The most recommended science fiction books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,671 experts.

1,671 authors created a book list with their favorite science fiction books, and here are their favorite sci-fi books from those lists. You can browse by subgenres or topics. 

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What type of sci-fi book?


Book cover of The Pyramids of London

Rachel Neumeier Author Of Tuyo

From my list on fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fantasy author, I love stories set within complex and unusual worlds. I especially enjoy worlds where the rules of physics and metaphysics are re-imagined, adding an extra dimension to the story. Most fantasy worlds are much like our own – big, spherical, ordinary climactic zones, normal physics. Magic sort of exists around the edges. A handful of fantasy worlds are different: the world is flat, layered, hollow, has physical and metaphysical laws that change when you step across a political border – or is wholly contained within an infinite House with oceans pouring through the lower levels. Those are worlds I find especially delightful to visit – and to write about!

Rachel's book list on fantasy novels

Rachel Neumeier Why did Rachel love this book?

The Pyramids of London has the most ornate, baroque alternative-history setting of any novel in the entire history of fantasy novels. Seriously. To start with, every kind of mythology is true in whatever region that mythology developed. Also, the pharaohs of Egypt have been vampires for thousands of years. Plus, when they die, vampires might become stars. Which are also gods. Plus France is ruled by the Fae. At night, when the Fae Court of the Moon arises in Paris, gravity suddenly drops dramatically.

Insert a murder mystery into this wildly ornate setting, plus fully realized characters you both believe in and root for, and off you go, on a fantastic journey through a world that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

By Andrea K. Host,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt's vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia's fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air. But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome's automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the New Republic's supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia's Trifold Goddess have been…

Book cover of Trailer, Get Your Kicks!

Diane Winger Author Of Ellie Dwyer's Great Escape

From my list on proving you’re never too old for fun adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an active senior who seeks outdoor adventures and who cringes whenever I hear someone say, “I’m too old to [fill in the blank]…”, I love both writing and reading books with older characters who believe instead, “You’re never too old.” I’m drawn to stories where older folks defy stereotypes and continue to relish new experiences, especially those involving the things I most enjoy: camping, hiking, and climbing. Toss in some fun and laughter and I’m there! 

Diane's book list on proving you’re never too old for fun adventures

Diane Winger Why did Diane love this book?

What a great combination – time travel and an adventure in a classic RV!

In my opinion, this book is the best of Nortman’s fun Time Travel Trailer series, combining suspense, nostalgia, and time travel with a delightful trip down memory lane – or I should say, a trip along the original Route 66.

By Karen Musser Nortman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lynne McBriar swore her vintage trailer would stay in a museum where it would be safe from further time travel. But when a museum in Texas wants to borrow it, she determines that she must deliver it herself. Her husband Kurt convinces her to take it along Route 66 for research he is doing. What starts out as a family vacation soon turns deadly. Travel can be dangerous any time, but when your trip involves the Time Travel Trailer, who knows where (or when) you will end up?

Book cover of Seveneves

Ness Brown Author Of The Scourge Between Stars

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Ness Brown Why did Ness love this book?

In Seveneves the crises start coming and never stop coming.

The sudden, inexplicable destruction of the Moon and the resultant catastrophic rain of debris destroys habitability on Earth. A small population of refugees escapes into space to keep the flame of humanity alight.

Naturally, the inhospitality of interplanetary space and conflicting factions of survivors plunges the journey into resource depletion, rampant cancer, attempted coups, and a population bottleneck, but I found that the ending concludes a surprising story of human connection, even when the definition of human has radically changed. 

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction.
President Barack Obama's summer reading choice and recently optioned by Ron Howard and IMAGINE to be made into a major motion picture.

What would happen if the world were ending?

When a catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain...

Five thousand years later, their progeny - seven distinct races now three…

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Ned Farrier Master Mariner: Call of the Cape

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…

Book cover of The Root Cellar

Summer Rachel Short Author Of The Legend of Greyhallow

From my list on children’s books that let you step into another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a daydreamer on the lookout for my entry into another world. I spent a good chunk of my early elementary years imagining I was a flying pony who could travel to distant lands and perform dazzling deeds. I never got my wings—but I did discover a way to reach those distant lands. Today, I have the pleasure of creating worlds of my own as the author of three published middle-grade novels: The Mutant Mushroom Takeover, Attack of the Killer Komodos, and The Legend of Greyhallow

Summer's book list on children’s books that let you step into another world

Summer Rachel Short Why did Summer love this book?

