100 books like Ilium

By Dan Simmons,

Here are 100 books that Ilium fans have personally recommended if you like Ilium. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Kim Alexander Author Of The Sand Prince

From the list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy and paranormal romance, and my obsession is writing about the fashion, food, language, and social politics of the worlds I create. World building is vital if you intend to create a lived-in backdrop for your story, but intricate, elaborate world building will only take you so far. You (the author) must have a cast of characters equally well developed. I’ve tried to take lessons away from every book I’ve read and every author I’ve interviewed and worked to balance characters to fall in love with against places that feel absolutely alive. Their joy/terror/love/hate/experience becomes the readers. It’s that combination that makes a book unforgettable.

Kim's book list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there

Why did Kim love this book?

Well, I suppose a few words have been devoted to Dune already, but I’m going to chime in!

I read Dune the first time as a teenager, and found some of it (Paul’s adventures, everything to do with Jessica) exciting and engrossing. On the other hand, some of it I couldn’t puzzle out—mostly politics. Now, that’s my favorite part! Honestly, I got my first and most vital lesson in world building from Dune, and it remains a huge influence on my writing.

What does it smell like, this new world? What happens if you get caught outside in a storm? What do your clothes look like and do they mark you as an outsider? What do you eat and when? And so on, ad infinitum. And I loved the quotes that open the chapters, so much that I created my own book-within-a-book just so I could similarly quote it.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

The Golden Compass

By Philip Pullman,

Book cover of The Golden Compass

Peter W. Fong Author Of The Coconut Crab

From the list on animals that talk.

Who am I?

I have often spoken with the animals that I meet: from migrating ducks to street cats, woodchucks to chickadees. Mostly quietly—and always as if they not only could hear and understand, but also could reply. As our children grew, the replies became louder and more insistent. When our daughter was old enough to feel fearful of travel—particularly the crossing of open water in small boats—I began to tell her stories featuring these talking animals. Because the animals also were sometimes afraid, the stories helped to distract her from the perils of our own adventures and then, eventually, to enjoy them as well.

Peter's book list on animals that talk

Why did Peter love this book?

The Golden Compass (also published as Northern Lights) is the first book in a trilogy of tales set in a world where every human is accompanied by a daemon—a sort of physical embodiment of your inner spirit.

Though not technically “animals,” daemons can take the form of animals. And, for some people, they can talk in the best possible way, like a perfect combination of coach, conscience, and companion. Pullman’s heart-wrenching story builds far more than an alternative world for his readers: there are multiple universes to explore and experience, along with a warrior race of armor-plated polar bears (who really are animals, and who also can talk).

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Golden Compass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first volume in Philip Pullman's groundbreaking
HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, now a thrilling, critically
acclaimed BBC/HBO television series. First published
in 1995, and acclaimed as a modern masterpiece, this first
book in the series won the UK's top awards for children's literature.

"Without this child, we shall all

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live
half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford.

The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands
of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight.

Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences
far beyond her own world...


Red Rising

By Pierce Brown,

Book cover of Red Rising

Spencer Wolf Author Of After Mind

From the list on survival that even non-sci-fi fans will love.

Who am I?

My favorite books are a mix of classics, scientific, and recent thrills. They are relatable, underdog personal stories of survival and how we fit into our world, which I think match well with After Mind. Many years ago, after reading the adapted screenplay for Blade Runner from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I fell in love with the idea of living a lot longer than humans are supposed to. Since then, I’ve worked in movie marketing, engineering design, and construction. Basically, I think humans need more time for all our dreams. I hope you enjoy these books for our road ahead. We’re on a lifelong journey and there’s a long way to go.

Spencer's book list on survival that even non-sci-fi fans will love

Why did Spencer love this book?

Red Rising is fast-paced science fiction that follows the journey of Darrow, a low-caste member of a society divided by color, as he rises up against the tyrannical rulers of his world. There’s a single sentence on the first page that I think bridges sci-fi with human emotion in such a striking way that I had to stop and say out loud, “If I were a publisher, I would buy this book right here, on this crazy-good concept alone because whatever comes next has got to be amazing.” The writing is engaging and immersive, and while set on Mars, the world-building is rich and detailed, and the characters are well-developed and complex. I read this book not only as a sci-fi story, but as a tale of real personal drama.

By Pierce Brown,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Red Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Pierce Brown's heart-pounding debut is the first book in a spectacular series that combines the drama of Game of Thrones with the epic scope of Star Wars.


'Pierce Brown's empire-crushing debut is a sprawling vision . . . Ender, Katniss, and now Darrow' - Scott Sigler, New York Times bestselling author of Pandemic

'[A] top-notch debut novel . . . Red Rising ascends above a crowded dystopian field' - USA Today


Darrow is a Helldiver. A pioneer…

Ender's Game

By Orson Scott Card,

Book cover of Ender's Game

Dwain Worrell Author Of Androne

From the list on suspenseful science fiction.

Who am I?

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

Why did Dwain love this book?

Ender’s Game has many similarities to Androne. The game-like elements of the story and the way the lead characters are both withdrawn from the battlefield.

