The best interstellar travel books

Who picked these books? Meet our 146 experts.

146 authors created a book list connected to interstellar travel, and here are their favorite interstellar travel books.
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What type of interstellar travel book?


Children of Time

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Book cover of Children of Time

Marc B. DeGeorge Author Of A Call to the Sky

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

Who am I?

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

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

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

Why did Marc love this book?

We know there are families in the animal world, and we know there are bigger social constructs, too.

I’ve read about how animals have emotion and show compassion for one another, and even for other species. It makes me wonder about the why and how of the human dynamic and a book like this one that takes that and creates a looking glass for me to consider that is a good brain story for me.

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 30th anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed, stand-alone novel Children of Time, is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the…


By Scott Reintgen,

Book cover of Nyxia

Justin Doyle Author Of Embargo on Hope

From the list on space opera with a hint (or a whole lot) of magic.

Who am I?

As an engineer for multiple space projects (including the ISS, Gateway, and commercial space), it seems like I should be a strict sci-fi person. But I love sci-fi and fantasy equally, and I love books that break through the wall between them. Especially in space opera, you can play with how much technology and how much magic shaped a world and a culture. Zooming in, that will greatly influence the characters. Some make it esoteric and exclusive, where others make it more common. All of them transport readers to magical, expansive universes.

Justin's book list on space opera with a hint (or a whole lot) of magic

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

Why did Justin love this book?

Nyxia, the first in a young adult trilogy, introduces the reader to an Earth that has found a foreign substance called nyxia on another planet. Use of nyxia basically grants magical abilities to the user, and the more clever the user, the more capability it has. The cast is very diverse, the main character’s voice is refreshing, and the dialogue is realistic. It’s a fast, easy read with a relatable main character. And the plot only thickens as the series goes on…

By Scott Reintgen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A high-octane thriller . . . Nyxia grabs you from the first line and never lets go.” —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Warcross

Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller—the first in a trilogy—that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. 
What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping…

Book cover of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Jamie Brindle Author Of The Princess In The Tower

From the list on fantasy that is silly but solid at the same time.

Who am I?

I love fantasy, particularly comic fantasy. But there's an art to making something that is mind-meltingly silly feel real and meaningful, at the same time. To make it feel solid. If something is too chaotic, too randomly silly, then the narrative integrity disintegrates. You're left feeling, ‘yes, I know that the troll has now mysteriously turned into a chicken; but really, what’s the point?’ On the other hand, if the story isn’t silly enough…well, then it becomes straight fantasy, which is wonderful when it’s done well, but can feel mundane and derivative when it is not. I've deliberately limited this list to include only two Discworld books. To include any more would seem, well—silly.

Jamie's book list on fantasy that is silly but solid at the same time

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

Why did Jamie love this book?

Any list like this needs to include a Hitchhiker’s book, and this is my personal favourite. These books skirt even further into the surreal and silly than the Discworld books, but somehow Douglas Adams saves them from falling into pointlessness. I can’t quite see how he does it. The settings are so diverse and mind-boggling, and the plot is thin enough that it would probably collapse if I tried to describe it, like a beautiful bubble popping in your palm. The characters are vividly memorable, but in these books, it is the language that really shines, the spectacular, witty, wonderful use of words and phrases, which somehow elevate the book, making us care about the journey despite its utter silliness.

By Douglas Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Restaurant at the End of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the smash-hit sci-fi comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is the second part in Douglas Adams' multi-media phenomenon and cult classic series.

This edition includes exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by Monty Python star, Terry Jones.

If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the Universe?

Which is exactly what Arthur Dent and the crew of the Heart of Gold plan to do. There's just the small matter of…


By Suzanne Palmer,

Book cover of Finder

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

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

Why did Chris love this book?

Fergus Ferguson is an ordinary man who just happens to be good at one thing – finding stuff. So he becomes an intergalactic repo man, and when the book starts he’s been tasked with finding a stolen starship, as one does. 