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. One of the things I loved about it was that it featured a regular girl with no special abilities embarking on a grand adventure.

I could easily relate to Rose Larkin and imagine myself in her shoes. I was captivated by the simple way Rose entered the new world—stepping into her aunt’s root cellar and traveling back in time to Civil War-era United States.

As a kid, I loved that Rose brought modern money with her and that just a little bit was enough to purchase quite a lot in the 1860s. I also appreciated the little historical details, like how everyone in the past assumed Rose was a boy just because she had short hair and wore jeans.

The Root Cellar thrilled my eleven-year-old heart and was such a fun way to explore another time and place.

By Janet Lunn, N. R. Jackson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Root Cellar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Bestseller and an ALA Notable Book!

It looked like an ordinary root cellar—and if twelve-year-old Rose hadn’t been so unhappy in her new home, where she’d been sent to live with unknown relatives, she probably would never have fled down the stairs to the root cellar in the first place. And if she hadn’t, she never would have climbed up into another century, the world of the 1860s, and the chaos of the Civil War.
“Melds past and present neatly . . . suspenseful.”—Publishers Weekly

Book cover of Wither

Shauna Granger Author Of World of Ash

From my list on dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves to read and wants to write all the fantasy genres, or at least, wants to try. I’ve always been fascinated by monsters and the question, “What if?” Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, and Fantasy gives us the freedom to explore both these things. It’s amazing how these genres can bend our world and expectation when we explore these two things. What if the world ended but not in the way we expect? What if monsters were real? What if we are the real monsters? These questions are terrifying but so fascinating to consider and blending fantasy with apocalyptic has been a safe way to explore them.

Shauna's book list on dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic

Shauna Granger Why did Shauna love this book?

This one is totally different than the others on my list, but when I was diving into these related genres and finding myself more and more inspired by them, it was always a surprise and a treat to find a book that just completely defied all genre expectations. The book blends Sci-Fi with Fantasy, something I’ve always enjoyed if done well, and something that made me think maybe I could try my hand at this. I was never that great in science or math, even though I tried, but the idea that we could mix Sci-Fi with Fantasy, now that was intriguing. And throw in a little unexpected romance and I think you have a really well-rounded adventure. Humans are the root cause of the ending of the human race, so obviously humans have to undo what they’ve done, but your average person is just trying to survive the fallout.

By Lauren DeStefano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wither as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A stunning debut YA novel, destined to blow the dystopian genre wide open - The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation. This edition will contain a sneak preview of Fever, and a brand new short story by Lauren DeStefano: "The First Bride".

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home - before her time runs out forever.

What if you knew you exactly when you would die?

In our brave new…

Book cover of Empress of Forever

Ness Brown Author Of The Scourge Between Stars

From Ness' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Astrophysicist Trekkie Horror enthusiast Fantasy lover

Ness' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Ness Brown Why did Ness love this book?

I love reading about rag-tag teams of misfits and outcasts going up against the impossible, and this book fully delivers on that front.

It follows tech mogul Vivian Liao through a botched attempt to save the world that slings her clear across the cosmos and through rip-roaring shenanigans alongside a motley but lovable crew.

This swash-buckling space adventure weaves some of my favorite story elements, a found-family-esque ensemble; anti-heroes turned friends; and a dramatic identity reveal through vivid and cinematic settings throughout the vast universe (and in between its interdimensional nooks and crannies.)

This book’s fast pace, high stakes, and meaningful character dynamics had me speeding through it straight to the climactic end.

By Max Gladstone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A wildly successful innovator to rival Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, Vivian Liao is prone to radical thinking, quick decision-making, and reckless action. On the eve of her greatest achievement, she's trying to outrun those who are trying to steal her success.

In the chilly darkness of a Boston server farm, Viv sets her ultimate plan into motion. A terrifying instant later, Vivian Liao is catapulted through space and time to a far future where she confronts a destiny stranger and more deadly than she could ever imagine.

