61 books like Valor's Choice

By Tanya Huff,

Here are 61 books that Valor's Choice fans have personally recommended if you like Valor's Choice. 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 Old Man's War

Steven Decker Author Of Time Chain

From my list on sci-fi that generates emotion.

Who am I?

My love of reading was born on the day my 5th-grade teacher handed me a book of poetry; my “punishment” for throwing a spitball. I was to memorize “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and recite it publicly the next day. I was mesmerized by the poem, because it drew a picture in my mind, and filled me with great emotion. As an 8th grader, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, for fun, then moved on to the great classics by Asimov and Heinlein. I wrote my first novel in 1988, but Time Chain is my first Sci-Fi novel, with more on the way. 

Steven's book list on sci-fi that generates emotion

Steven Decker Why did Steven love this book?

I was moved from the opening lines of Old Man’s War. An ordinary man of 75 visits his wife’s grave, then joins the army. What? Oh yeah, now I understand. Mind uploading is integral to this book, first published in 2005, and it will soon be the rage in the real world of our near future. In Old Man’s War we experience mind uploading through the character, John Perry, and other new recruits. Then we fight. Perry becomes a war hero, and he crosses paths with his wife along the way. What? I thought she was dead? Oh yeah, now I understand. She was grown from Kathy Perry’s DNA, but she has no memory of John. Or does she? Military sci-fi adventure blooms into a love story? Wow, this could be a series. Oh, wait. It is! 

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Old Man's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for an entry-level sci-fi reader and the ideal addition to a veteran fan’s collection, John Scalzi's Old Man’s War will take audiences on a heart-stopping adventure into the far corners of the universe.

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend…


Book cover of The High Ground

Michael R. Johnston Author Of The Widening Gyre

From my list on multi-cultural space operas.

Who am I?

I’ve loved stories of space, and especially space operas, since I was a child watching Star Trek reruns with my dad. I love the ways very different cultures can work together toward a common goal, but also the many ways those cultures can butt into each other and cause friction. While you can certainly tell stories about that kind of thing on Earth, science fiction lets you tell it writ large, without smacking any particular human group over the head with their differences. I love the way you can tell a story about humans today by focusing on struggles between alien cultures that aren’t a part of our everyday experience. 

Michael's book list on multi-cultural space operas

Michael R. Johnston Why did Michael love this book?

In most space opera novels, humans are the absolute best. Whether they began the government they belong to, or came to it later, they’re special in a way that makes the universe better. Melinda Snodgrass’ The High Ground is different. In her series, humans went into space, met aliens, and conquered nearly everyone they met. Now the aristocrats of the Solar League spend their time on balls and dancing, while in the dark, a new menace approaches. This is an action series, but the heart of the story is the relationship between Mercedes, eldest daughter of the Emperor, and Tracy, the common-born son of a tailor, thrust together by circumstance and torn apart by the realities of their society.  It’s a great series, full of adventure, political infighting, and humans—some of them, anyway—learning to be better people. 

By Melinda Snodgrass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Solar League, those without choice seek the High Ground … As humanity progresses through the stars, in some ways, it has regressed.The Solar League, under the control of its aristocracy, has conquered many races it has encountered, placing such aliens on the bottom rung of a social order with class and marriage being all important.

As the Emperor’s daughter, Mercedes becomes the first woman to join the Solar Leagues elite military training center, the High Ground. She has everything she could dream of … except a say in her life.

However, Mercedes, along with Tracy, the common born…


Book cover of The Romulan Way

Michael R. Johnston Author Of The Widening Gyre

From my list on multi-cultural space operas.

Who am I?

I’ve loved stories of space, and especially space operas, since I was a child watching Star Trek reruns with my dad. I love the ways very different cultures can work together toward a common goal, but also the many ways those cultures can butt into each other and cause friction. While you can certainly tell stories about that kind of thing on Earth, science fiction lets you tell it writ large, without smacking any particular human group over the head with their differences. I love the way you can tell a story about humans today by focusing on struggles between alien cultures that aren’t a part of our everyday experience. 

Michael's book list on multi-cultural space operas

Michael R. Johnston Why did Michael love this book?

