48 books like The Stars Are Legion

By Kameron Hurley,

Here are 48 books that The Stars Are Legion fans have personally recommended if you like The Stars Are Legion. 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 Dawn

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?

I couldn’t finish this list without including one of the most famous examples of pregnancy in science fiction.

Humanity comes face-to-face with an alien species, the Oankali, who use gene editing, cloning, and mating to refresh their gene pools. The focus is on Lilith, a black woman taken hostage by the aliens who must learn about their plans for her and strategize her responses.

I really appreciate the way Butler’s work manages to speak to the legacy of slavery, particularly through a scene where the aliens create the circumstances for Lilith to breed with a human man in aid of their experiments. Lilith’s refusal to succumb to this animalistic treatment confronts the legacy of breeding humans during slavery.

I find Lilith (like many of Butler’s other characters) a driven character who deals with outlandish situations and the potential invasion of her own body with a pragmatic determination that invites me,…

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the most significant literary artists of the twentieth century' JUNOT DIAZ

'Octavia Butler was playing out our very real possibilities as humans. I think she can help each of us to do the same' GLORIA STEINEM

One woman is called upon to reconstruct humanity in this hopeful, thought-provoking novel by the bestselling, award-winning author. For readers of Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Ursula K. Le Guin.

When Lilith lyapo wakes in a small white room with no doors or windows, she remembers a devastating war, and a husband and child long lost to her.

She finds herself living…


Book cover of Poor Things

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?

Recently adapted as a film by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Emma Stone, Alasdair Gray’s novel of birth and creation is another example of the complicated and horrific birth stories that I find so fascinating.

When the dead body of a young, pregnant woman is pulled from the River Clyde in Glasgow, a local scientist, Godwin Baxter, takes it upon himself to create a new life, by installing the unborn baby’s brain in its mother’s head and bringing the new creation to life.

Gray’s grisly premise leads to a satire on education and complacency in light of social injustice. It's funny, and there are plenty of sly postmodern comments on reality and how we understand the past. Gray illustrated his own books, and his image of Bella as ‘Bella Caledonia’ is, I think, a brilliant image of a strong woman that has become iconic in Scotland and beyond.

By Alasdair Gray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What strange secret made rich, beautiful, tempestuous Bella Baxter irresistible to the poor Scottish medical student Archie McCandless? Was it her mysterious origin in the home of his monstrous friend Godwin Baxter, the genius whose voice could perforate eardrums? This story of true love and scientific daring whirls the reader from the private operating-theatres of late-Victorian Glasgow through aristocratic casinos, low-life Alexandria and a Parisian bordello, reaching an interrupted climax in a Scottish church.


Book cover of Sealed

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?

The unnamed protagonist of this book is a pregnant woman who has recently moved to the isolated Australian outback with her (pretty useless) husband. The couple have fled the city in part because of our narrator’s fear of a novel pandemic that is sweeping the land. As her pregnancy develops, skin cells replicating inside her body, the narrator fears that her fetus may harbour the virus.

This virus really speaks to my interest in difficult, gory pregnancies and births: cutis is an illness that causes the skin cells to hyperactively replicate, sealing over the body’s orifices and suffocating or starving its victims.

 While this book has a Wicker Man-style horror of small-town life, I particularly appreciate the way that its dystopian setting reflects and distills the anxieties that many women really experience during pregnancy. 

By Naomi Booth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies

Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her…


Book cover of The Fifth Child

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?

In this book, Doris Lessing tells the story of the Lovatts, a perfectly normal middle-class English family with four children and a seemingly idyllic life. The idyll is spoiled when the wife, Harriet, becomes pregnant with her fifth child.

The novel tells the story of the child's (Ben’s) life until he is in his teenage years, but the early scenes that describe Harriet’s difficult pregnancy and her foreboding that something is deeply wrong with her unborn child are the ones that I find particularly sinister.

Here, Lessing shows how pregnancy can be an experience that wreaks unpredictable consequences on the smooth functioning of life. 

By Doris Lessing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Doris Lessing's contemporary gothic horror story—centered on the birth of a baby who seems less than human—probes society's unwillingness to recognize its own brutality.Harriet and David Lovatt, parents of four children, have created an idyll of domestic bliss in defiance of the social trends of late 1960s England. While around them crime and unrest surge, the Lovatts are certain that their old-fashioned contentment can protect them from the world outside—until the birth of their fifth baby. Gruesomely goblin-like in appearance, insatiably hungry, abnormally strong and violent, Ben has nothing innocent or infant-like about him. As he grows older and more…


Book cover of The Forever War

Perry Kivolowitz Author Of Get Off My L@wn: How a Computer Geek and His Wife Survived the Zombie Apocalypse

From my list on inspiring depressing books Science Fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science Fiction can explore many themes, including relationships, philosophy, politics, and more. While this is common to many genres, SF is unique in that it also focuses on science-based “what ifs.” What if we could travel to distant stars? What if we could visit the past? The theme of “what if” hinges upon the forward progress of science. This explores the realm of the possible… a realm for which I am passionate.

