The most recommended new space opera books

Who picked these books? Meet our 4 experts.

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

What type of new space opera book?

Loading...

Book cover of Markmaker

Karina Fabian Author Of Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Season 1

From Karina's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Comedienne Humor writer Catholic Get ‘er done Project accomplisher

Karina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Karina Fabian Why did Karina love this book?

I had the honor of reading this in a critique group before it came out and again when the editors were done with it.

Mariikel Serix is an alien tattoo artist trying to pay back for a wrong he'd done and finds himself embroiled in a shipwide political struggle against the clans. It's a great SF story with deeply woven themes of personal honor and doing the right thing when society pushes you to conform.

The world-building is amazing, especially the tribal society of a generation ship that's part of a nomadic fleet. It's a beautiful book and a great adventure.

By Mary Jessica Woods,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He swore to paint the truth. Now he is living a lie.

For the Noxxiin people, tattoos define identity: they commemorate birth, ancestry, accomplishments—even crimes. As a tattoo artist living on an ancient generation ship, Mariikel Serix has sworn to record the truth. So when he becomes an unwilling accomplice in the banishment of an innocent man, he is horrified that he has broken his oath—and his eyes are opened to the misery of the Underbelly, the realm of the outcasts.

Despite the risk to himself, the young markmaker begins secretly helping the ship’s exiles. But more trouble is brewing.…


Book cover of Storm over Warlock

Kurt D. Springs Author Of Price of Vengeance

From my list on sci-fi that meld military and paranormal themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Kurt D. Springs. If you read my back of the book bio, you’ll find I have advanced degrees in anthropology and archaeology and a focus on European prehistory. However, I’ve always been fascinated by military history. I’ve recently studied how modern warfare has changed many old paradigms. I’ve also studied modern and ancient religions, and many of the fiction works I enjoy have ESP or magic elements, especially Andre Norton’s works. I am also a fan of the HALO game universe. I like to tell people my stories are the children of Andre Norton’s Forerunner series and HALO.

Kurt's book list on sci-fi that meld military and paranormal themes

Kurt D. Springs Why did Kurt love this book?

Storm Over Warlock was an earlier book by Andre Norton, but part of her Forerunner series.

The human Shann Lantee works as low-ranking survey personnel on the planet Warlock when the insectoid Throg attack the base, killing everyone and leaving him with his two pet wolverines. I enjoy how he and the local aliens, known as the Wyverns, use psychic powers to turn the tables on their enemies.

I am one of those people who enjoys the underdog overcoming the odds.

By Andre Norton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stranded on the alien world of Warlock, Shann Lantree's expedition camp has been wiped out by the Throgs, beings so alien that humans have yet to communicate with them. Lantree must quickly learn how to survive under harsh conditions while being chased by the Throgs - and how to distinguish the real from the dreamed when he meets the mysterious Wyverns.


Book cover of The Strange

Rohan Oduill Author Of Cold Rising

From my list on science fiction books with working class heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having spent thirty years working as a chef, I was always going to have working-class heroes in my stories. When someone said this is uncommon in science fiction, I didn’t believe them. But then I couldn’t think of any. I started searching through my bookshelves, and still, I couldn’t find enough to fill this list. I asked on socials and eventually found five books. 

It would seem natural that in a science fiction world of adventure and exploration, the professionals would be at the forefront. But I am pretty sure that the toilet cleaners on the Death Star would still have a story or two to tell.

Rohan's book list on science fiction books with working class heroes

Rohan Oduill Why did Rohan love this book?

This book resonates with Golden Age sci-fi vibes. Set in the wonderfully described frontier that is the Mars colony, Ballingrad captures the difficulty and hardship experienced by people who venture to the edge of civilisation in hopes of a better life and reminds us that it is these hardworking people that build the foundations for everything that comes after.

Annabelle is a young girl who embarks on a journey seeking justice after bandits steal the last recording of her mother's voice. On her quest she falls in with a gang of ne’er-do-wells while all communication and transport from Earth mysteriously ceases.

If you enjoy space westerns and the bygone era of classic sci-fi, this book is for you.

