10 books like The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

By Becky Chambers,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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By Carl Sagan,

Book cover of Contact

Philip Plait Author Of Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer's Guide to the Universe

From the list on taking you to another world. Literally..

Who am I?

I have been in love with the Universe since I was a kid. Astronomy has always been my passion, and eventually became my career. This drove me to get my astronomy PhD and work on Hubble for a decade before starting to write and do public outreach about science. I’ve been on podcasts, radio, TV, and consulted for books and blockbuster sci-fi movies. I love science and science fiction – stories are one of the most powerful ways we relate to the Universe. I live and breathe this stuff every day, and my greatest joy is motivating that passion for science in others.

Philip's book list on taking you to another world. Literally.

Discover why each book is one of Philip's favorite books.

Why did Philip love this book?

Carl Sagan is still one of the most well-known astronomers, renowned for his ability to create wonder and awe in his descriptions of the Universe.

In this book, he’s at his finest form, a science fiction tale of the discovery of an intelligent alien signal coming from space, and how the world reacts to it. It’s a wonderful treatise on religion, science, belief, and evidence.

If you’ve seen the movie, read the book: It’s far superior, and the very last page will give you chills and leave you questioning what you think reality is.

By Carl Sagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In December 1999 a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there?

The Fifth Season

By N. K. Jemisin,

Book cover of The Fifth Season

Diana Fedorak Author Of Children of Alpheios

From the list on sci-fi and fantasy featuring incredible mothers.

Who am I?

I’m a mother of two children and was raised in a noisy family of four. It was my kids who reawakened my instinct to write again and follow through on my projects. Motherhood is such a fundamental part of my life and for most women I know. It’s mundane yet transformative in the sense it brings out your inner lioness in a way you don’t anticipate. When I think about some of my favorite literary characters, they would be unrecognizable if they weren’t mothers. With that in mind, I hope readers find a lovely story for their moms on Mother’s Day.

Diana's book list on sci-fi and fantasy featuring incredible mothers

Discover why each book is one of Diana's favorite books.

Why did Diana love this book?

This Hugo Award-winning novel has one of the most original stories I’ve read that revolves around a remarkable mother, Essun.

While Essun pretends to be ordinary, she is an orogene, a race of humans with the ability to significantly alter her environment. As a result, the orogenes are wretched exiles, feared by society and trapped in a governing system that seeks to control them.

I was immediately taken with Essun’s emotional journey as the story opens with the loss of her child. She wants to live a quiet life with her family but is pursued by officials who cannot allow her to go free.

The story really tapped into the most primal aspects of motherhood. Ultimately, it’s motherhood that strengthens Essun’s power as she unleashes it with devastating effectiveness. 

By N. K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Fifth Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land…

Gideon the Ninth

By Tamsyn Muir,

Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Hannah Fergesen Author Of The Infinite Miles

From the list on queer stories about time and space travel.

Who am I?

I am a queer writer whose early love of science fiction and fantasy gave me an outlet for my creativity and new ways of seeing myself in the world. It was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Timeline by Michael Crichton that first introduced me to time and space travel in fiction, but it was the new Doctor Who and shows like Twelve Monkeys that made me realize how mad and wonderful stories about time and space travel could be. And once I came to terms with my own queer identities, I saw an obvious space for my own contribution to the time travel canon. 

Hannah's book list on queer stories about time and space travel

Discover why each book is one of Hannah's favorite books.

Why did Hannah love this book?

Okay I’m fibbing a bit again with this one, but the books in this series are unabashedly queer and weird, and the method of space travel is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

These books fall much more clearly on the line of space fantasy than straight-up sci-fi, but they are wild and unforgettable reads. Gideon Nav is the titular character of Gideon the Ninth. She’s hilarious, goofy, loyal to an absolute fault, and utterly filthy. The other characters will break your heart and patch it up multiple times over the course of this book and the others.

Thankfully, most of them are necromancers and the scars will be seamlessly healed each time, even though the memory of them will be seared on your heart.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…

The Left Hand of Darkness

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Sara Jo Easton Author Of A Dream of Light

From the list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them.

Who am I?