He’s also found himself wrapped up in a civil war and a possible alien invasion.

This book is a little darker than the others on the list, in that Fergus has a lot of personal baggage to deal with, the people behind the civil war aren’t nice, and it’s really hard to figure out what the aliens want. But the darkness is leavened by Fergus’s humor and strong moral code. 

It’s also book one of a (very nicely tied-up) trilogy.

By Suzanne Palmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Hugo Award-winning debut author Suzanne Palmer comes an action-packed sci-fi caper starring Fergus Ferguson, interstellar repo man and professional finder

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia's Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He'll slip in, decode the ship's compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a backwater deep space colony called…


By Nnedi Okorafor,

Book cover of Binti

Ness Brown Author Of The Scourge Between Stars

From the list on sci-fi about space missions gone terribly wrong.

Who am I?

I am an astrophysicist with a passion for narratives that stare unflinchingly at the inherent hostility of outer space. Professionally, I study graduate astrophysics and research the ways high-energy celestial objects impact cosmic evolution. Creatively, I use my training to write science fiction horror exploring the spookiest things the universe has to offer. I particularly love stories that throw wrenches in the best-laid plans of star-faring protagonists, and will never get tired of a good old space mission gone terribly and tragically awry.

Ness' book list on sci-fi about space missions gone terribly wrong

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

Why did Ness love this book?

Binti combines some of my favorite flavors of science fiction into one bittersweet treat: brutal interspecies politics, cultural misunderstandings, and the struggle for coexistence in a galactic community.

The tragic encounter between students on their way to attend a prestigious university on another world and a violent alien species starts this story off with heart-pounding, heart-rending stakes. It goes on to interrogate war and peace between species and the act of true communication and tolerance.

Those who are interested in stories with a raw but hopeful outlook on what it would mean for multiple civilizations in the Milky Way to find harmony will enjoy this read.

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella! Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has…

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…


By Paul S. Kemp,

Book cover of Deceived

J.W. Kiefer Author Of Death

From the list on the most unique magic systems.

Who am I?

I'm a fiction author and minister from Upstate New York. As a young boy, I had many supernatural experiences. My earliest memory is of a supernatural basis. For me, the unseen world, and those things that others either deny exist or have relegated to ancient history and myth, have always been real to me. Reading, films, video games, and all other forms of storytelling were ways for me to experience the strange and the mysterious. What I found as I walked through such places as Middle Earth, Narnia, and Ice Wind Dale, was that the stories of these characters that overcame adversity, failures, and weaknesses to become heroes inspired me as well.

J.W.'s book list on the most unique magic systems

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

Why did J.W. love this book?

Okay, if you try to tell me that Star Wars doesn’t have a magic system, then I will fight you right here and now. I mean it, I will actually fight you. In all honesty, Star Wars is sci-fantasy, not really sci-fi. I think every kid and even adult from my generation can remember trying to move something using the force. In fact, I still wave my hand in front of electric doors and pretend I am a Jedi. Oh, don’t judge me, you know you do it too. Jedi and Sith are, after all, simply space wizards. They even dress the part. Well, maybe more like space clerics, but you get the point. Why I chose this book is because I feel that it gets into a lot of discussion on how each side views the force and its applications. I am particularly fascinated by Malgus and his ideology…

By Paul S. Kemp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars®: The Old Republic™ ramps up the action and brings readers face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords—Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular “Deceived” and “Hope” game trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous—something Malgus would never…


By Catherynne M. Valente, Catherynne M. Valente,

Book cover of Radiance

Tyler Schwanke Author Of Breaking In

From the list on movie lovers.

Who am I?

Tyler Schwanke is a writer and a filmmaker. He holds an MFA from Hamline University, and his short stories have been widely published in online journals and literary magazines, including Chaotic Merge, Havik, and Fiction Southeast. He is also a graduate of the New York Film Academy and Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he was awarded a Minnesota Film and TV Grant. Several of his award-winning short films have played at festivals across the country. Tyler lives in the Minneapolis with his wife and their dog. Breaking In is his debut novel.

Tyler's book list on movie lovers

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

Why did Tyler love this book?

A sci-fi space opera that’s told like a documentary film.

This was the first book (but certainly not the last) that ever made me jealous I didn’t write, and inspired countless hours of me trying to duplicate.

Set in an alternate 1986 where silent films still reign and using various forms (reality tv, movie, celebrity rags, audio transcripts) this is a genre-bending collective gorgeously told and seriously underread. 

By Catherynne M. Valente, Catherynne M. Valente,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Severin Unck is the headstrong young daughter of a world famous film director. She has inherited her father's love of the big screen but not his exuberant gothic style of filmmaking. Instead, Severin makes documentaries, artful and passionate and even rather brave - for she is a realist in a fantastic alternate universe, in which Hollywood occupies the moon, Mars is rife with lawless saloons, and the solar system contains all manner of creatures, cults and colonies. For Severin's latest project she leads her crew to the watery planet of Venus to investigate the disappearance of a diving colony there.…

The Caves of Steel

By Isaac Asimov,

Book cover of The Caves of Steel

Guy Morpuss Author Of Black Lake Manor

From the list on speculative crime.

Who am I?

I grew up reading the crime and thriller books on my parents’ bookshelves. As a teenager I got into science fiction, reading everything I could. Speculative crime fiction mixes the best of both genres. You twist one aspect of the real world, add a dead body, and play with the consequences. I have written two novels that do this: in my first, I imagined a world in which five people share a body, and one of them is trying to kill the others; in my second, a killer who can turn back time. I love books that toy with reality in this way, and read all that I can.

Guy's book list on speculative crime

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

Why did Guy love this book?

I grew up reading Isaac Asimov, and it must be at least forty years since I first read this.

Far in the future, a New York detective is partnered with a robot to investigate the murder of a leading citizen. At the heart of the book is an intriguing murder mystery. However, what makes this a favourite of mine is the growing relationship between the two investigators.

Asimov wrote this to prove that crime and science fiction are not incompatible genres – and succeeded brilliantly, paving the way for those who have followed him.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Isaac Asimov's Robot series - from the iconic collection I, Robot to four classic novels - contains some of the most influential works in the history of science fiction. Establishing and testing the Three Laws of Robotics, they continue to shape the understanding and design of artificial intelligence to this day.

In the vast, domed cities of Earth, artificial intelligence is strictly controlled; in the distant Outer Worlds, colonists and robots live side by side.

A Spacer ambassador is found dead and detective Elijah Baley is assigned to find the killer. But with relations between the two cultures in the…


By Melissa Landers,

Book cover of Starflight

Annie Sullivan Author Of A Touch of Gold

From the list on YA fantasy with pirates.

Who am I?

I’m a young adult fantasy author who’s been in love with pirates since before Pirates of the Caribbean came out…and who then wrote a novel inspired by it. I grew up watching every pirate movie I could and have always wanted to hunt for treasure. I feel my most calm when I’m by the ocean, and I’m a bit of a wanderer myself—having traveled to over 60 countries and to every continent (yes, including Antarctica!). I have a master’s degree in Creative Writing and love sharing my adventures with the world. 

Annie's book list on YA fantasy with pirates

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

Why did Annie love this book?

Pirates…in space! Maybe you weren’t expecting space pirates on this list, but they’re just as cool as sea pirates. With a mix of Star Wars and the movie Overboard vibes, this story follows a down-on-her-luck Solara as she bargains for passage to another world and another life. However, some risks are bigger than others. So are some cons. And Solara might just have to team up with the last person she wants to in order to survive. I love the “found family” trope in this one and how you learn there’s more to people than you ever thought.  

By Melissa Landers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fast-paced adventure, found family, intrigue, and enemies-to-lovers romance combine in an action-packed young adult novel for fans of Firefly.

Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. Still, off-world travel doesn't come cheap, and Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school. The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for…

Caliban's War

By James S. A. Corey,

Book cover of Caliban's War

Dan Moren Author Of The Nova Incident

From the list on sci-fi overflowing with intrigue and mystery.

Who am I?

Growing up I devoured science-fiction and spy stories by the boatload—the only person I wanted to be more than James Bond was probably Han Solo. Of course, I couldn’t really become either of them, but I always knew the next best thing would be telling stories about those kinds of characters. Ultimately, I couldn’t decide whether to focus on space adventures or spies, so the only real answer was to smash those two genres together. Five years and four novels later, the world of the Galactic Cold War is humming along quite nicely. But I’m still always on the lookout for the next great sci-fi spy novel.

Dan's book list on sci-fi overflowing with intrigue and mystery

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

Why did Dan love this book?

Okay, it’s the second book in the tremendously popular series The Expanse (perhaps you’ve heard of this little series turned TV show), but it’s also my favorite. That’s because Corey ramps up the intrigue as Mars, Earth, and the Belt find themselves enmeshed in an open war that has some decidedly murky underpinnings. This volume also introduces two of the series' best and most memorable characters: Martian marine Bobbie Draper and savvy Earth politician Chrisjen Avasarala. The book kicks off with a bang, and doesn’t let up, concluding with perhaps one of the most page-turning action sequences I’ve ever read.

By James S. A. Corey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The second book in the NYT bestselling Expanse series, Caliban's War shows a solar system on the brink of war, and the only hope of peace rests on James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante's shoulders. Now a Prime Original series.


We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening…


By Arthur C. Clarke,

Book cover of 2001

K. Van Kramer Author Of Modified

From the list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved science fiction because it offers a hope, a dream, or a future that we just haven't seen yet. When I write my stories, I feel there is no better use of my imagination, than to contemplate a new world, a new civilization, or future technology. At the same time, I hope to entertain readers and spark young imaginations. Inside Modified, I reached into a distant future with off-world colonies that float in the clouds of Venus, while robots toil on the planet’s surface. Of course, in such a future, when advanced modifications and recursive designs are used, leads one to wonder if my robot can love too.

K.'s book list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds

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

Why did K. love this book?

This book seems a bit strange at first, when the story begins with Moon-Watcher, the leader of a tribe of early ape-man, who struggles for survival during the brutal Pleistocene ice age. After an alien monolith appears, it seems to advance the way he thinks, leading him to develop crude weapons. When the same monolith is discovered in the future, we seem fated to find the answers behind the eerie structure. Skipping to a team of astronauts who travel aboard a ship to further investigate, things take an unexpected turn when the ship’s A.I. called HAL-9000, gets very confused about keeping secrets. Something about the way it remains so polite while it deceives the crew, is enough to give anyone a nightmare.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 2001 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written when landing on the moon was still a dream, and made into one of the most influential films of all time, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY remains a classic work of science fiction fifty years after its original publication.

The discovery of a black monolith on the moon leads to a manned expedition deep into the solar system, in the hope of establishing contact with an alien intelligence. Yet long before the crew can reach their destination, the voyage descends into disaster . . .

Brilliant, compulsive and prophetic, Arthur C. Clarke's timeless novel tackles the enduring theme of mankind's…

Gurple and Preen

By Linda Sue Park, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator),

Book cover of Gurple and Preen: A Broken Crayon Cosmic Adventure

Josh Funk Author Of Dear Unicorn

From the list on pictures to inspire the creative artistic spirit.

Who am I?

As an author, one of my goals is to encourage kids to fall in love with reading–but I’m not an illustrator. I wish I practiced art more as a kid. If I had, maybe I’d be illustrating my own books. If only these five books existed forty years ago, perhaps I wouldn’t have given up on art. So, in addition to falling in love with reading, I’d love to inspire those same kids to keep exploring their artistic sides. I’ve seen how these books invigorate the artistic spirit of creatives and I hope they do the same for you.

