The most recommended space opera books

Who picked these books? Meet our 340 experts.

340 authors created a book list connected to space opera, and here are their favorite space opera books.
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What type of space opera book?


Book cover of Ancillary Mercy

Andrew Sweet Author Of Southern Highlands: Obi of Mars

From my list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved science fiction. My father was an Asimov junkie, and our house was packed with science fiction novels and stories from Azimov to Heinlein to Wyndham and Wilhelm. I began writing science fiction in high school, yet only recently published my first 4 novels (one of which won a Bookfest award). I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science (bioinformatics), and I stay on top of science to inform my writing. It’s through this background that I select novels, seeking out new tropes and ideas in technological advancement. Each of these novels I mention exceeded my expectations and then some. Pick one up today—you won’t be disappointed!

Andrew's book list on sci-fi featuring world-changing female badasses

Andrew Sweet Why did Andrew love this book?

What a phenomenal novel by Ann Leckie! I came across Ann Leckie’s series as I was working through books about cloning while I was writing my books. What do I love about it? The concepts, for sure: AI ships being negotiated, the entire idea of shipping minds around, a leader who sabotages herself to the detriment of her realm. All of these have been done to some extent before, but not at the scale that Ann Leckie takes on. She also manages to avoid some dead clone tropes and dead or dying AI tropes while she entertains. This novel (and series) were done well and the characters pop with personality. Loved it!

By Ann Leckie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Breq and her crew must stand against an old and powerful enemy, the Lord of the Radch, and fight for the right to determine their own destinies in the stunning conclusion to the NYT bestselling Imperial Radch trilogy A must read for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin and James S. A. Corey.

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided…

Book cover of Friday

Kfir Luzzatto Author Of Chipless

From my list on realistic science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Kfir Luzzatto Why did Kfir love this book?

Robert Heinlein excels himself in this story narrated in the first person by a young woman, who is not really a human but rather a synthetic person but one you can relate to. Published in 1982, when much of the technology it describes was not yet in the realm of possibility, this book shows us an image of a chaotic world that may well be in our future. Serious issues sprinkled through this book’s pages are hidden between fun, fast action, a bit of licentious behavior, and some absurdity. Fun is guaranteed.

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A CAEZIK Notable book. CAEZIK Notables is a series of speculative-fiction books marking important milestones in science fiction or fantasy. Each book published in the series has a new introduction highlighting the book’s significance within the genre.

“A charming protagonist in a story as sleekly engineered as a starship. This one should fly.”―Publishers Weekly

Friday is a secret courier and ardent lover. Employed by a man she only knows of as “Boss”, she is given the most awkward and dangerous cases, which take her from New Zealand to Canada, and through the new States of America’s disunion, all the way…

Book cover of Hard Contact

Carl Michaelsen Author Of The Last of a Dying Breed

From my list on to bring on an airplane/vacation.

Why am I passionate about this?

If you’re at all like me, then finding time to sit down and read a book is incredibly challenging given how busy our everyday lives are. It seems like the only time I truly can dive into a book is on vacation. And so, all of the books I recommended I have either read on vacation or on an airplane. In my opinion, a good vacation book needs to be two things. It needs to be a quick read and it needs to be impossible to put down. When I sit down to write a book, I try to keep both of these in mind!

Carl's book list on to bring on an airplane/vacation

Carl Michaelsen Why did Carl love this book?

Obviously, this book is not going to be for everyone. Some might not be able to get past the fact that it is a Star Wars book based off of a video game from 2005. But, if you can get past that, then buckle up for a gripping tale of war and brotherhood. Set in the first weeks of the Clone Wars, Hard Contact feels more like a Tom Clancy war thriller than a space opera. This entire series is gritty, grueling, gut-wrenching, and impossible to put down. 

By Karen Traviss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the Clone Wars rage, victory or defeat lies in the hands of elite squads who take on the toughest assignments in the galaxy ... On a mission to sabotage a chemical weapon research facility on a Separatist-held planet, four clone troopers operate under the very noses of their enemies. The commandos are outnumbered and outgunned, deep behind enemy lines with no backup - and working with strangers instead of trusted team-mates. Matters don't improve when Darman, the squad's demolitions expert, gets separated from the others during planetfall. Even Darman's apparent good luck in meeting an inexperienced Padawan vanishes once…

Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

Book cover of Price of Vengeance

Kurt D. Springs

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Teacher Cook Barista Guardian

Kurt's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Liam was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a soldier. After being cut off from the city, Liam finds that there is an alien intelligence behind the chitin. To defeat it, he must discover who he is and how to use his powers. Then, Liam discovers that a traitor, responsible for his birth parents' deaths, had…

Price of Vengeance

By Kurt D. Springs,

What is this book about?

"From the cover to the opening pages, Price of Vengeance grabs the reader and takes them on a wild ride. Fasten your seat belts for this book." -S. J. Francis, author of Shattered Lies

What is the Price of Vengeance? One could understand why Liam was angry. He was orphaned at the age of two by a group of giant carnivorous insects called the chitin. Taken in by High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, Liam was raised with their older son, Randolf in New Olympia, the last remaining city on the planet Etrusci.

