72 books like Ringworld

By Larry Niven,

Here are 72 books that Ringworld fans have personally recommended if you like Ringworld. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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 Dune

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?

What I loved most about this classic series is the detailed story world the author creates. When you read beyond the first book in the series, you start to get more and more of it — cultural, anthropological, geological, and more. It is a very cool and fully immersive world.

While the new movie series has captured the imagination of many and certainly has super cool production design elements, it does take some license with the story. Allow it to merely whet your appetite for the books. They're better.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

53 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…

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Mel Laytner Author Of What They Didn't Burn: Uncovering My Father's Holocaust Secrets

From my list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a foreign correspondent seven time zones from home when my father died of a sudden heart attack. My grief mixed with guilt for never having sat down with him to unravel his vague vignettes about life and loss in the Holocaust. I wondered, how did he survive when so many perished? How much depended on resilience, smarts, or dumb luck? As reporters do, I started digging. I uncovered a Nazi paper trial that tracked his life from home, through ghettos, slave labor, concentration camps, death marches, and more. The tattered documents revealed a man very different from the quiet, quintessential Type-B Dad I knew…or thought I knew. 

Mel's book list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II

Mel Laytner Why did Mel love this book?

I first read Slaughterhouse-Five as a callow college student, concluding with the certainty of youth that this was a brilliant but weird amalgam of dark humor and sci-fi wrapped inside an autobiographical anti-war screed. However, my real ‘duh’ moment came after rereading the book decades later.

The opening line, “Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time” – tells you everything you need to know: It’s about PTSD, written from the inside looking out. Like Billy Pilgrim, I could see myself time-jumping and being abducted by aliens to escape the trauma of war. Interestingly, the term “PTSD,” the acronym for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, had not entered our lexicon when Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five in the 1960s. Poignant and personal, it's still a brilliant amalgam of dark humor and sci-fi. 

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…

Book cover of A Fire Upon the Deep

Marc B. DeGeorge Author Of A Call to the Sky

From my list on sci-fi about unorthodox families and friendships.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my day job, I’m immersed either with technical equipment or managing people and I enjoy the duality of both challenges. It’s difficult to say which I like best, but because part of my job is people focused, I’ve enjoyed learning to understand the social and interpersonal dynamics between coworkers and clients alike. So books with strong character relationships and stories that are driven by their wants and desires, however right or wrong they may be, are a favorite of mine. The science fiction aspect comes with my love for technology, mainly in music and film and I find many parallels between those arts and writing books. 

Marc's book list on sci-fi about unorthodox families and friendships

Marc B. DeGeorge Why did Marc love this book?

My sister and I were only close because we’re only two years apart. But recently we’ve had some tragedy in our family, and that brought us closer.

While I was making this list of books, I was reminded of this story and how much I enjoyed it, not just for the prose, which I take notice of and will drop a book if it’s bad, but for that reminder of the brother and sister story here. Not to mention the rescue crew of odd characters which reflects a belief of mine: truth is universal.

Any human or alien can understand compassion and suffering and choose the better of the two.

By Vernor Vinge,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Fire Upon the Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fleeing a menace of galactic proportions, a spaceship crashes on an unfamiliar world, leaving the survivors - a pair of children - to the not-so-tender mercies of a medieval, lupine race. Responding to the ship's distress signal, a rescue mission races against time to retrieve the children.

Book cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Craig A. Falconer Author Of Not Alone

From my list on how things will change when the aliens show up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a longstanding interest in space, and particularly in aliens. In researching my breakthrough novel Not Alone, I extensively read as much nonfiction content on the topic as I could find, including governmental-backed scenario analyses of how things might actually play out in a contact or invasion scenario. Naturally, I have also read widely in the sci-fi genre for my own pleasure, with most of my interest in this specific topic.

Craig's book list on how things will change when the aliens show up

Craig A. Falconer Why did Craig love this book?

The whimsy and humor of this book make it an easy choice to round out an otherwise serious list! An engrossing story lurks behind the comedy, which is no doubt why this book has transcended generations and cultures to persist as a worldwide fan favorite.

