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17 Unforgettable Sci-Fi Books Recommended by the Orange County Science Fiction Club

Art By Qiao Chen

Science fiction is a genre that sparks the imagination, challenges perceptions of reality, and invites us to explore the boundless possibilities of the universe.

If you're a devoted sci-fi fan or someone curious to dive into the world of speculative fiction, the Orange County Science Fiction Club has curated a list of 18 exceptional books that you won't want to miss.

From mind-bending concepts to thought-provoking narratives, this collection offers a diverse array of captivating stories that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

Tade Thompson's "Rosewater" introduces us to a mysterious alien biodome that has manifested in Nigeria, affecting humans in profound and unexpected ways. Blending science fiction with elements of Afrofuturism, this novel explores identity, politics, and the consequences of contact with extraterrestrial forces.

“I can read minds but I still don't understand women. Or men. Humans. I don't understand humans.”― Tade Thompson, Rosewater

In "Gnomon," Nick Harkaway delves into a future where surveillance is all-encompassing, and a woman's death during an interrogation uncovers layers of intrigue. With a labyrinthine narrative and philosophical underpinnings, this book challenges our perceptions of reality and the role of technology in our lives.

“Just because something is done according to the law does not mean that it is lawful. Law is made in the image of an ideal. One can make a law that does not reflect that image, and that law may be a law without being lawful.”― Nick Harkaway, Gnomon

Mary Robinette Kowal's "The Calculating Stars" takes us back to an alternate history where a catastrophic meteor strike accelerates the space race. Follow mathematician and pilot Elma York as she battles against prejudice and societal norms to become an astronaut and ensure humanity's survival.

“Nathaniel and I were a healthy young married couple, so most of the stars I saw were painted across the inside of my eyelids.”― Mary Robinette Kowal, The Calculating Stars

"Superluminal" by Vonda N. McIntyre is a spacefaring adventure that explores themes of identity and transcendence. The story follows a crew of diverse individuals on a starship powered by a neural network that evolves into a sentient being.

“The patterns the whales used for communication, the three-dimensional shapes, as transparent to sound as solid objects, could express any concept. Any concept except, perhaps, vacuum, infinity, nothingness so complete it would never become anything. The nearest way she could try to describe it was with silence.”― Vonda N. McIntyre, Superluminal

A classic of early science fiction, A. Merritt's "The Ship Of Ishtar" takes readers on a fantastical journey to a world of ancient gods and high adventure. This novel is a blend of science fiction and fantasy, weaving together elements of myth and imagination.

This anthology, "The Man In His Time," showcases the brilliance of Brian W. Aldiss, a master of the short story form. From dystopian futures to cosmic wonders, Aldiss' tales explore the intricacies of human nature and the cosmos.

“Civilization is the distance man has placed between himself and his excreta.”— Brian W. Aldiss

In "Six Wakes," Mur Lafferty crafts a riveting murder mystery set aboard a spaceship, where six clones awake to find their previous incarnations brutally murdered. This thrilling story combines elements of psychological suspense with the challenges of life in space.

“Politics is almost never violent toward the people who are actually making the political decisions.”― Mur Lafferty, Six Wakes

From the author of "The Martian," Andy Weir's "Artemis" transports us to a lunar colony where a young woman becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that could have far-reaching consequences for humanity's presence in space.

“It’s a simple idiot-proofing scheme that’s very effective. But no idiot-proofing can overcome a determined idiot.”― Andy Weir, Artemis

Buy Artemis by Andy Weir On Amazon

Adrian Tchaikovsky's "Children Of Time" unfolds across generations, following the evolution of a society of intelligent spiders. This epic novel explores the clash between human and non-human intelligence and the impact of time on civilizations.

“That is the problem with ignorance. You can never truly know the extent of what you are ignorant about.”― Adrian Tchaikovsky, Children of Time

Mary Doria Russell's "The Sparrow" presents a profound and thought-provoking exploration of humanity's encounter with an alien civilization and the moral dilemmas that arise from interstellar contact.

“I do what I do without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into acting decently.”― Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

Greg Benford's "Bowl Of Heaven" takes readers on an interstellar journey to an alien artifact—a vast "bowl" that serves as a habitat for an entire ecosystem. This epic tale combines hard science fiction with captivating storytelling.

“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. —MULLA NASRUDIN”― Gregory Benford, Bowl of Heaven

Larry Niven's "ShipStar" is a space opera set within a Dyson sphere—a massive megastructure surrounding a star. With complex characters and imaginative world-building, this novel explores the mysteries of advanced alien technology.

“Even their stable societies oscillated between banquets and barbarism.”― Gregory Benford, Shipstar

Jodi Taylor's "Just One Damned Thing After Another" follows a group of historians who travel through time to witness historical events firsthand. Blending humor and adventure, this book offers a unique take on time travel.

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”― Jodi Taylor, Just One Damned Thing After Another

Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Dispossessed" delves into the contrasts between two neighboring worlds—one an anarchist society and the other a capitalist one. This groundbreaking novel challenges our understanding of politics, society, and human nature.

“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia

In "Crosstalk," Connie Willis offers a comedic take on telepathy in a near-future setting. With humor and wit, the novel explores the challenges of communication and the perils of being too connected.

“Those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer.” —ANTHONY TROLLOPE, The Bertrams But”― Connie Willis, Crosstalk

Lois McMaster Bujold's "The Warrior's Apprentice" follows Miles Vorkosigan, a young man with physical disabilities in a future society where physical perfection is prized. This space opera combines adventure and exploration of social dynamics.

“When the time comes to leap in faith whether you have your eyes open or closed or scream all the way down or not makes no practical difference.”― Lois McMaster Bujold, The Warrior's Apprentice

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Look To Windward by Iain M. Banks invites readers into his Culture series, where advanced civilizations coexist with sentient AI. As the story unfolds, themes of memory, morality, and the enduring consequences of past actions take center stage. Banks weaves a captivating narrative that delves into the fusion of technology and consciousness, prompting contemplation on the legacy of choices made across millennia.

“There's an old Sysan saying that the soup of life is salty enough without adding tears to it.”― Iain M. Banks, Look to Windward


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my Fiction/Literature book lists on my blog —

From alternate histories to far-flung futures, these 17 sci-fi books recommended by the Orange County Science Fiction Club promise to ignite your imagination and take you on unforgettable journeys through the cosmos.



Wow, perfect score. I haven't read a single one of these. But some of them are on my TBR list and a few others look interesting. Thanks!

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