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9 Nonfiction Books About Space Travel

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing with these revealing nonfiction reads about exploring the final frontier.

 nonfiction books about space travel Buzz Aldrin

Though it has been over 50 years since humans first made it into space, space travel still astounds us. The “great beyond” has yet to be fully explored, but if history is any indication, then humanity is determined to see the entire universe. From firsthand accounts by astronauts who have been there, like Buzz Aldrin and Gordon Cooper, to detailed information about the behind the scenes staff who helped make space flight possible, these nine books will engross you in real tales about space travel. These out-of-this-world books make the perfect scientific read to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing this July. Learn about the historic mission from those who have been there, and seen it all. 

RELATED: 13 Thrilling Space Movies  

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

By Gordon Cooper

An astronaut during the early days of NASA, Gordon Cooper's career is full of accolades. He was the first American to sleep in space, and the last American to conduct an orbital mission alone. He was the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, and piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight. Cooper's memoir Leap of Faith takes us inside NASA, as we experience what it was like at the beginning and how the different projects Cooper was part of—including Apollo and Gemini—have influenced space travel today. 

RELATED: 8 Books That Will Make You Fall for Hard Science Fiction  

Return to Earth

Return to Earth

By Buzz Aldrin

Famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin needs no introduction: As a member of the Apollo 11 crew, he was one of the first two humans to land on the Moon and the second person to walk on it. In his memoir, Return to Earth, Aldrin details how the Moon landing and gaining instant fame and recognition changed his life … not necessarily for the better.   

RELATED: Buzz Aldrin Memoir Reveals the Secret Struggles of a Space Race Hero  

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X-15 Diary

By Richard Tregaskis

Journalist Richard Tregaskis tells the story of the X-15, a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft that served as the first crewed flight into outer space and still holds the world record for highest speed ever recorded by a crewed, powered aircraft at 4,520 miles per hour—set in 1967. The aircraft laid the foundation for missions to come, and in this thrilling read Tregaskis details everything from the breakthroughs in technology to disastrous onboard explosions.   

RELATED: 8 Physics and Math Books to Read for Pi Day  

Challenger: An American Tragedy

Challenger: An American Tragedy

By Hugh Harris

On January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds after launch, the Challenger spacecraft exploded—killing all seven crewmembers on board. Hugh Harris, the voice of missions control on that cold day at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, writes about the tragic accident that halted the space program and changed the lives of so many forever. 

RELATED: NASA, the Challenger Disaster, and How One Phone Call Could Have Saved the Crew

Moon Shot

By Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton

Written by astronauts Alan Shepherd and Deke Slayton, in collaboration with NBC veteran space reporter Jay Barbree, Moon Shot tells the story of the golden years of the space exploration program. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I into space in 1957, the Space Race began. NASA initially recruited seven military test pilots to be a part of Mercury Seven, including Shepherd and Slayton, with the aim of launching a man into orbit. Moon Shot is the astronauts’ inside account of the exciting and dangerous leap into space.   

RELATED: Alan Shepard, the Apollo 1 Disaster, and the Race to the Moon

sally ride books about space travel

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space

By Lynn Sherr

ABC reporter Lynn Sherr, who covered NASA as it became more inclusive of female astronauts, tells the story of Sally Ride—the astronaut who became the first American woman in space in 1983. Though Ride left NASA in 1987 after flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger , she served on the investigating panels of both the Challenger and Columbia disasters—citing NASA’s rush to meet deadlines as one of the factors behind the tragedies. Ride kept her personal life private; but with insights from her family and partner, this biography is full of detail about the life of a revolutionary woman.   

RELATED: Meet the NASA Women Honored in LEGO's New Set

sally ride books about space travel

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

By Margot Lee Shetterly

You’ve seen the Oscar-nominated film, but have you read the book? Margot Lee Shetterly’s biographical book about the Human Computers, including Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, uncovers a forgotten piece of important history. Prior to John Glenn orbiting Earth, these dedicated female mathematicians calculated the numbers used to launch rockets into space. Covering World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race, Hidden Figures offers enormous insight into the people behind the scenes that made space travel possible.   

RELATED: 5 Extraordinary Facts About Katherine Johnson

hidden figures books about space travel

How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight

By Julian Guthrie

NASA isn’t involved in all space flights. This book tells the true story of Peter Diamandis, the man who initiated the privatization of space travel with the X Prize Foundation, which he founded in 1996—offering a $10 million prize to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle into space twice in two weeks. Julian Guthrie recounts the true story of a new kind of space race, and the team that won.   

RELATED: Will We Have Space Tourism in Our Lifetime? 

how to make a spaceship books about space travel

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

By Chris Hadfield

Traveling through space isn’t as glamorous as movies make it out to be—it’s more than somersaulting through the anti-gravity corridors of your spacecraft. Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space, and has logged more than 4,000 hours there. Hadfield recounts lessons he’s learned, both in space and back on Earth, and his philosophy that regardless of what happens, it's important to enjoy every moment.   

