23 Definitive Must-Read Extraterrestrial Books

In the vast expanse of the cosmos, where stars twinkle and galaxies swirl in an infinite dance, lies the realm of extraterrestrial books. These captivating tales transport readers beyond the boundaries of Earth, inviting them on thrilling journeys to distant planets, encountering alien civilizations, and exploring the mysteries of the universe. From epic space operas to thought-provoking speculative fiction, extraterrestrial books offer a kaleidoscope of imaginative storytelling that sparks the imagination and challenges our perceptions of what lies beyond our terrestrial realm. Join us as we embark on a celestial odyssey through the pages of these captivating novels, where the possibilities are as limitless as the cosmos itself.

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Extraterrestrial Books

Step into the unknown and explore the mysteries of the cosmos with our curated list of Extraterrestrial Books! From thrilling adventures on distant planets to encounters with alien civilizations, these novels will transport you to galaxies far, far away. Get ready to embark on an interstellar journey filled with wonder, danger, and the boundless possibilities of the universe. Whether you’re a sci-fi enthusiast or simply curious about the unknown, these books are sure to ignite your imagination and leave you pondering the mysteries of outer space.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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Written between 1895 and 1897, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds is one of the earliest stories that detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. Filmed numerous times, this science fiction classic retains its power to disturb readers more than a century later.

Dune by Frank Herbert

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Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of Paul Atreides—who would become known as Muad’Dib—and of a great family’s ambition to bring to fruition mankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters…

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University. The finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse. An alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself. But first she has to make it there, alive.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

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Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Contact by Carl Sagan

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In December of 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who—or what—is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future—and our own.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide. (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”). A galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy. Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone. Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot. Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . . Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete. Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission. If he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. With death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe. Where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Martian by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. Even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. Then the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge

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Thousands of years in the future, humanity is no longer alone in a universe where a mind’s potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures, and technology, can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these “regions of thought,” but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

Fleeing this galactic threat, Ravna crash lands on a strange world with a ship-hold full of cryogenically frozen children, the only survivors from a destroyed space-lab. They are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle.

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

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One woman is called upon to rebuild the future of humankind after a nuclear war, in this revelatory post-apocalyptic tale from the award-winning author of Parable of the Sower.

When Lilith lyapo wakes from a centuries-long sleep, she finds herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. She discovers that the Oankali—a seemingly benevolent alien race—intervened in the fate of the humanity hundreds of years ago, saving everyone who survived a nuclear war from a dying, ruined Earth and then putting them into a deep sleep. After learning all they could about Earth and its beings, the Oankali healed the planet, cured cancer, increased human strength, and they now want Lilith to lead her people back to Earth—but salvation comes at a price.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

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Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

Embassytown by China Mieville

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In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties: to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak—but which speaks through her, whether she likes it or not.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

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Can a girl who risks her life for books and an Ilori who loves pop music work together to save humanity?

When a rebel librarian meets an Ilori commander…

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the death of one-third of the world’s population. Today, seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library.

When young Ilori commander Morris finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. But Morris isn’t a typical Ilori. And Ellie and her books might be the key to a desperate rebellion of his own.

Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton

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The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars, contains more than six hundred worlds interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible. Over one thousand light-years away, a star . . . disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, the Second Chance, a faster-than-light starship commanded by Wilson Kime, a five-times-rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat.

Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, led by Bradley Johansson. Shortly after the journey begins, Kime wonders if the crew of the Second Chance has been infiltrated. But soon enough he will have other worries. Halfway across the galaxy, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery whose unleashing will threaten to destroy the Commonwealth . . . and humanity itself.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky

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Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products.

But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a “full empty,” something goes wrong. And the news he gets from his girlfriend upon his return makes it inevitable that he’ll keep going back to the Zone. Again and again, until he finds the answer to all his problems.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

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It’s up to a famous rapper, a marine biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, Lagos, Nigeria, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a pre-emptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

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When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

Exploring Beyond: Genre Recommendations for Fans of Extraterrestrial Books

Are you someone who can’t get enough of extraterrestrial adventures, fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos and the possibilities of life beyond Earth? If so, you’re not alone! Fans of extraterrestrial-themed books often find themselves drawn to other genres that explore similar themes of exploration, discovery, and the unknown. Whether you’re seeking out new worlds, encountering alien civilizations, or delving into the complexities of space travel, there’s a wide array of literary genres that can satisfy your craving for the extraterrestrial. Here’s a curated list of genres that fans of extraterrestrial books may enjoy exploring:

Science Fiction

It goes without saying that science fiction is a natural fit for fans of extraterrestrial books. From classic works by authors like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to modern masterpieces by the likes of Ann Leckie and N.K. Jemisin, science fiction offers a vast universe of stories set in space, on alien planets, and featuring encounters with extraterrestrial lifeforms.

Space Opera

If you enjoy epic tales of adventure set against the backdrop of interstellar empires, space battles, and grand cosmic landscapes, then space opera is the genre for you. Authors such as Alastair Reynolds, James S.A. Corey, and Becky Chambers excel at crafting sweeping sagas that span galaxies and feature larger-than-life characters.

Alien Invasion

For those who love the thrill of high-stakes conflicts between humanity and extraterrestrial invaders, the alien invasion genre delivers heart-pounding action and thought-provoking scenarios. Dive into novels like “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells or “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin for gripping tales of survival and resistance.

Speculative Fiction

Blending elements of science fiction with elements of fantasy and the supernatural, speculative fiction offers a diverse range of stories that push the boundaries of imagination. Explore works like “Dune” by Frank Herbert or “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin for thought-provoking narratives that challenge conventions and explore new frontiers.

Hard Science Fiction

If you’re drawn to stories grounded in scientific realism and rigorous speculation, then hard science fiction provides a wealth of intellectually stimulating reads. Authors like Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Egan excel at crafting meticulously researched tales that explore the possibilities of future technologies, space exploration, and extraterrestrial encounters.

Cosmic Horror

For fans who enjoy the darker side of extraterrestrial fiction, cosmic horror offers a unique blend of existential dread and cosmic awe. Dive into the works of H.P. Lovecraft, such as “At the Mountains of Madness” or “The Colour Out of Space,” for chilling tales of ancient cosmic entities and the insignificance of humanity in the face of the unknown.

Astrobiology and Exobiology

For those with a keen interest in the scientific study of extraterrestrial life, non-fiction books exploring astrobiology and exobiology offer fascinating insights into the search for life beyond Earth. Delve into works like “Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go” by David A. Weintraub or “The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds” by Dirk Schulze-Makuch for a deeper understanding of the potential for life in the cosmos.

Whether you’re looking for thrilling adventures, mind-bending speculative fiction, or thought-provoking explorations of the cosmos, these genres offer something for every fan of extraterrestrial books. So grab your spacesuit, buckle up, and prepare for an unforgettable journey beyond the stars!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are extraterrestrial books?

Extraterrestrial books are novels that explore themes of space exploration, alien encounters, and life beyond Earth. These books often feature imaginative depictions of other planets, alien civilizations, and the challenges and wonders of interstellar travel.

What are some common themes in extraterrestrial books?

Common themes in extraterrestrial books include exploration, discovery, first contact with alien species, interstellar conflict, and the implications of advanced technology. These themes often serve as a backdrop for exploring broader philosophical questions about humanity’s place in the universe and the nature of existence.

Are extraterrestrial books suitable for all ages?

While many extraterrestrial books are written for adult audiences and may contain mature themes, there are also plenty of options available for younger readers, including young adult (YA) and middle-grade novels. Readers need to consider the content and themes of a book before determining its suitability for a particular age group.

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