Best Science Fiction Books We’ve Recently Reviewed
Every day, Hidden Gems subscribers receive the opportunity to review hundreds of complimentary books spanning more than 15 genres – hopefully leaving an honest review on Amazon when they’re done. A regular feature on this blog is a periodic highlight of some true ‘Hidden Gems’ our subscribers discovered in various genres, and why you might want to check them out. Keep checking back for the latest lists, categorized by genre, and learn about some of the best books that we’ve sent out. Or, join our list of readers and help discover future gems yourself!
Science fiction nearly rivals romance for its popularity, and over the last few months we’re shared dozens of top-rated Sci-Fi novels with our subscribers. Looking back over the catalog, we spent some time choosing some of our reader favorites. Here is our list of some of the best science fiction books this summer – stories that perfectly straddle the line between fiction and potential fact, and use futuristic or fantastical plot devices to explore vivid and real issues that impact our contemporary world.
The Bearer’s Burden by Chad Queen
Two decades of video-game development have meant that author Chad Queen truly knows how to create an immersive experience, and that’s evident in his debut novel – a taut sci-fi saga that serves as the first in the Phantom Pact series. The novel is the tale of war veteran Cade Elegy – who bonds with the ghosts of long-dead warriors in order to gain access to the power he needs to defeat a seemingly invulnerable race of hostile aliens. But will Cade’s choice take away his sanity?
“I felt really connected to this book,” KarynH wrote in her review. “After each line I read, there was this added desire to read on. This book is definitely recommended for lovers of sci-fi.”
Verified reviewer Rev. Stephen R. Wilson shared my thoughts about Chad Queen’s background in videogames, and how it translated to the printed page: “The setting, plot, and action of the book would ripe for a sci-fi action movie or first-person shooter video game. The author is a video game developer, so who knows? Maybe we’ll get to play the story of this book at some point. But not only is the premise and action of this book commendable; the writing style is superb, with narration that flows smoothly and natural dialogue. The characters are memorable. I also enjoyed the quotes and references to other works in the book’s world. Special additions like that aid in giving depth to the world and making it a believable setting for the story.”
Gliese 581: The Departure by Christine Shuck
Astronaut-scientist Daniel Medry and his crew left Earth on a six-year journey to a new world – but when a devastating virus wipes out the population of their home planet, they suddenly find themselves as humanity’s only hope for survival, instead.
This taut sci-fi tale has interstellar shades of The Last Ship about it, and balances that with a realism about the grim danger of space travel akin to The Martian.
Reviewer Virginia E. Johnson highly praises the realism of the novel, citing: “The author did her research on many subjects, including viruses and their effects among world population.” She also liked the sheer scale of this horrific scenario: “This was a chilling prediction of what could actually destroy the human race, if we aren’t careful. I highly recommend this to fans of apocalyptic science fiction. You won’t be disappointed.”
To Die Again by Sandy Parks
Many of the best science fiction books take realistic characters and scenarios and spin them with a single fantastical element. That much is certainly true of this novel, which is part of the Infinity Solution series, in which humans have used technology to augment their lifespans to a potentially limitless extent. But the only problem with being functionally immortal is when a murderer wants to test that theory.
Reviewer T.A. Fisher wrote in her review: “I was drawn in by the various characters and the intriguing world built around them. I appreciated the way the story was told and how we got to hear from a variety of character’s perspectives. Some writers are clunky at this style, but Parks does it very well.”
Sandy Park’s writing style was also praised, with reviewer Stephanie Ebright writing: “From page one I was drawn into the story line and it has been so hard to put this book down! Mystery, drama and some fantasy has me hooked… Sandy’s style of writing is amazing and I look forward to reading many more of her books!”
The Immortal Gene by Jonas Saul
Immortality is a theme similarly explored in Jona Saul’s novel – which sees a tough homicide detective wake up after 18-months in a coma to find that mysterious scientists have… changed him. And now, they want to erase their mistake.
“From the word go, this book held me in its grip,” writes reviewer Uma I. Van Roosenbeek. “It had me on the edge of wherever I was sitting, and I couldn’t put it down until the last page. The book is great in combining serial killings, elements of a superb science fiction, horror, human values with feelings infused with a great sense of adventure!”
Reviewer Lacee praised the romantic elements, which were an added bonus to this taut science fiction mystery. “The intense feeling you take on with each character in this book is insane. You feel the hope and heartbreak of Jake and Cindy throughout this book. The banter between the two partners is undeniably sexy and you hang on every word.”
ACHE by Kelvin Myers
What if you could program yourself to be happy? How addictive would that technology be? That’s one of the issues addressed by Kelvin Myers in the first of his Nanopunks series, focusing on moon-altering technology that is every bit as alluring and dangerous as drugs and alcohol.
“There is a moral dilemma set up pretty quickly in the book,” praises reviewer C. Pass. “It took until the very end to resolve, but it was worth the wait. Plenty of action. Great characters. Definitely worth the read!”