RELATED: Chris Hadfield Is Proof of the Power of Sci-Fi

astronauts guide to life on earth books about space travel

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Science-Fact: 10 Great Movies About Space Travel That Aren't Sci-Fi

These movies boldy go where no-one has gone before.

Most movies that involve traveling through space belong to the science-fiction genre . These movies will often be set in the future or sometimes an alternate version of the past. They'll usually present some form of technology that hasn't been invented or fully developed yet in real life, and as such, it's a genre that often speculates about where society could be at some point down the line. Not all science-fiction movies are fantastical, and some are wilder than others. They all have something that makes them distinct from reality, though—after all, that's what the "fiction" part of "science-fiction" refers to.

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Given space travel is something that did become a reality in the 20th century, not all movies about characters going to space will be science-fiction. Historically accurate or more down-to-earth films about going to space are much rarer than their more out-there counterparts but aren't unheard of. These movies all show that more realistic takes on space travel movies can be just as exciting as those that belong in the sci-fi genre.

'Hidden Figures' (2016)

Hidden Figures is a film that spends time with characters on the ground while discussing space travel. Namely, it looks at those who worked behind the scenes at NASA during the early 1960s, which was right around when American astronauts first traveled to space.

The movie's story focuses on three Black women who worked at NASA as mathematicians during this period and how they were looked down upon or overlooked in a male-dominated workplace and at a time when things were segregated based on race. Its focus is on racial and gender issues, but it's based on a true story about how these mathematicians were instrumental in NASA's early years, featuring space travel in that way.

'Space Cowboys' (2000)

An underrated and overlooked film within Clint Eastwood's filmography , Space Cowboys, is the rare movie about space travel that's neither sci-fi nor based on true historical events. It centers on several old men who used to be pilots/astronauts in their youth who are asked some 40 years later to undertake a repair job on a satellite in space that no one else is as qualified to do.

It's something of an action-adventure film, but not to the extent where it ventures into science fiction. As such, it walks an interesting line in the pantheon of movies set in space because it could feasibly have happened in the year 2000 without actually having happened.

'The Right Stuff' (1983)

Focusing on the very earliest American astronauts in history, The Right Stuff mostly takes place in the 1950s and, as a result, doesn't feature a huge amount of space travel. It's more about the early stages of preparing a group of pilots to become astronauts, with the main characters all fighting to make the dream of taking a flight to space a reality.

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With a runtime that's over three hours, it's certainly a long movie, but it's a rewarding one. The characters are memorable, the pace is very good (thanks to the story covering a ton of ground/years), the score's iconic, and it looks great visually. It's a movie that indeed has all the right stuff, even though it was, unfortunately, less than successful at the box office upon release.

'In the Shadow of the Moon' (2007)

A critically-acclaimed documentary with a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes , In the Shadow of the Moon, is one of many documentaries about the various Apollo missions to the moon. It also shouldn't be mixed up with the film of the same name, released in 2019, a sci-fi-themed movie that doesn't exactly focus on space travel.

As great as biopics or historical movies about traveling to the moon can be, few things beat the real footage of NASA and its astronauts on the moon. As such, In the Shadow of the Moon offers plenty of great images from the moon's surface and also benefits from featuring many interviews conducted with ex-astronauts of the Apollo missions who were still alive in 2007.

'The Dish' (2000)

A villain-free movie that still has stakes , The Dish presents a unique story about space travel by choosing an unexpected group of people to focus on. The film is set in a remote town in Australia as the Apollo 11 mission to the moon is underway. The town's gigantic satellite dish must be used to broadcast the images of the moon landing worldwide on live television.

It's a historical drama that also functions as a comedy, given The Dish 's light tone and humorous characters. Plenty of things go wrong while ensuring everything is just right for the world to see the first moon landing, but thankfully, history tells us that everything worked out in the end when it came to the broadcast.

'Apollo 13' (1995)

While there's no shortage of movies that begin with the word "Apollo," few are as well-known as Apollo 13 . This movie depicts the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission that was intended to take its astronauts to the moon, but had to abort it because of an explosion while in space.

As such, those on Earth had to think fast to get those on-board back home, which is what Apollo 13 ends up dramatizing. Its all-star cast and ambitious production ensured that it was a huge hit, and as far as non-fiction movies about space travel go, it remains undoubtedly one of the most famous.

'Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood' (2022)

Admittedly, the underrated and overlooked Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood veers close to feeling like science fiction. After all, part of this coming-of-age film set in Houston during the late 1960s involves a child being trained as an astronaut to be sent to the moon, which isn't based on historical fact.

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Still, it's easy (and arguably necessary) to read these scenes as unbelievable or imagined by the movie's main character. After all, every other part of the movie is very down-to-earth and feels inspired by the director's ( Richard Linklater ) real-life childhood. The idea of someone going to the moon got a lot of people - particularly kids - very excited, so who can blame the film's protagonist for imagining himself as one of the astronauts?

