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14 Riveting Books like Red Rising

Find your new sci-fi obsession with these out-of-this-world epics.

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  • Photo Credit: Niklas Priddat / Unsplash

Dark Age, the fifth installment of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising saga, is set to be released later this month on July 30. Fans have been waiting for Dark Age for, well, ages. The upcoming novel is said to be around 800 pages, making it the longest in the saga yet. The series follows a race of people–the Reds–who work under the Golds in a society that is built off class inequality. After a series of horrendous events unfold, the Reds take up arms and plan to overthrow the Golds’ seat of power by disguising themselves and infiltrating the Gold society. Over the course of five books, the story is told from the point of view of Darrow–a sixteen-year-old Red who leads the revolution . While you wait, here are fourteen more sci-fi and space-themed books like Red Rising to enjoy.

Pock's World

Pock's World

By Dave Duncan

Hundreds of lightyears away from Earth is a planet, Pock’s World, that was colonized by humans. For a while, the humans lived in peace until fear and suspicions grew that an alien parasite species was slowly infesting their planet. It’s believed the parasites can take on a convincing human form to reproduce with actual humans and create parasitic spawn. Pock’s World is placed under galactic quarantine, and five people with very different personalities and skills are chosen to observe the planet and report their findings. If Pock’s World is found safe, the quarantine will be lifted. However, if there is indeed a parasite presence tainting the human species, the entire planet will be sterilized, wiping out every last parasite and person. The fate of Pock’s World rests on these five investigators–a priest, a reporter, a politician, a billionaire, and a bureaucrat–each of whom has a different agenda and standards for Pock’s World. But when they land, the situation is nothing like what they thought they knew. Agreeing with each other on the fate of the planet will prove nearly impossible.

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Falling Torch

Falling Torch

By Algis Budrys

Almost 500 years in the future, an alien species has invaded earth and exiled most of the human population to a distant planet. Known as the Centaurian colony, the planet is home to an evolved human species, most of whom were born there and never called Earth home. There are some, however, who know humanity’s history and still harbor resentment towards the The Invaders. The president of the colony sends his son, Michael, back to Earth to round up the human rebellion groups and stage an organized revolt against The Invaders. However, when Michael arrives, he is greeted with hostility by the rebels even though they share a common cause. Michael has to battle obstacles from both the enemy and his comrades if he wants to complete his mission but more importantly, stay alive. 



By Alan Dean Foster

The Quozl are a race of extraterrestrial rabbits from the planet of Quozlene, which has now reached overpopulation. In their search for a new planet to inhabit, the Quozl find Shiraz, the third planet from the Sun. When they land, they are surprised to find that Shiraz is already inhabited by humans who are in the midst of a planetary conflict they call World War II. The Quozl hide from the violent humans for the time being, but tensions rise as some become impatient to claim Shiraz for themselves. 

RELATED: 12 Out-of-This-World Alien Invasion Books  

There Is No Darkness

There Is No Darkness

By Joe Haldeman and Jack C. Haldeman II

Carl Bok, a poor boy from a savage planet, gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he’s offered a scholarship to Starschool—the intergalactic traveling school that takes its students to sixteen different worlds. For the first time ever, Carl's dream of escaping his dreadful home planet seems realistic. However, he runs into financial troubles on Earth and realizes he needs to find work fast to continue attending Starschool—his only shot at a better life. He takes up professional fighting and becomes very good at it, given his vast size. But as Carl struggles to continue his education with Starschool, he suspects that the institution might not be what it seems, with some very dark, powerful extraterrestrial influences behind it.

RELATED: Sci-Fi Master Joe Haldeman Talks Adaptation and Simulation 

Tower of Glass

Tower of Glass

By Robert Silverberg

Multi-billionaire Simeon Krug made his fortune off one incredibly desirable product: genetically modified human slaves. He sees himself as on top of the world, and wants to communicate with aliens to spread his reach across the galaxies. In order to make radio contact with these extraterrestrial species, he needs to build a mile-high tower in the Arctic. Meanwhile, his android slaves want equality, creating political unrest. The androids might have one heavy hitter on their side—Simeon’s son, Manuel, who is conflicted about inheriting his father’s unethical empire. 

RELATED: 8 Books About Alien Contact and Messages from Outer Space  

Sargasso of Space

Sargasso of Space

By Andre Norton

Space exploration technology has reached its peak and humanity is discovering new planets often. The planets are sold to the highest bidder, but for one year only. No one was interested in bidding on the planet Limbo, as it didn’t seem to have much mining potential. But the crew of the Solar Queen spaceship believes the opposite. Having won the property rights to Limbo, they land on the planet only to find out that there’s been life there all along and they won’t receive a warm welcome from them. 