What Ender’s Game does really well is the anticipation it creates as we wait on pins and needles for this build-up to a battle with the aliens. Ender has all of that pressure mounted on him as a child, the fate of the world, but the internal politics heighten that tension as well, as Ender’s life is under threat from his cohorts, even his own brother on one occasion. 

By Orson Scott Card,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Ender's Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orson Scott Card's science fiction classic Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut―young Ender is the Wiggin drafted…

Book cover of The War of the Worlds

Timothy Knapman Author Of The Book of Blast Off!: 15 Real-Life Space Missions

From the list on making space exploration a blast for kids.

Who am I?

As a kid I loved space, and devoured science fiction (Doctor Who was my favorite). Now I’m a grown-up, I write books for kids - 70 so far and counting. (My latest picture book is called Sometimes I Am Furious, illustrated by Joe Berger.) The Book of Blast Off! is my second book about space (the first one was just called Space – not the most imaginative title, it’s true). I love writing non-fiction for kids because, unlike grown-ups, you can’t blind them with science. You have to know what you’re talking about so you can explain things clearly. They’re the best audience and you want to be worthy of them.

Timothy's book list on making space exploration a blast for kids

Why did Timothy love this book?

This is a bit of a cheat too, because it’s not about us exploring space, it’s about creatures from space coming to Earth – in the classic tale of a Martian invasion.

Wells writes beautifully – and the book isn’t too long – but it’s maybe a bit much for readers of my book right now. I include it because I hope they’ll read it when they’re older. It had a big impact on me as a 10-year-old because the Martians land – and start their campaign of conquest and destruction – in the little corner of Surrey, England, where I grew up.

Writing at the height of empire, Wells was, in part, inviting us Brits to imagine what it would be like if, for once, a technologically superior power invaded us.

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

11 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?

The World of Odysseus

By M.I. Finley,

Book cover of The World of Odysseus

Robert Garland Author Of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

From the list on making Ancient Greece come alive.

Who am I?

I became enthralled by the ancient world when as a child I first saw those sand and sandals movies back in the sixties, Ben Hur and Spartacus especially. I began learning Latin aged nine and Greek aged twelve. I started a Ph.D., abandoned it, went to drama school, became a schoolteacher, worked as a professional gardener, became a schoolteacher again, eventually finished my Ph.D., and was lucky to get a job at Colgate University. Over time I realised that what really fascinated me about history was trying to insert myself imaginatively into the ancient world, so I began to ask questions about what it was like to be disabled, to be a refugee, to be a child, and so on.

Robert's book list on making Ancient Greece come alive

Why did Robert love this book?

This book made a deep impact on me when I first read it decades ago and it influenced me in the way I try to understand and write history to this day. I’d already read The Odyssey when I encountered Finley’s book, but Finley made me believe in a world that became real despite being imaginary. The World of Odysseus is an amalgam of the half-remembered world in which it is set – the twelfth century BC – and of the world in which Homer was composing – the eighth century BC – and of the big gap in between the two, known as the Dark Ages.

It’s a completely artificial world but it’s wholly convincing and coherent – a world, incidentally, dominated by a large cast of formidable women. Finley provides by far the best introduction to it, and he writes in an engaging, unpedantic, highly accessible, and informative…

By M.I. Finley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The World of Odysseus is a concise and penetrating account of the society that gave birth to the Iliad and the Odyssey--a book that provides a vivid picture of the Greek Dark Ages, its men and women, works and days, morals and values. Long celebrated as a pathbreaking achievement in the social history of the ancient world, M.I. Finley's brilliant study remains, as classicist Bernard Knox notes in his introduction to this new edition, "as indispensable to the professional as it is accessible to the general reader"--a fundamental companion for students of Homer and Homeric Greece.


By Markus Motum,

Book cover of Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover

Linda Zajac Author Of Robo-Motion: Robots That Move Like Animals

From the list on robots for little kids with big-tech taste.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by robots. As a former computer programmer, systems analyst, and consultant, I’ve had an interest in technology since my first programming class in high school. I’ve been to robotics labs in Boston, Massachusetts, and Lausanne, Switzerland. My husband is a mechanical/software engineer, so STEM is a big part of our lives. In addition to Robo-Motion, I’m the author of a number of Minecraft books with STEM and coding sidebars. I’ve also published many magazine articles, one of which was the inspiration for this book. I wrote about the CRAM cockroach robot for the March 2017 issue of MUSE.

Linda's book list on robots for little kids with big-tech taste

Why did Linda love this book?

This nonfiction picture book takes an unusual approach in presenting the story of the Curiosity rover. Curiosity tells the reader about her extraordinary journey to Mars. I was fascinated and enlightened reading details about the construction, launch, and landing of this complex robot. The illustrator’s earthy palette compliments the subject matter. The last illustration of the tiny rover on the red planet left me in awe. It reminded me of standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon and gazing at a scene so vast I couldn’t possibly take it all in. Check out the rover’s path here!