Josh's book list on pictures to inspire the creative artistic spirit

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

Why did Josh love this book?

It’s amazing what a little crayon can do, especially when it’s broken.

Inspired by Ohi’s viral broken crayon illustrations, Park invites two aliens into the planet of broken crayons where magic is made. It’s amazing what a little friendship and art can do together (hmm, similar theme to Dear Unicorn, now that I think of it). Bonus: check out Ohi’s social media for loads more creative found object artwork.

By Linda Sue Park, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This wildly imaginative, crayon-inspired picture book shows that with a bit of teamwork and a universe of creativity, anything is possible!


Gurple and Preen are in a big mess!

When they crash-land onto an unfamiliar planet with nothing but boxes of crayons, they must work together to get the mission back on course.

From Newbery Award–winning author Linda Sue Park and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi comes a story about all the best things that can come out of a box of crayons.


By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Nathaniel Hardman Author Of School

From the list on magic-in-space for middle schoolers.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was a kid, and I love when the two genres meet. I’m also fascinated by the power of stories and language, which has led me to work as an intern at a literary agency and later as an editor at a website that reviewed and gave feedback on unpublished manuscripts. I love finding ways to imbue stories with the kind of magic that can transport us to new worlds.

Nathaniel's book list on magic-in-space for middle schoolers

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

Why did Nathaniel love this book?

I know, I know. You say it’s not for kids, and it’s not magic. But as for the first: I read it when I was fourteen, and I loved it.

It opened my eyes to the possibilities of science fiction as real, thoughtful world-building - creating an ecology for a world (though maybe I couldn’t have put that to words). It was meticulous in a way that fascinated and intrigued me. And as for the magic: Spice lets them see the future. The Voice lets you control other people’s minds. It’s magic.

And so is this book! There's a reason it's still getting movie adaptations almost 60 years after it was published...

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…


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

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

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…


By Charles Stross,

Book cover of Glasshouse

Tristan Palmgren Author Of Quietus

From the list on science fiction books about the past.

Who am I?

I’m a Virginia-based science fiction and fantasy writer who’s lived variously-enriching lives as a coroner’s assistant, customer service manager, university lecturer, secretary, factory technician, and clerk. I’ve bounced all around the Midwest, from Minnesota to Ohio to Colorado to Missouri and now out on the East Coast.

Tristan's book list on science fiction books about the past

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

Why did Tristan love this book?

Not all books about the past have to be set in the past. In the far-flung future, deep in interstellar space and surrounded by impossible living technologies, an amnesiac takes part in a sociological experiment to reconstruct twentieth-century middle-class living. Glasshouse is, among other things, a playful, bitter, and funny takedown of both the era and the impossibility of actually reconstructing history. The paranoia engendered by twentieth-century living is only far too justified by the interstellar conspiracy that’s ensnared the study’s participants.

By Charles Stross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn’t take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It’s the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees’ personalities—including Robin’s earlier self.
On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity: the Glasshouse, a simulated pre-accelerated culture where participants are assigned anonymized identities. But what looks like the…

The Algebraist

By Iain M. Banks,

Book cover of The Algebraist

Jason Jowett Author Of Alchemy Series Compendium

From the list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview.

Who am I?

As an avid explorer having thrice traveled around the world, living and working in over 40 countries, my inspirations as so originally science fiction have found grounding. I looked to level my imagination in the real world and filtered out the impossible from the unnecessary on a path to utopia. Sharing our ideas, exposing misgivings too, all contribute to a shared realization of human potential. This is much of the reason for who I am as a founder of business platforms I designed to achieve things that I envisage as helpful, necessary, and constructive contributions to our world. Those software endeavours underway in 2022, and a longtime coming still, are Horoscorpio and De Democracy.

Jason's book list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview

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

Why did Jason love this book?

The biggest challenge to setting out a worldview within a universe is describing the detail about entities that imbues the feelings associated with living as those entities within it. Banks manages the sensation of living beings masterfully, where they are so alien and so abstract your pure imagination is put to the test. What would life be like for you as a jelly blob that flies around a gas giant? Pretty damn good thanks to Iain, and it's something I tackled in my book too with not nearly as much success it seems, at least yet.

By Iain M. Banks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year.

The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilisation. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living in a state of highly developed barbarism, hoarding data without order, hunting their own young and fighting pointless formal wars.

Seconded to a military-religious order he's barely heard of -…


By David Brin,

Book cover of Sundiver

James Murdo Author Of Siouca Remembers

From the 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

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

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…

The Sheriff of Yrnameer

By Michael Rubens,

Book cover of The Sheriff of Yrnameer

Tom Dell'aringa Author Of Blanchland Blues

From the list on sci-fi to get lost in that tickle your funny bone.

Who am I?

Comedy and science fiction have special places in my heart. I’m fascinated with the prospect of what AI and machine learning might bring us, and I believe to laugh and enjoy life is to be healthy and content. The best humor is revealed through character relationships. I grew up watching Doctor Who, a show that presented a serious story with lighthearted moments. Douglas Adams put that same formula in his books. For ten years I honed my writing skills producing graphic novels, where you had to tell a story and inject humor onto one page. Now novel writing is my means of bringing a little joy to the world.

Tom's book list on sci-fi to get lost in that tickle your funny bone

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Why did Tom love this book?

I have so much love for this story and I can’t understand how it’s not a bestseller. This book helped me understand my own brand of humor could work in a novel. Michael Rubens has a unique razor wit like Douglas Adams, and what I cherish about this story is all the laugh-out-loud moments. When I read this book, I am smiling the whole time—it lifts my spirits! Cole, the main character, flees the galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter who wants to lay eggs in his brain. Things don't get any better when he smuggles a ship full of freeze-dried orphans. In the end, Cole has to make a tough choice, which always resonates with me. Do you want to be happy? Read this book!

By Michael Rubens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spirit of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is sci-fi comedy at its best—mordant, raucously funny, and a thrilling page-turner.
Meet Cole: hapless space rogue and part-time smuggler. His sidekick just stole his girlfriend. The galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter wants to lay eggs in his brain. And the luxury space yacht Cole just hijacked turns out to be filled with interstellar do-gooders, one especially loathsome stowaway, and a cargo of freeze-dried orphans. Cole gathers a misfit crew for a desperate journey to the far reaches of the galaxy: the mysterious world of…

The Employees

By Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken (translator),

Book cover of The Employees: A workplace novel of the 22nd century

Akil Kumarasamy Author Of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

From the list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you.

Who am I?

Ursula K. Le Guin said science fiction is a metaphor of the now. It allows us to defamiliarize ourselves with the issues around us, so we can see everything from a new lens. As someone who worked in tech spaces and once wrote a poetry-generating program, I am interested in how people use language to write about technology, at all levels. I appreciate the blend of older forms of technology like phonographs along with newer forms like ChatGPT. Languages interest me: how we translate to speak to machinery or people, and how translation itself can feel like a kind of wormhole into another world. 

Akil's book list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you

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

Why did Akil love this book?

The novel consists of interviews on a spaceship in the 22nd century.

The writing is beautiful and poetic, describing abstract objects in moving ways. I was deeply impressed how one can piece together various narrative threads through these truncated interviews. And it is a novel inspired by a visual arts exhibit. I love the collaborative aspect of it!

By the end, you’ll begin questioning what it means to be human. It’s translated from Danish, so yes, please, everyone read more translated fiction!

By Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in paperback, The Employees chronicles the fate of the interstellar Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids.
Olga Ravn's prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.