The most recommended books about close encounters

Who picked these books? Meet our 80 experts.

80 authors created a book list connected to close encounters, and here are their favorite close encounter books.
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What type of close encounter book?


The Gods Themselves

By Issac Asimov,

Book cover of The Gods Themselves

Gwyneth Jones Author Of Proof of Concept

From the list on classic lab-science sci-fi thrillers.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the sciences, and I love mysteries. I’m too lazy, unfocused, and poor at math, ever to have been a scientist, and I’ve never been tempted to try a career as a detective. Instead, I’ve spent my life pursuing fairytales, thrillers, ghost stories, and even horror and romance — as long as there are mysteries involved. By now I see the patterns and rhythms, and set-pieces that appear again, and again, and I can point them out to you (as long as you don’t mind knowing how the story’s been made). But I never get tired of the endless variations on this theme of finding things out. 

Gwyneth's book list on classic lab-science sci-fi thrillers

Why did Gwyneth love this book?

Issac Asimov’s “comeback” novel is to my mind streets ahead of anything else he ever wrote. It’s about saving the world (of course), by setting up a heat-(energy)-pump exchange with a parallel universe. Structurally complex enough to keep you guessing; set in the back-stabbing world of (all male) earthling scientists. Light on clunky explanations of the device, and featuring a splendidly weird, triple-sexed-aliens strand that steals the show. My takeaway (on first reading this, long ago) was Ah! So that’s how it’s done!

By Issac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the year 2100, the invention of the Electron Pump - an apparently inexhaustible supply of free energy - has enabled humanity to devote its time and energies to more than the struggle for survival, finally breaking free of the Earth.

But the Electron Pump works by exchanging materials with a parallel universe, and such unbalancing of the cosmos has consequences. Humans and aliens alike must race to prevent a vast nuclear explosion in the heart of the Sun - and the vaporisation of the Earth exactly eight minutes later ...

Children of Memory

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Book cover of Children of Memory

Melissa Washburn Author Of Draw Like an Artist: 100 Flowers and Plants: Step-by-Step Realistic Line Drawing

From Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Illustrator Arts administrator Naturalist

Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Melissa love this book?

As someone who is a bit of a naturalist/nature nerd, this book (the third in a series) explored some absolutely fascinating imaginations of evolution in non-human species.

The series looks at a group of characters and their descendants over thousands of years, after mankind has abandoned Earth and seeded and terraformed, then abandoned, different extraterrestrial planets.

What would consciousness and related society and technology look like for spiders? Octopuses? Corvids? And what would happen if humans then encountered these evolved species again after that evolution? 

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning master of sci-fi Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of Memory is the unmissable follow-up space opera to the highly acclaimed Children of Time and Children of Ruin.

When Earth failed, it sent out arkships to establish new outposts. So the spaceship Enkidu and its captain, Heorest Holt, carried its precious human cargo to a potential new paradise. Generations later, this fragile colony has managed to survive on Imir, eking out a hardy existence. Yet life is tough, and much technological knowledge has been lost.

Then strangers appear, on a world where everyone knows their neighbour. They possess unparalleled knowledge…

The Incal

By Alexandro Jodorowsky,

Book cover of The Incal

Andrew MacLean Author Of ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times

From the list on graphic novels for a big imagination.

Who am I?

I believe comics are one of the very best storytelling mediums for stories with big imagination. Prose and film are amazing, but comics have artwork for every single moment of the story, artwork not bound by space, time, or budget. I’ve written and drawn 5 graphic novels published in 11 different languages. I’ve dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of imagination. The books I’ve recommended have given me endless enjoyment and inspiration, I hope they can do the same for you too.

Andrew's book list on graphic novels for a big imagination

Why did Andrew love this book?

The Incal follows John DiFool, an everyday goofball, as he is swept away on the most metaphysical, surrealistic, galactic adventure possible. Written and drawn by two of the wildest, most ingenious imaginations to ever grace the page, Jodorowsky and Moebius guide the reader gracefully to the edge of existence and back – without confusing or pandering to its audience. 