By Markus Motum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stylishly illustrated non-fiction book about the search for life on Mars, told from the unique perspective of NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity.

Discover the incredible story of the search for life on Mars, told from the unique perspective of Curiosity, the Mars Rover sent to explore the red planet. Markus Motum's stylish illustrations and diagrams reveal how a robot travelled 350,000,000 miles to explore a planet where no human has ever been.
Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2018.

Double Star

By Robert A Heinlein,

Book cover of Double Star

Robbie Sheerin Author Of Tales From Another Dimension: A Sci-Fi Collection

From the list on sci-fi from the 1950s.

Who am I?

For many people, reading has been a lifesaver for their mental health. I didn't begin reading until my 20s. But I wish I had had those windows into other realities when I was younger. Having a difficult childhood molds our adult lives, and therefore we can still be haunted by childhood memories. Reading can help us see other worlds and other people, and it can ignite our imagination. Growing up in a small fishing town in Scotland is the perfect backdrop for imagination, with coastlines lined with dark, boisterous waters and castles steeped in battles, folklore, and intrigues of the past. All this has given way to my writing. 

Robbie's book list on sci-fi from the 1950s

Why did Robbie love this book?

Double Star was particularly interesting to me due to the human aspect of prejudice and egotism, something we see every day by our fellow man.

It explores the barrier of one man’s constant pushback of what he believes is below him, or disgusting to him; aliens and political ideologies. I believe there is a fundamental goodness in all of us, and if the dust and grim of our unsavory human traits can be scrapped away, that goodness can bleed through.

The main character in Double Star must presume the identity of a man he has nothing in common with, both in life and principles, yet he plays the part perfectly. This is also a great read for non-sci-fi fans.  

By Robert A Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One minute, down-and-out actor Lorenzo Smythe was - as usual - in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars.

Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians was at stake - failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war. And Smythe's own life was on the line - for if he wasn't assassinated,…

Green Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of Green Mars

Clare O'Beara Author Of Dining Out Around The Solar System

From the list on people adapting to changing future worlds.

Who am I?

I’m proud to be Irish, from a long heritage of storytellers and poets. Science fiction grabbed me from the first Asimov books I found, and I see the genre as an exploration of possibilities. I volunteer at SF Cons, including Dublin’s Worldcon in 2019. My profession is tree surgery, with an early apprenticeship in demolition, all of which has brought me to interesting places. I also love horses and became a national standard showjumper. I’ve qualified in multimedia journalism and ecology. My novels explore the past, present, and future. I write crime, science fiction, romance, and YA stories, including the Irish Lockdown series about young people during the Pandemic.

Clare's book list on people adapting to changing future worlds

Why did Clare love this book?

In this future, humanity needs to terraform Mars to provide a second home to a swelling population. The Mars Trilogy follows a group of scientists and astronauts, who gain extended lifetimes through a scientific breakthrough; this device enables us to follow the same characters through more than one normal active career span. 

My favourite book is Green Mars, because as a tree surgeon, I am fascinated by the methods shown of planting miniature trees and other plants, adapted from Nordic and mountainous shrubs. The people are experimenting with frontier lifestyles using available materials, and experimenting on adapting humans to the planet. Big business and inter-planetary politics keep raising their heads, as in any colonisation effort. And a few holdout scientists are saying that Mars is beautiful, precious, and unique, and we should study the red planet as it is, not terraform it.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first 100 scientists and engineers landed on Mars in 2027, their task to "terraform" the planet, creating an atmosphere, warming the environment, building human habitats, freeing the water trapped in underground aquifiers and seeding the new landscape. This book tells their story.

Red Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of Red Mars

Tony Benson Author Of Galactic Alliance: Betrayal

From the list on exploring the dangers of discovering new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve loved all kinds of science fiction since I was a child, and always enjoy discovering new worlds, and the frisson of danger that inevitably accompanies the discovery. After a successful career in science and engineering, spanning more than three decades, I left the corporate world to make stringed instruments and to write fiction and non-fiction. My two novels are An Accident of Birth, and the space opera, Galactic Alliance: Betrayal, and I’ve written a non-fiction reference book Brass and Glass: Optical Instruments and Their Makers. I live in Kent, England with my wife, Margo, and our cat.

Tony's book list on exploring the dangers of discovering new worlds

Why did Tony love this book?

When great science fiction strives for scientific credibility, and hits the nail on the head, you end up with a story like this. A hundred people arrive on Mars as the first colonisers, to begin the process of terraforming it for human habitation. The natural environment presents its own dangers, from low atmospheric pressure and unbreathable atmosphere to low gravity and destructive sandstorms. But the challenges don’t stop there. Not everyone has the same vision of the future Martian world, and the resulting conflicts threaten the whole project. The first book of a trilogy, this epic novel is a must-read for anyone who plans to make a new life on Mars.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in Kim Stanley Robinson's massively successful and lavishly praised Mars trilogy. 'The ultimate in future history' Daily Mail

Mars - the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind's dreams of space conquest.

From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists - hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert - Red Mars is the story of a new genesis.

It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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