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The 19 Best Science Fiction Books of 2019

Looking for the best Science Fiction authors of 2019?

From vibrant space operas to cozy reads, and a few books stuffed with concepts that could change how you see the future… this list has all the good stuff.

I’ve broken this list into three categories: 

  1. Stand-alones and Series Firsts
  2. Series Continuations 
  3. Honorable Mentions

Want More Books to Read? Check these out…

Stand-Alone Books and Series Firsts

Great science fiction books that you can start reading NOW


I Am Carey - Book Cover

1. Today I am Carey

Written by Martin L. Shoemaker.

Carey, a caretaker android with a strong sense of human empathy, watches one of his patients die. This death sparks a new journey in Carey’s life as he transforms into something else. 

This is a beautiful story about new experiences, new challenges… and new emotions and a more hopeful look at life with artificial beings. 

Recommended for readers who love: 

  • Stories charged with feeling and empathetic characters who grow
  • AI narrators, and the perception of emotion in post-humanity
  • Flowers for Algernon, Her, or Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics


Recursion - Book Cover

2. Recursion

Written by Blake Crouch.

False Memory Syndrome is spreading across the globe, and two people – an NYPD detective and a Neuroscientist – must join together in a mind-bending race to stop reality from collapsing on itself. 

In this idea-packed thriller from Blake Crouch, memory and the past itself are under siege. Once again, Blake Crouch proves he is more than capable of taking a complicated SF concept – and turning it into a fast-paced thriller.

Recommended for readers who love: 

  • Thrillers with a heavy focus on Science Fiction
  • Exploring the transition from reality to memory
  • Action, characters you can connect to, and that constant, gripping feeling when your favorite character is in danger
A Memory Called Empire - Book Cover

3. A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)

Written by Arkady Matine.

Mahit, an ambassador from a “small but fiercely-independent mining Station,” arrives in the center of an Alien Empire for two reasons: 

  1. To find out who murdered the previous ambassador
  2. And to delve into the chaotic, political intrigues of this hungry, metamorphosing empire

As a fish out of water, she must navigate a dangerous alien culture, and make use of a secret technology to try and save her Station. 

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Ambition, intrigue, and politics in space
  • Ann Leckie, Aliette de Bodard, Elizabeth Bear
  • A dialogue-heavy book with a plot that slowly gathers momentum until it crashes down on you.
Middlegame - Book Cover

4. Middlegame 

Written by Seanan McGuire

Two twins with very different personalities… and very special super powers. One creator, who wants to use their powers to attain a new level of control …and maybe even godhood.

Complex, intricate, and full of strange plots and stranger narratives — there’s no way I can to sum this book up in a few sentences. You’ll just have to read it… =)

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Alchemy, Frankenstein creations, telepathy and the more fantastical side of Science Fiction
  • A good mind-melting book that will make your brain work for it (in the best possible way)
Exhalation - Book Cover

5. Exhalation

Written by Ted Chiang.

A fantastic short story collection with AI, ancient time travel, and discoveries to shake the definition of being human. 

Ted Chiang is a master of short-form science fiction, and a master of poetic prose. 

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Compact science fiction layered with thought-provoking prose
  • At least one alien protagonist, parallel universes, and existential philosophy
  • Short, beautiful stories that tackle the hardest questions about our future
Delta-V - Book Cover

6. Delta-V

Written by Daniel Suarez.

A professional cave-diver joins an ambitious billionaire’s expedition to jump-start a new, vastly profitable economy… in outer space. 

This is a story about comradery between daredevils, and the heart-stopping riches that await those who wonder “what if we could reach out and touch the stars…?”

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Exploring the fantasy of a new Space Economy (Mining asteroids, space metals, etc.)
  • Astronaut training sequences
  • Thrilling, hard science fiction that likes to go fast
Empress of Forever - Book Cover

7. Empress of Forever 

Written by Max Gladstone.

“…Space Opera Mania…”

That’s my favorite phrase one reviewer used to describe this book. 

This is an ensemble story (ragtags and misfits who must band together) that takes place at the end of time. Pack your bags, you’re going to see some weird, some goofy, and some world-ending stuff. 

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Wild, fast-paced adventures
  • Hard science fiction that, somehow, doesn’t take itself too seriously
The Sol Majestic - Book Cover

8. The Sol Majestic

Written by Ferrett Steinmetz.

