100 books like The Alternate Martians

By A. Bertram Chandler,

Here are 100 books that The Alternate Martians fans have personally recommended if you like The Alternate Martians. 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 The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must

Sylvia Engdahl Author Of Journey Between Worlds

From my list on colonizing Mars of interest to young adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a long-term advocate of space colonization I’ve always been drawn to Mars, not by adventure stories but by the idea that ordinary people may someday live there. So this was the theme of my first novel. I wrote it before we had gone to the moon, though it wasn't published until 1970, after my better-known book Enchantress from the Stars. When in 2006 I revised it for republication, little about Mars needed changing; mainly I removed outdated sexist assumptions and wording. Yet the book still hasn’t reached its intended audience because though meant for girls who aren’t already space enthusiasts, its publishers persisted in labeling it science fiction rather than Young Adult romance.

Sylvia's book list on colonizing Mars of interest to young adults

Sylvia Engdahl Why did Sylvia love this book?

Robert Zubrin is the foremost authority on how to get to Mars, and in addition to his engineering expertise, he is one of the most prominent advocates of colonizing it. This classic book, now in its updated 25th Anniversary edition, should be read by everyone interested in the future of humankind. It contains more technical detail about space travel than some people will care to learn, but that can be skimmed; the section about colonization, and the concluding chapter explaining why going to Mars is important, are what I chose it for. In Zubrin's opinion and my own, Mars is "the door to an open future, a new frontier on a new world, a planet that can be settled, the beginning of humanity's career as a spacefaring species."

By Robert Zubrin, Richard Wagner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Case for Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Case for Marsmakes living in space seem more possible than ever in this updated 25th anniversary edition, featuring the latest information on the planet's exploration and the drive to send humans there.

Since the beginning of human history, Mars has been an alluring dream—the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it had long been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit. But that is changing fast.

In February 2021, the American rover Perseverance will touch down on Mars. Equipped with a powerful suite of scientific instruments—including some that will attempt to make…


Book cover of Red Mars

Tony Benson Author Of Galactic Alliance: Betrayal

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Tony Benson 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…


Book cover of The Martian

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?

Andy Weir has. In my opinion, come to define hopepunk: pushing towards a goal through difficulties, even if the goal doesn’t personally benefit the character.

His depiction of the plight of Mark Watney, the impacts Watney’s plight have on a global scale, and the hard science behind it all combine to create a compelling story. The sacrifices his crewmates and NASA officials make to push his rescue forward exemplify the “community over self” attitude common in hopepunk.

By Andy Weir,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Martian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old human error are…


Book cover of The Martian Chronicles

Robert Zwilling Author Of Asteroid Fever

From my list on science fiction books where the big break doesn't change anything.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by science and everything mysterious. I love to read science fiction and mystery stories. I use art and literature to explore reality. Writing or painting allows me to link seemingly unrelated topics together to create my own explanations for why things are the way they appear to be. The biggest things in the universe are replicated on Earth right down to sub-atomic size. I call that life imitating stars. Life is an endless resource found everywhere in the universe, and it's not restricted to just light or heat to grow; it only needs energy.

Robert's book list on science fiction books where the big break doesn't change anything

Robert Zwilling Why did Robert love this book?

I liked this book because it's a collection of stories about unrelated people's exploits, real and imagined, as they work together to make their mark in a new frontier.

The stories portray amazing accounts of people ranging from the mundane to the supernatural. It's one of the last stories to describe Mars with a somewhat hospitable climate, and that doesn't matter.

The incredible storytelling of Ray Bradbury makes anything that his characters are doing always believable no matter where they are because he writes from the heart.

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Martian Chronicles, a seminal work in Ray Bradbury's career, whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time's passage, is available from Simon & Schuster for the first time.

In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work…


Book cover of The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World

Laura Krantz Author Of Is There Anybody Out There?: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life, from Amoebas to Aliens

From my list on the search for alien life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was never going to hack it as a scientist. So I became a journalist instead. After all, both careers stem from a sense of wonder about the world and asking questions, looking for answers, and accepting that there might not be any. In 2018, I started my narrative podcast Wild Thing, which let me explore some of our weirder collective fascinations (like aliens) using science, history, psychology, and humor. I’d never aimed the podcast at kids, but I realized that all those big open-ended questions that I had about everything were the same kinds of questions that kids had - which really set me up to write the Wild Thing book series. 

