86 books like The Accidental Time Machine

By Joe Haldeman,

Here are 86 books that The Accidental Time Machine fans have personally recommended if you like The Accidental Time Machine. 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 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 Darwinia

Don Kinney Author Of The Darkdrift

From my list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by science and space since I was a child and naturally gravitated toward science fiction. In many respects, it was a form of escapism, as I didn’t enjoy school. I always preferred escaping into another world or being taken on a journey to another world. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that most great science fiction is a commentary on our own world and the issues we face daily. Science fiction, more than any other genre, does a better job of exploring and dissecting aspects of our world, which in turn helps us better understand our world and our relationship with it.

Don's book list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer

Don Kinney Why did Don love this book?

Darwinia was the first novel I read by Robert Charles Wilson, who I believe is the best modern-day science fiction writer. Darwinia was a novel I had to read twice to really grasp how brilliantly Wilson had woven everything together. This is one of those novels where the ending can sneak up on you and blow you away and you weren’t even remotely prepared, which is preferred over any ending that I can predict.

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In an alternative history of the twentieth century, Europe is replaced by a land of nightmarish jungle and monsters that contains the secret of human destiny.


Book cover of Sphere

Johnny B. Truant Author Of Dead City

From my list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was an author, I was a scientist pursuing a PhD in molecular genetics. When I left the lab and started writing, that scientist’s need for real-world sense stuck with me and became a theme in everything I write. The authors I like understand that “suspension of disbelief” is a limited resource, so they’d better only ask readers for it when it counts. Get the baseline facts and logic right, and I’ll believe and enjoy the fantastical stuff spun from it so much more. 

Johnny's book list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

This is one of my go-to re-reads. I love the quiet and isolation of it: just a small crew trapped beneath the ocean, weathering something heretofore unknown. That’s what I like first and foremost: the mood of it all. 

But atop that is how believable it is for me. I always feel like I learn something when I read Michael Crichton. He had a knack for using real science and then twisting it just enough to create wonderful fictional situations. I’m not joyless enough to require learning to like a book, but I’ll put it this way: The less often an author asks me to suspend disbelief, the more willing I am to go for the ride when they finally do. 

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Ingenious and beguiling.”
—Time

“Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Sphere may be Crichton’s best novel, but even if it ranked only second or third, it would be a must for suspense fans.”
—Miami Herald

A classic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, Sphere is a bravura demonstration of what he does better than anyone: riveting storytelling that combines frighteningly plausible, cutting edge science and technology with pulse-pounding action and serious chills. The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the…


Book cover of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Adam Gaffen Author Of The Road to the Stars

From my list on to learn about hopepunk SF and why we need it.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why hopepunk, and why me? Look, it’s no surprise that you can look around today and find all sorts of indicators that we are entering Heinlein’s “Crazy Years.” Imagining a dystopian or grimdark future isn’t difficult; all you have to do is read the news. But I think that we are writing the history of the future right now, by the choices we make every day. Writing stories that present that optimistic view of the future is not just the right thing to do but necessary, at least to me. As Heinlein said, “A pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun…”

Adam's book list on to learn about hopepunk SF and why we need it

Adam Gaffen Why did Adam love this book?

I’m going old-school, back to one of the grandfathers of science fiction, Robert Heinlein.

Not only is his book a masterful example of character-driven storytelling, but it takes a critical eye to many of the things our current society takes for granted as being “true” and “right,” finding them wanting. It’s also been a huge influence on me in my writing, as have many of Heinlein’s other works, and I couldn’t not put it in here.

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2075, the Moon is no longer a penal colony. But it is still a prison...

Life isn't easy for the political dissidents and convicts who live in the scattered colonies that make up lunar civilisation. Everything is regulated strictly, efficiently and cheaply by a central supercomputer, HOLMES IV.

When humble technician Mannie O'Kelly-Davis discovers that HOLMES IV has quietly achieved consciousness (and developed a sense of humour), the choice is clear: either report the problem to the authorities... or become friends.

And perhaps overthrow the government while they're at it.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has been called…


Book cover of Up the Line

Seth Chambers Author Of Little Bird

From my list on time travel and the paradoxes that arise.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been an avid reader of SF in general, and its sub-genre of time-travel, for most of my life, and have tackled this topic in my own writings as well. Time-travel tales often deal with inherent paradoxes, such as the Grandfather Paradox, which asks: If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, would you then never be born and therefore never commit the murder? If so, then your grandfather lives and you were born and . . . Such paradoxes boggle the mind and provide fascinating territory for SF authors to explore. 

