62 books like The Dark Forest

By Cixin Liu, Joel Martinsen (translator),

Here are 62 books that The Dark Forest fans have personally recommended if you like The Dark Forest. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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 The Dispossessed

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

I found this book (whose subtitle is “An Ambiguous Utopia”) one of the most thought-provoking works of fiction I have read.

The Dispossessed was my first introduction to anarchism as a political platform, and while it didn’t make an anarchist out of me, it was the book that allowed me to imagine anarchism as a coherent political philosophy. Practically every page of the book offers a critique of modern capitalism, and it’s impossible to read this book without considering the structures in our world today that ensure a system of haves and have-nots.

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the very best must-read novels of all time - with a new introduction by Roddy Doyle

'A well told tale signifying a good deal; one to be read again and again' THE TIMES

'The book I wish I had written ... It's so far away from my own imagination, I'd love to sit at my desk one day and discover that I could think and write like Ursula Le Guin' Roddy Doyle

'Le Guin is a writer of phenomenal power' OBSERVER

The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous…


Book cover of Fahrenheit 451

Dan Savery Raz Author Of The Qwerty Man

From my list on dystopian books that could actually happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and drawn to books that look through a window into the "other world." These novels, often dubbed dystopian, are reflections or exaggerations of our own world, and this always appealed to me. Like the question, "What if?”. The premise of “What if we lived in a world where you had to pay for words?” inspired my first novel, The Qwerty Man. Although I love fiction, I’m more of a nonfiction reader these days and interested in Buddhism (as an education, not religion), geography, and history. I’ve also written travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet and a children’s travel poetry book called Rhyme Travels.

Dan's book list on dystopian books that could actually happen

Dan Savery Raz Why did Dan love this book?

I read this book relatively recently, not at school or when I was in my twenties, but when I was in my late thirties. I had heard of the novel, and the concept of burning books was all-too familiar as I studied a module on Holocaust literature at university. However, the premise of Ray Bradbury’s novel, written in 1953, was so simple yet so powerful.

It echoes with our own reality today, as although books are not being burned, we are seeing the art of writing itself being "burned" or minimized by tools such as AI or social media. The virtual burning of honest reportage or poetry for opinionated views and algorithms is one symptom of today’s fast-paced society. 

There were some great quotes in Fahrenheit 451, too; the one that really stuck out was, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… A child or a book or a…

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Fahrenheit 451 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hauntingly prophetic classic novel set in a not-too-distant future where books are burned by a special task force of firemen.

Over 1 million copies sold in the UK.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic…


Book cover of Dark Matter

Luke Mitchell Author Of Red Gambit

From my list on sci-fi character journeys you’ll probably never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ex-neuroengineer turned sci-fi pen monkey (turned melted heap of goo on the floor). More than anything, though, I’m a guy who simply could NOT get enough Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Indiana Jones as a kid, and it’s probably somewhere between those formative years and all the amazing books and movies I’ve gobbled down since that the writing bug seeped into my veins. Much as my writing has changed the way I read, this list constitutes 5 of the types of stories that made me fall so deeply in love with fiction (and good characters!) that I couldn’t help but eventually pick up the pen myself.

Luke's book list on sci-fi character journeys you’ll probably never forget

Luke Mitchell Why did Luke love this book?

One of my favorite things in the world is listening to a good audiobook, start to finish, on a long road trip. Having moved back and forth across the country more times than I care to count, I’ve done this a fair number of times, and my favorite memory by far is the experience I had when listening to this book for the first time.

I’ve enjoyed most of Blake Crouch’s books for their tight pacing and titillating, mind-candy premises (in Dark Matter, it’s a neat mechanic for hopping alternate realities), but what really hit me with this one in particular was how monumentally hard this book drove home this feeling of losing (like literally losing) the one you love the most, and what you might do, what life you might choose, to find them again. It’s hardly ground that no one’s covered before, but without spoiling anything, I’ll just…

By Blake Crouch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Brilliant. . . I think Blake Crouch just invented something new' - Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series.

From Blake Crouch, the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human - a relentlessly surprising thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we'll go to claim the lives we dream of, perfect for fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player One.

'Are you happy in your life?'
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakes to find…


Book cover of 1Q84

Daryl Qilin Yam Author Of Lovelier, Lonelier

From my list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m one of those writers who’d identify themselves as readers first, and as an oft-bullied queer kid growing up in Singapore, I often found refuge and salvation in writers whose works were able to refashion and reimagine our lives, however intimately or grandly. I grew up devouring fantasy of all kinds; I went from Enid Blyton to Charmed, for instance, before discovering in my later adolescence the manifold possibilities of magical realism and the other expanses contained within the realm(s) of speculative fiction. Many of the books in this particular list were especially useful in crafting my second novel, Lovelier, Lonelier

Daryl's book list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers

Daryl Qilin Yam Why did Daryl love this book?