This book works so well because, first, Moebuis’ art is an absolute delight to look at, and second, because using the common-man-character of DiFool as the protagonist, the reader can learn alongside the story in a way that feels smooth and natural – in a world that would otherwise be beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

By Alexandro Jodorowsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Moebius' and Alejandro Jodorowsky's Sci-Fi masterpiece collected in one epic volume. Lose yourself in the in the story that inspired many legendary filmakers including George Lucas and Ridley Scott.

John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called "The Incal." Difool's adventures will bring him into conflict with the galaxy's greatest warrior, the Metabaron, and will pit him against the awesome powers of the Technopope. These encounters and many more make up a tale of comic and cosmic proportions that has Difool fighting for not…

Stranger in a Strange Land

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Stranger in a Strange Land

Jeffrey Jay Levin Author Of Watching: Volume 1, The Garden Museum Heist

From the list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

I’ve narrowed down my fascination with time travel to an event that occurred in my late teens. Hitchhiking in California with a friend, we accepted a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle. My friend and I silently acknowledged a strange energy from the driver. Serial killer energy. After a few miles, we told the driver to let us out, which, thankfully, he did. Over the years I’ve wished I could travel back in time to discover if he was in fact a serial killer.  If you read my novel, Watching, A Different Type of Time Travel, Volume 1: The Garden Museum Heist, you'll find aspects of my reading (sci-fi), movie (Hitchcock), and life experiences reflected in the story.

Jeffrey's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

OK, this is an oldie by today’s standards. I read this when I was much younger (high school) and it’s just one of those books that stuck with me. Heinlein is a master of science fiction, and it shows in Stranger.

Between the 2nd and 3rd World Wars, an expedition was sent to Mars.  While on its way to the red planet, one Valentine Michael Smith was born. As the only survivor of the expedition, he was raised on Mars by Martians. Upon his eventual return to Earth, now post WWIII and run by politically powerful organized religions, and The World Federation of Free Nations, which includes the demilitarized US, and a world government supported by Special Service troops. 

As Smith shows special abilities and roams through the world, fear of the unknown and prejudice raise their ugly heads, forcing Smith to learn the ways of his new world…

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Stranger in a Strange Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The original uncut edition of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Hugo Award winner Robert A Heinlein - one of the most beloved, celebrated science-fiction novels of all time. Epic, ambitious and entertaining, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND caused controversy and uproar when it was first published and is still topical and challenging today.

Twenty-five years ago, the first manned mission to Mars was lost, and all hands presumed dead. But someone survived...

Born on the doomed spaceship and raised by the Martians who saved his life, Valentine Michael Smith has never seen a human being until the day a…

Translation State

By Ann Leckie,

Book cover of Translation State

Barbara Krasnoff Author Of The History of Soul 2065

From Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Technical journalist Dreamer

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Barbara love this book?

This engrossing science fiction novel follows three very different protagonists – from different backgrounds and different species – and slowly, skillfully weaves their searches, their talents, and their experiences together until it reaches a splendid and satisfying finale.

I haven’t read a lot of straight science fiction recently (although it was once practically all I read).

Still, this novel reminded me why I really love the genre, which it uses to create believable and sympathetic characters that are simultaneously alien and familiar.

By Ann Leckie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'There are few who write science fiction like Ann Leckie can. There are few who ever could' John Scalzi

The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie.

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want…


By Ernest Cline,

Book cover of Armada

Michael Loring Author Of Welcome to LEGEND

From the list on books inspired by video games.

Who am I?

I’m a young writer who loves many genres such as mystery, romance, horror, and most notably Sci-Fi. My two greatest passions have always been writing and gaming. I’ve logged in thousands of hours across multiple platforms of gaming, specifically RPGs. My recent novel, Welcome to LEGEND, tells the story of two people finding love through their mutual obsession with video games. Right now, I’d like to introduce to you my top picks for books that are heavily inspired by the video games I love so much.

Michael's book list on books inspired by video games

Why did Michael love this book?

Every nerd’s dream is to one day be swept away into adventure, and in this book it actually happens for Zack Lightman. Video game mechanics are used as the basis for interstellar combat, and the main protagonist gets to use his epic skills to save the world. How can any self-respecting gamer hate that?