I’ve been a Trekkie—yeah, I own it—since I was a tiny child. And in all that time, my favorite race in Star Trek was the Romulans. This book has been one of my favorites since it was published in 1987; I re-read it often. The book tells two stories in alternating chapters: one is the story of Arrhae, a servant who is also a Federation deep-cover operative. The other chapters are the history of the Romulans from before their split with the Vulcan people. Duane gives us more than we’d seen in TOS, giving us a rich history and culture of a proud people. The novel also gives us a way to see forward to a time when maybe the Federation and the Romulans will no longer be enemies. This is absolutely my favorite Star Trek novel. 

By Diane Duane, Peter Morwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this adventure with the crew of the USS Enterprise, Doctor McCoy finds himself trapped behind the Neutral Zone, in the heart of the Romulan Empire.


Book cover of Foreigner

Lena Nguyen Author Of We Have Always Been Here

From my list on sci-fi and fantasy books with unusual found families.

Who am I?

As a writer and independent game developer, I’ve always adored “families of choice:” motley crews of strangers drawn together by circumstance and whose bonds are strengthened to an indestructible degree by the trials they face together. This passion has manifested both in my favorite stories (The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect) as well as the ones I write myself! After teaching writing at Cornell University, where I also earned my MFA in Fiction, I turned my sights on my own creative projects, all of which invariably feature weird found families (a robot crew and the human misfits accompanying them; two assassins and an escaped mind-reading slave; et cetera). 

Lena's book list on sci-fi and fantasy books with unusual found families

Lena Nguyen Why did Lena love this book?

I first read this book when I was a teenager, and it became my gold standard on how to write engaging, imaginative worlds and the unique histories, languages, and cultures that populate them.

More than the intricate space politics and incredibly innovative anthropology present in this massive series, however, I was most drawn to how the main character, Bren (a human diplomat trying to navigate his way through the court intrigue of an alien government) eventually finds a family unlike any other in his atevi bodyguards, Banichi and Jago. 

Bren also gathers a wide collection of allies and companions on the strange world his space-faring ancestors crash-landed on 150 years ago…all while trying to avoid being assassinated or starting an interplanetary war. 

By C. J. Cherryh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two hundred years ago, there was war. The humans lost and were exiled to the island of Mospheira, trading titbits of advanced technology for continued peace and a secluded refuge. Only one single human - the paidhi - is allowed off the island and into the dangerous society of their conquerors.


Book cover of The Apprentice Storyteller

Clayton Graham Author Of Milijun

From my list on otherworldly encounters with alien characters.

Who am I?

Growing up I read a lot of science fiction: HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham; those kind of authors and their inspiring tales. In my early twenties, I penned a few short stories as I worked as an aeronautical engineer. Always being at the leading edge of technology certainly helped shape my dreams of the future. I have an interest in writing novels that place humankind within a universe [or multiverse] we are only just starting to understand. To date, I have written six novels, two of them extensive short story collections. They are light years from each other, but share the future adventures of mankind in an expansive universe as a common theme.

Clayton's book list on otherworldly encounters with alien characters

Clayton Graham Why did Clayton love this book?

I would describe this book as a future-mediaeval tale. It is beautifully written and a joy to read.

An exquisitely compiled tale that weaves fantasy and science fiction around the lives of Viola and her mysterious young apprentice, Jo. Storytellers both, they travel along a spirited trail, on land and in space, with each hiding their own secrets. 

A superb read that takes you into the lives of these outcasts on the run. Highly recommended.

By Astrid V. J.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Set amid an imaginative blend of sci-fi and fantasy, the novel’s fictional universe is vividly realized and will grab curious readers. The book works in thought-provoking themes that will further draw readers in." BookLife Prize

The Alchemist meets fantasy with a splash of space opera.
Viola Alerion, a renowned storyteller in the Haldrian Empire, wants to be left in peace. For years, she’s been hounded by her past, never to find a moment’s rest. Then she meets a boy who wants to become her apprentice. He refuses to take no for an answer, and she reluctantly yields, even though she…


Book cover of Star Surgeon

Jen Finelli Author Of Neodymium Exodus

From my list on sweeping space operas with metaphysical themes.