Here’s another book with two lovers occupying two parallel realities, though I would say that the romance is almost beside the point in this book, where a multitude of stranger, more engrossing things are always threatening to steal the spotlight: Cults! A town of cats! The return of Ushikawa! Two moons! A novel named Air Chrysalis! You couldn’t ask for more, really.

By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip ­Gabriel (translator)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked 1Q84 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her.

She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course…


Book cover of The Space Merchants

Gary Gibson Author Of Echogenesis

From my list on cynical takes on space colonisation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I was exposed to the same influences as most other SF writers of my generation – Clarke, Heinlein, and Asimov. But I was also exposed to the more nuanced, more psychologically realistic work of writers like Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, Ursula K. LeGuin, and J.G. Ballard, none of whom shared the unquestioning techno-utopianism of an earlier generation of writers. They taught me not to automatically respect power or authority, and to always question ideas that might otherwise be taken for granted. It’s an approach that’s carried over into my own writing ever since.

Gary's book list on cynical takes on space colonisation

Gary Gibson Why did Gary love this book?

Pohl drew heavily on his experience as an advertising copywriter in this, perhaps his most famous novel co-written with C.M. Kornbluth. Although not directly set on a colonized world, it’s easily one of the darkest takes on the subject as the protagonist, a ‘star-class copysmith’ is given the job of selling people on the idea of emigrating to Venus…while carefully avoiding the reality of Venus being barely, if at all, habitable, with nothing to promise but a harsh existence and generations of toil before the planet can be fully terraformed.

By Frederik Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a vastly overpopulated near-future world, businesses have taken the place of governments and now hold all political power. States exist merely to ensure the survival of huge transnational corporations. Advertising has become hugely aggressive and boasts some of the world's most powerful executives.

Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that all the products on the market improve the quality of life. However, the most basic elements are incredibly scarce, including water and fuel.

The planet Venus has just been visited and judged fit for human settlement, despite its inhospitable surface and climate; colonists would have to…


Book cover of Burning Chrome

Grant Price Author Of Reality Testing

From my list on science fiction that paint high-concept futures.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science fiction has been my life since I first saw A New Hope at the age of six. Whether the story is set five years ahead of the present or five thousand, the ability of sci-fi writers to envision where we might be going and how it could all end up—while influencing real-world technology and innovation in the process—is an inexhaustive source of inspiration to me. Best of all is when science fiction creators manage to pull off the double act of thoroughly entertaining us while offering a concise, intelligent critique of our present without ever proselytizing.

Grant's book list on science fiction that paint high-concept futures

Grant Price Why did Grant love this book?

While Neuromancer presents one of the most well realized examples of a lived-in future ever committed to ink, the origins of William Gibson’s Sprawl – a metastasizing concrete-and-neon megalopolis that has consumed the US eastern seaboard – can be found in the short stories he published between 1977 and 1984. Later collected in the anthology Burning Chrome, four of the stories – “Fragments of a Hologram Rose”, “Johnny Mnemonic”, “Burning Chrome” and “New Rose Hotel” – create the skeleton of a post-World-War-III future where corporations rule, life is cheap and technology is God. There’s actually a movie version of New Rose Hotel, and despite starring Willem Dafoe and Christopher Walken it’s even worse than Keanu Reeves’s Mnemonic.

By William Gibson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best-known for his seminal sf novel NEUROMANCER, William Gibson is also a master of short fiction. Tautly-written and suspenseful, BURNING CHROME collects 10 of his best short stories with a preface from Bruce Sterling, co-Cyberpunk and editor of the seminal anthology MIRRORSHADES. These brilliant, high-resolution stories show Gibson's characters and intensely-realized worlds at his absolute best. Contains 'Johnny Mnemonic' (filmed starring Keanu Reeves) and title story 'Burning Chrome' - both nominated for the Nebula Award - as well as the Hugo-and-Nebula-nominated stories 'Dogfight' and 'The Winter Market'.


Book cover of Max and the Multiverse

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?

I would be lying if I said I love this book due to its stellar writing. Sorry, mate! It’s a great way to see through a teenager’s eyes what they might find and do in parallel worlds. And it has a pretty rad cat, who sometimes speaks with a British accent. 

Throw in a couple of orange lizard lesbians trying to chill on Europa, and you have yourself an escapist, if not absurd, book that will keep you entertained.

By Zachry Wheeler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An award-winning sci-fi comedy about a nerdy teen who tumbles through the multiverse.

It's spring break and Max is stuck at home all by himself. Just the way he likes it. He games online, feasts on junk, and wonders why his cat can suddenly talk.

Thanks to a bizarre mishap, Max has started shifting between parallel universes whenever he falls asleep. A curious affliction, and one that steadily erodes his sanity. Day after day, he awakes to a strange new reality and struggles to make sense of his surroundings.