It’s written by the author of Ready Player One, but instead of that, I chose this because this is much more singularly inspired by gaming. You learn that video games were specifically created in order to prepare humanity for a potential threat, and the better you are at gaming the better humanity’s chances are at winning. I know I’ve had that fantasy at least dozens of times growing up. It’s epic, funny, and has great music. What’s not to love?

By Ernest Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


It's just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He's daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom-if he can make it that long without getting suspended again.

Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

At first, Zack thinks he's going crazy.

A minute later, he's sure of it. Because the UFO he's staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight…


By Stephen Baxter,

Book cover of Proxima

Ian J. Miller Author Of Red Gold

From the list on sci-fi consistent with scientific principles.

Who am I?

As a boy I was fascinated by stories about going to other planets, which has persisted even though I became a research chemist who wished to understand. I am curious where society will go, and some of my SF books strongly suggest what not to do if we go there. With my writing, I want to entertain, but leave the reader with something to think about. I hope this list will show the writing I enjoy, and maybe you will too.

Ian's book list on sci-fi consistent with scientific principles

Why did Ian love this book?

The fifth book on my list was a difficult choice; so many to exclude. I chose this because it is about the colonization of an alien world, in this case one tidally locked to a red dwarf. The description of the planet is good, although it begs the question of why the atmosphere did not freeze out on the dark side. I was struck by the highlighting of some of the sociological problems of colonizing such a strange world. It touches on the scientific aspects, the sociological aspects of being that far from home, and the economic issues. There is also a good story; I found it both entertaining and imaginative.

By Stephen Baxter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How would you survive on a planet that doesn't spin?

An awe-inspiring Planetary Romance from Terry Pratchett's co-author on the Long Earth Books

The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous Galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light ...

The 27th…

Rendezvous with Rama

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Book cover of Rendezvous with Rama

James L. Cambias Author Of The Scarab Mission

From the list on exploring big things in space.

Who am I?

I first stumbled on the idea of colonizing space when I read Adrian Berry's The Next Ten Thousand Years and T.A. Heppenheimer's Colonies in Space, back in the late 1970s. In those post-Apollo, pre-Space Shuttle years, colonizing outer space seemed inevitable. I was hooked: this stuff was real, and it was going to happen. It might even happen to me. But living in space isn't very exciting to read about. Of course, just a few years after reading those books I was watching Indiana Jones dodge deathtraps in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Combine the two: space colonies full of danger and surprises are much better!

James' book list on exploring big things in space

Why did James love this book?

Rama is a spaceship, not a space station, but it's huge and ancient, and at first appears to be abandoned. Then the human explorers realize it's just sleeping. This is a prime example of science fiction's "sense of wonder" at the strangeness of the Universe. When I read it, at about age 14, it utterly blew me away with its combination of rock-hard science and utter weirdness. It also has the best final line ever.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Rendezvous with Rama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the year 2130, a mysterious and apparently untenanted alien spaceship, Rama, enters our solar system. The first product of an alien civilisation to be encountered by man, it reveals a world of technological marvels and an unparalleled artificial ecology.

But what is its purpose in 2131?

Who is inside it?

And why?

Terminal Alliance

By Jim C. Hines,

Book cover of Terminal Alliance

Chris Gerrib Author Of One of Our Spaceships is Missing

From the list on approachable new space operas.

Who am I?

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

Why did Chris love this book?

I’m also a personal friend of Jim C. Hines, but we became friends because I was a fan of his work. 

This book is the first of a trilogy (which is different than a never-ending series) and takes a new, different, and funny spin on the zombie apocalypse.

Earth was hit by a plague that zombie-fied those humans it didn’t kill. Then the aliens came and cured some humans, who had to join their space fleet. Mostly as janitors and other menial laborers. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos goes from head janitor to captain of the Earth Mercenary Corps Ship PufferfishShe can barely fly the ship, but now must fight it.

Definitely a case where an ordinary person gets put in an extraordinary situation.

By Jim C. Hines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Krakau came to invite Earth into an alliance of sentient species, only to find that plague had turned humanity into shambling, near-unstoppable animals. A century later a bioweapon wipes out the Krakau command crew and reverts the rest of the humans to their feral state - only Marion 'Mops' Adamopoulos and her Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team on board the Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish are left with their minds intact. They stumble onto a conspiracy born from the truth of what happened on Earth all those years ago.

