100 books like Cosm

By Gregory Benford,

Here are 100 books that Cosm fans have personally recommended if you like Cosm. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Rendezvous with Rama

Wil Mccarthy Author Of Beggar's Sky

From my list on peaceful alien contact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a science fiction writer since I was old enough to read, and I’ve spent probably way too much of my life reading and writing and researching and thinking about aliens. I’ve worked in the aerospace industry, launching rockets to the moon and Mars and Saturn, and five of the books I’ve published have touched on alien life in one way or another. I’ve worked as a contributing editor for WIRED magazine and the science and technology correspondent for the SyFy channel, and I hold patents in seven countries, including 31 issued U.S. patents.

Wil's book list on peaceful alien contact

Wil Mccarthy Why did Wil love this book?

Of all of Clarke’s works, this one had, for me, the grandest sense of adventure and mystery. We never do find out who the aliens are or what their goals might be, but we get to join them for part of their journey.

There are puzzles to solve, wonders to behold, and dangers bravely faced. I first read the book when I was nine years old, and it communicated to me just as clearly then as it does today.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the year 2130, a mysterious and apparently untenanted alien spaceship, Rama, enters our solar system. The first product of an alien civilisation to be encountered by man, it reveals a world of technological marvels and an unparalleled artificial ecology.

But what is its purpose in 2131?

Who is inside it?

And why?


Book cover of Dragon's Egg

John Gribbin Author Of Don't Look Back

From my list on science fiction by scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Gribbin has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and is best known as an author of science books. But he has a not-so-secret passion for science fiction. He is the award-winning author of more than a hundred popular books about science, ranging from quantum mysteries to cosmology, and from evolution to earthquakes. He has also produced a double-handful of science fiction books. He specialises in writing factual books about the kind of science that sounds like fiction (including time travel), and fictional books based on scientific fact (including climate change). His recent book Six Impossible Things was short-listed for the prestigious Royal Society prize, but he is equally proud of Not Fade Away, his biography of Buddy Holly.

John's book list on science fiction by scientists

John Gribbin Why did John love this book?

The idea of intelligent life existing on the surface of a neutron star as massive as our Sun, the size of a mountain, and with a surface gravity 67 billion times that of Earth seems like sheer fantasy but Forward presents impeccable science to make it all seem entirely plausible.

By Robert L. Forward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dragon's Egg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“In science fiction there is only a handful of books that stretch the mind—and this is one of them.”—Arthur C. Clarke
 
In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent lifeforms—the cheela—living on Dragon’s Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time, men are their diligent teachers.
 
Praise for Dragon’s Egg
 
“Bob Forward writes in the tradition of Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity and carries it a giant step (how else?)…


Book cover of Contact

Arnie Benn Author Of The Intrepid: Dawn Of The Interstellar Age

From my list on sci-fi classics that offer insight into human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood, I have been obsessed with understanding everything — science and the universe. Now, in this age of the JWST and a burgeoning space industry, I do sub-quantum mechanics research at an international physics think-tank, The Quantum Bicycle Society. My own hard sci-fi novel is intended to help publicize these scientific advances, as well as the behavioral psychology concepts that are the subject of my next nonfiction book, The Animal In The Mirror. The books on this list represent the foundation of inspiration that propelled my formative sci-fi journey, stories that also shine the light of insight onto our shared, instinctive nature.

Arnie's book list on sci-fi classics that offer insight into human nature

Arnie Benn Why did Arnie love this book?

This is my favorite hard sci-fi classic. I love the beautiful mix of real science (wormholes excepted), compelling story, and characters, and it touches on both first contact and the way in which human nature might cause us to react to it. That is the power combo, in my opinion!

The movie of the book was very good — Robert Zemeckis is a brilliant director — although it left out some fantastic details that, as a math and science fan, I really loved! (I won’t spoil it here; it’s too good.)

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In December 1999 a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there?


Book cover of The Coming of the Quantum Cats: A Novel of Alternate Universes

John Gribbin Author Of Don't Look Back

From my list on science fiction by scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Gribbin has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and is best known as an author of science books. But he has a not-so-secret passion for science fiction. He is the award-winning author of more than a hundred popular books about science, ranging from quantum mysteries to cosmology, and from evolution to earthquakes. He has also produced a double-handful of science fiction books. He specialises in writing factual books about the kind of science that sounds like fiction (including time travel), and fictional books based on scientific fact (including climate change). His recent book Six Impossible Things was short-listed for the prestigious Royal Society prize, but he is equally proud of Not Fade Away, his biography of Buddy Holly.

John's book list on science fiction by scientists

John Gribbin Why did John love this book?