My name is Sara Jo Easton, and I’m the bisexual author of the Zarder novels, a fantasy series where a race of dragon-like creatures called Onizards learns to get past their prejudices. When I was at a book signing for my third book, The Blood of Senbralni, a strange man loudly declared I was part of an agenda to turn people to homosexuality and Satan with my evil dragons. To be clear, I am not and will never be affiliated with Satan. I made a vow that every book I wrote from that point forward would have at least one LGBTQ+ romance with a happy ending to annoy people like that man.

Sara's book list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them

Discover why each book is one of Sara's favorite books.

Why did Sara love this book?

If you’re like me, you are a sucker for stories about an outsider finding themselves in a new society and having to struggle and adapt to circumstances they don’t fully understand.

Genly Ai is a man who is sent to the planet Gethen to convince the people there to join a planetary alliance. The problem is Genly is so fixated on his manhood and personal identity that he can’t adapt culturally in a world where everyone is genderfluid.

Genly’s political mistakes get him into a lot of trouble that his lone ally Estraven tries to save him from, and it is only by learning to accept differences and listen to Estraven that Genly finally succeeds in his quest.

You can’t go wrong with the engrossing worldbuilding in this book, and as a bonus the people trying to ban LGBTQ+ books will be extremely annoyed if you read a book where…

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…

A Fire Upon the Deep

By Vernor Vinge,

Book cover of A Fire Upon the Deep

Marc B. DeGeorge Author Of A Call to the Sky

From the list on sci-fi about unorthodox families and friendships.

Who am I?

In my day job, I’m immersed either with technical equipment or managing people and I enjoy the duality of both challenges. It’s difficult to say which I like best, but because part of my job is people focused, I’ve enjoyed learning to understand the social and interpersonal dynamics between coworkers and clients alike. So books with strong character relationships and stories that are driven by their wants and desires, however right or wrong they may be, are a favorite of mine. The science fiction aspect comes with my love for technology, mainly in music and film and I find many parallels between those arts and writing books. 

Marc's book list on sci-fi about unorthodox families and friendships

Discover why each book is one of Marc's favorite books.

Why did Marc love this book?

My sister and I were only close because we’re only two years apart. But recently we’ve had some tragedy in our family, and that brought us closer.

While I was making this list of books, I was reminded of this story and how much I enjoyed it, not just for the prose, which I take notice of and will drop a book if it’s bad, but for that reminder of the brother and sister story here. Not to mention the rescue crew of odd characters which reflects a belief of mine: truth is universal.

Any human or alien can understand compassion and suffering and choose the better of the two.

By Vernor Vinge,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Fire Upon the Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fleeing a menace of galactic proportions, a spaceship crashes on an unfamiliar world, leaving the survivors - a pair of children - to the not-so-tender mercies of a medieval, lupine race. Responding to the ship's distress signal, a rescue mission races against time to retrieve the children.

All Systems Red

By Martha Wells,

Book cover of All Systems Red

Douglas Phillips Author Of Quantum Space

From the list on hard science fiction published this century.

Who am I?

As a scientist, I love hard science fiction, especially when the story makes me think about the true nature of reality or takes me on an adventure to places unknown. We’ve all read the classics from Clarke, Heinlein, Bear, or Asimov. But books written decades ago are becoming increasingly dated as society progresses into a new century. (Will people of the future really chain smoke? And why are all the characters men?) Never fear, modern hard sci-fi is alive and well. Here are five recent books that tell an intriguing, uplifting, or awe-inspiring story. Even better than the classics, it’s hard sci-fi for the 21st century!

Douglas' book list on hard science fiction published this century

Discover why each book is one of Douglas' favorite books.

Why did Douglas love this book?

I usually point readers to authors who are less well known, but I’ll make a slight exception for Martha Wells (famous in the Fantasy genre but less so in sci-fi).

All Systems Red, her sci-fi novella about a non-conformist android is simply a whole lot of fun. Just read the first paragraph, what authors call “the hook”. In three sentences, Martha will pull you into the personal story of Sec Unit (aka murderbot).

This murderbot might be a heartless killing machine but now that her governor module has been disabled, she has a new sense of fairness. Plus, she’s discovered 397 episodes of her new favorite television show: Sanctuary Moon. Don’t miss this book!