The truth is that we have no idea what humanity’s first encounter with aliens will look like, even if Arthur Dent’s experience with the bureaucratic Vogons is a little more tongue-in-cheek than those in our more “serious” picks.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

31 authors picked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This box set contains all five parts of the' trilogy of five' so you can listen to the complete tales of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Bebblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android! Travel through space, time and parallel universes with the only guide you'll ever need, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Read by Stephen Fry, actor, director, author and popular audiobook reader, and Martin Freeman, who played Arthur Dent in film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He is well known as Tim in The Office.

The set also includes a bonus DVD Life, the Universe and…

Book cover of A Canticle for Leibowitz

Christopher Ruocchio Author Of Empire of Silence

From my list on science fiction for fantasy readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of 5 (nearly 6) science-fantasy novels in my Sun Eater series, as well as the author of 2 novellas and nearly two dozen short stories, as well as an 8-year veteran of the publishing industry. For 7 of those years, I worked as an editor for Baen Books, a nearly 40-year-old publisher of science fiction and fantasy. On top of all that, I am a lifelong sci-fi and fantasy fan, and something of an amateur historian of the field. 

Christopher's book list on science fiction for fantasy readers

Christopher Ruocchio Why did Christopher love this book?

Folks daunted at the prospect of jumping in to a longer series will be delighted to know that this is just a standalone novel. In fact, it was the only novel Walter M. Miller, Jr. wrote in his lifetime. There is a posthumously published sequel to this novel, but it was completed by another writer and is generally considered the lesser work, and at any rate, Canticle stands on its own. This is a post-apocalyptic novel, set after a nuclear war in the 1960s wiped out civilization. It takes place over the course of centuries, and follows a small Roman Catholic monastery in the American southwest as they struggle to preserve documents from before the bombs destroyed everything—scientific knowledge, mostly, knowledge the poor monks can’t even begin to understand.

This is one of the most beautifully written novels in the genre’s history, and one that—though I’ve only read it two…

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Canticle for Leibowitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the depths of the Utah desert, long after the Flame Deluge has scoured the earth clean, a monk of the Order of Saint Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: holy relics from the life of the great saint himself, including the blessed blueprint, the sacred shopping list, and the hallowed shrine of the Fallout Shelter.

In a terrifying age of darkness and decay, these artifacts could be the keys to mankind's salvation. But as the mystery at the core of this groundbreaking novel unfolds, it is the search itself—for meaning, for truth, for love—that offers hope for humanity's rebirth…

Book cover of Neuromancer

Seth W. James Author Of Ethos of Cain

From my list on cyberpunk that launched and defined the subgenre.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the ‘80s, I discovered cyberpunk just when the subgenre acquired its name and was instantly hooked. While its style and action were certainly engaging, it was cyberpunk’s message about the surveillance state, corporate power, fascism, and corruption, which contrasted so violently from mainstream science fiction, that kept me turning pages. 40 years later, after writing novels for 25 years, completing 12 books, I’m still fascinated by what cyberpunk can do. In an age where Humanity is mortally threatened by climate change and inequality, we need cyberpunk now more than ever, with its action and adventure and a little something for us to think about, too.

Seth's book list on cyberpunk that launched and defined the subgenre

Seth W. James Why did Seth love this book?

Without a doubt, Neuromancer is the most recognizable, well-known, and highly regarded cyberpunk novel—and rightfully so. 

Published in 1984, Neuromancer was directly inspired by City Come A-Walkin’ and then surpassed it, deepening the technical elements, exploring the ever-more-important aspects of computer networks and hacking (Gibson having coined the phrase, “cyberspace”), and solidifying the literary style of cyberpunk. 

For me, though, the fact that Gibson was responding to Shirley enriches both novels. I love the concept of one artist responding to another’s work; from Horace to Shakespeare, to Dryden to Pope, to Hammett to Chandler, the best art is inspired by art, and the same is true in cyberpunk. It’s a microcosm of the human condition and, come to think of it, so is Neuromancer.

By William Gibson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The book that defined the cyberpunk movement, inspiring everything from The Matrix to Cyberpunk 2077.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

William Gibson revolutionised science fiction in his 1984 debut Neuromancer. The writer who gave us the matrix and coined the term 'cyberspace' produced a first novel that won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, and lit the fuse on the Cyberpunk movement.