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The Sands of Mars

The Sands of Mars

By Arthur C. Clarke

Martin Gibson, a sci-fi writer, boards Ares, the world’s first spaceship that takes passengers to Mars. His job is to spend three months on the red planet and report his findings from the colony and the progress that humans are making there. His investigative digging eventually leads him into trouble as he uncovers shocking truths about what moving to an entirely different planet could mean for the human species. 

RELATED: 13 Extraordinary Arthur C. Clarke Books  



By James Alan Gardner

In a future society, everyone lives in peace under the League of Peoples—that is, everyone who doesn’t question them. The Explorers—a group of people who are curious about what is beyond their planet —are often exiled to the planet Melaquin for their rebellious behavior. No one who goes to Melaquin is ever heard from again. Explorer Festina Ramos, along with two others, has been sentenced to exile under the guise of being sent to explore the mysterious planet. But Festina knows that this is a dead-end mission meant to silence her forever. Unsure of what is on Melaquin, but unafraid, Festina accepts her mission and leads her comrades into darkness, determined to come back out alive.



By Hugh Howey

Wool is the first book of the Silo saga. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humans are forced to live underground if they want to survive due to the severely toxic atmosphere above ground. People are crowded into miles-deep silos where they are forbidden from speaking of the outside world. Nevertheless, there are those who believe a life outside is possible–and are punished for it. When these people are banished from the silo to die in the toxic environment outside, one woman begins to suspect that the administration might not be telling the truth. 

RELATED: 12 Dystopian Series You Haven't Read But Should  


Leviathan Wakes

By James S.A. Corey

The first installment in the eight-book series The Expanse, Leviathan Wakes is set in the future, two hundred years after humanity has colonized outer space. The people of Earth and Mars exert control over people in the asteroid belt, known as “Belters.” These blue-collar workers are forced to mine resources for the rest of the solar system which causes rising tensions between the unequal classes. Told from the perspective of different characters on both sides of the war, Leviathan Wakes pulls you with wormhole intensity into the darkness of outer space and the people who call it home. 

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By Dan Simmons

Many refer to Hyperion as the sci-fi version of The Canterbury Tales because of its storytelling structure and differing points of view. The characters–citizens of an interstellar world who travel from planet to planet by spaceship or simply by stepping through a multi-dimensional door–are traveling to the same destination, each for their own reasons. The secrets of their risky pilgrimage are revealed slowly but satisfyingly through Simmons’ descriptive and well-paced prose in this Hugo Award-winning novel. 


Ender's Game

By Orson Scott Card

A human government in the middle of a war with an alien race raises and trains children to be soldiers in their army. Andrew “Ender” Wiggins gets drafted for this task. The children’s training consists mainly of mock battles in zero gravity rooms and it is here where Ender stands out from his peers and is praised constantly by his teachers. However, this pushes him into isolation and fear for what is to come. He turns to his siblings–both of whom failed the arduous training–for help. Ender can’t do it alone, but the pressure is on him to be the army general the human race so desperately needs in the war against the alien species.


The Three-Body Problem

By Cixin Liu

In the time of China's Cultural Revolution, a top secret military operation attempts to contact extraterrestrial life. Unluckily for them, an alien civilization on the brink of collapse receives the signal and plans to invade Earth to save their own species. Some people on Earth are excited to welcome the aliens, anticipating change and new order, while others are determined to fight against the invasion to preserve human life. The former believe that the human world is corrupt and that the otherworldly species will bring with them a chance at rebuilding a fair society. Meanwhile, the latter group values their independence as human beings and fear what kind of destruction these aliens could cause if they wanted to subjugate, or worse, enslave, the human race.



By Frank Herbert

The Atreides family lives on the desert planet Arrakis, a hot and hostile environment where little human life thrives. The only thing of value to come from Arrakis is “melange”, a spice which is known to extend a person’s life span and unlock parts of their deep consciousness. Being the ruling nobles on Arrakis means the Atreides family gets to control the production of melange and reap the riches. But in a sudden betrayal and bloodbath, Paul Atreides, the only heir to the Atreides fortune, is forced to flee with his mother. He adopts the mysterious identity known as Muad’Dib and goes on a mission to enlist as many people as possible in his cause so he can regain control of his planet and deliver justice to those who wronged his family.

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