Laura's book list on the search for alien life

Laura Krantz Why did Laura love this book?

Imagine for a moment that we found life on Mars.

That discovery would shake our world, change our outlook on the universe, and answer the question of whether we’re alone.

Sarah Stewart Johnson, a planetary scientist, has spent her life thinking about this possibility and delves into both her and our obsession with the Red Planet in this beautifully written book. Part memoir, part historical account, and part scientific exploration, this book made me want to ditch a career in journalism and take up astrobiology. You’ll never look at Mars the same way again. 

By Sarah Stewart Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Sirens of Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a new wave of interplanetary exploration unfolds, a talented young planetary scientist charts our centuries-old obsession with Mars.

'Beautifully written, emotive - a love letter to a planet' DERMOT O'LEARY, BBC Radio 2

Mars - bewilderingly empty, coated in red dust - is an unlikely place to pin our hopes of finding life elsewhere. And yet, right now multiple spacecraft are circling, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium and Mare Sirenum - on the brink, perhaps, of a discovery that would inspire humankind as much as any in our history.

With poetic precision and grace,…


Book cover of The Lady Astronaut of Mars

Daniel Robledo Author Of Cages of the Soul

From my list on speculative short stories about life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is a complex matter, and so sometimes you need a few aliens, werewolves, and dragons in order to make sense of it. From struggling with one’s career, to finding your identity, to finding forgiveness in myself, I’ve struggled with a lot in life, and these are all things that I tackle in my stories, because in addition to being entertaining, I also believe that what we read should also be insightful.

Daniel's book list on speculative short stories about life

Daniel Robledo Why did Daniel love this book?

The Lady Astronaut of Mars takes place in a science fictional world, but like all the best sci-fi, it knows to keep its focus on its characters. There are no hour-long passages about future technologies or scientific theory. Instead it uses its setting to tell a human story about the missed opportunities in life and about growing old. Second chances are rare, and sometimes the decision about what to do isn’t so clear, but The Lady Astronaut of Mars reminded me that more often than not, experiences are worth having.

By Mary Robinette Kowal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner: 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette

Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she's been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.…


Book cover of Life on Mars

Nancy Vo Author Of Boobies

From my list on with sideways humor and irony.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born where the sun rose in the prairies and set behind the Rockies. Now I live on the West Coast of Canada. I am a picture bookmaker, and from my recommendations, you might think that I also have a thing for thieves: cupcake thieves, underwear thieves, hat thieves, chicken thieves, pie thieves. But I’m really here for the element of surprise and well-earned laughs in children’s picture books. They say comedy is hard, but comedy in picture books is even harder. These five picks are a great place to start if you like smartly silly picture books with a bit of off-kilter humor and a sense of irony. Bonus points for puns.

Nancy's book list on with sideways humor and irony

Nancy Vo Why did Nancy love this book?

A hapless astronaut is on a mission to find Life on Mars and explores a seemingly barren landscape. The astronaut is unaware of what is going on -- if only he would turn around! This becomes a source of great entertainment and an early lesson on irony. I enjoyed this book not only for the illustrations, which are well suited to this story, but more importantly for the way that the words do not match what is going on in the illustrations.

By Jon Agee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A daring young astronaut arrives on Mars, certain he will find life there. He has even brought a gift of chocolate cupcakes. But soon he realises he's made a mistake as the planet seems to be totally barren except for one little flower. However, as only the audience can see, if only he would turn around he would meet the friendly Martian who is always lurking shyly one step behind! As he settles in for the journey home, he cracks open his cupcakes-only to discover that someone has eaten them all! Fans of Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen will love…


Book cover of The Rock from Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets

Stephen P. Maran Author Of Astronomy for Dummies

From my list on space from someone with 35 years at NASA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve studied space for 60+ years, including spotting Sputnik from atop 30 Rock for Operation Moonwatch; monitoring an exploding star for a PhD at University of Michigan, leading the Remotely Controlled Telescope project at Kitt Peak National Observatory, hunting pulsars from Arizona and Chile, and helping develop scientific instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope. I worked for 5 years at Kitt Peak and 35 years for NASA. As Press Officer (now retired) of the American Astronomical Society, I organized press conferences on many notable cosmic discoveries. Minor Planet 9768 was named Stephenmaran for me, but I haven’t seen it yet. What I have spotted are five exceptional books on space.  Enjoy!