The Ancient Alien Question

By Philip Coppens,

Book cover of The Ancient Alien Question

Ken Goudsward Author Of Fermi's Paradox Is Bullshit: the Evidence for Extraterrestrial Life

From the list on rational UFO stories.

Who am I?

As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy but discouraged from investigating the UFO phenomenon due to religious reasons. Not until I was in my forties, did I begin to see the strange Biblical hints of what ended up in my writing my book UFOs In The Bible. Along the way, my research led me to diverse related topics including Sumerian mythology and astrobiology which have resulted in a few more books (and more to come). I see logic as a fundamental tool for this line of investigation, and so, I embrace books that engage with the evidence logically. I firmly believe we must all make room for experiencers to tell their stories without recrimination.

Ken's book list on rational UFO stories

Why did Ken love this book?

Philip Coppens is not afraid to take on even the weirdest of niches within the already weird realm of ufology and paleoarchaeology. He does so with an even keel and an unlimited curiosity. He doesn’t simply parrot what everyone around is saying, but he does examine their claims to see if they hold water. Like in most other aspects of life, there are grains of truth and bald-faced lies. Coppens attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff.

By Philip Coppens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“ . . . an important and outstanding contribution.” —Erich von Däniken, bestselling author of Chariots of the Gods

“The Ancient Alien Question provides a captivating adventure around the world and sheds an interesting perspective on the Ancient Astronaut Theory.” —Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, producer of Ancient Aliens: The Series

“Philip Coppens covers all the bases on this controversial topic. His research is thorough and he addresses each topic with a balanced overview that cuts through the jungle of confusion with a very sharp machete of reason.” —David Hatcher Childress, author of Technology of the Gods

The Ancient Alien Question reveals…

The Search for WondLa

By Tony DiTerlizzi,

Book cover of The Search for WondLa

Kevin Sylvester Author Of MiNRS

From the list on getting around.

Who am I?

Am I an expert on transportation? No. But I’m fascinated by movement. Physical movement (how do bike gears actually work?) and metaphorical (how does life actually work?) I did enjoy a brief moment as the kind of unofficial bike traffic reporter when I was on CBC Radio here in Canada. I’d report on my 4 am commute to work. But as a writer and illustrator for kids, I know the freedom transportation represents. We all want to fly. In MINRS I write about spaceships. We all want to see the world. In The Fabulous Zed Watson! I write (with my kid Basil) about epic road trips.

Kevin's book list on getting around

Why did Kevin love this book?

One of my kid-lit heroes, and clearly a writer/illustrator who grew up (like me) with a love for the vehicles we saw in science fiction. He has Eva Nine and her pals (and enemies) flying around in ships that are clearly inspired by pod-racers, x-wing fighters, the Millennium Falcon, and Flash Gordon. (Then, as the series goes on, we even get airships!)

But the thing that anchors the series is the wonderfully drawn characters. Eva Nine is all of us as kids… eager to break away but also tied to the adults around us. That tension between knowing when to hold on and knowing when it’s time to say goodbye is what really kept me with her on her journey.

By Tony DiTerlizzi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eva Nine was raised by the robot Muthr. But when a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary she called home, twelve-year-old Eva is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her. She knows that other humans exist because of a very special item she treasures ~ a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot along with the strange word "WondLa".

Tony DiTerlizzi honours traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's…

Claiming T-Mo

By Eugen Bacon,

Book cover of Claiming T-Mo

Seb Doubinsky Author Of The Song of Synth

From the list on to bend your mind.

Who am I?

As a writer of dystopian novels, I have always been interested in narratives that challenge the reader. Why? Because I firmly believe that if literature is, as they say, "a window on the world," then mind-bending texts create their own windows, and hence allow the readers to free themselves from all sorts of conventions. What's more, many of my novels deal with a drug, "Synth," that allows the users to change their surroundings at will. So I do write some “mind-bending” stuff myself, with precisely the purpose I mentioned above. To challenge yourself through fiction is to challenge a reality you have not chosen to live in. It is not only an act of defiance, but also, very often, an act of courage. 

Seb's book list on to bend your mind

Why did Seb love this book?