Kenna, a young man being dragged across the universe by his parents, stumbles across the galaxy’s most renowned restaurant. Kenna falls in love with the restaurant, gets swept up in its affairs, and must find a way to save this grand cornerstone of culture from certain financial ruin. 

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Willy Wonka, Douglas Adams (particularly The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)
  • A magical, fantastical cast of characters
  • Warm, charming science fiction that will also make your mouth water
The Future of Another Timeline

9. The Future of Another Timeline 

Written by Annalee Newitz.

Two protagonists collide — Beth, who wants to escape a toxic life in the 90’s, and Tess, who comes from an alternative future where abortion is outlawed and the fight against mysogyny is raging. Together, they must fight to change their worlds for good. 

Recommended for readers who love:

  • A confident blend of feminism, punk rock, and time travel
  • Time travel centered around the 90’s
  • Big “what if?” questions, social change, and plot twists upon plot twists
A Boy and His Dog - Book Cover

10. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World 

Written by C. A. Fletcher.

You. Will. Love. This. Book.

A masterful story about survival in an apocalyptic wasteland… and getting your dog back. This book is a journey.

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Stories about survival and hope
  • Captivating prose that takes you to another world
  • Dogs.
Radicalized - Book Cover

11. Radicalized 

Written by Cory Doctorow.

Four stories take a glimpse into our near future, with a focus on almost every current political hot topic; immigration, the 1%, toxic health care systems, and more.

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Activism, and the near-side consequences of today’s political insanity
  • The societal ramifications of rapidly-spreading technology
  • Science Fiction that makes a statement. 

12. The Light Brigade 

Written by Kameron Hurley

In the future, a corps of soldiers use light-speed technology to teleport into battles… until one soldier gets unstuck in time… and sees things she shouldn’t be seeing. 

Part military-fiction, part time-travel thriller, this one will keep you guessing until the end. This book does a majestic job of describing the feeling of being taken apart, particle by particle, as you are beamed onto another planet.

Recommended for readers who love:

  • Teleportation technology 
  • Science Fiction thrillers with embittered, strong lead characters
  • A surprisingly beautiful story about lies in a Military Corps

Series Continuations

Continuations (sequels and prequels) tend to get higher ratings…

…because you don’t read part 4 if you hated part 1-3. 

So, I’ve given these their own section. The numbers here are not necessarily in any order. 

Tiamat's Wrath - Book Cover

13. The Expanse #8: Tiamat’s Wrath

Written by James S. A. Corey.

A vast, hard-science fiction epic about Humanity’s expansion in the wake of massive alien discoveries. 

If you’re a long-time fan of the series, this one will punch you in the gut.

Recommended for readers who love big, sprawling, gritty Space Epics with realism at the forefront

Get the first book: The Expanse #1: Leviathan Wakes
Dark Age - Book Cover

14. Red Rising Saga #5: Dark Age

Written by Pierce Brown.

The second book in the second trilogy. I highly recommend this series, even if the first novel takes some suspension of disbelief. 

The Red Rising Saga is a series about fighting against injustice, and how to survive even when you lose…

Recommended for readers who love hard fought battles against opression, emotional wins and losses, and fighting for justice.

Get the first book: Red Rising Saga #1: Red Rising 
Alliance Rising - Book Cover

15. Alliance Rising: The Hinder Stars I

Written by C.J. Cherryh

Against a backdrop of bureaucracy, trade, and extremely questionable financial decisions, a new construction project puts the entire half-forgotten station at stake.

Recommended for readers who love trade route politics… in space.

Note: This is chronologically the first book in C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance-Union Universe, so you can either start with Alliance Rising, or read The Company Wars.

Howling Dark - Book Cover

16. Sun Eater #2: Howling Dark 

Written by Christopher Ruocchio.

Epic, dark fantasy in a planet-sprawling setting. 

Hadrian bears a terrible burden on his shoulders. It seems nobody else but him can save the universe from a 400-year long war. 

Perfect for young adults and fans of epic tales, The Sun Eater series chronicles the complete odyssey of a man as he becomes a legend amongst the stars…

Recommended for readers who love multifaceted, complex characters who brood over their dark pasts, and take responsibility for their future.

Get the first book: The Sun Eater #1: Empire of Silence 
Thrawn: Treason - Book Cover

17. Star Wars: Thrawn #3: Treason

Written by Timothy Zahn

See the Empire from the inside…

Timothy Zahn once again delves into the intrigue and dark, political conflict that works behind the scenes in the galaxy’s most powerful government.

