaimed by a few…

By John Brunner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traces the development over milennia of a civilization of an unusual alien species, whose sense of humor, resourceful adaptibility, and metalworking skills are the strengths and the hope of their society


Book cover of Dawn

Anna McFarlane Author Of Cyberpunk Culture and Psychology: Seeing through the Mirrorshades

From my list on body horror birth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lecturer in medical humanities at the University of Leeds in England and I’m currently writing a book about the portrayal of traumatic pregnancy in fantastic literature (science fiction, horror, fantasy…). ‘Medical humanities’ is a field of study that looks at medical issues using the tools of the humanities, so it encompasses things like history of medicine, bioethics, and (my specialty) literature and medicine. Thinking about literature through the lens of traumatic pregnancy has led me to some fascinating, gory, and philosophical books, some of which I’m including on this list. 

Anna's book list on body horror birth

Anna McFarlane Why did Anna love this book?

I couldn’t finish this list without including one of the most famous examples of pregnancy in science fiction.

Humanity comes face-to-face with an alien species, the Oankali, who use gene editing, cloning, and mating to refresh their gene pools. The focus is on Lilith, a black woman taken hostage by the aliens who must learn about their plans for her and strategize her responses.

I really appreciate the way Butler’s work manages to speak to the legacy of slavery, particularly through a scene where the aliens create the circumstances for Lilith to breed with a human man in aid of their experiments. Lilith’s refusal to succumb to this animalistic treatment confronts the legacy of breeding humans during slavery.

I find Lilith (like many of Butler’s other characters) a driven character who deals with outlandish situations and the potential invasion of her own body with a pragmatic determination that invites me,…

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the most significant literary artists of the twentieth century' JUNOT DIAZ

'Octavia Butler was playing out our very real possibilities as humans. I think she can help each of us to do the same' GLORIA STEINEM

One woman is called upon to reconstruct humanity in this hopeful, thought-provoking novel by the bestselling, award-winning author. For readers of Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Ursula K. Le Guin.

When Lilith lyapo wakes in a small white room with no doors or windows, she remembers a devastating war, and a husband and child long lost to her.

She finds herself living…


Book cover of Out of the Everywhere and Other Extraordinary Visions

C. S. Friedman Author Of This Alien Shore

From my list on aliens in science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind. What instincts and influences make us who we are? This Alien Shore grew out of research I was doing into atypical neurological conditions. It depicts a society that has abandoned the concept of “neurotypical”, embracing every variant of human perspective as valid and valuable. One of my main characters, Kio Masada, is autistic, and that gives him a unique perspective on computer security that others cannot provide. What might such a man accomplish, in a world where his condition is embraced and celebrated? Good science fiction challenges our definition of “Other,” and asks what it really means to be human, all in the context of an exciting story.

C. S.'s book list on aliens in science fiction

C. S. Friedman Why did C. S. love this book?

This anthology has one of my favorite stories by Tiptree, it is called "We who stole the dream". The Joilani have long been enslaved and abused by humans. So has another race, of “delicately winged creatures”, whose sweat is a powerful intoxicant to humans. It is most potent when the donor experiences pain and fear, so humans have taken to torturing mated pairs of them, so the partners can watch each other suffer. The resulting sweat is a drug called Star Tears. Although that unnamed race plays no active role in the story, they are on my list because of the powerful manner in which they influence other species, invoking the darkest and most brutal aspects of human nature simply by existing.

The diminutive, weak, and peace-loving Joilani make a desperate break for freedom. Stealing a spaceship called The Dream, they seek out the mythical planet of their…

By James Tiptree Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Out of the Everywhere and Other Extraordinary Visions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ten tantalizing tales of man, woman and child - and their cosmic connections...

Contents:
Angel Fix (1974)
Beaver Tears (1976)
Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light! (1976)
The Screwfly Solution (1977)
Time-Sharing Angel (1977)
We Who Stole the Dream (1978)
Slow Music (1980)
A Source of Innocent Merriment (1980)
Out of the Everywhere (1981)
With Delicate Mad Hands (1981)


Book cover of A Song for Lya

C. S. Friedman Author Of This Alien Shore

From my list on aliens in science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind. What instincts and influences make us who we are? This Alien Shore grew out of research I was doing into atypical neurological conditions. It depicts a society that has abandoned the concept of “neurotypical”, embracing every variant of human perspective as valid and valuable. One of my main characters, Kio Masada, is autistic, and that gives him a unique perspective on computer security that others cannot provide. What might such a man accomplish, in a world where his condition is embraced and celebrated? Good science fiction challenges our definition of “Other,” and asks what it really means to be human, all in the context of an exciting story.

C. S.'s book list on aliens in science fiction

C. S. Friedman Why did C. S. love this book?

Years before Game of Thrones became a household name, Martin was best known for this hauntingly beautiful and deeply disturbing novella. Two telepaths, Robb and Lya, are sent to an alien planet to investigate a disturbing religious movement. The planet is home to a race called the Shkeen, and to a gelatinous parasite called the Greeshka. In middle age the Shkeen allow the Greeshka to infect them, and ten years later they visit a cave where they allow a massive specimen to consume them. Some humans living on the planet have even joined the native religion, and have allowed themselves to be infected and devoured. The administrators are desperate to know why.

Robb and Lya have an unusually close relationship, but she suffers from a sense of isolation that telepathy cannot banish. While they watch some Shkeen being devoured by the Greeshka, she can sense how isolated the Shkeen feel…

By George R. R. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Song for Lya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two telepaths investigate the newly discovered world of Shkea, where every native inhabitant, and an increasing number of human colonists, worships a mysterious and deadly parasite. Winner of the 1975 Hugo Award for Best Novella.


Book cover of Annihilation

Dwain Worrell Author Of Androne

From my list on suspenseful science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

To be honest, and this will sound strange, but suspense is the air I breathe. I’m a pretty calm, boring human being, and the only thing that gets my heart pumping are films, TV, books, and video games in this genre. Suspense and thrillers are genres that make up ninety percent of the entertainment that I consume, and one hundred percent of the entertainment that I write.

Dwain's book list on suspenseful science fiction

Dwain Worrell Why did Dwain love this book?

What can I say about Annihilation? It’s a novel where the reader isn’t quite sure what is going on, nor can any two readers agree on what they just read and that’s the amazing part about it.

Hypnosis, genetic deviation, and something utterly alien make this such an intense read. And that suspense is heightened because there is a level of mystery and weirdness in Jeff VanderMeer’s world, where things aren’t quite grounded in the reality that we are used to.

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A contemporary masterpiece' Guardian

THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALEX GARLAND (EX MACHINA) AND STARRING NATALIE PORTMAN AND OSCAR ISAAC

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border - an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness.

The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic.

Now four women embark on the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space horror, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraterrestrial life, space horror, and presidential biography.

Extraterrestrial Life Explore 233 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Horror Explore 23 books about space horror
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography