The best books on extraterrestrial life

Who picked these books? Meet our 304 experts.

304 authors created a book list connected to extraterrestrial life, and here are their favorite extraterrestrial life books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

What type of extraterrestrial life book?



By H. P. Lovecraft, Les Edwards (illustrator), Stephen Jones (editor)

Book cover of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

S. T. Blake Author Of A Lunatic's Laugh: New weird Gothic mystery, always keeps you guessing

From the list on reality becoming unreal.

Who am I?

I’m an Anglo-Irish writer of stories that have a fantastical or paranormal worldview—often containing darkness, but also touched with satirical humour. I’ve always liked stories that seem rooted in everyday reality but then introduce inexplicable elements which unhinge the recognisable world in a surprising or unsettling fashion. For me, that description fits a range of books, including Fantastic Mr. Fox (which I remember being the first book I read through obsessively), Dracula, or Gormenghast; and writers such as Shirley Jackson, Philip K. Dick, J. G. Ballard, H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Thomas Ligotti.

S. T.'s book list on reality becoming unreal

Discover why each book is one of S. T.'s favorite books.

Why did S. T. love this book?

Reading H. P. Lovecraft’s best stories, I always start to feel as if I’m digging away at the accepted reality of modern man, peeling it back to reveal another, older, truer reality hidden underneath. It’s an eerie process. In that final reality, I find the Old Gods are still waiting. Over the course of the past 10,000 years, perhaps they only blinked an eye. But now, each page I turn brings them closer. That abysmal reality of the Old Gods is only hinted at in the stories – Cthulhu is a presence rather than a character – but I don’t doubt for a moment how dangerous it is, because Lovecraft makes us believe, deep down, that their return is inevitable.

By H. P. Lovecraft, Les Edwards (illustrator), Stephen Jones (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WIKIPEDIA says: 'H.P. Lovecraft's reputation has grown tremendously over the decades, and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most important horror writers of the 20th century, exerting an influence that is widespread, though often indirect.'

H.P. Lovecraft's tales of the tentacled Elder God Cthulhu and his pantheon of alien deities were initially written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and '30s. These astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

This handsome leatherbound tome collects together the very best of…

Chasing Stars

By Alex K. Thorne,

Book cover of Chasing Stars

Molly J. Bragg Author Of Scatter

From the list on sapphic superhero.

Who am I?

I’m a trans woman who writes sapphic science fiction, fantasy, superhero novels, and contemporary romance. I’m been a huge fan of superheroes my whole life, and Supergirl has been my favorite superhero since I saw the original Helen Slater movie back in the 80s. In addition to being a fan, I’m currently writing a series of sapphic superhero novels called Hearts of Heroes.

Molly's book list on sapphic superhero

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

Why did Molly love this book?

This is a relatively lighthearted superhero romance about Ava, an alien who works as the personal assistant to a big Hollywood star named Gwen. When Gwen asks Ava to pretend to be her girlfriend because it will help Gwen with the custody battle with her ex-husband, all the predictable fake dating shenanigans ensue.

The book is a fun, comfortable read with a good bit of pining, a fun sister relationship, and an interesting superhero plot.

The focus on Ava’s and Gwen’s emotional journey through the story makes it an engaging read the first time through, and a nice, comfortable reread for those days when you just want to lose yourself in a comfy book.

By Alex K. Thorne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For superhero Swiftwing, crime fighting isn’t her biggest battle. Nor is it having to meet the demanding whims of Hollywood screen goddess Gwen Knight as her mild-mannered assistant, Ava.It’s doing all that, while tracking a giant alien bug, being asked to fake date her world-famous boss, and realizing that she might be coming down with a pesky case of feelings.A fun, sweet, and sexy lesbian romance about the masks we all wear.

That Hideous Strength

By C. S. Lewis,

Book cover of That Hideous Strength

James Papandrea Author Of From Star Wars to Superman: Christ Figures in Science Fiction and Superhero Films

From the list on thought-provoking time travel.

Who am I?