In Claiming T-Mo, Australian-African writer Eugen Bacon re-invents and shatters all the familiar codes of the magical sci-fi genre. A novel about women, magic, fate, and freedom, Claiming T-Mo is also a deep reflection on motherhood, love, masculinity, and identities. As the different female narrators share their views and feelings about T-Mo, the elusive central character, more questions about filiation and heritage unroll, making the reader a part of the quest. I love Eugen Bacon because she is an incredibly versatile talent, who turns everything she writes about into pure gold. 

By Eugen Bacon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Claiming T-Mo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this lush interplanetary tale, Novic is an immortal Sayneth priest who flouts the conventions of a matriarchal society by choosing a name for his child. This act initiates chaos that splits the boy in two, unleashing a Jekyll-and-Hyde child upon the universe. Named T-Mo by his mother and Odysseus by his father, the story spans the boy’s lifetime — from his early years with his mother Silhouette on planet Grovea to his travels to Earth where he meets and marries Salem, and together they bear a hybrid named Myra. The story unfolds through the eyes of these three distinctive…

Book cover of Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Louis Arata Author Of Dead Hungry

From the list on horror where the world becomes askew.

Who am I?

I grew up watching the old Universal horror movies, which led me to read Frankenstein, Dracula, and other horror classics. It wasn’t until I read Stephen King’s Danse Macabre that I started asking myself what it is that I find truly frightening. Not so much monsters but rather what is unsettling – A recognizable world that suddenly turns askew. Dead Hungry grew out of that: What if there were people who simply had to eat the dead?

Louis' book list on horror where the world becomes askew

Why did Louis love this book?

All the people you love, all the people you live with—the entire population of your small-town world are methodically being replaced by exact replicas, down to the last detail. The only difference is that they are devoid of genuine emotion. This novel has spawned numerous creepy movies, but something that the novel focuses on is that the aliens destroy entire ecosystems before abandoning the used-up planet. This isn’t about world domination but rather the exploitation of resources with no thought for the indigenous populations.

By Jack Finney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrate one of the earliest science fiction novels by rediscovering Jack Finney’s internationally acclaimed Invasion of the Body Snatchers—which Stephen King calls a story “to be read and savored for its own satisfactions,” now repackaged with a foreword by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Dean Koontz.

On a quiet fall evening in the peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovers an insidious, horrifying plot. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms are taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, friends, family, the woman he loves, and the entire world as he knows it.

First published in…

Hull Zero Three

By Greg Bear,

Book cover of Hull Zero Three

Fred Nadis Author Of Star Settlers: The Billionaires, Geniuses, and Crazed Visionaries Out to Conquer the Universe

From the list on botched space colonization efforts.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated with techno-utopian schemes. Decades ago, I had conversations with a friend who believed that humanity needed to evolve and leave the planet, just as early life once left the oceans. It was an intriguing idea that I have tried to follow up, critically, in Star Settlers. My book is a history not so much of the technology and nuts and bolts of space travel (although I do cover some of that), but of the rationale behind it—the idea that humanity’s ultimate destiny is in the stars. The idea is beguiling—but, likely, wrong-headed. To write the book, I spoke with physicists, science fiction writers, and space enthusiasts of all stripes. 

Fred's book list on botched space colonization efforts

Why did Fred love this book?

This book has the ideal traits I appreciate in science fiction—as with H.G. Wells’s classic tales, it’s reasonably short and can be read as pure adventure or allegory. We meet the archetypal figure of the “Teacher” birthed by a bioprinting machine on a starship soon to terraform an exoplanet. The Teacher has to grapple with survival, his purpose, the ship’s mission, and his realization that everything is haywire in this high-tech Eden full of monsters. Hull Zero Three is a detective tale with philosophical undertones as the Teacher slowly makes sense of the chaos that surrounds him, contends with his earlier clones, and undergoes a quest. Anyone who has ever experienced the drudgery of actual teaching will appreciate Bear’s creation of the Teacher as a mythic archetype.  

By Greg Bear,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Trapped on a mysterious spaceship, the only way to escape is to survive. A thrilling novel from the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Greg Bear.

