The best space warfare books

26 authors have picked their favorite books about space warfare and why they recommend each book.

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Bloodline (Star Wars)

By Claudia Gray,

Book cover of Bloodline (Star Wars)

Leia Organa has always been my favorite character from the Star Wars universe; she’s strong, capable, and witty while being a great leader but acknowledging vulnerability. Bloodline by Claudia Grey perfectly captures the untold times in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and Leia’s work as a senator, fending off threats to the Republic. A combination of both political intrigue and action, anyone wanting to learn more about Leia’s life and decisions should definitely pick up this book.


Who am I?

With a background in theoretical astrophysics and a life-long passion for science fiction, I am now lucky enough to have a dream job of working in one of my favorite sci-fi worlds: Star Trek. This role as science advisor for the franchise has bridged my career between hard science and fictional writing. Like many fans, I am one who simply wants to walk, live, and breathe in these fictional worlds that bring us so much joy. I always look for new ways to immerse myself, be it episode or movie rewatches, extended universe shows, comics, video games, and yes, books!


I wrote...

The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel

By Erin Macdonald,

Book cover of The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel

What is my book about?

As a fan of science as well as science fiction, Dr. Erin Macdonald (PhD, Astrophysics) takes you on an audio journey through the fantastical uses of spacetime in science fiction. Beginning with quick lessons on Newtonian and Einstein gravity, you’ll learn about the different ways we see artificial gravity, multiverses, and even time travel in popular science fiction and how it relates to actual science. Written and narrated by Dr. Erin, this is a perfect introduction to spacetime and physics while geeking out with fellow science fiction fans!

Leviathan Wakes

By James S. A. Corey,

Book cover of Leviathan Wakes

Jim Holden, from Earth, touched my sense of morality. Detective Miller, from the Belt, touched my sense of courage. Naomi Nagata, from the Belt, touched my sense of love. Alex Kamal, from Mars, touched my sense of regret. Amos Burton, from the underworld of Earth, touched my sense of fear. Leviathan Wakes is nearly 600 pages long, and I was sad to see it end. But so happy that there were 8 more tomes in this sci-fi adventure series, each with new fascinating characters, taking me to the farthest reaches of the universe, and ever so poignantly teaching me that there is so much more for us to learn about realms we cannot see.  


Who am I?

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. 


I wrote...

Time Chain

By Steven Decker,

Book cover of Time Chain

What is my book about?

It’s the year 2022. Dani Peterson has been walking in the west of Ireland, conducting historical research for her dissertation. But when she seeks shelter from a storm in Aideen O’Brien’s car, she gets more history than she bargained for. 

Aideen is a Time Link, with secret access to time travel technology. She sends Dani to 1978 to meet a younger version of herself. The two fall in love and Dani joins Aideen as a Time Link. They work for a man from 2253 named Charles Burke, who says his mission is to save the future. But after perilous trips to 1751 and 2253, Dani and Aideen discover that Charles is not the savior he claims to be.

Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Starship Troopers

This book has a bad reputation. And maybe I am reading it wrong, or maybe others are. I’m not sure. The movie is unlike the book, a satire of fascism. I love the movie for that. But the book is different. It doesn’t show jarheads, but a society that has evolved. Whether it’s for the better or worse is open to interpretation, and in a time of war (it’s not called Starship Repairmen) it deals with the staple of all sci-fi, alien invaders. To me it’s a thoughtful book, despite the power armor and tactical nuclear grenades.


Who am I?

I love history and stories. Over the years I realized stories are part history and part character. I still don’t know in which ratio, but a story without characters or history is boring. A world, any world, needs history as much as characters because the story develops from their interaction. As a writer I always ask why. It’s the quintessential question. Any character is there for a reason that must be linked to history in some form. It’s cheap to say, “they’re there because it suits the plot.” And all of these books give us both history and character(s). And then some.


I wrote...

Shattered Dreams

By Ulff Lehmann,

Book cover of Shattered Dreams

What is my book about?

Epic fantasy, grim and dark. No heroes, no villains, only people confronted with the past, with choices they made, and their consequences. As an ancient enemy stirs in the bowels of a ruined elven city, a country attacks its neighbor, and a broken man turns to face his past.

Experience the events through the eyes of many unique characters. Follow disparate paths as they weave together to reveal the grand tapestry that leaves you reeling. Murder, intrigue, war, seen through the eyes of many.

Nophek Gloss

By Essa Hansen,

Book cover of Nophek Gloss

This novel is a minefield of big ideas and creative, mind-bending worldbuilding. I love science fiction that explores the idea of parallel worlds and multiverses, and this story includes a sentient spaceship that is able to travel between universes and even create its own bubble universe. The aliens in this story are also portrayed in a diverse way and the technology is creative and realistic. But despite the strong worldbuilding, Nophek Gloss also gives plenty of attention to the story and characters. This is a coming-of-age revenge story with a brutal, devastating opening and a powerful narrative that includes themes that resonated with me—overcoming trauma, found family, and the cost of revenge. 


Who am I?