I am a lifelong fan of science fiction, and especially all things time travel. However, I do get annoyed by time travel stories where the time travel is never really explained or it’s just reduced to a magical vehicle for the story setting. I want my science fiction to ask the big questions of humanity. I have a PhD in history and theology, and in my research for my book From Star Wars to Superman, I combined a lifetime of enjoying science fiction and time travel with a career studying those big philosophical questions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that true sci-fi has to be thought-provoking.

James' book list on thought-provoking time travel

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

Why did James love this book?

I admit this book is not one you might think of when you think of time travel.

The time travel is more implied than explicit. This is actually the third book in a trilogy, but it is so different from the first two that you don’t need to read the first two before reading this one. The questions raised are as relevant now as when Lewis wrote it – maybe more so – right down to the questions around good and evil.

As an academic I could relate to this book because it really forces us intellectuals to ask some hard questions.

By C. S. Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Just as readers have been transfixed by the stories, characters, and deeper meanings of Lewis's timeless tales in The Chronicles of Narnia, most find this same allure in his classic Space Trilogy. In these fantasy stories for adults, we encounter, once again, magical creatures, a world of wonders, epic battles, and revelations of transcendent truths.

That Hideous Strength is the third novel in Lewis's science fiction trilogy. Set on Earth, it tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity. The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization…


By Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle,

Book cover of Footfall

S.R. Algernon Author Of Cooling Season

From the list on science fiction that will change your perspective.

Who am I?

I am an American author and have been an avid reader of science fiction for nearly forty years. I studied science fiction in college, along with biology and other subjects. My undergraduate honors thesis was a discussion of postwar Japanese science fiction that included a translation from the original. I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and have published papers on learning in machines, humans, and humpback whales. I have taught and studied in Japan and Singapore, and critiqued fiction for several years with I have published many science fiction stories from various perspectives. The Hugo finalist, "Asymmetrical Warfare" tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth from the invader’s perspective.

S.R.'s book list on science fiction that will change your perspective

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

Why did S.R. love this book?

I have a soft spot for stories written from non-human perspectives, and Footfall sticks out in my mind as a prime example of the subgenre. It follows the story of an invasion of Earth by a species called the Fithp, which has a herd-like social structure. The scenes told from the point of view of the invading Fithp present the first contact and alien invasion tropes in a new way. 

The unfolding conquest of Earth gives us a glimpse into Fithp minds and, most importantly, a look at ourselves from an outside perspective. It is a bit of a slow burn, but for me the world-building paid off in the end.

Footfall inspired me to write several short stories about alien invasion.

By Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Considered by many readers the best alien invasion novel to date, FOOTFALL was called “thought-provoking and exciting” by Library Journal and “the best of its genre” by The New York Times.

An alien craft is approaching Earth. Attempts to communicate go unanswered. The welcoming committee of Americans and Russians at a space station is blasted, its occupants killed or captured. Soon the entire Earth, with special emphasis on the United States, is bombarded by asteroids, destroying dams, highways, and infrastructure. The message to humans: total surrender or death to all. A giant rock, the “footfall”, is launched towards Earth, causing…

In the Ocean of Night

By Gregory Benford,

Book cover of In the Ocean of Night

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From the list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Who am I?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

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

Why did Allen love this book?

This novel, about the discovery of an alien probe hidden within an Earth orbit-crossing asteroid and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence it provokes, is the first volume of a long, six-volume epic, the Galactic Center series, that is regarded by most critics as a landmark work. You can read this novel on its own or you can go from there with the rest of the series; in any case, it’s hard SF at its thought-provoking best.

By Gregory Benford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Ocean of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a world of lunar colonies, cybernetic miracles, fanatic cults, deadly pollution and famine, the first story in the GALACTIC CENTRE CYCLE. This world of social decay is facing hardship, but not far beyond the shores of space comes a mystery, which one man, astronaut Nigel Walmsley is about to touch. From the author of TIMESCAPE.

The White Dragon

By Anne McCaffrey,

Book cover of The White Dragon

Cy Bishop Author Of DragonBond

From the list on sassy non-human sidekicks.

Who am I?

I have always loved a good sassy sidekick, human or otherwise. I started my first book, DragonBond, at the age of fifteen, and throughout the various drafts between its inception and its completion, the dragon Axen’s sass game has always been fierce. Since then, I’ve published a total of thirteen books, seven of which are in the Endonshan Chronicles series. I have a Master’s degree in psychology which I use to create well-rounded characters with unique quirks and personalities. I hope you enjoy these picks and all the snark contained within!

Cy's book list on sassy non-human sidekicks

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

Why did Cy love this book?

This coming-of-age story centers on Jaxom, a young dragon rider and future lord of a hold, and his bonded dragon Ruth, a rare, small, and often silly white dragon. Jaxom thinks his greatest problem is the bullies who mock him for his status and his dragon’s unusual size, but as he strives to prove his naysayers wrong, he ends up thrown in the middle of political machinations far beyond what he could have dreamed. I love Ruth’s almost childlike nature and his fearless willingness to rise to whatever challenge they faced. Their friendship, and unique relationship with the tiny fire lizards of the land, was charming at every turn. 

By Anne McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Never had there been as close a bonding as the one that existed between the young Lord Jaxom and his extraordinary white dragon, Ruth. Pure white and incredibly agile, Ruth possessed remarkable qualities. Not only could he communicate with the iridescent, fluttering fire lizards, but he could fly. Back in time to any WHEN with unfailing accuracy. Nearly everyone else on Pern thought Ruth was a runt who would never amount to anything, but Jaxom knew his dragon was special. In secret they trained to fight against the burning threads from the Red Planet, to fly Back in time as…

Shakespeare's Planet

By Clifford D. Simak,

Book cover of Shakespeare's Planet

Jane Lindskold Author Of A New Clan

From the list on with non-humanoid aliens.

Who am I?

For me a story with richly developed non-humanoid aliens is mind-stretching. Much of modern Western culture starts with the ingrained concept that humans are at the top, whether by divine right or as the peak of evolution or whatever. Well-developed non-humanoid aliens—especially if they’re not super advanced or charmingly primitive—challenge this assertion. When that assertion topples, so do a lot of other preconceived notions. An abiding fascination in my work is for the “other,” from the wolves and Wise Beasts of my Firekeeper Saga (first book, Through Wolf’s Eyes) to expanding and exploring treecat culture with David Weber in the Star Kingdom book, and a lot in between. 

Jane's book list on with non-humanoid aliens

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

Why did Jane love this book?

A human, a robot, and an alien who has proudly adopted the name “Carnivore,” find themselves stranded on a planet that may have its own agenda—certainly, something must be behind the phenomenon dubbed “The God Hour.” Add in the journal of a possibly insane man who is known only as “Shakespeare,” and you have not only a wonderful adventure story, you have the foundation for examining what makes a person a person.  

By Clifford D. Simak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A human space traveler trapped on a remote planet must somehow unravel a confounding alien technology—or else surrender himself to a host of incomprehensible horrors

For thousands of years, Carter Horton has been traveling across the galaxy toward a distant world capable of supporting human life. At journey’s end, awakened from his millennia-long sleep by a curiously adaptive android, he is informed that his crewmates have all perished due to a system malfunction. But worse is yet to come: Horton’s sentient ship is refusing to return him to Earth, and a strangely cordial predator is waiting for him on the…

At the Mountains of Madness

By H. P. Lovecraft,

Book cover of At the Mountains of Madness

Nicholas Binge Author Of Ascension

From the list on horror that build a deep and unshakeable sense of dread.

Who am I?

As well as being an author of horror and thriller fiction, I’ve been a teacher for over a decade. Over the years, I’ve played to my strengths, selecting and teaching some of the very best in both classic and contemporary horror. The power of narratives to hold and horrify is one of the most undying features of storytelling, from Ancient Greek theatre to modern thrillers, and I’m always on the lookout for authors who achieve this in new and innovative ways. The books on this list all instill dread in very different ways, but they all have one thing in common: they’ll stick with you long after you put them down.

Nicholas' book list on horror that build a deep and unshakeable sense of dread

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

Why did Nicholas love this book?

This book is the best and most accessible touchstone for Lovecraft’s particular brand of cosmic horror and, certainly, the sheer madness he exposes us to by the end of the book is something to behold.

But where it really shines is in the opening chapters, where it at first seems like this is to be a simple Arctic expedition. The isolation and bleakness of the setting combine perfectly with the unknown to make some of the most ambitious ideas in all horror become fiercely believable and all the more terrifying for it. 

By H. P. Lovecraft,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked At the Mountains of Madness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the Mountains of Madness is a science fiction-horror novella by American author H. P. Lovecraft.

An expedition to Antarctica goes horribly wrong as a group of explorers stumbles upon some mysterious ancient ruins, with devastating consequences. At the Mountains of Madness ranks among Lovecraft's most terrifying novellas, and is a firm favourite among fans of classic horror.

Everything's Eventual

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

John Howard Matthews Author Of This Is Where It Gets Interesting

From the list on characters who encounter the extraordinary.

Who am I?

I’m a fiction and humor writer whose imagination was initially sparked by superheroes and comic books. The idea of an otherwise average person who could turn themselves into a superbeing was transformative and powerful. As a teenager, these early heroes faded, and I became fascinated by The Twilight Zone’s compact and poignant storytelling that contained moral messages. This eventually led me to the fiction of Stephen King where the idea of average people encountering the supernatural and overcoming obstacles was a recurring theme. In my own work, I have tried to carry forward the idea that our everyday lives are more absurd, complex, and magical than they appear.

John's book list on characters who encounter the extraordinary

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

Why did John love this book?

Stephen King has arguably perfected creating stories in which supernatural things happen to ordinary people. This set-up—what I loved so much about Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone TV series—is irresistible. Across fourteen tales, King delivers mind-bending tales that draw you in. “1408” a story about a ghost skeptic/writer who stays in a haunted New York hotel room is especially gripping. King was a big, early influence on me and though I didn’t keep up with his work much past Misery, whenever I do dive into his later work, I invariably find him as good as ever.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A spine-tingling collection of stories from the No. 1 bestselling master of horror - now with a stunning new cover look.

Nothing is quite as it seems.

Expect the unexpected in this veritable treasure trove of enthralling, witty, dark tales that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our time.

In this eerie, enchanting compilation, Stephen King takes readers down a road less travelled (for good reason) in the blockbuster e-book 'Riding the Bullet'. Terror becomes deja vu all over again when you get 'That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French'. 'LT's…


By Isaac Asimov,

Book cover of Foundation

Lauren Patzer Author Of Dissonance Junction: A Year of Stories

From the list on sci-fi to face the end of the world with.

Who am I?

Reading has been a passion of mine since I first learned how. Consuming books like a ravenous wolf, I explored worlds beyond my own imagining with a simple purchase of a bound novel (or lending from a library.) It gave me the one thing I couldn’t do in real life – escape from reality. In many ways, I’m only sane because I was able to remove myself from the horrific events of my upbringing. It put my feet in two camps – that of science fiction and of horror. I like to think of what could be and bring my readers to that alternate reality to delight or terrify depending on the genre.

Lauren's book list on sci-fi to face the end of the world with

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

Why did Lauren love this book?

This far-reaching story of the future of civilization has fascinated me since I first picked it up. The invention of a scientific discipline, psychohistory, upon which to design and plan for the rise and fall of civilizations across thousands of years. As a writer, this blew me away just from a planning and plotting perspective – aligning all these pieces to line up and fall into place has been a shining example to me of what can be accomplished by a superior mind.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in Isaac Asimov’s classic science-fiction masterpiece, the Foundation series

THE EPIC SAGA THAT INSPIRED THE APPLE TV+ SERIES FOUNDATION, NOW STREAMING • Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save humankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings…

Star Wars The High Republic

By Claudia Gray, Giorgio Baroni (illustrator),

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

Ben Green Author Of Forged in the Fallout

From the list on YA with boys who defy stereotypes.

Who am I?

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

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

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.

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 You Are the First Kid on Mars

Kristy Dempsey Author Of Papa Put a Man on the Moon

From the list on for kids who love space.

Who am I?

I love reading about space and the dedication and commitment astronauts must have to eventually be placed on a mission. Their courage seems superheroic and legendary. But I also know that it takes ordinary individuals to make space missions happen. My mother grew up in a textile community and many of my maternal relatives worked in a textile mill that produced a fabric used in the Apollo spacesuits. These workers could never have dreamed of working for NASA or becoming astronauts, but their work was integral to the process of putting men on the moon. Any great achievement requires a legion of hardworking hands to see it through to completion. 