The end of time is ruled by an ancient, powerful Empress who…

Book cover of Dawn

Rachel Mundy Author Of Animal Musicalities: Birds, Beasts, and Evolutionary Listening

From my list on having a voice if you’re not (fully) human.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a doctoral student in historical musicology, I went to Paris to study postwar government budgets for music, but it was really boring. So I started hanging out listening to Parisian songbirds instead. The more I learned about birdsong, the more I realized it raised some really big questions, like why biologists and musicians have completely different standards of evidence. Those questions led me to write my book, which is about what it means to sing if you’re not considered fully human, and most of my work today is about how thinking about animals can help us understand what we value in those who are different.

Rachel's book list on having a voice if you’re not (fully) human

Rachel Mundy Why did Rachel love this book?

Butler is known for bringing a black, feminist, and queer perspective to science fiction, a genre of futuristic and outer-space storytelling that traditionally features white male protagonists.

But what really captivates me about this book, which is set in a post-apocalyptic future where human survivors are mated with their alien rescuers (really!), is the way it asks icky-yet-intensely-meaningful questions. What does it mean to “be human” in a future of genetic hybridity and gender fluidity? What does it mean to love a partner or children whose genetics and culture are radically different from your own? When is violence futile, and when is it the only way to be heard?

I’m pretty much obsessed with this book, and I promise that any reader who has thought deeply about what it means to be really different will love it too.

Book cover of Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

Tony Benson Author Of An Accident of Birth

From my list on sci-fi exploring societal control of the human body.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a passion for story-telling, particularly when it involves a moral tale, or a strong moral theme. After a successful career in science and engineering, spanning more than three decades, I left the corporate world to make stringed instruments and to write fiction and non-fiction. I wrote my first novel, An Accident of Birth, after reading a scientific study showing a generation-on-generation decline in male fertility. My second novel is the space opera, Galactic Alliance: Betrayal, and I’ve written a non-fiction reference book Brass and Glass: Optical Instruments and Their Makers. I live in Kent, England with my wife, Margo, and our cat.

Tony's book list on sci-fi exploring societal control of the human body

Tony Benson Why did Tony love this book?

In this tale, the world is in post-apocalyptic decline, and human fertility has collapsed to zero. A family set up a cloning facility, hoping to overcome the odds and produce a fertile population. The clones, once mature, have other ideas. They take over the facility and marginalise the non-clones. Only rarely is a fertile clone produced, and they are kept as ‘breeders’. As the story progresses, the desire of a naturally born individual for self-determination, and conflicting values between individual and clone, lead to a tension that cannot go unresolved. The storytelling cleverly slips between omniscient in the scenes with the clones, and third person in the scenes with the individual characters.

By Kate Wilhelm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sumner family can read the signs: the droughts and floods, the blighted crops, the shortages, the rampant diseases and plagues, and, above all, the increasing sterility all point to one thing. Their isolated farm in the Appalachian Mountains gives them the ideal place to survive the coming breakdown, and their wealth and know-how gives them the means. Men and women must clone themselves for humanity to survive. But what then?

Book cover of The Romulan Way

Michael R. Johnston Author Of The Widening Gyre

From my list on multi-cultural space operas.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Michael's book list on multi-cultural space operas

Michael R. Johnston Why did Michael love this book?

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

By Diane Duane, Peter Morwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

Book cover of Barrayar

Joe Vasicek Author Of Brothers in Exile

From my list on large galactic empires.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in love with science fiction since I watched Star Wars for the first time at the age of seven, and haven’t looked back since. Besides being a voracious lifelong reader, I’ve written several dozen science fiction books myself, and my favorite sub-genre is space opera. I’ve read most of the Hugo and Nebula-winning novels, as well as several that those awards have overlooked, and my stories have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Again, Hazardous Imaginings, After Dinner Conversation, Bards and Sages Quarterly, and Twilight Tales LTUE Benefit Anthology.

Joe's book list on large galactic empires

Joe Vasicek Why did Joe love this book?

Shards of Honor and Barrayar form a duology within the wider Vorkosigan Saga, and starting with them both is the best way to become acquainted with the wider series universe and with the origins of Miles Vorkosigan. All of the later books refer back to events that happen in Barrayar, and one of the core conflicts of the novel is the struggle between the conservative isolationists who don’t want to integrate with the rest of the galaxy, and the liberal reformists who do. The political intrigue is extremely well done, and the adventure is superb.

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sick of combat and betrayal, Cordelia Vorkosigan is ready to settle down to
a quiet life. But when the Emperor dies, her husband Aral becomes guardian of
the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar and the target of high-tech
assassins in a dy