50 books like The Hydrogen Sonata

By Iain M. Banks,

Here are 50 books that The Hydrogen Sonata fans have personally recommended if you like The Hydrogen Sonata. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Three-Body Problem

Akshat Rathi Author Of Climate Capitalism: Winning the Race to Zero Emissions and Solving the Crisis of Our Age

From my list on crash course in our climate choices.

Why am I passionate about this?

Typically, climate journalists share stories of disastrous extreme weather events made more extreme by climate change. But over the past decade, I’ve discovered that every sector of the economy and every country on the planet that I’ve had the privilege to explore has people working on climate solutions. Crucially, in many places, these are now working at scale. 

Akshat's book list on crash course in our climate choices

Akshat Rathi Why did Akshat love this book?

Science fiction is supposed to be mind-expanding, but its bestsellers have for far too long been in the hands of Western authors.

This book and its accompanying series changed that through interwoven themes that connect an interplanetary future with today’s cultural, climate, and political divides, and the world is a better place for it. 

By Cixin Liu, Ken Liu (translator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Three-Body Problem 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.

1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China's Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang's investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable…


Book cover of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

Nicholas Agar Author Of Dialogues on Human Enhancement

From my list on how technology could change humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand philosopher who’s written a lot about the human enhancement debate. Philosophers are well known for their willingness to defend unpopular conclusions against all critics. Sometimes they engage in what I call “philosophical shit-stirring". You may think that’s a profanity but it’s actually a technical term. I’ve advocated some deliberately unpopular shit-stirring conclusions in the past. One of these is liberal eugenics - the idea that you can turn an evil like eugenics into something good by prefacing it with the feel-good term “liberal”. These dialogues are the beginning of a philosophical stock-take on what we should or might become.

Nicholas' book list on how technology could change humanity

Nicholas Agar Why did Nicholas love this book?

There’s a lot of thoughtless talk by techno-optimistic philosophers about futures in which we all get to become superintelligent and live for thousands of years if we can apply the right tech to ourselves.

Sykes describes fascinating research on the Neanderthals, beings who were almost, but not quite, us. Reading her book, I wondered what it might have been like to grow up as the child of a union between a Homo sapiens and a Neanderthal. I found this especially useful when we consider future relationships between people determined to remain human and others who want tech to make them posthuman ASAP.

There’s so much information to gleen from Sykes to help us guess at how posthumans might treat beings whom they view as different and possibly inferior.

By Rebecca Wragg Sykes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

** WINNER OF THE PEN HESSELL-TILTMAN PRIZE 2021 ** 'Beautiful, evocative, authoritative.' Professor Brian Cox 'Important reading not just for anyone interested in these ancient cousins of ours, but also for anyone interested in humanity.' Yuval Noah Harari Kindred is the definitive guide to the Neanderthals. Since their discovery more than 160 years ago, Neanderthals have metamorphosed from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins. Rebecca Wragg Sykes uses her experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research to share our new understanding of Neanderthals, shoving aside cliches of rag-clad brutes in an icy wasteland. She reveals them…


Book cover of A Hacker's Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society's Rules, and How to Bend them Back

Nicholas Agar Author Of Dialogues on Human Enhancement

From my list on how technology could change humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand philosopher who’s written a lot about the human enhancement debate. Philosophers are well known for their willingness to defend unpopular conclusions against all critics. Sometimes they engage in what I call “philosophical shit-stirring". You may think that’s a profanity but it’s actually a technical term. I’ve advocated some deliberately unpopular shit-stirring conclusions in the past. One of these is liberal eugenics - the idea that you can turn an evil like eugenics into something good by prefacing it with the feel-good term “liberal”. These dialogues are the beginning of a philosophical stock-take on what we should or might become.

Nicholas' book list on how technology could change humanity

Nicholas Agar Why did Nicholas love this book?

Schneier’s book taught me that hacking isn’t just something that occasionally happens to your laptop. The powerful hack the laws that govern our society too.

I wondered how the hacking mindset could apply to enhancement techs. Which enhancement techs will the elite reserve for themselves and which might they impose on the gig workers of the future? Suppose Neuralink does manage to get its tech into our heads. Imagine Musk finds himself just short of the funds needed to found his planned Martian city. Might beneficiaries of his brain-computer interfaces find themselves abruptly subject to overpowering urges to immediately own ten Teslas? This sounds absurd.