Reviewer Alex Grove praised how Kelvin Myers explored issues in this book that parallel concerns we face in today’s society:
“This book allows more than a glimmer of optimism to shine through the gloom. Despite his addictions, Lance is not helpless, and his determination to make a better life and earn the respect of friends and family allows him to overcome his darkest longings. And if Lance can overcome the nanodrugs, maybe there is hope for the rest of the world.”
Failsafe by Anela Deen
Anyone that follows Elon Musk knows that one of the greatest hypothetical dangers he believes we’ll face in the future is that of unchecked Artificial Intelligence. In Failsafe, that’s exactly the problem – mankind trapped within a giant, living computer.
“The story begins with great world building,” praises reviewer C Michel. “You really get a feel for the landscape, it’s severity and it’s danger. The settlements are isolated and controlled by Interspace, a computer that has itself become dangerous to the remaining survivors. Sol, with the help of a modified human, sets out to save the world and what’s left of humanity. She faces many challenges; the drones, the Override, her physical limitations, and her own heart, before the adventure is done.”
Reviewer Lunarose praised the female protagonist, who grows hugely throughout the tale: “I found the characters interesting. I thought Sol was well developed as an older teen with a disability that people seem to use to try to control her or limit her. She buys into their views to a certain extent. But it ends up just becoming something that is a part of her just as I am short and wear glasses. These things don’t define who we are. How we life and the decisions we make are what defines us.”
It Takes Death To Reach A Star by Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington
Winner of the 2018 New York Book Festival’s Science Fiction Award, this chilling novel is set in a near-future raddled by antibiotic-resistant plague, which has reduced the world to a single, conflict-ridden city in the Siberian desert.
“What an incredible journey this book took me on!” Reviewer Marina Diner was impressed. “Stu and Gareth created such an authentic futuristic world on the pages of their book, that you literally shudder at some of the scenes as you read this apocalyptic thriller. I really enjoyed getting to know, as well as learning more about the main characters, and truly watching them evolve as their journey continued, and they got to become their true selves.”
“It’s practically improbable to find original work in this genre today, but no question Stu and Gareth are a winning combination,” writes Bibliomaniac. “Well written, fast-paced, interesting science, and plenty of action made this one of the best SF novels I’ve read in a while. Grab it and simply enjoy the trip–just be sure to keep your hands inside of the ride at all times!”
Sped-Bot by Billy DeCarlo
In this futuristic thriller, a scientist tries to combine human and android to save his son – and that’s a Pandora’s box opened by many other sci-fi writers in the past (most notably Isaac Asimov.) However, this book really delves deep into the ethical implication of such science; and it’s difficult to tell who the real monsters are the further you read.
“This is science fiction meets real life – with a twist,” writes reviewer KarmelRead2665. “I think anyone who enjoys the science, robotics, AI simulation, or the thought of traveling to a new world will enjoy this book. The possibilities the author has written about are things that people think about today and hope to put into play in our future.”
Mimbral was fascinated by the moral implications of the science explored in this tale: “I found it to be an interesting read and sat and read it over the course of an evening. I found the story to be well written and fluidly moves through the various plot lines that come together at the end of the book. The first book in a trilogy. If the other books are written as well as this one when they come out; it will be well worth the read.”
The Seers by Katherine Bennet
The Seers is the opening book in Katherine Bennet’s The Enlightened Series, and focuses on two young women discovering they have incredible powers – to practically foretell the future thanks to their genetically-enhanced expertise in probability.
But this is a power that can be used for great good… or great evil. Soon both Annabel and Nora are on the run; targeted for a power they neither asked for, or truly understand.
As the the highest-rated books we’ve featured in this list, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the writing received high praise, with reviewer Miri proclaiming: “The writing was fantastic –top notch– and all the characters felt like REAL people, not just characters. I love this book so much and can’t wait for book 2.”
Reviewer Kaye went even further: “If you like a fast paced, action packed, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, pulse racing, unpredictable read that captures your attention from the start. Congratulations my friends you’ve found it. This is one read that will captivated and keep you frozen in place until the last word. All the action and drama with the right balance of spice to make things a little more interesting and bold. The characters were off the charts realistic with such depth that once the layers started peeling back you got a new perspective on the whole situation and man it will totally blow your mind. ”
Forget the Alamo! by Drew McGunn
Fans of alternative history – like the stories by Larry Turtledove – will adore the highly-rated Forget the Alamo! It’s the story of a modern-day man who wakes up over a century and a half out-of-time; in the body of one of the men destined to defend the Alamo in 1836.
Reviewer Michael T. Smith writes: “While I am sure most Texans hate the title the book in an of itself is an excellent read. The time switch gambit actually worked out well in this book and the entire story is a solidly told what if tale. The historical characters are true to form and the alternative outcome is plausible enough to satisfy anyone.”
Crusty Critic gives the book uncharacteristically high praise for its historical accuracy: “McGunn does an especially good job seeing the kind of cultural clashes someone from the future would have with people of the past, not something some authors of alternate history consider; instead, they have the future person take charge and change things out of hand, while only a few individuals, or even no one, resists. McGunn also does a very good job with the battles, both in understanding weapons and their effects and tactics.”