Perry's book list on inspiring depressing books Science Fiction

Perry Kivolowitz Why did Perry love this book?

Another work spanning thousands of years (with a steady cast of characters!), this series introduced me to the relativistic effects of space travel and the idea that interstellar combat may never feature two peer adversaries.

The first novel creates great military drama and social commentary set in a future universe. Forever Free takes a turn towards religion. I found this book riveting, and Forever Free was less so. I felt kind of obligated to read Forever Free like I must watch one of the newer Star Trek spin-offs even if I hate it (the others are fantastic, by the way).

By Joe Haldeman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Forever War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The monumental Hugo and Nebula award winning SF classic-- Featuring a new introduction by John Scalzi

The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand--despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But "home" may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time…


Book cover of Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium

Andrew Claydon Author Of The Simple Delivery

From my list on fantasy and sci-fi to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

For me the best fantasy and sci-fi is made up of many themes. Take one of my favorite fantasy movies, Willow. It has heart and comedy but also drama, action, and high stakes. This is something that I want from my writing. I want the reader to laugh, and a few paragraphs later be gasping as the main character faces mortal peril. With the very best books, you get taken on a roller coaster of emotional responses. As a UK fantasy author, my goal is to make sure that you put my books down only when you absolutely have to, which includes falling asleep holding them because you’ve stayed up too late reading.

Andrew's book list on fantasy and sci-fi to make you laugh

Andrew Claydon Why did Andrew love this book?

Nothing about the Warhammer 40,000 universe says ‘funny’. The fact that it’s fans call it the ‘grimdark’ is a proud testament to this. I’ve read a lot of Warhammer books, but was surprised when I came across this series. It follows Ciaphas Cain, a Commissar who is trying to survive and find the cushiest job for himself in a universe of constant war, yet somehow, he constantly ends up being the hero.

This book really opened my eyes to the fact that you can humor even in the grittiest settings, and that just because a book is funny, it doesn’t mean it can’t be action-packed and have high stakes. Much of the humor comes from Cain’s futile attempts to avoid any sort of combat and save his own skin.

By Sandy Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first three action-packed adventures of Commissar Ciaphas Cain, and his malodorous aide Jurgen are collected together into one amazing volume. His brand of sarcasm and self-preservation are a hit with Black Library fans and provide a unique counterpoint to the usual darkness of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.


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 Gust Front

B.K. Bass Author Of What Once Was Home

From my list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in small towns with “ordinary” people most of my life, so books where people from small towns contend with situations beyond the ordinary fascinate me. I also served in the US Army as a nuclear, biological, and chemical operations specialist and am a military history buff, so anything with a military spin is all that more engaging for me and I developed a morbid fascination for just how easy it would be for us to end civilization as we know it. Therefore, military science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are among my favorite genres. 

B.K.'s book list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary

B.K. Bass Why did B.K. love this book?

Parts of Gust Front hit home. I read this while living in the Appalachians, so seeing Cally preparing for an invasion in a remote valley in Georgia, and the subsequent fighting that takes place in and around the Appalachians, struck a nerve with me. If the worst happened, up to and including the alien invasion depicted here, would the mountains be the best place to hold out and resist? The scope of the novel covers many settings, including other familiar ones like Washington D.C., all of which ground the speculative premise of an alien invasion in a story that feels very real; something that any of us could be forced to live through.

Book cover of Halo: The Fall of Reach

Matthew Michaelson Author Of Daughters of Astrid

From my list on licensed books from settings that inspired me.

Why am I passionate about this?

All of the books I’ve recommended here involve various game series, or at least subseries in a larger franchise like Star Wars, that has come to influence my own writing, be it with the technology, the setting details, or just various writing quirks I’ve picked up over the years. I’m a long-standing fan of video games and strategy games or RPGs in particular, and I’ve been told in the past that my novels feel very video-game-y, though such was not my original intention. I should hope that the books I recommend here will give you some insight into what sources I draw from as I write my own novels!

Matthew's book list on licensed books from settings that inspired me

Matthew Michaelson Why did Matthew love this book?

The Halo Universe is a massive, sprawling sci-fi series that many assume to be just a random sci-fi shooter franchise. The Fall of Reach acts as a prequel to the first game and to the Halo series as a whole. Focusing on the initial creation of the Spartan-II Super Soldier program, the growth of Spartan John-117 into a super soldier, and culminating in the defense of the planet he’s grown up on, The Fall of Reach serves to set the stage for the Halo franchise. I recommend picking up the reprints from 2011 or later, as it fixes many continuity errors induced later on in the series.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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