Perhaps the right question to ask is how crazy it is relative to cities of a million on Mars by 2050. Is it beyond the reach of Musk’s rule-breaking, can-do imagination?

By Bruce Schneier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Hacker's Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hack is any means of subverting a system's rules in unintended ways. The tax code isn't computer code, but a series of complex formulas. It has vulnerabilities; we call them "loopholes." We call exploits "tax avoidance strategies." And there is an entire industry of "black hat" hackers intent on finding exploitable loopholes in the tax code. We call them accountants and tax attorneys.

In A Hacker's Mind, Bruce Schneier takes hacking out of the world of computing and uses it to analyse the systems that underpin our society: from tax laws to financial markets to politics. He reveals an…


Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children

By Felice Picano,

Book cover of Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children

Felice Picano Author Of Six Strange Stories and an Essay on H.P. Lovecraft

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author

Felice's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Bold, funny, and shockingly honest, Ambidextrous is like no other memoir of 1950s urban childhood.

Picano appears to his parents and siblings to be a happy, cheerful eleven-year-old possessed of the remarkable talent of being able to draw beautifully and write fluently with either hand. But then he runs into the mindless bigotry of a middle school teacher who insists that left-handedness is "wrong," and his idyllic world falls apart.

He uncovers the insatiable appetites of a trio of neighboring sisters, falls for another boy with a glue-sniffing habit, and discovers the hidden world of adult desire and hypocrisy. Picano exits his boyhood sooner than most, but with this sense of self intact and armed with a fuller understanding of the world, he is about to enter.

Controversial when it first came out, Ambidextrous was burned on the docks of London in 1989 by Her Majesty Inland Service and decried by many. This reprint, with a Foreword by the author, discusses its banned book history and how it has become a classic depiction used by professionals involved in modern childhood studies.

Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children

By Felice Picano,

What is this book about?

Bold, funny, and shockingly honest, Ambidextrous is like no other memoir of 1950s urban childhood. Picano appears to his parents and siblings to be a happy, cheerful eleven-year-old, possessed of the remarkable talent of being able to draw beautifully and write fluently with either hand. But then he runs into the mindless bigotry of a middle school teacher who insists that left-handedness is "wrong," and his idyllic world falls apart. He uncovers the insatiable appetites of a trio of neighboring sisters, falls for another boy with a glue-sniffing habit, and discovers the hidden world of adult desire and hypocrisy. Picano…


Book cover of Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires

Nicholas Agar Author Of Dialogues on Human Enhancement

From my list on how technology could change humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Zealand philosopher who’s written a lot about the human enhancement debate. Philosophers are well known for their willingness to defend unpopular conclusions against all critics. Sometimes they engage in what I call “philosophical shit-stirring". You may think that’s a profanity but it’s actually a technical term. I’ve advocated some deliberately unpopular shit-stirring conclusions in the past. One of these is liberal eugenics - the idea that you can turn an evil like eugenics into something good by prefacing it with the feel-good term “liberal”. These dialogues are the beginning of a philosophical stock-take on what we should or might become.

Nicholas' book list on how technology could change humanity

Nicholas Agar Why did Nicholas love this book?

What can you do if you’re gloomy about the state of the world? Rushkoff’s is a book in which the rich have largely given up on the all-in-it-together ideology of earlier times.

If the system is crumbing, can you get rich enough to escape before its final collapse? Reading Rushkoff’s book I wondered if the replacement of earlier times’ get-rich-quick schemes by today’s get-super-rich-super-quick offers explained how so many people were gulled by the fraudulent offers of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX crypto hedge fund.

Suppose you do manage to quit these schemes with sufficient money before they crash. Where can you flee? New Zealand, Mars…? During the Pandemic we in New Zealand heard much about people who wanted to shelter in Jacinda Ardern’s Aotearoa. If rich escape fantasists Google “New Zealand” and “climate change” they might want to hold out for Mars.

Some of the characters in my book hope that…

By Douglas Rushkoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Five mysterious billionaires summoned Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The subject? How to survive the "Event": the societal collapse they know is coming. Rushkoff argues that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley-style certainty that they and their cohort can escape a disaster of their own making-as long as they have enough money and the right technology.