Stephen's book list on space from someone with 35 years at NASA

Stephen P. Maran Why did Stephen love this book?

Politics, ambition, and science collided when NASA announced that a small rock that fell on Antarctica contained tiny fossils of ancient life on Mars. Advance plans for the public report were kept secret while coordinated all the way up through President Bill Clinton. Aides wondered if the great discovery would help his re-election. But after a televised press conference and the subsequent media circus, many qualified scientists disputed the claimed fossils. NASA is still searching for past or present life on Mars.  They will surely take greater care in reaching future conclusions, won’t they? And if you may wonder why an alleged DC sex worker had prior knowledge of the “breakthrough,” read ace Washington Post reporter (now retired) Kathy Sawyer’s brilliant and thorough account.

By Kathy Sawyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this riveting book, acclaimed journalist Kathy Sawyer reveals the deepest mysteries of space and some of the most disturbing truths on Earth. The Rock from Mars is the story of how two planets and the spheres of politics and science all collided at the end of the twentieth century.
It began sixteen million years ago. An asteroid crashing into Mars sent fragments flying into space and, eons later, one was pulled by the Earth’s gravity onto an icy wilderness near the southern pole. There, in 1984, a geologist named Roberta Score spotted it, launching it on a roundabout path…


Book cover of The War of the Worlds

David E. Gates Author Of The Wretched

From my list on horror books that changed my life and could change yours.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved horror since my early teens, when I first discovered The Rats and Lair and other horror stories by James Herbert. The thing I like about horror, in particular, is that there are no holds barred, no censorship, as to what can be written. I grew up on movies like The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, Jaws, Alien, The Thing, etc., but horror writing takes you deeper and gives a more visceral experience than anything any film can do.

David's book list on horror books that changed my life and could change yours

David E. Gates Why did David love this book?

This book is why I became an author. 

I started reading this book in class at school, when I was around thirteen years of age. The class read the first two chapters, and I was so enamoured with it I couldn't wait to get home and read it. I read it in its entirety that very night. I found the language and description used within it quite breathtaking. I couldn't wait to read the next chapter. It had a lasting effect on me and led me to start writing my own stories down. 

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

14 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?


Book cover of A Princess of Mars

Dave Buschi Author Of Reality Recoded

From my list on science fiction books with an everyman hero.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a house of books. Bookcases in almost every room. At an early age, I discovered some great ones that were usually recommended by my dad. The Odyssey. Tarzan of the Apes. Princess of Mars. It is a long, long list, and I won’t give you all my faves—but one thing about it: I was drawn to books with heroes, particularly when those heroes were clearly good. There are no shades of gray for me. I like my heroes to have honor and humility and to always strive to do the right thing.

Dave's book list on science fiction books with an everyman hero

Dave Buschi Why did Dave love this book?

This is an oldie but a goody. I read this as a kid and have read it since then many times as an adult, and it’s still great. The writing is dated, but the story absolutely rocks.

Our hero, John Carter, is a Civil War veteran. When he enters a mysterious cave, he is transported to Mars. A version of Mars where Mars is inhabited by all sorts of incredible beings.

Everything about this story is larger than life. The description of Mars. The warring tribes. The fight scenes. Our hero as he tackles the villains. How he saves a world in peril. In the end, our hero gets the girl (who is a beautiful princess). The dynamic between both of them over the course of the story is well worth the read alone.

By Edgar Rice Burroughs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rediscover the adventure-pulp classic that gave the world its first great interplanetary romance-now featuring an introduction by Junot Diaz

In the spring of 1866, John Carter, a former Confederate captain prospecting for gold in the Arizona hills, slips into a cave and is overcome by mysterious vapors. He awakes to find himself naked, alone, and forty-eight million miles from Earth-a castaway on the dying planet Mars. Taken prisoner by the Tharks, a fierce nomadic tribe of six-limbed, olive-green giants, he wins respect as a cunning and able warrior, who by grace of Mars's weak gravity possesses the agility of a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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