I’m addicted to reading and writing science fiction that pulls readers into a universe they never want to leave. I love big, futuristic cities and complex societies where good people must make difficult choices. My first novel, The Sentient, was published in 2020 and the third book in my trilogy will be released in March 2023—a story about clones, cults, and consciousness. I love a lot about science fiction—the technology, the depictions of space travel and distant planets—but I care most about worldbuilding. I taught a class at a writer’s conference about getting from good to great worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy.


I wrote...

The Sentient

By Nadia Afifi,

Book cover of The Sentient

What is my book about?

Amira Valdez dreams of working in the space stations that orbit the Earth and putting her past behind her. She escaped a religious compound in the American southwest to eventually become a talented neuroscientist in the city of Westport. But when she’s assigned to the controversial Pandora project, an effort to create the first human clone, her past and present collide. Using her talents as an interpreter of human memories, Amira uncovers a conspiracy to stop the Pandora project from succeeding—at all costs.

As she digs deeper, Amira navigates a dangerous world populated by anti-cloning militants, scientists with hidden agendas, and a mysterious New Age movement. But her adventures also uncover an even darker secret within the project, one that will change the world.

Ninefox Gambit

By Yoon Ha Lee,

Book cover of Ninefox Gambit

Take a deep dive into a universe where calendars and math are key to power. Does it feel surreal and confusing at first? Yes, but that is all part of the new and innovative charm that does away with traditional military sci-fi and reinvents the genre. While the worldbuilding is amazing and mind-boggling, this is a novel driven by its characters. The cast is big and diverse, sporting main characters who are gay, bi and ace, transgender and nonbinary. If you long for a new take on sci-fi, morally ambiguous characters, and kick-ass queers, I recommend this book to you.


Who am I?

Armed with a master’s degree in English studies, a thesis on the merits of speculative fiction, and a chronic illness that showed me what I needed to fight for in life, I write character-driven, diverse, and hopeful science-fiction. I think one of sci-fi’s finest jobs is to open minds and show the world how it could be, for better or worse. My books have protagonists of multiple ethnicities, sexualities, and genders, some of them with physical or mental challenges. Because representation is important. My recommendations for you are sci-fi books with characters whose queerness is commonly accepted and unproblematic within their universes.


I wrote...

We Lost the Sky

By Marie Howalt,

Book cover of We Lost the Sky

What is my book about?

In the distant future when Tuscany is a desolate wasteland, the wanderer Renn struggles to find shelter from a dust storm and accidentally awakens a dormant creature resembling the legendary maddened Moon servants. A teenage survivor of the lost civilization is scavenging long-forgotten technology while keeping an eye on the one remaining great city, Florence. And a Florentine restoration worker is determined to help the impoverished denizens in the city’s slums, though this means going against her own father and the ideology of the ruling class.

As tensions mount in Florence, Renn and an unlikely new traveling companion are drawn toward the city. But it is going to take more than luck to avoid suspicious settlers and survive the perilous journey.

On Basilisk Station

By David Weber,

Book cover of On Basilisk Station

The first Honor Harrington book, On Basilisk Station, is space opera the way it should be written. Weber’s space navy isn’t ‘pew, pew’ laser bolts, it’s cool and well-thought-out hard sci-fi. Technology leads to tactics; tactics lead to strategy; and strategy wins and loses wars. And then he drops Lieutenant Honor Harrington, fresh out of the academy, down in the middle of it, with her first ship. She’s a great character with the strength, skill, and courage to do her duty, figuring out which rules of war to follow and which ones to break, to win through to victory. And Weber never forgets the personal cost of war, which lends his books that extra impact. The first book in a great series.


Who am I?

Like so many boys, I grew up playing soldiers with my friends. Now I’m a trained historian and running around waving a stick as a pretend rifle yelling rat-a-tat, or sword fighting with fallen branches, just isn’t a good look for me. But I can still appreciate the heroism of soldiers that drew me to play those games in the first place. These books scratch that itch, as well as meeting the standard of truthfulness that the historian in me needs. Believable settings with heroes you can root for and stakes that feel real. That’s what I like to read and that’s what I write.


I wrote...

Prentice Ash

By Matt Barron,

Book cover of Prentice Ash

What is my book about?

Trained as a knight, condemned as a heretic, exiled as a convict, Prentice’s every moment is a struggle just to survive. 

The duke is dead and young Duchess Amelia, now rules the Western Reach alone. When an unknown enemy invades her lands, slaughtering all in their path, her knights are too eager for glory to see the danger. She is forced to turn to Prentice, a convict, skilled at warfare and the only one she can trust despite the dishonour. Thrust into the front lines, Prentice must fight the violence of the enemy and foolishness of his own commanders. In battle he will earn the name Prentice Ash, for no matter how intense the fires of war, even if all burns away, Ash will remain.

Caliban's War

By James S. A. Corey,

Book cover of Caliban's War

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.


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.


I wrote...

The Nova Incident: The Galactic Cold War Book III

By Dan Moren,

Book cover of The Nova Incident: The Galactic Cold War Book III

What is my book about?