More than three decades later, Gibson's text is as stylish as ever, his noir narrative still glitters like chrome in the shadows and his depictions of…

Book cover of The End of Eternity

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Robbie Sheerin Why did Robbie love this book?

Sci-fi has always been my favorite genre for the simple reason that every other genre can be explored under the blanket of science fiction.

End of Eternity is a fine example of this, in that it is both a love story and a thriller. Like modern-day sci-fi writers such as Andy Weir (Computer Programmer), Alister Reynolds (PhD in Astrophysics), and Liu Cixin (Computer Engineer), Asimov always leans on his scientific knowledge as a biochemist when writing.

Although End of Eternity does involve much biochemistry like some of Asimov’s other books, it does try to explain and navigate the complexities of time travel, which sometimes requires the mechanics of scientific thinking. I find time travel is always fun to read, and when there’s jealousy and love involved, it’s a recipe for a great story.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The End of Eternity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding novel set in the universe of Isaac Asimov’s classic Galactic Empire series and Foundation series

Due to circumstances within our control . . . tomorrow will be canceled.

The Eternals, the ruling class of the Future, had the power of life and death not only over every human being but over the very centuries into which they were born. Past, Present, and Future could be created or destroyed at will.

You had to be special to become an Eternal. Andrew Harlan was special. Until he committed the one unforgivable sin—falling in love.

Eternals weren’t supposed to have feelings.…

Book cover of Lord of Light

Ricardo Victoria Author Of The Withered King

From my list on throwing genre into the blender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching 80s Saturday morning cartoons, playing RPGs such as Final Fantasy. Those cartoons and games didn’t care about genre, they cared about telling a story, about making you care about the characters. Hence you could have wizards driving space cars, or knights battling giant robots and so on. They were proof of how wonderfully crazy our imagination can go when we threw labels away and just create stories. The books in this list allow themselves to do that and go bigger, go bolder, showing us the readers what’s possible if we let loose. I hope this list takes others on such wonderful rides, like they did with me.

Ricardo's book list on throwing genre into the blender

Ricardo Victoria Why did Ricardo love this book?

This is a classic that even inspired art from the great Jack Kirby (New Gods, Fantastic 4). It’s written in such way that works both as a SF or a Fantasy novel, but I say that it’s one of the best examples of science fantasy.

Take a mythological/religious tale like the Rig Veda and the quest of Buddha for illumination and use it as the backbone for a story about a lost colony, deities of human origin, oppressive rulers vs. a rebel group and the original inhabitants of a faraway planet, and a generational struggle between immortal beings that affect the technological progression of a society.

It’s an action-packed philosophical mind trip. No wonder why this book won a Hugo and was nominated for a Nebula. 

By Roger Zelazny,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Lord of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world?

Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. The gradual unfolding of the story - how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology - is one of…

Book cover of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Paige E. Ewing Author Of Precise Oaths

From my list on sci-fi that blow raspberries at hero stereotypes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a woman in a technology field dominated by men, a person with both mental and physical problems, and I’ve studied a dozen different martial arts. I’m a mean shot with a bow and love to hurl axes and spears. None of these things are contradictory. They’re just different aspects of me. Real people don’t fit in boxes and neither should good characters. My world is filled with my Hispanic grandkids, my bi daughter, my gay foster brother, my friends and family and people I love that don’t fit the Captain Awesome stereotype. Remember that we, too, can be heroes.

Paige's book list on sci-fi that blow raspberries at hero stereotypes

Paige E. Ewing Why did Paige love this book?

This whole book, I kept expecting an epic space battle to break out. That’s how space operas work, I thought, but now I’ve been introduced to cozy science fiction.

The book explored a dozen species. Very different people kept finding common ground, something anyone living in the US right now is struggling with.

My life has been filled with people who didn’t fit the average person mold in various ways. I was moved almost to tears more than once as people who were all so different found their way into something like a family. I particularly enjoyed how the love of friends was given the same weight as romantic love. I gloried in how each relationship interwove into something greater than the parts.

By Becky Chambers,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A quietly profound, humane tour de force' Guardian

The beloved debut novel that will restore your faith in humanity


When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The ship, which has seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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