As an adult, Liam becomes a…

Book cover of Ubik

Why am I passionate about this?

 I’ve always loved a good mystery that doesn’t give you all the details upfront. My favourite stories growing up were those where I had little epiphanies along the way until I got to the end, where everything finally fell into place. But perhaps why I’m most drawn to these types of stories is because they parallel learning about your surroundings in the real world. After living in several different countries, I’ve come to learn many situations piece by piece, where some ended in danger, while others were more humorous events that I can now laugh about. 

Jon's book list on dark horror stories that slowly unravel their mysteries piece by piece, letting you figure out along the way

Jon Vassa Why did Jon love this book?

I loved this book for the new concepts it brought to me about psychic abilities, specifically telepaths that could block other’s psychic abilities.

After this, I was drawn to the book for the way it blurred the lines of reality, making me question alongside the main character if anything they were experiencing was real. I also thought the idea of the UBIK drug that kept people in a 'half-life' was fascinating and a different way to show addiction and its consequences.

Lastly, the ending was quite thrilling and kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning, even though I had work the next day! 

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic science fiction tale of artifical worlds by one of the great American writers of the 20th century

Glen Runciter is dead.

Or is he?

Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out.

If it hasn't already.

Readers minds have been blown by Ubik:

'Sheer craziness, a book defying any straightforward synopsis . . . a unique time travel adventure…

Book cover of The Ship Who Sang

Jaleta Clegg Author Of Nexus Point

From my list on classic space operas written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy, and specifically space opera, since I was seven and first discovered The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. I read my way through every book in the school library and public library that dealt with aliens, space travel, starships, and especially adventure.

Jaleta's book list on classic space operas written by women

Jaleta Clegg Why did Jaleta love this book?

Helva is a ‘brain’, a person with a defective body who becomes meshed with a starship as its controller. Each brain-ship is partnered with a ‘brawn’, a human who acts as the liaison for the ship as well as its partner and protector. Helva loves singing and brings heart to her role as a scoutship brain.

Anne McCaffrey brings her signature romance to this book with a complex relationship that grows between Helva and her brawn as they explore the universe. McCaffrey is deft at creating characters that are vulnerable but still strong in their own way. Though Helva has no physical strength, she has a heart that loves to sing. Even though she is basically a starship, she holds on to her humanity.

By Anne McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The brain was perfect, the tiny, crippled body useless. So technology rescued the brain and put it in an environment that conditioned it to live in a different kind of body - a spaceship.

Here the human mind, more subtle, infinitely more complex than any computer ever devised, could be
linked to the massive and delicate strengths, the total recall, and the incredible speeds of space. But
the brain behind the ship was entirely feminine - a complex, loving, strong, weak, gentle savage -a personality, all-woman, called Helva...

Book cover of Last Watch

Steven Decker Author Of Time Chain

From my list on sci-fi that generates emotion.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Steven Decker Why did Steven love this book?

Full of fascinating sci-fi technology and characters, The Last Watch caused me to feel awe. The central concept surrounds the discovery of the edge of the universe. It’s called The Divide, and humans have used alien technology to reach it. And you definitely do not want to cross over The Divide. But what happens when the universe begins to collapse? The Sentinels—a rag-tag group of humans who’ve been banished for committing various crimes against humanity—are the guardians at The Divide. Led by an equally powerful and flawed protagonist, Adequin Rake, they square off against aliens and humans to try and save the universe. Action, love and death, and the emotions inherent in these things, are thoroughly enjoyed when you read this book.

By J. S. Dewes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Expanse meets Game of Thrones in J. S. Dewes's fast-paced, sci-fi adventure The Last Watch, the first book in the Divide series, where a handful of soldiers stand between humanity and annihilation.

Goodreads Most Popular Sci-Fi Novels of the Past 3 Years—Best Sci-fi Books 2022

New York Public Library—Best Science Fiction 2021
Business Insider—Best Science Fiction 2021
Polygon—Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021
Amazon—Best Science Fiction 2021
FanFiAddict—Lord TBR's Best of 2021
Best SciFi Books—Best of 2021
P. S. Hoffman—Best of 2021
10 Best Books Like Foundation—ScreenRant
20 Must Read Space Fantasy Books for 2021—Bookriot

Most Anticipated Book…

Book cover of Dune

Liam Lombard Author Of The Calling

From my list on fantasy great world building relatable characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved the intricacies and secrets our world has to offer. In pursuing knowledge, I delved deep into the ‘magic’ of science to learn about its mysteries. The more I learned, the more I wanted to experiment with the laws of our world. After much schooling and reading many fantasy books, I eventually wrote about a fantastical world where science has been tweaked just enough to make things interesting. I hope you enjoy my list of books and that they excite you as much as they have excited me. 

Liam's book list on fantasy great world building relatable characters

Liam Lombard Why did Liam love this book?

This book is probably the best I have ever read. The way characters think and feel is expressed magnificently, and the subtle ‘awe’ moments drive the plot forward.

I have never felt more attached to characters and their magic. Paul’s journey is believable and incredibly crafted. World-building is effortless, and I was never bored at any point while listening to the book.