Recommended for readers who love Star Wars, especially the balance between right and wrong in the Empire. 

Get the first book: Star Wars: Thrawn #1 
Master and Apprentice - Book Cover

18. Star Wars: Master and Apprentice

Written by Claudia Gray

This is an instant “must-read” if you love Jedi stoicism. 

Claudia Gray sinks us into the dichotomy between Obi Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn, and their struggles to adhere to the moral code of the Jedi amidst a political conflict that is surprisingly complicated for a Star Wars story. 

Recommended for readers who love Star Wars, especially if you played with imaginary lightsabers as a kid. 

Children of Ruin - Book Cover

19. Children of Time #2: Children of Ruin

Written by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Possibly my favorite new series. 

Children of Ruin is a story of evolution. It’s a story about a species of aliens created – accidentally – by human means. Now, in the second book, we get to see what happens when these two groups collide. 

Recommended for readers who love evolution, particularly with giant, sentient insects and arachnids. 

Get the first book: Children of Time #1

Honorable Mentions

OK, so I’ve culled my list by about 60 or so books…

…but there was so much good Science Fiction this year. If you’ve already read the books above, these are for you.

Ancestral Night (White Space #1) by Elizabeth Bear. 

Space pirates, ancient technology, and a quest to the edge of the universe.

Hexarchate Stories (The Machineries of Empire #3.5) by Yoon Ha Lee. 

A collection of short stories held in Yoon Ha Lee’s military science fiction universe.

The Rosewater Insurrection (The Wormwood Trilogy #2) by Tade Thompson.

Science fiction set in Nigeria, about a community that lives on the edge of a strange alien zone. 

Chain Across the Dawn (The Universe After #2) by Drew Williams.

Becky Chambers’ quote on this book: “The only thing more fun than a bonkers space battle is a whole book packed with bonkers space battles. Come for the exploding spaceships, stay for the intriguing universe.”

Moon Rising (Luna #3) by Ian McDonald. 

A space Opera billed as “Game of Thrones meets The Expanse.”

The Outside by Ada Hoffmann. 

Artificial gods, post-human angels, and a dedicated scientist who also happens to be autistic. 

Fleet of Knives (Embers of War #2) by Garreth L. Powell. 

Space Opera that takes place almost entirely aboard ships. Telekinetic powers, backwater planets, and a crew who finds themselves trapped between two foes.

The Lost Puzzler (The Tarakan Chronicles #1) by Eyal Kless.

A post-apocalyptic dystopia stuffed with ancient technology, mysterious practices, and a new hope for humanity. Sort of Mad Max-esque, but focused on narrative instead of action.

Atlas Alone (Planetfall #4) by Emma Newman.

A series where each book is so different, you can almost read them alone. Read this series if you love stories about adaptation to life in space.

Terminal Uprising (Janitors of the Post Apocalypse #2) by Jim C. Hines.

When an accident leaves most of humanity in a feral state, it’s up to our intrepid space janitors to save the world. Yes. Space janitors.

Finder (The Finder Chronicles #1) by Suzanne Palmer.

Oh, so janitors in space weren’t enough for you? What about a Repo-man/Con-artist who tells one lie too many?

Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds.

Time travel and climate change, and a woman who begins to hear another voice in her head. Once again, Alastair Reynolds breathes new life into hard science fiction. 

Snakeskins by Tim Major.

You get a new body! And you get a new body! Snakeskins faces the societal effects of cloning and rejuvenation.

Want More Great Science Fiction?

Check out the best science fiction of 2018 right here.

And here is 2017’s list.

Also interested in fantasy? Check out the 17 Best Fantasy Books of 2020.

Thanks for reading! Tell me about your favorite Science Fiction book of the year in the comments below. 

3 thoughts on “The 19 Best Science Fiction Books of 2019”

  1. Very cool list, I’ve been browsing various sites and this is my favourite so far! I’m on an Alien kick at the moment so if anyone knows any books with similar stories let me know. I recently read Anima by Nathan Thurman which I really enjoyed.

    1. Thank you. If you’re looking for something like “Alien” the movie… I can’t recommend the Expanse series enough. However, if you’re looking for something more cozy, check out Becky Chamber’s “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.” It’s outstanding.

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