A starship hurtles through the emptiness of space. Its destination - unknown. Its purpose? A mystery. Its history? Lost.

Now, one man wakes up. Ripped from a dream of a new home, a new planet and the woman he was meant to love in his arms, he finds himself wet, naked, and freezing to death. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting other survivors he meets might be the greater danger.

All he has…


By Drew Karpyshyn,

Book cover of Revelation

Matthew Michaelson Author Of Daughters of Astrid

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

Who am I?

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

Why did Matthew love this book?

Mass Effect was a very big sci-fi series for me growing up, the technology of which continues to influence my novels to this day. This novel serves as a prequel to the first game in the Mass Effect series, covering an event that was only briefly mentioned within the game itself, where Captain David Anderson works alongside the Spectre Saren, a Turian who despises humanity and believes them to be growing too quickly. Saren’s behavior and beliefs lead to him committing atrocities and then blaming Anderson to sabotage the whole reason why they were asked to team up in the first place, setting the stage for the first game.

By Drew Karpyshyn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The thrilling prequel to the award-winning video game from BioWare

Every advanced society in the galaxy relies on the technology of the Protheans, an ancient species that vanished fifty thousand years ago. After discovering a cache of Prothean technology on Mars in 2148, humanity is spreading to the stars; the newest interstellar species, struggling to carve out its place in the greater galactic community.

On the edge of colonized space, ship commander and Alliance war hero David Anderson investigates the remains of a top secret military research station; smoking ruins littered with bodies and unanswered questions. Who attacked this post…

Zita the Spacegirl

By Ben Hatke,

Book cover of Zita the Spacegirl

Mark Leiknes Author Of Quest Kids and the Dark Prophecy of Doug

From the list on middle grade to inspire you to draw comics.

Who am I?

I started drawing comics in the first grade and have never stopped. My syndicated comic strip, Cow & Boy, ran for eight years, and now I write and draw the middle-grade fantasy series Quest Kids. I am so fortunate to have cobbled together my love of comics into a career and to have been inspired by so many talented people along the way. Below is a collection of some of the best.

Mark's book list on middle grade to inspire you to draw comics

Why did Mark love this book?

Ben Hatke can build worlds, and then some. Zita’s character design is amazingly detailed, yet also spontaneous and never out of reach for any kid looking to create operatic space comics of their very own.

I read this with my own children and I couldn’t say which one of us had more fun.

By Ben Hatke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Zita's life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye. When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don't even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest…

Jillian VS Parasite Planet

By Nicole Kornher-Stace, Scott Brown (illustrator),

Book cover of Jillian VS Parasite Planet

Catherine Egan Author Of Sneaks

From the list on middle-grade sci fi – with bonus aliens.

Who am I?

When I was bored or stressed out at school as a kid, I used to pretend that I was an alien posing as a person and that I’d come to earth to learn about humans. It was fun and helped me to relax. (Look, we all have our own ways of relaxing, I don’t know why “pretending to be an alien” isn’t on more self-care lists these days). Given my tendency to drift toward other worlds, it’s amazing that it took me so long to write a book featuring aliens! The trouble-making Sneaks provide the action in my most recent MG book, which also deals with very real middle-school struggles with friendships and family.  

Catherine's book list on middle-grade sci fi – with bonus aliens

Why did Catherine love this book?

On Take Your Kid To Work Day, Jillian is thrilled that she gets to go to space with her parents. The routine trip goes terribly wrong, their shuttle crashes, and Jillian has to figure out how to survive – and save her injured parents – with only her own ingenuity and the help of a sarcastic, TV-loving AI nanobot swarm called SABRINA. 

The bantering Jillian-Sabrina relationship is the highlight of the book, and Jillian is a pitch-perfect MG protagonist. It was a delight to read about a super anxious kid solving problems in the absolute worst of situations. 

The Aliens: Primarily, a very creepy parasite – but the descriptions and fictional-science behind all the various life forms on the planet are fantastic.

By Nicole Kornher-Stace, Scott Brown (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jillian VS Parasite Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can an anxious eleven-year-old find her chill and save her family from creepy aliens? Only if she’s the most awesome, super-brave astronaut since Spaceman Spiff! So take a deep breath, grab your sidekick, and blast off with Jillian to Parasite Planet.