I fear reading more in the series because this book is so good. I don’t want anything to spoil its perfection. 

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

57 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…

Book cover of Sapo Saga

J Lenni Dorner Author Of Writing Book Reviews as an Author: Inspiration to Make It Easier

From my list on created from the April blogging #AtoZChallenge.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taken part in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge #atozchallenge since 2014. I volunteered on A to Z founder Arlee's group early on. I was elevated to co-host in 2017 and became the Team Captain in 2018. In 2019, I ran the "#AtoZChallenge Book Reviews, Tour, and Blog Hop!" My own book, Writing Book Reviews As An Author: Inspiration To Make It Easier, was created because of the challenge. I used my method of writing book reviews, broken down alphabetically, to create a month of blog posts. Then compiled those posts into a book. Authors depend on book reviews, but struggle to write them for others.

J's book list on created from the April blogging #AtoZChallenge

J Lenni Dorner Why did J love this book?

The recurring idea in Sapo Saga is that everyone wants to be remembered, or deserves to be.
“Iris” is the story in the book I enjoyed the most, because of the deep philosophy. It also has the character to which I could best relate.

It's a book that is easy to read and enjoy. I recommend it to readers ready for something different. There is a complexity to the story. The ending brings everything together, making it more enjoyable with a second read. The uncommon storytelling boomerangs the story plot. All of the fascinating characters make this book hard to put down.

By Tony Laplume,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty-six perspectives collide to present a portrait of an epic showdown between good and evil as the world of Zala proves to be the last stand of the Sapo Order. The human who would become known as Ulysses appears and deposes the tyrant Reeve, but things only get worse from there... Soon, everything is lost, and blame is pinned on Sapo warrior Zuri. The truth is lost to history, Ulysses becomes legend, returns home to Earth, and finds that his family is a new kind of battleground. His son doesn't believe his stories, his daughter does, and his wife may…

Book cover of Quarter Share

Sylvia Engdahl Author Of This Star Shall Abide

From my list on YA about imaginary worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in worlds other than ours, primarily extraterrestrial worlds because I believe expansion into space is vital to the future survival of humankind, but also fantasy worlds that illuminate ideas and feelings that are universal. I’ve written the Newbery Honor book Enchantress from the Stars and ten other science fiction novels, a classification that limits their discovery because they're often liked better by people who read little if any science fiction than by avid fans of that genre. Because they’re set in imaginary worlds distant from Earth—and are not fantasy because they contain no mythical creatures or magic—there is nothing else to call them. I wish books didn’t have to be labeled with categories!

Sylvia's book list on YA about imaginary worlds

Sylvia Engdahl Why did Sylvia love this book?

This is the first book in a series for adults that can also be enjoyed by teens. Unlike most space fiction, it's not about heroic exploits but about an ordinary young man coming of age while doing an ordinary job aboard a merchant starship. I like its portrayal of the human-settled part of the universe in the era of travel between stars. No aliens, no space battles–just a culture much like our own offering freedom and opportunity for personal achievement. The specific lifestyle described is anachronistic because cultures change over time; yet it's no further from realism than wildly-imagined changes would be. I believe fiction that shows significant future developments should let readers identify with its characters' experiences rather than depict differences merely for the sake of difference.

By Nathan Lowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if we sent freighters instead of frigates?In a universe run by corporations, where profit matters more than life, how can an orphan with no skills, no money, and no prospects survive?When Ishmael Wang's mother dies in a senseless accident, he's given a choice. Leave the planet on his own or the company will remove him. To avoid deportation, Ishmael finds work as a mess deck attendant on an intersteller freighter. Find out what Ishmael must do to earn his Quarter Share.

Book cover of Jem

Gary Gibson Author Of Echogenesis

From my list on cynical takes on space colonisation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I was exposed to the same influences as most other SF writers of my generation – Clarke, Heinlein, and Asimov. But I was also exposed to the more nuanced, more psychologically realistic work of writers like Harlan Ellison, Norman Spinrad, Ursula K. LeGuin, and J.G. Ballard, none of whom shared the unquestioning techno-utopianism of an earlier generation of writers. They taught me not to automatically respect power or authority, and to always question ideas that might otherwise be taken for granted. It’s an approach that’s carried over into my own writing ever since.

Gary's book list on cynical takes on space colonisation

Gary Gibson Why did Gary love this book?

I first read Pohl’s Jem when I was a kid, and his fatalistic, even cynical take on first contact and interstellar colonization, along with the works of Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Ursula LeGuin, greatly informed my developing views on politics and society. A near-future Earth divided into three major power blocs discovers a world ripe for exploitation and populated by not one, but three, sentient species, It’s not long before each bloc is currying the favor of different species in order to set each against the other, with absolutely no one thinking beyond their own immediate needs or with any concern about the consequences of their actions.

By Frederik Pohl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A cynical and compelling tale of politics, exploitation and colonisation on another planet

The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the three bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries.

Subtitled, with savage irony, 'The Making of a Utopia', JEM is one of Frederik Pohl's most powerful novels.