Who am I?

From dancing on a crane in a meteor shower, to earning a history degree at the top program in my country; bathing under a waterfall to cradling the dying as a physician—I’ve always straddled the line between adventure and hunger for the truth beyond. Some books are the same way: they pull you in with fun and plot, and colors, and they leave you with bigger thoughts and questions about the Universe at large. All genres have this capacity for surprise and depth, but space opera’s best—here’s a list of reads with that special metaphysical power.

Jen's book list on sweeping space operas with metaphysical themes

Jen Finelli Why did Jen love this book?

I’m a physician, so it’s probably not surprising that a book by a physician about an alien physician might hit my list of meaningful space operas. What is surprising is Star Surgeon’s double-twist—the patients aren’t who we think they are, and the secret to getting Earth into the prestigious Galactic Confederation isn’t what we think it is—both of which actually had huge real-world thematic implications. On face level, it’s a medical thriller: the protag’s the first alien to graduate from human medical school, and he’s got to prove himself by curing an epidemic on a remote planet without arousing the ire of his human teachers. (I felt like this in residency.) But on a metaphysical level, Star Surgeon is a quiet manifesto dissecting the origins of racism—and the very biology of sentience itself. 

By Alan E Nourse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Sector General Novel In the far future Humans are part of an intergalactic civilization populated with countless alien races. Humans are prized for their medical expertise and make up almost all of doctors in the galaxy. Dal Timgar is the first non-human to attempt to become a qualified physician recognized by the Hospital Earth. But, before he reaches his goal he and his companions find a plague planet that may change the course of history.


Book cover of Semiosis

Benoit Lanteigne Author Of The Cyborg's Crusade

From my list on sci-fi books with strange settings.

Who am I?

Some people like realism in their stories, but I prefer something more out there. I enjoy it when a story takes place in a fictional world, be it in a fantasy land like Lord of the Rings or something sci-fi. So, it’s not surprising that when I started writing my own series, The Cyborg Crusade, I decided to invent a new world. This required a ton of work and gave me a further appreciation for the effort it takes to come up with a strange new setting. This is why I decided to make this list of books featuring either a unique world or a twist on the existing one.

Benoit's book list on sci-fi books with strange settings

Benoit Lanteigne Why did Benoit love this book?

The moment I read about Semiosis on the internet, I had to read it.

The story is about a group of humans who left Earth to start a pacifist society on a new planet they call Pax. Life on Pax is hard at first, but eventually, they build a good life for themselves. What makes Semiosis unique is that intelligent plants inhabit Pax.

Now, I don’t mean intelligent walking plant creatures. I’ve seen those before. Rather, imagine sentient trees and crops. Even better, the author tries hard to put herself in the, uh, shoes of these plants and gives us their perspective. A large part of the plot involves the pacifists learning to communicate and coexist with these plants, and it’s quite a journey.

By Sue Burke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they'll have to survive on the one they found. They don't realize another life form watches...and waits.


Book cover of The Science Of Aliens

David A. Aguilar Author Of Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond

From my list on understanding the first science: astronomy.

Who am I?

I am a naturalist, astronomer, space artist, and a Harvard world lecturer living in the Rocky Mountains outside of Aspen. So far, I’ve written and illustrated twelve kid’s astronomy books for National Geographic and Penguin Random House. I directed the Science Information Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge Massachusetts for fourteen years then left in 2015 to join NASA’s New Horizons Mission Team becoming one of the first humans to see the planet Pluto up close and personal. I am also a Grammy nominated songwriter/musician, astrophotographer, telescope maker who enjoys scuba diving at night and occasionally has been known to parachute out of perfectly operating aircraft.

David's book list on understanding the first science: astronomy

David A. Aguilar Why did David love this book?

This marvelous book will rock and sock the fun part of your brain when it comes to the possibilities of alien life out there among the stars. The Science of Aliens provides authoritative speculation on a whole range of possibilities including bizarre alien body structures, enhanced senses, capabilities, life at the edge, alien sex, social structures, religion, and lifestyles. 