By Nathan Ballingrud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ray Bradbury meets The Martian in this chilling page-turning tale of Mars' first colony, fallen to madness after all contact with Earth ceased, perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer.

Anabelle Crisp is fourteen when the Silence arrives, severing all communication between Earth and her new home on Mars. One evening, while she and her father are closing their diner in the colony of New Galveston, they are robbed at gunpoint.

Among the stolen items is a recording of her absent mother's voice. Driven by righteous fury and desperation to lift her father's broken spirits, Anabelle sets out to confront the…


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 murdered his beloved foster parents. Will the price he has to pay in his quest for vengeance prove to be an even more unbeatable foe?

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 Children of Memory

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

From Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Illustrator Arts administrator Naturalist

Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Melissa Washburn Why did Melissa love this book?

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

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

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

By Adrian Tchaikovsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

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


Book cover of Light Bringer

Lia Matera Author Of Star Witness: A Willa Jansson Mystery

From Lia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Recovering lawyer

Lia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lia Matera Why did Lia love this book?

It will take me a while to recover from this book. It's a thrill ride of near-miss triumphs and terrifying reversals, full of gasp-out-loud twists and ruthless betrayals by good guys as well as bad.

Set in a solar system of genetically engineered castes, its ruling classes fetishize ancient Rome, emulating not only its traditions but its quest for territory, a dangerous itch in an age of weapons able to burn planets to ash.

The resulting fight scenes and space battles are spectacular, the best I've ever read, but the real brilliance is in its characters. I know from online reviews that I'm not the only reader who, rooting for the heroes and shuddering over the villains, found "almost unbearable suspense" to be more than a cliché. 

By Pierce Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Light Bringer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Darrow returns as Pierce Brown’s New York Times bestselling Red Rising series continues in the thrilling sequel to Dark Age.

The Reaper is a legend, more myth than man: the savior of worlds, the leader of the Rising, the breaker of chains.

But the Reaper is also Darrow, born of the red soil of Mars: a husband, a father, a friend.

Marooned far from home after a devastating defeat on the battlefields of Mercury, Darrow longs to return to his wife and sovereign, Virginia, to defend Mars from its bloodthirsty would-be conqueror Lysander.

Lysander longs to destroy the Rising and…


Book cover of The Blighted Stars

Jo Miles Author Of Warped State

From my list on sci-fi and non-fiction about taking on greedy corporations.

Why am I passionate about this?

My day job has always involved working with nonprofits, and my favorites are activist organizations. The grassroots organizers I’ve worked with are some of the most impressive people I know. Despite what science fiction stories often tell us, change doesn’t come from blowing up the Death Star, but from hard work and relentless optimism. At a time when corporations are growing ever more powerful, ChatGPT wants to take our jobs, and politics can be dismally depressing, I hope these books remind you that power is never absolute, and the future is what we make of it.

Jo's book list on sci-fi and non-fiction about taking on greedy corporations

Jo Miles Why did Jo love this book?

The son of the head of an all-powerful corporation and a radical activist disguised as his bodyguard have to work together to stop corporate wrongs that are worse than either of them suspect.

It’s a perfect enemies-to-lovers setup, and I adore the chemistry between these two, who both want to save the galaxy but have conflicting ideas about how.

Along with delving into the complexities of some unique and fascinating corporate-controlled technology—like body-replacement tech that can help a transgender person be themselves, or trap a dissident in limbo forever—O’Keefe shows the darkest sides of corporate power abuse, and debate over what it takes to challenge such power in this thriller/horror/adventure. I couldn’t put it down.

By Megan E. O'Keefe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stranded on a dead planet with her mortal enemy, a spy must survive and uncover a conspiracy in the first book of an epic space opera trilogy by an award‑winning author.

She's a revolutionary. Humanity is running out of options. Habitable planets are being destroyed as quickly as they're found and Naira Sharp thinks she knows the reason why. The all-powerful Mercator family has been controlling the exploration of the universe for decades, and exploiting any materials they find along the way under the guise of helping humanity's expansion. But Naira knows the truth, and she plans to bring the…


Book cover of The Deep Sky

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From Nancy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historian 1960s generation Historic sites fan Feminist Avid reader

Nancy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Nancy A. Hewitt Why did Nancy love this book?

