52 books like Starfarers

By Vonda N. McIntyre,

Here are 52 books that Starfarers fans have personally recommended if you like Starfarers. 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 Marooned

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From my list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

Allen Steele Why did Allen love this book?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

This high-tech thriller about three astronauts stuck in Earth orbit aboard an Apollo spacecraft (in an earlier version, it was about one astronaut in a…

By Martin Caidin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Source for exciting movie of the same name, starring Gregory Peck.


Book cover of Beyond Apollo

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From my list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

Allen Steele Why did Allen love this book?

In contrast to Marooned (and, in fact, just about every other SF space novel of the ’60s and ’70s) is this short and very dark masterpiece. The first winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, this novel about the aftermath of a doomed mission to Venus is Malzberg’s dark answer to the over-optimistic view of space exploration that was prevalent in the post-Apollo period, and a stark reminder that the universe is an unforgiving and dangerous place.

By Barry N. Malzberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two astronauts travel on the first manned expedition to the planet Venus. When the mission is mysteriously aborted and the ship returns to Earth, the Captain is missing and the First Officer, Harry M. Evans, can't explain what happened. Under psychiatric evaluation and interrogation, Evans provides conflicting accounts of the Captain's disappearance, incriminating both himself and lethal Venusian forces in the Captain's murder. As the explanations pyramid and the supervising psychiatrist's increasingly desperate efforts to get a straight story falter, Evans' condition and his inability to tell the "truth" present terrifying expressions of humanity's incompetence, the politics of space exploration,…


Book cover of In the Ocean of Night

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From my list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

Allen Steele Why did Allen love this book?

This novel, about the discovery of an alien probe hidden within an Earth orbit-crossing asteroid and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence it provokes, is the first volume of a long, six-volume epic, the Galactic Center series, that is regarded by most critics as a landmark work. You can read this novel on its own or you can go from there with the rest of the series; in any case, it’s hard SF at its thought-provoking best.

By Gregory Benford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Ocean of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a world of lunar colonies, cybernetic miracles, fanatic cults, deadly pollution and famine, the first story in the GALACTIC CENTRE CYCLE. This world of social decay is facing hardship, but not far beyond the shores of space comes a mystery, which one man, astronaut Nigel Walmsley is about to touch. From the author of TIMESCAPE.


Book cover of The Descent of Anansi

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From my list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

Allen Steele Why did Allen love this book?

A near-future space thriller, about a revolution by an orbital space colony against the governments of Earth that seek to keep it under their control, is a fast-moving blend of action, politics, and speculation. Read this and see the sort of vision of humanity’s future in space that captivated people’s imaginations at the dawn of the Space Shuttle era.

By Larry Niven, Steven Barnes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tells the story of a spaceship attacked by pirates.


Book cover of Star King

Greta van der Rol Author Of Conspiracy

From my list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me, writing space opera was obvious because it's what I like to read. There's so much scope for human and non-human societies out there, complete with the history of how they were created, and the inevitable cut-and-thrust of politics. If the book also has a love story– where do I pay my money? I do like the science in my science fiction to be convincing, though. My background as a computer programmer helps with that and I'm often grateful for my history degree when coming up with convincing empires and events. 

Greta's book list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars

Greta van der Rol Why did Greta love this book?

The Star King is one of the first science fiction romances I read. It has everything I want in a space opera – politics, fast-paced action, danger, drama, angst, all mixed up with a great love story. I fell in love with the characters, especially the dishy alien alpha male. And I particularly like that the romance is between two mature people with life experience. 

By Susan Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An alien king, an Earth woman. Fated mates—Or is fate stacked against them?


Rom B’Kah is fighting for the survival of his people when a beautiful and mysterious warrior from Earth saves his life. When she vanishes without a trace, he vows to find her again.

Years after battlefield trauma sends her life into a tailspin, Jas Hamilton has given up on love. When a galactic empire makes first contact with Earth, she sets out to reclaim her lost sense of adventure—and finds it in the arms of the golden-eyed alien warrior she’s spent a lifetime trying to forget.