When a bomb explodes in the bustling Commonwealth capital city of Salaam, responsibility is quickly claimed by an extremist independence movement. But after a former comrade, an ex-spy with his own agenda, is implicated in the attack, Simon Kovalic and his team of covert operatives are tasked with untangling the threads of a dangerous plot that could have implications on a galactic scale. And the deeper Kovalic digs, the more he'll uncover a maze of secrets, lies, and deception that may force even the most seasoned spy to question his own loyalties.

Halo

By Eric Nylund,

Book cover of Halo: The Fall of Reach

The Halo Universe is a massive, sprawling sci-fi series that many assume to be just a random sci-fi shooter franchise. The Fall of Reach acts as a prequel to the first game and to the Halo series as a whole. Focusing on the initial creation of the Spartan-II Super Soldier program, the growth of Spartan John-117 into a super soldier, and culminating in the defense of the planet he’s grown up on, The Fall of Reach serves to set the stage for the Halo franchise. I recommend picking up the reprints from 2011 or later, as it fixes many continuity errors induced later on in the series.


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!


I wrote...

Daughters of Astrid

By Matthew Michaelson, Danielle Dy-Liccao (illustrator),

Book cover of Daughters of Astrid

What is my book about?

An epic fantasy tale centered around redemption. The Daughters Of Astrid takes the reader on a wild ride of imagination. The sudden appearance of a living, breathing, immortal Goddess on the planet of Terra Ancora sets off events that plunge the world into a holy crusade. Millions are killed. Against the wishes of the benevolent Goddess Astrid Cailmel, her warrior empress Rebecca has committed genocide, killing countless unbelievers. With her memory of her crimes repressed from dissociative amnesia, Rebecca is to stand trial, but the anger against her is so great that traditional justice is impossible. Sensing a true willingness to repent in Rebecca, Lady Astrid sentences her to undertake a journey of atonement in Astrid’s name.

Old Man's War

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of Old Man's War

I was moved from the opening lines of Old Man’s War. An ordinary man of 75 visits his wife’s grave, then joins the army. What? Oh yeah, now I understand. Mind uploading is integral to this book, first published in 2005, and it will soon be the rage in the real world of our near future. In Old Man’s War we experience mind uploading through the character, John Perry, and other new recruits. Then we fight. Perry becomes a war hero, and he crosses paths with his wife along the way. What? I thought she was dead? Oh yeah, now I understand. She was grown from Kathy Perry’s DNA, but she has no memory of John. Or does she? Military sci-fi adventure blooms into a love story? Wow, this could be a series. Oh, wait. It is! 


Who am I?

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. 


I wrote...

Time Chain

By Steven Decker,

Book cover of Time Chain

What is my book about?

It’s the year 2022. Dani Peterson has been walking in the west of Ireland, conducting historical research for her dissertation. But when she seeks shelter from a storm in Aideen O’Brien’s car, she gets more history than she bargained for. 

Aideen is a Time Link, with secret access to time travel technology. She sends Dani to 1978 to meet a younger version of herself. The two fall in love and Dani joins Aideen as a Time Link. They work for a man from 2253 named Charles Burke, who says his mission is to save the future. But after perilous trips to 1751 and 2253, Dani and Aideen discover that Charles is not the savior he claims to be.

Speaker for the Dead

By Orson Scott Card,

Book cover of Speaker for the Dead

And since Speaker for the Dead, number 2 in OSC’s Ender series and another Nebula and Hugo Award winner, is my favorite of all his books, I must include it as well. After the great, terrible war, Ender disappears and many years pass. A mysterious figure, the Speaker for the Dead, arises to reveal the souls and redeem those who have passed on. I very much related to someone who really could grok the life of one recently deceased and speak to the survivors in a way that clarified, resolved, revealed, and redeemed the deceased’s entire existence for them. And the whole new, recently discovered world with a new intelligent race of beings again pulled me and the Speaker right into it. More than with any other author, I felt I was right there living and experiencing what the characters were. And, of course, the dynamic question of what…

Who am I?

Mark Landau has an MA in Linguistics and is an ordained Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Counselor. He has written eight books on meditation, healing, evolution, politics, sex, fantasy and saving our world, one musical play, and many songs, poems, and essays. After devoting a lifetime to healing and awakening himself, others, and the world utilizing therapy, meditation, energy, and bodywork, 12-step programs, Rebirthing, Shamanic Journey, Soul Retrieval, DNA Activation, and esoteric Hindu, Vedic, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hawaiian and Native-American practices, he began developing his own meditations and healing modalities. He does individual healing sessions utilizing six modalities, teaches three new, evolution-boosting meditations for our times and lives in Santa Fe. 


I wrote...

The Miracle Revolution

By Mark Landau,

Book cover of The Miracle Revolution

What is my book about?

Meet Eva Dunn, gorgeous, brilliant, drawing to her the ultimate team, meant to transform the world. The Miracle Revolution is an erotic, spiritual, healing, adventure, save-the-world, sci-fi, fantasy novel that will shock and delight you. Fifty Shades of Grey meets Lord of the Rings meets Wonder Woman meets The Rapture. Beware, it's genre-bending, boundary-breaking, mostly nonviolent, and contains sporadic super-kink, graphic super-sex, and some deep, true, special, precious, honest-to-God wisdom.

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