If you like captivating mental gymnastics and broad, almost humorous depictions of alien life as seen in Hollywood films and sci-fi books, then run, fly, leap, scurry, scoot, teleport or slime your way to the nearest bookstore and pick up this gem. Remember, in this universe, ALL of us are aliens!

By Clifford A Pickover,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If extraterrestrials ever landed on Earth, they would find us extremely strange. Their first intimation of our existence might well be a Super Bowl broadcast or a stray transmission from the Playboy channel. But, of course, they might seem equally strange to us. How strange? Their senses could be entirely different from ours,they might see in the infrared or hear" radio waves.What would aliens look like? An intelligent octopus-like creature is certainly plausible. What about odd numbers of limbs,a three-legged alien with three arms and three eyes? What about an entire planet of immobile, silicon-based trees" that communicate with each…


Book cover of UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here-and Out There

Neil Nixon Author Of UFOs, Aliens and the Battle for the Truth: A Short History of UFOlogy

From my list on making you an expert on UFOs.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing for publication since I was a student, crudely the writing has been a way of medicating the fact I’m incurably curious about a range of things and I’ve also suffered from an over-production of ideas my whole life. Wrestling this under control into writing and live speaking where the subjects must fit within a title, word limit, or running time for a talk has been helpful, beyond which the whole writing career has been a trade off between things I’ve chosen to do because they matter a lot to me, and the occasional accepting of an offer I thought too good to refuse.

Neil's book list on making you an expert on UFOs

Neil Nixon Why did Neil love this book?

This is hefty, recent, authoritative, and well written (the author’s CV includes a Pulitzer Prize nomination).

Over a lengthy historic account, he spins the twin stories of the search by scientists for extraterrestrial life and the – usually – amateur search by ufologists for evidence to support their claims that aliens are already visiting us. Garrett Graff explores the contradictions.

He is clear and concise on the strength and weakness each side’s efforts, and insightful in those moments when both sides have briefly collaborated. For a beginner to the subject who wants the shortest route to becoming truly knowledgeable, this is the perfect primer.

By Garrett M. Graff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author of Raven Rock, The Only Plane in the Sky, and Pulitzer Prize finalist for history Watergate, comes the first comprehensive and eye-opening exploration of our government's decades-long quest to solve one of humanity's greatest mysteries: Are we alone in the universe?

For as long as we have looked to the skies, the question of whether life on Earth is the only life to exist has been at the core of the human experience, driving scientific debate and discovery, shaping spiritual belief, and prompting existential thought across borders and generations. And yet,…


Book cover of Sundiver

James Murdo Author Of Siouca Remembers

From my list on to make you think, think and rethink evolution.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by both evolution and sentience. The debates ranging about them, endless research, personal suppositions, all of it. I view Sci-Fi written in the same vein as the works below as a means for scientists/writers to draft their own thoughts about evolution and sentience, almost philosophically and not wholly restrained by pieces of information (just or far) beyond our grasp. My own writing often focuses on both topics too, especially the standalone Siouca Remembers – in which two species, one just having evolved to sentience, intermingle for the first time. Amongst many other books, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, is a wonderful non-fiction complement to this.

James' book list on to make you think, think and rethink evolution

James Murdo Why did James love this book?

(Admittedly a series, not one book.) These represented a memorable introduction for me to the notion of patron species “uplifting” (genetically engineering) client species to improved sentience. A key example is the uplifting of dolphins by humans. We are introduced to many variants of dolphin evolutionary efforts, and the struggles involved in uplifting. There are also many examples of aliens uplifting other aliens, so you won’t be disappointed by the variety offered by David Brin. Added to that, I contacted him after publishing my first book, and he was gracious and encouraging in his reply, so I’m biased.

By David Brin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In all the universe, no species reached for the stars without “uplift” guidance, except possibly humankind. Did some cryptic patron race begin the job long ago, then abandon us? Or did we leap all by ourselves? That question burns, yet a greater mystery looms ahead, in the furnace of a star. Under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in our history – into the boiling inferno of the sun, seeking our destiny in the cosmic order of life.
David Brin’s Uplift novels are among the most thrilling and extraordinary science fiction ever written, comprising…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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