When…


Book cover of The Gods Themselves

Keith Stevenson Author Of Traitor's Run

From my list on novels written from an alien perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

Aliens have fascinated me since childhood. The idea of living on an alien planet with different biology, social structures, and ways of thinking has to be the ultimate act of imagination. Authors use aliens to highlight and interrogate aspects of humanity or to explore different ways of living, and the best alien novels invite me to inhabit the skin of an alien and open my mind to new thoughts and perspectives. As a science fiction writer, these stories inspire me to be more creative in my own flights of imagination. Here are five of the best alien science fiction novels to help you share my journey into the truly alien.

Keith's book list on novels written from an alien perspective

Keith Stevenson Why did Keith love this book?

Isaac Asimov rarely wrote about aliens, but this Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel contains an astounding thought experiment, not only imagining a truly alien species but placing them in a different universe with different physical laws from our own.

I first read this novel as a teenager and was blown away by Asimov’s ability to make me understand and care about the fate of such vastly different alien creatures that possessed three distinct sexes and derived their life energy from photosynthesis.

The fact that the novel inextricably links the fate of these creatures with the fate of our own universe gave me a greater appreciation of how truly diverse life can be. A fact–along with the lessons I learned from the other novels listed here–that continues to inform my own writing on aliens and alien cultures. 

By Issac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the year 2100, the invention of the Electron Pump - an apparently inexhaustible supply of free energy - has enabled humanity to devote its time and energies to more than the struggle for survival, finally breaking free of the Earth.

But the Electron Pump works by exchanging materials with a parallel universe, and such unbalancing of the cosmos has consequences. Humans and aliens alike must race to prevent a vast nuclear explosion in the heart of the Sun - and the vaporisation of the Earth exactly eight minutes later ...


Book cover of Planet of Adventure: City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wankh, The Dirdir, and The Pnume

Clemens P. Suter Author Of Rebound

From my list on people with guts.

Why am I passionate about this?

Clemens P. Suter is an author of adventure novels. His books deal with people that overcome impossible, life-changing situations. These are entertaining adventure books, with dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and Scifi elements.

Clemens' book list on people with guts

Clemens P. Suter Why did Clemens love this book?

Vance is one of the best Sci-Fi authors of the twentieth century, although for a long time he wasn’t a household name in the genre. Over 70 years he has written an abundance of books, all of which focused on distant worlds and human societies that have differentiated into freedom-loving, anarchic and weird cultures. “Planet of Adventure” is a set of four books, and deals with Adam Reith, a single astronaut stranded on a planet ruled by four races of extraterrestrials. Humans are little more than slaves on this planet, and Adam needs all his wits to survive… and to find a way off the planet and back home. The book resembles a wild, expressionist painting; the extraterrestrials and their strange cultures and the humans that serve them provide the color and texture to a truly amazing adventure.

By Jack Vance,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stranded on the distant planet Tschai, young Adam Reith is the sole survivor of a space mission who discovers the world is inhabited--not only by warring alien cultures, but human slaves as well, taken early in Earth's history. Reith must find a way off planet to warn the Earth of Tschai's deadly existence.

Against a backdrop of baroque cities and haunted wastelands, sumptuous palaces and riotous inns, Reith will encounter deadly wastrels and murderous aliens, dastardly villains and conniving scoundrels.

And always the random beauty in need of rescue...


Book cover of The Dark Forest

Gabriella Zielke Author Of The Sound of Creation

From my list on set in multiple dimensions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an MK, aka missionary’s kid, who ended up with more questions than answers about this thing called life. I nearly became an astrophysicist but chose finance as the safe bet, which led me to investing in over 150 early-stage tech startups. Along the way, I met and worked with people all over the world. Each with fascinating ideas about how and why we ended up on this waterlogged rock we call home. They say science fiction is the genre of philosophy, and I hope you agree if you get a chance to check out these fantastic books.  

Gabriella's book list on set in multiple dimensions

Gabriella Zielke Why did Gabriella love this book?