But then one day he awakes to a hyper-advanced version of…


Book cover of The Schrödinger Girl

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?

One girl. Four different lives. Set in the late 60s and full of musical reminders of that time period, a psychology professor investigates the reason behind meeting four different versions of the same girl. This exploration of the many worlds theory gets more into our brain and how it perceives strange phenomenon. 

In the second half, no shocker, there are some experiments with psychedelics that help Garrett think through the idea of parallel worlds, what they might mean, and how that veil could be lifted, if only for a brief time and only by a few. This one makes you think!

By Laurel Brett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in the 1960s, this novel exploring the mysteries of the multiverse—and of human identity—is “a rare page turner that avoids the obvious traps.” —The New York Times Book Review

Garrett Adams, an uptight behavioral psychology professor who refuses to embrace the 1960s, is in a slump. The dispirited rats in his latest experiment aren't yielding results, and his beloved Yankees are losing. As he sits at a New York City bar watching the Yanks strike out, he knows he needs a change. Then, at a bookstore, he meets a mysterious young woman, Daphne, who draws him into the turbulent…


Book cover of Footfall

S.R. Algernon Author Of Cooling Season

From my list on science fiction that will change your perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American author and have been an avid reader of science fiction for nearly forty years. I studied science fiction in college, along with biology and other subjects. My undergraduate honors thesis was a discussion of postwar Japanese science fiction that included a translation from the original. I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and have published papers on learning in machines, humans, and humpback whales. I have taught and studied in Japan and Singapore, and critiqued fiction for several years with critters.org. I have published many science fiction stories from various perspectives. The Hugo finalist, "Asymmetrical Warfare" tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth from the invader’s perspective.

S.R.'s book list on science fiction that will change your perspective

S.R. Algernon Why did S.R. love this book?

I have a soft spot for stories written from non-human perspectives, and Footfall sticks out in my mind as a prime example of the subgenre. It follows the story of an invasion of Earth by a species called the Fithp, which has a herd-like social structure. The scenes told from the point of view of the invading Fithp present the first contact and alien invasion tropes in a new way. 

The unfolding conquest of Earth gives us a glimpse into Fithp minds and, most importantly, a look at ourselves from an outside perspective. It is a bit of a slow burn, but for me the world-building paid off in the end.

Footfall inspired me to write several short stories about alien invasion.

By Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Considered by many readers the best alien invasion novel to date, FOOTFALL was called “thought-provoking and exciting” by Library Journal and “the best of its genre” by The New York Times.

An alien craft is approaching Earth. Attempts to communicate go unanswered. The welcoming committee of Americans and Russians at a space station is blasted, its occupants killed or captured. Soon the entire Earth, with special emphasis on the United States, is bombarded by asteroids, destroying dams, highways, and infrastructure. The message to humans: total surrender or death to all. A giant rock, the “footfall”, is launched towards Earth, causing…


Book cover of Rising from the Ashes

Justin Oldham Author Of Bibix

From my list on science fiction featuring alien invasion.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alien invasion is just another form of apocalypse. The terrible truth is, our civilization and our world can end in many different ways. I think of myself as being on a life-long quest to read as many variations as possible. No matter how things end, I’m always interested in how authors portray human survival. Even when we inflict harm on ourselves, humanity always seems to be capable of bouncing back. It’s a form of optimism that I just can’t resist. I try to include some of that hope in everything I write. 

Justin's book list on science fiction featuring alien invasion

Justin Oldham Why did Justin love this book?

This is the first collection of short stories I’ve encountered that deals specifically with the aftermath of an Earth-shattering alien invasion, dwelling mostly on what humans do in the ruins after the aliens have packed up and gone home. I hadn’t really thought about that part of an invasion story before. As difficult as rebuilding would be, I was heartened to read about the satisfaction the survivors got from reclaiming what they had lost. Now that I’ve read this, it’s an aspect of the post-apocalyptic genre that I’d like to see more of. 

By Anne K. Nagel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Building for Tomorrow

Humanity was unprepared for the Xanite invasion of Earth. After decades of world-wide destruction, global infrastructure crumbled and cities fell into ruin.

As the calamity unfolded, a new generation of heroes confronted an uncertain future. They came from all walks of life – some wearing camouflage, while others were garbed in food service whites. These men and women worked courageously to stem the collapse of human civilization.

It would take new thinking and new beliefs to bring about a better future and deal with the alien menace. These are some of their stories of bravery and determination.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in extraterrestrial life, space horror, and alien invasions?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraterrestrial life, space horror, and alien invasions.

Extraterrestrial Life Explore 227 books about extraterrestrial life
Space Horror Explore 23 books about space horror
Alien Invasions Explore 13 books about alien invasions