This might seem a bit off-message because Pohl dropped out of college before finishing his science degree. But he did work as a weather forecaster in the US Navy. And I can’t resist including this book, because it deals with the area of science closest to my heart – many worlds, or parallel universes. The existence of these other worlds next door to our own is the best scientific explanation of the mysteries of quantum physics, such as the famous puzzle of Schrödinger’s Cat, and Pohl wraps it all up in entertaining fashion with a story of what happens when those worlds interact. The fact that Pohl includes a version of myself (actually, several versions of me) in the story has no bearing on my choosing it. I repaid the compliment by including him as a character in my story “Untanglement”, included in my anthology Don’t Look Back' ;-).

By Frederik Pohl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coming of the Quantum Cats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant novel of alternate universes by an award-winning science fiction master
 
A breakthrough in quantum physics has shattered the boundaries between alternate worlds. History is in chaos as billions of possible futures collide. As a conquering army mounts an invasion of neighboring realities, a handful of men and women from a dozen different timelines risk their lives to safeguard an infinity of worlds.

Blending thrilling suspense with brilliant scientific speculation, Frederik Pohl’s The Coming of the Quantum Cats is a triumph of the imagination by a Hugo and Nebula–winning master of science fiction.
 
“A powerful novel of parallel worlds…


Book cover of The Shape of Thunder

Jessica Vitalis Author Of The Wolf's Curse

From my list on on grief and healing that are actually fun to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in the shadows of a father who died before I was born. As a child, I had other negative experiences with grief and loss and lived a transient childhood characterized by poverty and fear. A prolific reader, I couldn’t find stories that reflected the reality I was living, stories that might have helped me cope and given me hope for the future. Now my mission is to write entertaining, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful stories for middle-grade readers and to introduce them to new books through Magic in the Middle, a series of free monthly recorded book talks.  

Jessica's book list on on grief and healing that are actually fun to read

Jessica Vitalis Why did Jessica love this book?

This is a fresh take on gun violence—this time the story is a dual point of view, told by academically inclined Cora and soccer player Quinn, who were best friends until Quinn’s brother killed Cora's sister, two other kids, and himself. I love the contrast in voices between the two girls, who are both fully realized and distinctive and yet both suffering the same intense grief. What I really love about this story, though, is that the girls finally reconnect over a plan to find a wormhole in the universe and travel back in time to change the day their lives were forever altered. This magical read about grief and the power of friendship gripped my heart and didn’t let go even after I’d turned the very last page. 

By Jasmine Warga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shape of Thunder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary new novel from Jasmine Warga, Newbery Honor-winning author of Other Words for Home, about loss and healing-and how friendship can be magical.

Cora hasn't spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year.

Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.

On the day of Cora's twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to…


Book cover of Starplex

Steven Harper Author Of Resurrection Men

From my list on bending your mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took an introduction to philosophy class in college and the professor showed us how to think about thinking. Can you know something if it’s actually untrue? Can people in a universe with an omniscient god who knows what they’re going to do have free will? Are there universal principles of justice, or is justice based on circumstances? The class changed my taste in reading. I’d read science fiction and fantasy since I was a child, but after this class, I looked for fiction that made my brain hurt but also told a wonderful story. I try hard to meet this standard in my own fiction.

Steven's book list on bending your mind

Steven Harper Why did Steven love this book?

The book starts small(ish).

A single starship crewed by three different species and captained by a human explores space using a series of wormholes created by… whom, exactly? No one knows.

Then an unknown ship with no visible propulsion system drops out of a wormhole and we're catapulted into an adventure that brings us to the mind-twisting origins of the universe as we know it.
Rob Sawyer lives across the river from me in Canada, and we ran into each other at several local science fiction conventions.

He gave me a copy of Starplex, and I accepted it with a vague, “I look forward to reading it.” I didn’t actually intend to. But a couple weeks later, I idly flipped it open and started reading—and couldn’t stop.

By Robert J. Sawyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty years after the discovery of artificial wormholes launches Earth space exploration to unforeseeable heights, Starplex Director Keith Lansing investigates a mysterious vessel that soon threatens the station with intergalactic war. Original.


Book cover of Transgression

Randy C. Dockens Author Of Mercy of the Iron Scepter

From my list on biblical prophecy in fiction format.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by science fiction and by Biblical Scripture. That may seem dichotomous to some, but not to me. I have a passion for science and for Scripture because both bring understanding about our world from the microcosm to the macrocosm. My writings are a mixture of science and mystery with a science fiction feel and a Christian perspective. I like stories that show how truth arises even from the dark, confusing, and ambiguity of life to help one discover something about God they may not have considered before, and at the same time enjoy a fun, fast-paced, and exciting journey as they read.

Randy's book list on biblical prophecy in fiction format

Randy C. Dockens Why did Randy love this book?

This novel has an interesting reveal on first-century history. Two people, one on purpose, one accidentally, leave the present age to be teleported back to first-century Jerusalem and cannot find a way to get back to their modern times. Much of the New Testament history is told up close and personal where the author makes you feel like an integral part of this time of history. I was enthralled and surprised by how words affected all my senses to such a degree. I found the storyline engrossing and made me feel as if I was there.

By R.S. Ingermanson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

All your life, you dreamed about the City of God.