Kristy's book list on for kids who love space

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

Why did Kristy love this book?

This book was first published in 2009, so you might think it would feel a bit out of date, but it still feels relevant, especially for kids who might be dreaming of space travel and a trip to the Red Planet. The digital images give a photorealistic feel for what it might actually look and feel like to stand on Mars, even as the more technical aspects of the journey are detailed. Given that travel to Mars seems to be a future possibility, this book gives children the chance to experience the journey now with every read.

By Patrick O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are the First Kid on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As we look back to the beginnings of the space race, 2009 is also the year for looking forward to humankind?s next step toward the stars.

In the spirit of books that once imagined colonies on the moon, Patrick O?Brien has created a unique look at your first trip to Mars. Using the most upto- date designs and theories of what it will take to establish a base on Mars, you are off on an incredible journey, over 35 million miles to the red planet. Filled with details, and vividly brought to life, this is an adventure that you are…


By Isaac Asimov,

Book cover of Liar!

Daniel Robledo Author Of Cages of the Soul

From the list on speculative short stories about life.

Who am I?

Life is a complex matter, and so sometimes you need a few aliens, werewolves, and dragons in order to make sense of it. From struggling with one’s career, to finding your identity, to finding forgiveness in myself, I’ve struggled with a lot in life, and these are all things that I tackle in my stories, because in addition to being entertaining, I also believe that what we read should also be insightful.

Daniel's book list on speculative short stories about life

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

Why did Daniel love this book?

Asimov is known as the grandfather of A.I. Science Fiction, and yet, you don’t have to have much of an interest in robotics in order to appreciate many of his stories. One of the best examples of this would be Liar! A story that tackles how a robot, one which isn’t allowed to hurt humans, would try to circumvent peoples’ emotions in a situation in which their desire for career success and romance are on the line. As someone who has dealt with all sides of these affairs, Lair! Is one of those stories that reminded me that no matter what, I’m only human.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

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

Song of Scarabaeus

By Sara Creasy,

Book cover of Song of Scarabaeus

Kay Camden Author Of Unquiet

From the list on a perfect blend of fantasy/adventure/romance.

Who am I?

I’ll admit I’m a terribly picky reader. My specific taste doesn’t seem to fit in one genre and is sometimes hard to nail down—literary prose with genre tropes, softly-integrated worldbuilding, adventure that leaves room for reflection, and a love story subplot that’s more mental than physical. I love anti-heroes and angst and stories that get a bit dark—but not too dark. When I find it, I’m hooked and obsessed, and I feel like I’m twelve years old again, reading late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. That exprience is what I’m always hunting for, and what I attempt to recreate in my own writing. 

Kay's book list on a perfect blend of fantasy/adventure/romance

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

Why did Kay love this book?

Song of Scarabaeus is sci-fi, not fantasy, but it definitely has that perfect blend: just enough adventure, just enough sci-fi/fantasy, just enough of a love story. The relationship between the two characters, a scientist and her bodyguard, creates instant on-page tension. I can’t spoil why, but it’s an interesting life-and-death situation that kept me turning pages. With this captivating plot, great characterization, realistic dialogue, and expert worldbuilding, I wish I could erase my memory of this book and experience it all over again. 

By Sara Creasy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A powerful debut….Gripping characterization, non-stop action, fascinating biological speculation, and a dash of romance. Don’t miss it!”
—Linnea Sinclair


Remember the name: Sara Creasy. With Song of Scarabaeus she takes her place alongside Ann Aguirre and Linnea Sinclair, staking her claim as one of the most exciting new writers currently rocketing across the science fiction universe. Seamlessly blending action, romance, intrigue, technology, and a tough, complex, and unforgettable heroine in the vein of Elizabeth Moon, Creasyboldly goes where few have traveled before. No wonder author Vonda N. McIntyre declares that “Sara Creasy is a new writer to watch, and Song…

Wandering Stars

By Jack Dann (editor),

Book cover of Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction

Barbara Krasnoff Author Of The History of Soul 2065

From the list on Jewish science fiction and fantasy.

Who am I?

I grew up in a secular Jewish household where Yiddish culture, history, and politics were a part of daily life. As a result, when I began reading (and eventually writing) science fiction and fantasy, I would take note if I found a novel or short story collection that reflected any of the many flavors of Judaism and Jewish culture. While it is not all I read or write about (I make my living as a tech journalist and I have very eclectic tastes in literature), I find that my curiosity is particularly piqued when confronted with a new book that covers both those genres.

Barbara's book list on Jewish science fiction and fantasy

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

Why did Barbara love this book?

Wandering Stars is a landmark anthology that should be the starting point for anyone interested in Jewish science fiction and fantasy. It contains a collection of incredible short stories; it’s nearly impossible to pick out the best. My own favorites include William Tenn’s “On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi,” Avram Davidson’s “The Golem,” Harlan Ellison’s “I’m Looking for Kadak,” and Isaac Bashevitz Singer’s heartbreaking, “Jachid and Jechidah.”

By Jack Dann (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jewish science fiction and fantasy? Yes! The distinguished list of contributors includes: Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Pamela Sargent, Avram Davidson, Geo. Alec Effinger, Horace L. Gold, Robert Sheckley, William Tenn, and Carol Carr.

William Tenn's futuristic story "On Venus, Have We Got A Rabbi" takes on the volatile issue of "Who is a Jew?"--a question certainly as timely in 1998 as he imagines it will be in 2533. Asimov's "Unto the Fourth Generation" takes on the issue of Jews as endangered species in America, a theme that is even more apparent today than…

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

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

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?

The Midwich Cuckoos

By John Wyndham,

Book cover of The Midwich Cuckoos

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

From the list on accessible first contact sci-fi.

Who am I?

I'm the published author of five speculative fiction novels, which comment allegorically on the politics and morals of our present world. These books explore how we deal with the new, the strange, and the unexpected. How do we communicate with a foreign species and determine whether its intentions are friendly or hostile? The books I've chosen are allegories of the situations we face in modern life in our own world. We have a choice. Do we remain insular and protective, or should we be open, welcoming, and collaborative? We should seek solutions and not augment problems. We can all learn from these characters. My choices represent a benchmark against which to measure my own writing.

Owen's book list on accessible first contact sci-fi

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

Why did Owen love this book?

I find The Midwich Cuckoos chilling as it describes how the survival instinct of an alien species overrides any attempt to cohabit with or integrate it. 

The story describes the consequences of the day a spacecraft lands and what happens during that day in which time stands still. Months later, every woman of childbearing age is confirmed as pregnant. The sixty-one resulting children bear no resemblance to their parents. They exhibit common physical characteristics and develop far faster than human children. They use their telepathic abilities to protect each other and control the minds of others. They react to perceived threats by killing and have no apparent empathy with their hosts.

As their aggressive and unpredictable behaviour accelerates, the villagers plot to kill them.

By John Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A genre-defining tale of first contact by one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant—and neglected—science fiction and horror writers, whom Stephen King called “the best writer of science fiction that England has ever produced.”

“In my opinion, [John] Wyndham’s chef d’oeuvre . . . a graphic metaphor for the fear of unwanted pregnancies . . . I myself had a dream about a highly intelligent nonhuman baby after reading this book.”—Margaret Atwood, Slate

What if the women of a sleepy English village all became simultaneously pregnant, and the children, once born, possessed supernatural—and possibly alien—powers? 

A mysterious silver object appears…

Zoe's Tale

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of Zoe's Tale

Dan Rice Author Of Dragons Walk Among Us

From the list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives.

Who am I?

As an author of young adult fantasy and science fiction, I’ve read many books that fall within that rubric. This list captures the most exciting young adult novels I’ve read over the past few years. All have aspects of storytelling and themes I strive to capture in my writing. One thing I love about the young adult genre is the characters go on an adventure full of excitement and danger. The adventure is a metaphor for growing up. So if reads chock-full of death-defying odds, mystery, wonder, and a sprinkling of romance are your jam, the books in this list are for you.

Dan's book list on YA fantasy and sci-fi with diverse perspectives

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

Why did Dan love this book?