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked All Systems Red as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or lain M. Banks' Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. In a corporate dominated s pa cef a ring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by…

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Book cover of Station Eleven

Phil Gilvin Author Of Truth Sister

From the list on post-civilisation futures.

Who am I?

As a teenager I loved the post-apocalyptic genre, especially John Wyndham and H G Wells, and as a scientist I’ve become increasingly aware of the threats to society, especially from climate change and pandemics. But it seems to me that any collapse will be gradual: yes, the weather will worsen, and the seas will rise; but those won’t happen overnight. We’re unlikely to see a pandemic that kills everyone, but we could well see a train of smaller ones. This is the world of Truth Sister: it’s changed, but we’ve had time to adapt. The books in my list have different takes on how a post-civilisation world might look. Enjoy!

Phil's book list on post-civilisation futures

Discover why each book is one of Phil's favorite books.

Why did Phil love this book?

Station Eleven is another book that I’ve enjoyed re-reading, I think because of the depth of character and, again, the believability of their actions.

This time it’s a pandemic that does the damage, and the bulk of the action takes place twenty years later, when society has reached a kind of degraded normality. As in a couple of my other recommendations, there’s an encounter with a cult, showing how humanity might turn to the supernatural for answers. I also like that the story ends on a hopeful note!

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Station Eleven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Best novel. The big one . . . stands above all the others' - George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Now an HBO Max original TV series

The New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
National Book Awards Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in…


By Dan Simmons,

Book cover of Hyperion

Dwain Worrell Author Of Androne

From the list on suspenseful science fiction.

Who am I?

To be honest, and this will sound strange, but suspense is the air I breathe. I’m a pretty calm, boring human being, and the only thing that gets my heart pumping are films, TV, books, and video games in this genre. Suspense and thrillers are genres that make up ninety percent of the entertainment that I consume, and one hundred percent of the entertainment that I write.

Dwain's book list on suspenseful science fiction

Discover why each book is one of Dwain's favorite books.

Why did Dwain love this book?

Number one on my list has to be Hyperion.

Hyperion is a novel that from the jump, steeps the reader into another whole league of suspense. From a story about a priest who can’t die, to a man who is investigating his own death, then a daughter who is aging backward, each of these interconnected stories raises the stakes of the other. And that’s the rub, even though the previous story was intense, the subsequent (interconnected) story manages to make the previous story even more nail-biting.

I’m trying not to spoil anything but there are some really big ideas in this book. Hyperion is my favorite novel of all time and I honestly should have ended the list with this one, but I couldn’t wait to talk about it.

By Dan Simmons,

Why should I read it?

7 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.

Red Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of Red Mars

Tony Benson Author Of Galactic Alliance: Betrayal

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

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Tony's favorite books.

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…

Ninefox Gambit

By Yoon Ha Lee,

Book cover of Ninefox Gambit

Andrew Sweet Author Of Southern Highlands: Obi of Mars

From the list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved science fiction. My father was an Asimov junkie, and our house was packed with science fiction novels and stories from Azimov to Heinlein to Wyndham and Wilhelm. I began writing science fiction in high school, yet only recently published my first 4 novels (one of which won a Bookfest award). I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science (bioinformatics), and I stay on top of science to inform my writing. It’s through this background that I select novels, seeking out new tropes and ideas in technological advancement. Each of these novels I mention exceeded my expectations and then some. Pick one up today—you won’t be disappointed!

Andrew's book list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

When I received Ninefox Gambit for Christmas, I have to say that I was blown away. What I loved the most about it wasn’t just that Yoon Ha Lee dropped me in the middle of a war and hit the ground running (from lazer blasts!) The tactician Shuos Jedao leads Cheris into an inner battle that turns out to be even more consequential than the war itself. And when finally the question arises of “who is right” in the conflict, something that the good soldier Cheris has never asked herself before, the answer depends on who’s answering. Cheris, like all of us, must decide for herself whether the secrets of Jedao’s past are true, or whether she’s having her strings pulled.

By Yoon Ha Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times Best-Selling Author - Nominated for the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Series - Winner of the 2016 Locus Award - Nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards

When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command gives her a chance to redeem herself, by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the heretics. Cheris's career isn't the only thing at stake: if the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris's best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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