But you never thought you’d ever actually go there.

Until now.

Your name is Rivka Meyers, and you are a total misfit.

You are a Messianic Jew, studying at UC Berkeley. Misfit.

You are a woman getting your PhD in archaeology—a man’s field. Misfit.

You are in Israel working on an archaeological dig, pretending to be someone you’re not. Misfit.

Your Israeli co-worker on the dig tries to set you up with his cousin, Ari Kazan. Disaster.

Because Ari likes you. And you haven’t told him you’re Messianic.

Ari is…


Book cover of The Algebraist

Jason Jowett Author Of Alchemy Series Compendium

From my list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid explorer having thrice traveled around the world, living and working in over 40 countries, my inspirations as so originally science fiction have found grounding. I looked to level my imagination in the real world and filtered out the impossible from the unnecessary on a path to utopia. Sharing our ideas, exposing misgivings too, all contribute to a shared realization of human potential. This is much of the reason for who I am as a founder of business platforms I designed to achieve things that I envisage as helpful, necessary, and constructive contributions to our world. Those software endeavours underway in 2022, and a longtime coming still, are Horoscorpio and De Democracy.

Jason's book list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview

Jason Jowett Why did Jason love this book?

The biggest challenge to setting out a worldview within a universe is describing the detail about entities that imbues the feelings associated with living as those entities within it. Banks manages the sensation of living beings masterfully, where they are so alien and so abstract your pure imagination is put to the test. What would life be like for you as a jelly blob that flies around a gas giant? Pretty damn good thanks to Iain, and it's something I tackled in my book too with not nearly as much success it seems, at least yet.

By Iain M. Banks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year.

The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilisation. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young and fighting pointless formal wars.

Seconded to a military-religious order he's barely heard of -…


Book cover of Every Anxious Wave

Gigi Little Author Of City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales

From my list on sci-fi & fantasy that take you to unexpected places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a sci-fi and fantasy fan ever since my childhood when I thought looking for spaceships and dragons in the night sky was just a normal kid nightly activity and not, you know, fiction. When seeking stories for my anthology City of Weird, I reached back into my childhood obsession with all things out of or beyond this world, but I found that I wanted tales that took my favorite themes and slanted them. Went to unexpected places, not only in time and space, but also in theme and approach. Like these five books, which I hope you will enjoy.

Gigi's book list on sci-fi & fantasy that take you to unexpected places

Gigi Little Why did Gigi love this book?

I love time travel stories—and Every Anxious Wave is my favorite. What would you do if you discovered your own personal wormhole that would allow you go anywhere, anywhen? Well of course you’d set up shop as an agency that takes clients through time and space to… see their favorite bands play! From this unique premise, Daviau’s novel widens into not only a heck of a musical time-travel good time but also a moving story of human connection. Oh, and some great commentary on climate change to boot. A deceptively deep but thoroughly fun wild ride.

By Mo Daviau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Karl Bender is a good guy whose life lacks love and meaning. When he stumbles upon a time-traveling worm hole, Karl and best friend Wayne develop a business selling access to people who want to travel back in time to listen to their favourite bands. It's a pretty ingenious plan, until Karl, intending to send Wayne to 1980, transports him back to 980 instead. Though Wayne sends texts extolling the quality of life in tenth century "Mannahatta," Karl is distraught that he can't bring his friend back. Enter brilliant, prickly, astrophysicist, Lena Geduldig. Karl and Lena's connection is immediate. While…


Book cover of Pandora's Star

Andrew Fraknoi

From my list on science fiction books that use good astronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astronomer and college professor who loves science fiction. For many years, I have kept a webpage recommending science fiction stories and novels that are based on good astronomy. I love explaining astronomy to non-scientists, and I am the lead author of OpenStax Astronomya free online textbook for beginners, which is now the most frequently used textbook for astronomy classes in the U.S. I actually learned English at age 11 by reading science fiction comics and then books for kids,  After many decades as a fan, I have recently realized a long-held dream and become a published SF author myself.

Andrew's book list on science fiction books that use good astronomy

Andrew Fraknoi Why did Andrew love this book?

Although Hamilton is not a scientist, he is a science-fiction writer who frequently uses the latest ideas from science.

This book begins with an astronomer making a surprising discovery and then broadens into a complex tale of intraspecies and interspecies war. It is the first book in an exciting series by Hamilton called The Commonwealth Saga, all of which I really enjoyed as both adventure and “at the edge” scientific speculation. 

By Peter F. Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pandora's Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In AD 2329, humanity has colonised over four hundred planets, all of them interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth now occupies a sphere of space approximately four hundred light years across.When an astronomer on the outermost world of Gralmond, observes a star 2000 light years distant - and then a neighbouring one - vanish, it is time for the Commonwealth to discover what happened to them. For what if their disappearance indicates some kind of galactic conflict? Since a conventional wormhole cannot be used to reach these vanished stars, for the first time humans need…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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