Kitasei combines a science fiction thriller with a searing exploration of women’s friendships across time, race, ethnicity, and politics.

With Earth increasingly uninhabitable, a group of 80 women of childbearing age are sent into space with vials of semen to recreate human life on a distant planet.

Kitasei reveals the growing conflicts among the women, which intensify when one of them dies while trying to repair the ship. Asuka, the beautifully drawn central character, feels insecure about her place among the women and worries that, as their anxieties intensify, she might be targeted as the traitor in their midst.

By Yume Kitasei,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Yume Kitasei's The Deep Sky is an enthralling sci fi thriller debut about a mission into deep space that begins with a lethal explosion that leaves the survivors questioning the loyalty of the crew.

They left Earth to save humanity. They'll have to save themselves first.

It is the eve of Earth's environmental collapse. A single ship carries humanity's last hope: eighty elite graduates of a competitive program, who will give birth to a generation of children in deep space. But halfway to a distant but livable planet, a lethal bomb kills three of the crew and knocks The Phoenix…


Book cover of Translation State

Barbara Krasnoff Author Of The History of Soul 2065

From Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Technical journalist Dreamer

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Barbara Krasnoff Why did Barbara love this book?

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

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

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

By Ann Leckie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

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


Book cover of The Blue, Beautiful World

Felicia Watson Author Of Where No One Will See

From Felicia's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Scientist Writer Goal-oriented Inquisitive Determined

Felicia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Felicia Watson Why did Felicia love this book?

In a setting where climate change has radically transformed Earth, we meet Owen, a rock star who has a lot more going for him than musical abilities, namely an almost supernatural ability to influence and unify people.

His ability proves useful in preparing Earth for the leap forward onto the intergalactic political stage. A time skip in the narrative shows us Owen training a group of recruits to do precisely that: confront an alien presence. While this is a story about the struggle to save Earth, its focus is unique and asks intriguing questions about human nature and our likely reaction to first contact.

It can be read as a stand-alone with a kind of “cheat-sheet” at the end of the book to help you out. That being said, it is better to have read the other Cygnus Beta novels first. 

By Karen Lord,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As first contact transforms Earth, a team of gifted visionaries race to create a new future in this wondrous science fiction novel from the award-winning author of The Best of All Possible Worlds.

“A complex story of first contact from a unique perspective that is warm, engaging, and wildly original.”—Martha Wells, New York Times bestselling author of The Murderbot Diaries

The world is changing, and humanity must change with it. Rising seas and soaring temperatures have radically transformed the face of Earth. Meanwhile, Earth is being observed from afar by other civilizations . . . and now they are ready…


Book cover of The Misfit Soldier

Chris Gerrib Author Of One of Our Spaceships is Missing

From my list on approachable new space operas.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Chris Gerrib Why did Chris love this book?

Star Trek is a great series, but you expect the flagship of the Federation to be able to handle pretty much anything. I’m much more interested in how ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. 

Michael Mammay, who like me, is former military, has a very ordinary hero in this story - Sergeant Gastovsky (“Gas” to everybody he knows). Gas’s one superpower is he knows everybody and can make a deal with anybody.

The Misfit Soldier is very enjoyable. The first half of the book is basically the plot of the movie Kelly's Heroes which is a WWII heist movie. It’s well-told and moves quickly. The second part, also based on Mammay’s personal experiences, is how his future military deals with the aftermath.

It’s a standalone, which is also a plus.

By Michael Mammay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ocean's Eleven meets John Scalzi in this funny, action-filled, stand-alone sci-fi adventure from the author of Planetside, in which a small team of misfit soldiers takes on a mission that could change the entire galaxy.

Sergeant Gastovsky-Gas to everyone but his superior officers-never wanted to be a soldier. Far from it. But when a con goes wrong and he needs a place to lay low for a while, he finds himself wearing the power armor of the augmented infantry.

After three years on a six-year contract, Gas has found his groove running low-level cons and various illegal activities that make…