Scalzi transports us to his ever-exciting Old Man's War universe for a retelling of the novel The Last Colony from a teen's perspective. Aliens, adventure, and young love abound in Zoe's Tale, a story sure to delight Scalzi fans and is an excellent entry point for young adult readers interested in his brand of witty sci-fi.

With Zoe's Tale, Scalzi demonstrates one key to a compelling story is a fantastic protagonist. Zoe is just that. She is engaging, stubborn, snarky, a true friend, an angsty teen, and brave. Readers who enjoy Scalzi's clever prose will find the fact Zoe's Tale is a retelling of The Last Colony immaterial. That's how captivating a character Zoe is.

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hard-core, fast paced science fiction, John Scalzi's Zoe's Tale is the fourth in The Old Man's War series.

She won't go down without a fight.

It's not every day you up sticks and move to another world. But then, Zoe Boutin-Perry's life has never been ordinary. She's the adopted teenage daughter of two former super-soldiers. She's also a holy icon to a race of alien warriors who track her every move. So she's used to the quirks of being a human in space.

However, this time something's different. Betrayed by the authorities, Zoe - along with her parents and fellow…

The World Of The Viking Gods

By Njörður P. Njarðvík, Freydís Kristjánsdóttir (illustrator), John Porter (translator)

Book cover of The World Of The Viking Gods

Asa Maria Bradley Author Of A Wolf's Hunger: A Sexy Fated Mates Paranormal Romance

From the list on the gods and world of Norse mythology.

Who am I?

I grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology steeped in Viking history, which fueled my interest in Norse mythology. For example, Uppåkra, the largest and richest Iron Age settlement in Scandinavia, is only a few miles from my childhood home. When my seventh-grade history teacher noticed my fascination with the Viking myths, he started recommending me books. Ever since, I’ve read extensively about the Norse pantheon, and its stories inspire my own writing. I’ve also taken several research trips to historical Viking settlements in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.

Asa's book list on the gods and world of Norse mythology

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

Why did Asa love this book?

I found this slim volume of mythology tales at a museum in Reykjavík, Iceland. It’s a quick read, but what sets it apart from other books are the beautiful black and white illustrations (by Freydís Kristjánsdóttir), the concise, yet extensive, description of how the Vikings believed the world was created, and the summary of the gods, their lineage, and their roles in Norse mythology. If you want to quickly read up on Viking deities and sound wise about them at dinner parties, this is the book to get. 

By Njörður P. Njarðvík, Freydís Kristjánsdóttir (illustrator), John Porter (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The World of the Viking Gods contains an informative introduction outlining the world-view, ideas and beliefs of the pagan Icelanders, followed by an account of the creation and individual gods. In the second half, the stories of the gods are retold, from the humorous adventures of the thunder god Thor to the darker events surrounding the death of Baldr, culminating in the apocalyptic vision of ragnarok - the end of the world and its rebirth.

They Walked Like Men

By Clifford D. Simak,

Book cover of They Walked Like Men

Kfir Luzzatto Author Of Chipless

From the list on realistic science fiction.

Who am I?

As an author who is also a patent attorney and an engineer, I often deal with projects that are the closest thing to science fiction. That is one of the driving forces behind my urge to write science fiction. However, I very much prefer realistic stories that may potentially come true to hard science fiction with intergalactic travel, robots all over, and time machines (although I have written space opera and a few other hardcore SF tales, and must admit having had fun with them). Still, I like realistic science fiction much more. It leaves more room for character development, and I find myself engrossed in it more easily.

Kfir's book list on realistic science fiction

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

Why did Kfir love this book?

This story of alien invasion is hauntingly realistic and frighteningly fun. It has one of the most original plots I have ever seen and, despite the absurdity of the events recounted in it, this book has a ring of truth to it. You read something utterly preposterous and murmur to yourself, “this might happen!” After reading it, you will start looking at events around you differently.

By Clifford D. Simak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Walked Like Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Author

The aliens wouldn't kill ... They'd take over earth and let man survive -- if he could. A few people tried to tell that Earth was being taken over by alien beings in the shape of bowling balls, talking dogs, dolls that walked like men. The trouble was, no one believed them.