Rushkoff traces the origins of The Mindset in science and technology through its current expression in missions to Mars, island bunkers, AI futurism, and the metaverse. Through fascinating characters-master programmers who want to…


Book cover of The Misfit Soldier

Chris Gerrib Author Of One of Our Spaceships is Missing

From my list on approachable new space operas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading and enjoying science fiction since, as a kid, I rode my bicycle to the local library to read everything they had. That’s given me a broad exposure to the field from the Golden Age classics to new stuff hot off the presses. I’ve had four science fiction novels published, and in all of them I’ve used personal experiences to create as realistic a world as possible. I’ve also focused on ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances – that combination makes for better stories. I’ll leave the superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – they’ve got the budget to Blow Stuff Up Real Good!

Chris' book list on approachable new space operas

Chris Gerrib Why did Chris love this book?

Star Trek is a great series, but you expect the flagship of the Federation to be able to handle pretty much anything. I’m much more interested in how ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. 

Michael Mammay, who like me, is former military, has a very ordinary hero in this story - Sergeant Gastovsky (“Gas” to everybody he knows). Gas’s one superpower is he knows everybody and can make a deal with anybody.

The Misfit Soldier is very enjoyable. The first half of the book is basically the plot of the movie Kelly's Heroes which is a WWII heist movie. It’s well-told and moves quickly. The second part, also based on Mammay’s personal experiences, is how his future military deals with the aftermath.

It’s a standalone, which is also a plus.

By Michael Mammay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ocean's Eleven meets John Scalzi in this funny, action-filled, stand-alone sci-fi adventure from the author of Planetside, in which a small team of misfit soldiers takes on a mission that could change the entire galaxy.

Sergeant Gastovsky-Gas to everyone but his superior officers-never wanted to be a soldier. Far from it. But when a con goes wrong and he needs a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself wearing the power armor of the augmented infantry.

After three years on a six-year contract, Gas has found his groove running low-level cons and various illegal activities that make…


Book cover of Finder

Chris Gerrib Author Of One of Our Spaceships is Missing

From my list on approachable new space operas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading and enjoying science fiction since, as a kid, I rode my bicycle to the local library to read everything they had. That’s given me a broad exposure to the field from the Golden Age classics to new stuff hot off the presses. I’ve had four science fiction novels published, and in all of them I’ve used personal experiences to create as realistic a world as possible. I’ve also focused on ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances – that combination makes for better stories. I’ll leave the superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – they’ve got the budget to Blow Stuff Up Real Good!

Chris' book list on approachable new space operas

Chris Gerrib Why did Chris love this book?

Fergus Ferguson is an ordinary man who just happens to be good at one thing – finding stuff. So he becomes an intergalactic repo man, and when the book starts he’s been tasked with finding a stolen starship, as one does. 

He’s also found himself wrapped up in a civil war and a possible alien invasion.

This book is a little darker than the others on the list, in that Fergus has a lot of personal baggage to deal with, the people behind the civil war aren’t nice, and it’s really hard to figure out what the aliens want. But the darkness is leavened by Fergus’s humor and strong moral code. 

It’s also book one of a (very nicely tied-up) trilogy.

By Suzanne Palmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Hugo Award-winning debut author Suzanne Palmer comes an action-packed sci-fi caper starring Fergus Ferguson, interstellar repo man and professional finder

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia's Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He'll slip in, decode the ship's compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a backwater deep space colony called…


Book cover of Contact Harvest

Dagmar Rokita Author Of The Vanquisher of Kings I

From my list on sci-fi about war and weapons.

Why am I passionate about this?

I always felt torn between the future and the past. I've been fascinated with space, aliens, and technology since I could remember. When I was too young to write, I could spend long hours drawing alien worlds, plants, and creatures. These hobbies from my childhood shaped my current passion for futuristic subjects, but the events from ancient and modern history still remain an important inspiration for my books. My country, Poland, experienced many wars, and history is a necessary subject at school. Historical books and documentaries let me discover and analyse how our society evolved and what mistakes did it make, so I can use this knowledge in my military sci-fi novels. 

Dagmar's book list on sci-fi about war and weapons

Dagmar Rokita Why did Dagmar love this book?

I’m too clumsy to play games, so I explored the Halo universe through books and animated series. Fans’ opinions on this book are quite divided, but I found it really interesting.

The characters have a deeper development here, and that lets me get personally involved in this story. All sides of the conflict have something to say here. I would recommend this novel to everyone who wants to explore the Halo universe because it really helped me understand the essential aspects of it: alien races, the basic conflicts and technology.

