Best New Sci Fi Books, The LIST
Here it is, dear readers, a curated list of the best new sci-fi books, space opera and military sci-fi recommendations, just for you. The word “new” here means anything in the last decade or so, right up to this morning, so please don’t slap me in the comments because I’ve left out Starship Troopers, Dune, LOR, etc. Those guys will be on the as-yet-to-be-created classic sci-fi novels list.
This ain’t your usual slambam bit of “listicle” schlokery whereby the list creator has absolutely no clue about each entry onto the list. My promise to you, is that I have actually read the books. Cover to cover. On the train. On the bus. Standing in lines waiting for buses…
I can usually tell if I’m gonna stick with a book in the first few pages. And everything here listed below I’ve truly enjoyed and read all the way through. So these sci-fi novels should be fairly clanger-proof. The “best” in best new sci fi books could just as easily be “good” or “fun” or “enjoyable”–you pick your adjective.
Suggest away in the comments and your ideas may sway me to read a book. Whenever possible I will go with a book one series starter or a stand alone sci fi novel. If book eight in the 21 book series is great, that’s all find and dandy, but I don’t think that helps the would-be reader make a decision.
Listed by which book I’ve read most recently. It’s a short list now but continually growing!
Leviathan Wakes (Book One of the Expanse)
by James S.A. Corey
I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It is the best science fiction novel I’ve read in a long time. The writing is wonderful. It’s high-end, literary-novel quality with an amazingly well-crafted story. Never an eye-roll moment. It’s full of space opera style action but the characters are deep and believable so the moments in between things blowing up are just as good. By the third paragraph of page one you are fully invested and along for the ride. The novel follows two characters: a detective on a space station and a young captain. Both get sucked into a murder mystery which has far greater implications for Earth, Mars and the people living on the space stations called Belters. I enjoyed the TV series, but the book, as usual, is far better. Grab it here.
Terms of Enlistment
by Marko Kloos
Great book. Stop reading this schlock and go read Kloos’ novel. This military sci-fi novel follows the hero, Andrew, who enlists into the military, goes through basic training, and then into real combat. The magic of Kloos’ storytelling is in the details. He really has a fantastic way of putting the reader right into the story. From basic training to the combat scenes, Kloos is a master at painting a realistic picture of what a future combat force might really look like. Never once will you get pulled out of the story by quirks in the writing style or something odd in the content. Kloos put a lot of love into this book and it shows. Get the book here.
Ambassador 1: Seeing Red
by Patty Jansen
Here’s another great sci-fi novel I really enjoyed. Jansen puts on a master class in world building here. There are no Star-Wars style space battles, and no large mechs running around wreaking havoc. *But* I really loved the way Jansen created the worlds in this novel. The Earth and a few other planets are part of a new galactic world order, each with different customs and technology. The main character, Cory Wilson, is a human diplomat trying to prevent all out war between the different cultures. The delicate way Jansen reveals each world’s language and customs is wonderful. Tiny details about each culture’s language really pulled me in and made the characters real. The core of the story is a crime thriller in space, with the fate of the galaxy hanging on one little human from Earth. If you lean more towards hard-core military sci-fi, then you may want to pass on this one, but you’ll be missing out on one of the best new sci fi books. Go get it.
Earth Alone, Earthrise Book 1
by Daniel Arenson
Earth Alone is a great first novel. Arenson has a great voice and stays in POV nicely, never wavering off into fluffery. The reader gets hooked early on and it’s a fun ride. The main character, Marco, grows up on an Earth where Aliens have attacked and bad stuff happens, and we get to watch him grow and evolve. There are some battle scenes but this is more a coming-of-age story than hard core military sci fi.
Everyone has read this book so if you haven’t, get to it, man!
Earth Unknown (Forgotten Earth Book 1)
by M.R. Forbes
M.R. Forbes’s Earth Unknown got its own write-up in another post so you know I liked this one. Forbes does a great job here and tells a hell of an entertaining tale. This is indie sci-fi at its best. The writing is solid, stays out of the way, and the story itself is fantastic. Our hero, Stacker, is a modified human and is beset with all sorts of woe right off the bat and the reader can’t help but pull for the dude the rest of the way. This one is full of action all the way thru so it should please you space opera and military sci-fi people alike. The enemies are interesting and reveal themselves slowly throughout the book. Some of the battle scenes seem to drag on a bit, but otherwise I can’t fault this novel. Go get it.
Steel World (Undying Mercenaries Series #1)
by B.V. Larson
B.V. Larson’s Steel World is hard core military sci-fi done right and had to be on the best new sci fi books list. In the novel we meet our hero, James McGill, who is a normal, video-game-playing kid thrust into a new galactic world order where humans on Earth have little to offer the more advanced worlds except the ability to fight. So Earth’s main offering in the galactic trade is mercenary units. McGill joins one of the units and the excitement starts soon after. The novel is in first person and the writing is fine. I didn’t come across any typos or grammatical issues that pulled me out of the story. This is a fun read. Humans vs. bugs/creatures/lizards done well. So often in this type of story the battle scenes drone on endlessly at the expense of an actual story with characters we care about. But not so here. Larson does a great job of mixing in action and character development so the reader stays engaged. Yep. If you like military sci-fi then you’ll dig this. Here’s the link.