Seth's book list on time travel and the paradoxes that arise

Seth Chambers Why did Seth love this book?

This is a novel that explores all the complexities and paradoxes and oddities associated with time travel. It takes place in a future world in which time travel is a part of life, and so must be monitored and regulated like any other technology. Because time travel holds such a huge potential for disaster, strict rules must be established and enforced. But what happens when somebody flaunts those rules for their own personal enjoyment? This novel explores these concepts in a wild, and often erotic, fashion. 

This book really perpetuated my love of time-travel tales and all the complexities involved in a society where time travel is an accepted norm. It's a totally fun novel that deals with some truly existential concepts in an entertaining way and inspires that sense of wonder that fans of SF crave. It's one of those stories that stick with you for many, many years…

By Robert Silverberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Time travel spelled problems for the couriers of the Time Service. Shuttling backwards and forwards over the centuries they had to be wary of creating paradoxes - like meeting themselves watching the sack of Rome, or sleeping with their own ancestors.

Of course, it also gave them the chance to amass wealth by the discreet use of their prior knowledge. The penalties were fierce and the Time Police implacable in their pursuit of lawbreakers. But it was still worth taking the risk.

Jud Elliot took it when he met the marvellous transemporal paradox called the Pulcheria. He couldn't resist her…


Book cover of Contagion

A.K. Caggiano Author Of Throne in the Dark

From my list on fantasy that makes you giggle and swoon.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every morning when I sit at my computer, I’m reminded by a post-it note stuck to my monitor that my self-ordained purpose is to “bring readers joy.” Like many, I escaped into books as a child, and I’ve been seeking out stories that encapsulate wonder, delight, and, most importantly, love ever since. I began my self-publishing journey in 2020 and am thrilled to have found my place in the fantasy romance genre, writing romcoms with a heaping spoonful of ridiculous magic. I’ve written a number of standalone novels as well as a (sub)urban fantasy series, Vacancy, and a traditional fantasy romance series with a satirical twist, Villains & Virtues.

A.K.'s book list on fantasy that makes you giggle and swoon

A.K. Caggiano Why did A.K. love this book?

This book should perhaps be classified as sci-fi, but hear me out: the bulk of this novella follows two characters, one who is technically supernatural (we just happen to call him an alien), as they break out of captivity and quest through a forest. That’s fantasy enough for me, and the syrupy sweetness of these two can overcome any hesitation over on-page, spacey jargon.

I’ve never read a book that so wholly gets into the head of a non-human species as this, and it also had me cracking up the entire time. Simmi, the alien in question, is a germaphobe, to put it lightly, but his partner in escaping, Aurora, is patient and kind with him, and the love that blossoms between them is kick-your-feet delightful.

Book cover of Hyperion

Sam Middleton Author Of Eluthienn: A Tale Of The Fromryr

From my list on novels that blend science fiction and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science fantasy uniquely combines elements of science fiction (advanced technology, futuristic settings) with those of fantasy (magic, mythological creatures, and supernatural elements). This fusion creates rich and versatile storytelling that often comes with a deep sense of mystery beyond what science fiction or fantasy achieves on their own.

This blend also requires greater “buy-in” from the reader to believe in the world we’re being presented. As readers, we often accept dwarves in fantasy with little to no explanation. We do the same with spaceships in science fiction. But dwarves in spaceships require truly creative storytelling to achieve a much higher buy-in threshold. The author who can pull this off has my attention.  

Sam's book list on novels that blend science fiction and fantasy

Sam Middleton Why did Sam love this book?

Dan Simmons’ book weaves together the rigour of science fiction with the allure of fantasy to create a universe that is as intellectually provocative as it is imaginatively rich.

At the centre of this story is the Shrike–a being of advanced technology that can move through space and time, with near god-like abilities more commonly found in fantasy. Learning about the Shrike through the eyes of the main characters was like reading a futuristic version of Tolkien’s Sauron–the being is mysterious, terrifying, unknowable, and casts a hypnotic pull over those who seek it.

The novel itself is a feat in narrative structure, with the story told through the tales of seven pilgrims. Backstories often impede the plot, and are best used sparingly, however, Simons subverts this to create interlinked storylines that were nothing short of page-turning. I finished the book in awe of the world he had created and his…

By Dan Simmons,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A book of mystery, legend, romance and violence.