Eleven-year-old Jillian hates surprises. Even fun ones make her feel all panicky inside. But, she’s always dreamed of joining her space-explorer parents on a mission. It’s Take Your Kid to Work Day, and Jillian finally has her chance to visit an alien world!

The journey to Planet 80 UMa c is supposed to be just a fun camping trip.…


By Robert Charles Wilson,

Book cover of Spin

Scott A. Bollens Author Of ReForm: Combating the Algorithmic Mutation

From Scott's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Long-distance backpacker Former pro baseball player Professor International urban conflict scholar Late-career novel writer

Scott's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Scott love this book?

I thoroughly enjoyed this mind-spinning portrayal of a seismic shift in reality and how we, as fallible humans, respond to a new reality.

The premise of the book borders on unbelievable, but Wilson carries it out in a spectacular and ultimately believable fashion. How would humans respond to a fundamental change in how we view ourselves in the universe? It is a great “what-if” piece of writing that will captivate you on multiple levels.

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After witnessing the onset of an astronomical event that has caused the sun to go black and the stars and moon to disappear, Tyler, Jason, and Diane learn that the darkness has been caused by a time-altering, alien-created artificial barrier and that the sun will be extinguished in less than forty years. Reprint.

The Last Astronaut

By David Wellington, David Wellington,

Book cover of The Last Astronaut

Trevor Williams Author Of Eternal Shadow

From the list on first contact sci-fi but with a twist.

Who am I?

My parents always encouraged me to explore the world and express myself. I also grew up in a home where the bookshelves were lined with Stephen King novels, encyclopedias, and VHS tapes containing episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So it came as little surprise that my interests in astronomy, orbital mechanics, and fantastical technology concepts (who doesn't like the idea of a ringworld?) dominated my life. I also love history and the drive for exploring the endless possibilities behind the question "what if." Science fiction is, at its core, about exploring the human condition—this is where you’ll find my writing and the adventures I bring to you.

Trevor's book list on first contact sci-fi but with a twist

Why did Trevor love this book?

In a future US where NASA and the space program is all but defunct, former astronaut Sally Jensen is brought out of an involuntary retirement to lead a new, barely-qualified team on a most intriguing—and dangerousmission to an asteroid that's slowing down as it approaches Earth. Gripping and addictive, I found myself not able to put this book down once I started it. This definitely falls into the sci-fi horror camp, a blend whichfortunatelythis story handles really well. If you’re looking for a hard science fiction novel with a hefty helping of horror mixed throughout, you cannot go wrong with this gem!

By David Wellington, David Wellington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020!
"A terrifying tour de force." --James Rollins
"Readers will be riveted." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Sally Jansen was NASA's leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she lives in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over.
She's wrong.
A large alien object has entered the solar system on a straight course toward Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate. Out of time and out of options, NASA turns to Jansen.
But as the object reveals its secrets, Jansen and her crew find…


By Nnedi Okorafor,

Book cover of Lagoon

Carl Abbott Author Of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them

From the list on science fiction with really cool cities.

Who am I?

I discovered science fiction at age nine with Rocketship Galileo and Red Planet and have never lost my love for speculative worlds, even after growing up to follow a career teaching and writing about the history of cities and city planning. In recent years, I’ve also begun to write about the field of SF. So it is one-hundred-percent natural for me to combine the two interests and explore science fiction cities. I try to look beyond the geez-whiz technology of some imagined cities to the ideas of human-scale planning and community that might make them fun places to visit or live in if we could somehow manage to get there.  

Carl's book list on science fiction with really cool cities

Why did Carl love this book?

I get bored when aliens always seem to land on the National Mall in Washington or hover over Los Angeles, so I was delighted to discover that at least one alien ship prefers to land in the lagoon off Lagos, Nigeria.

It’s a city as big or bigger than New York, after all. There is the challenge of dealing with very enigmatic visitors, but the time is the present and readers get a whirlwind tour of one of the world’s megacities. It’s like having the most highspeed guide you can imagine… who happens to be one of the most compelling SF writers today.

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria's legendary mega-city, they're more alone than they've ever been before.

But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world... and themselves.

'There was…