Multidimensional books tend to focus on either the existence of higher and lower dimensions, or on parallel universes. The Dark Forest (book 3), like my novel, is one of very few that take the string theory approach rather than show parallel universes.

The Three-Body Problem is an epic three-novel series that takes you from the cultural revolution in the ’60s, all the way to…well, the end. There’s a lot of cryogenic freezing to get the main character through time. 

The final theme of the series, introduced in The Dark Forest, is the unfolding and collapsing of dimensions. In the first book, a radio telescope operator finds out that we aren’t alone. A battle with the alien species ensues, including a scene in the Panama Canal that convinced me to spend a few days visiting the modern marvel. It’s well worth the 1500+ pages.

By Cixin Liu, Joel Martinsen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read the award-winning, critically acclaimed, multi-million-copy-selling science-fiction phenomenon - soon to be a Netflix Original Series from the creators of Game of Thrones.

Imagine the universe as a forest, patrolled by numberless and nameless predators. In this forest, stealth is survival - any civilisation that reveals its location is prey.

Earth has. Now the predators are coming.

Crossing light years, the Trisolarians will reach Earth in four centuries' time. But the sophons, their extra-dimensional agents and saboteurs, are already here. Only the individual human mind remains immune to their influence.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a last-ditch…


Book cover of The Paths Between Worlds

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From my list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

M.G. Herron Why did M.G. love this book?

The doorway in this novel is a departure from the usual.

And though it is unusual, yet it ties to humankind's fascination with portals.

The first portal in storytelling history, really, is the threshold a person must pass through to get from life to death.

That threshold has been epitomized in mythology as long as human beings have been using stories to explain the strangeness of existence.

In this sci-fi story, death is once again the portal between worlds. What would you do if, right before you died, an alien entity asks if you’d like to be saved?

Would you do it?

That’s exactly what happens to Meredith Gale. She regrets jumping off that bridge, so she says yes.

The story that follows is surprising and witty and full of heart. A friendly robot pulls the girl from the sea, along with a dozen others like her, every one of…

By Paul Antony Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome Children of Earth. Do not be afraid.
After a devastating car crash leaves her addicted to pills and her best friend dead, Meredith Gale has finally been pushed to her breaking point. Ending her life seems like the only way out, and that choice has left her dangling by her fingertips from a bridge above the freezing water of the San Francisco Bay.

But someone, or some thing, has other plans for Meredith. As her fingers slip from the cold steel of the bridge, a disembodied voice ask her a simple question: “Candidate 13: Do you wish to be…


Book cover of Terms of Enlistment

Matthew O. Duncan Author Of The Warrior's Stone

From my list on old-school sci-fi from 21st century authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up a fan of all things sci-fi, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and so on. But the older I got, the pickier I got, wanting more depth in character, creative stories and fun, but believable action. I read classic sci-fi like iRobot, Starship Troopers, and Enders Game, to name a few. I did find some contemporary authors I liked like Marco Kloos, Detmare Wehr, and Rebecca Branch, but they were needles in a haystack. So, instead of complaining that there were not enough good books out there, I started writing my own. A decade later I have 8 published titles and more on the way.  

Matthew's book list on old-school sci-fi from 21st century authors

Matthew O. Duncan Why did Matthew love this book?

I first discovered this book as an audiobook several years ago. It was recommended as something similar to Starship Troopers, which I had recently finished. The beginning of the book didn’t grab me at first. As a matter of fact I started to think it was a rip-off of Starship Troopers. But there was something about the main character that made me want to stay to the next chapter. Andrew Grayson is a young man who is very bright, but because he lives in a welfare community in the not-so-distant future, his prospects are limited. One of the only ways he can get out of the PRCs (what the author refers to as the projects) is to join the military. What makes this book work so well is the fact that Andrew is not really special. He is smart and usually a little more capable than the people around him.…

By Marko Kloos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"There is nobody who does [military SF] better than Marko Kloos. His Frontlines series is a worthy successor to such classics as Starship Troopers, The Forever War, and We All Died at Breakaway Station." -George R. R. Martin

The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements: You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world . . . or you can join the service.

With the colony…


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