Book cover of The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World

Matt Durand Author Of White Space: Short Fictions

From my list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong lover of short fiction, novels, and comic books since I can remember. Ideas were always king, leading me to a career in the creative arts as a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of advertising. Much of the core of what I did for advertising—crafting brief tales to engage with an audience in a creative/unique way—translated over well to when I began writing my own short stories. And all of the book recommendations here directly inspired me to write White Space.

Matt's book list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism

Matt Durand Why did Matt love this book?

Post-apocalypse and gritty science fiction doesn’t get any better than this collection. Harlan Ellison writes in a rough and unflinching style that, to me, was like watching a classic 80s action/sci-fi movie. And the novella in this book, A Boy and His Dog, is another favorite of mine. It’s bloody and raw and felt ahead of its time for its prose and structure. After reading it, I saw this was published over fifty years ago, yet it still resonated as something fresh and new.

Book cover of The Dancers at the End of Time

Tad Williams Author Of Into the Narrowdark

From my list on sci-fi that doesn’t actually care about genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science Fiction, which used to be used to market all kinds of fantastic fiction (including The Lord of the Rings) was first subdivided into marketing genres like SF, Horror, and Fantasy. In recent years, those genres have been sliced into even smaller portions—into sub-genres like Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Fantasy of Manners, Cyberpunk, and so on. The reasons that happened? We’ll save that for some much longer conversation. I’ve been a fantasy and science fiction writer for more than thirty years, and a reader and fan of the genre for longer than that—since childhood. My books have been New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers, and they’re published in more than two dozen languages.

Tad's book list on sci-fi that doesn’t actually care about genre

Tad Williams Why did Tad love this book?

This series of linked novels and stories—start reading at An Alien Heat—would also be called SF.  They deal with time travel, the end of human civilization, and all kinds of other science-fictiony ideas. But the science is blurred almost into invisibility: the people living at the End of Time have little to no idea of the eons that have passed before them—nor do they much care about the past, except as a source of themes for their decadent parties. (Their ignorance of historical fact is also where a lot of the humor comes from.) The End of Timers have power rings that draw energy from the “ancient cities”, and with them can basically do magic—rearrange geography, create and destroy apparently living beings, and change themselves into any shape they want. So science is way back on the back burner; what we have instead is essentially a society of idiot wizards whiling away the…

By Michael Moorcock,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dancers at the End of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enter a decaying far, far future society, a time when anything and everything is possible, where words like 'conscience' and 'morality' are meaningless, and where heartfelt love blossoms mysteriously between Mrs Amelia Underwood, an unwilling time traveller, and Jherek Carnelian, a bemused denizen of the End of Time.

The Dancers at the End of Time, containing the novels An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands and The End of All Songs, is a brilliant homage to the 1890s of Wilde, Beardsley and the fin de siecle decadents, satire at its sharpest and most colourful.


Book cover of To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last

Joe Mahoney Author Of A Time and a Place

From my list on time travel for people keen to change the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why do I have a passion for time travel? Maybe because I am a time traveler. Just like we all are, moving forward in the temporal stream one instant at a time. Like many of us sometimes I wish I could reverse that stream, and live parts of my life over again, maybe do things a little differently the next time around, or the third. Or fourth. This first time around I’ve mostly been a broadcaster, working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, making radio, helping run the place. Married, with kids, and dogs and cats, writing in my free time. On second thought maybe I wouldn’t change anything after all…     

Joe's book list on time travel for people keen to change the past

Joe Mahoney Why did Joe love this book?

To Say Nothing of the Dog is a fairly brilliant time-travel novel about a temporal historian named Ned Henry. Whether you like it will probably come down to taste. It made me laugh out loud more than once. I loved Cyril the dog. I loved Baines the butler. I may have developed a bit of a crush on Verity. (That has never happened to me with a character in a book before.) This book, which has been described as a symphony of a novel, radiates intelligence and good humour and belongs on your reading list, at the very top, if not slightly higher. 

By Connie Willis,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked To Say Nothing of the Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ned Henry is a time-travelling historian who specialises in the mid-20th century - currently engaged in researching the bombed-out Coventry Cathedral. He's also made so many drops into the past that he's suffering from a dangerously advanced case of 'time-lag'.

Unfortunately for Ned, an emergency dash to Victorian England is required and he's the only available historian. But Ned's time-lag is so bad that he's not sure what the errand is - which is bad news since, if he fails, history could unravel around him...


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in time travel, extraterrestrial life, and space horror?

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

Time Travel Explore 371 books about time travel
Extraterrestrial Life Explore 233 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Horror Explore 23 books about space horror