By Joseph Staten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller—part of the expanded universe based on the award-winning video game series Halo!

2524. Harvest is a peaceful, prosperous farming colony on the very edge of human-controlled space. But humanity has unknowingly trespassed on holy ground—straying into the path of the aggressive, theocratic empire known as the Covenant. What begins as a chance encounter between an alien privateer and a human freighter soon catapults all of mankind into a struggle for its very existence.

But humanity is also currently locked in a bitter civil war of its own: the Insurrection. With resources strained to the breaking…


Book cover of Star Wars The High Republic: Into The Dark

Ben Green Author Of Forged in the Fallout

From my list on YA with boys who defy stereotypes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a grown man who reads and writes young adult fantasy books. I believe YA stories are perfect for nearly every audience. Let me tell you why. Our teenage years are filled with growth. As we mature, we forget what such rapid change feels like. We become less empathetic toward youth. And yet, many of our characteristics—positive and negative—develop during these years. I read YA to understand myself. It also helps me be a more understanding father and teacher. That said, I'm very picky. I despise teenage stereotypes. For young men, it is particularly hard to find books that depict empathetic male characters. Here’s a list of books where young men feel genuine.

Ben's book list on YA with boys who defy stereotypes

Ben Green Why did Ben love this book?

Reath Silas is a very relatable Jedi, though perhaps not the most heroic at first.

He deeply doesn’t want to leave the comfort of his home on Coruscant, especially for his first assignment in the outer rim. He would rather explore the Jedi archives and attend historiography. Maybe, like Anakin Skywalker, he too dislikes sand. But reluctantly he faces the challenge.

When his group’s ship is pulled out of hyperspace, they take refuge in an abandoned space station. Reath is thrust into a world of pirate looters, shady guild members, and a dark-side mystery concerning the station itself.

What lessons will this young padawan learn?

By Claudia Gray, Giorgio Baroni (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Star Wars The High Republic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Long before the Clone Wars, the Empire, or the First Order, the Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in a golden age known as the High Republic!

Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier-and he couldn't be less happy about it. He'd rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he's traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be…


Book cover of Aftermath: Star Wars

Terry Bartley Author Of Tyranny of the Fey

From my list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, especially anything involving superheroes or D&D-style adventure. For the longest time, I had to find queer representation through subtle glances and creative readings of characters. I loved these stories for the sci-fi and fantasy elements, but it was frustrating that every love story that came up was straight. It didn’t feel possible for queer love to be a part of a plot, and even when there was a queer character it had a “very special episode” vibe to it. Finally, queer characters are becoming part of the story, and it doesn’t have to be a “big deal.”

Terry's book list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy

Terry Bartley Why did Terry love this book?

As a queer fantasy/sci-fi fan, I’ve always been a little jealous of the fact that there are so many straight stories that love doesn’t especially factor into.

The story is about the adventure. That is what I love about Aftermath: Star Wars. Sinjir Rath Velus is a former Imperial officer who also happens to be gay. He is allowed to be a flawed hero. That is so cool to see in a queer character!

By Chuck Wendig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance-now a fledgling New Republic-presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy's scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy's strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot…


Book cover of The Stars Are Legion

Anna McFarlane Author Of Cyberpunk Culture and Psychology: Seeing through the Mirrorshades

From my list on body horror birth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lecturer in medical humanities at the University of Leeds in England and I’m currently writing a book about the portrayal of traumatic pregnancy in fantastic literature (science fiction, horror, fantasy…). ‘Medical humanities’ is a field of study that looks at medical issues using the tools of the humanities, so it encompasses things like history of medicine, bioethics, and (my specialty) literature and medicine. Thinking about literature through the lens of traumatic pregnancy has led me to some fascinating, gory, and philosophical books, some of which I’m including on this list. 

Anna's book list on body horror birth

Anna McFarlane Why did Anna love this book?

This book takes us into a space colony populated solely by females who live in a symbiotic relationship with their organic starship. The ship is their shelter and protector, and in return, the women birth tools and components that the ship needs to function.

I love the gory spectacle of these bloody, mechanical births but also how they allow Hurley to explore ideas about community, duty, and belonging. The book is part of a wider sensibility that can be found throughout Hurley’s work, but for my money, this is the one where her imaginative powers are most successfully harnessed. 

By Kameron Hurley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation - the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan's new family is not the…


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