'Cosmos: A Personal Voyage' (1980)

As its title implies, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage takes a more intimate, metaphorical take on traveling to space/exploring the universe. It was a miniseries written and presented by astronomer Carl Sagan and took an approach towards space-themed topics that were educational, entertaining, and imaginative all at once.

It takes more than one sitting to get through all 13 of its parts, but for a miniseries made over 40 years ago, it was very cinematic and eye-opening stuff. Part of this comes from the innovative special effects and the music, much of it being by Vangelis , who often composed scores for movies ( one of his best-known being Blade Runner ).

'First Man' (2018)

What Apollo 13 did for the real-life mission of the same name, First Man does for the Apollo 11 mission. It focuses on the career of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong , as an astronaut at NASA, starting well before 1969 but building up to that flight to the moon, using the dramatic Apollo 11 mission as its climax.

It's a movie that feels a little slow, partly due to the 141-minute runtime, and its tone is quite cold and detached. This is intentional, helping to show how stern and calculating those as NASA sometimes had to be, but it can make it a little harder to get emotionally invested. Still, a lot can be forgiven when it comes to the final half hour, as the dramatization of the Apollo 11 mission is spectacularly done.

'Apollo 11' (2019)

Apollo 11 would make a great double feature with First Man . This film also explores the Apollo 11 mission (obviously) but does so in a documentary format. Not only that, but it does so in a way that doesn't utilize a narrator or traditional interviews and, as such, does a great job at making you feel like you were there in 1969.

For anyone born after 1969, the best way to understand the excitement and nervousness around the first manned trip to the moon. The footage and audio have also been cleaned up incredibly, with a striking and immersive presentation.

KEEP READING: The Best Science-Fiction Movies That Aren't Set in The Future

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space travel non fiction

Never Enough Novels

Nonfiction Books About Space: 8 Out of this World Reads

Nonfiction Books About Space for Adults

If you’ve ever had a chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center , you’ll understand why I’m excited to track down nonfiction books about space. The Space Race was a fascinating time period in American history and that’s just the beginning.

Nonfiction books about space will transport you back in time and take you out of this world into the exciting world of space.

My nonfiction books about space list includes books about Mars, discovering where our galaxy fits into the universe, and a comprehensive history of space. 

Plus, my husband recently read and loved one of the Apollo books (Rocket Men) that made it on my list, so it was helpful to have a starting spot! Step out of this world and come discover the best nonfiction books about space!

*Disclosure – I earn a small commission for any products purchased through the links below at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this book blog!

Nonfiction Books About Space

space travel non fiction

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

First up on my list of nonfiction books about space is The Right Stuff, by renowned journalist Tom Wolfe. Wolfe offers a unique spin on the history of man’s trips to the moon by getting into the minds of the astronauts who went there. You’ll read about the lives and families of some of the most famous American astronauts.  Jay recommended this space book since he’s heard glowing reviews of both the author and this specific book.

space travel non fiction

First Man by James Hanson

If you’d rather read an entire book devoted to arguably the most famous astronaut, this one’s for you. First Man was recently made into a movie starring Ryan Gosling as well. Armstrong himself actually sat down for interviews with Hanson and gave him access to private documents to compile this biography. Since Armstrong is a notoriously private person, it’d be fascinating to read what Hanson discovered.

space travel non fiction

Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

Jay keeps trying to get me to read this since he thought it was extremely well written. So far, it’s at least made it on my To Be Read List for November ! Rocket Men tells the story of the three men to who took on man’s first mission to the moon. The Apollo 8 mission was America’s boldest, riskiest attempt thus far and it all took place around Christmas.

space travel non fiction

Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz is a veteran NASA flight director who’s storied career includes the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions. In his memoir, he recounts thrilling details from over thirty years of American space history. Included within these pages are his experiences with the disastrous beginning of the space program, the Apollo missions, and more.

space travel non fiction

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

The origins of the universe, black holes, antimatter, and the big bang may seem like daunting topics to cover in 200 page book. Thankfully, Stephen Hawking breaks down these complicated concepts in a manner that we all can understand. Explore the secrets of the universe in this classic science book.

space travel non fiction

The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin

The Case for Mars lays out a concrete plan for sending humans to Mars and making the planet livable. This space book was originally published in 1996, but was updated in 2011 with additional content. Zubrin added photographs, illustrations, and anecdotes from this prolific space writer. It’d be interesting to compare our current space capabilities with Zubrin’s original plan from the 90’s.

space travel non fiction

Finding Our Place in the Universe by Helene Courtois

Just published in 2019, this book tells the story of the discovery of Laniakea, the home of our galaxy. Helene Courtois is an astrophysicist who was on the team that made the discovery that was twenty years in the making. She shares her first hand account of the process and how one of the most important astrophysics findings happened. This topic sounds completely out of my league, but initial reviews say it’s written in an accessible manner for us non-astrophysicists…

space travel non fiction

A Book To Avoid: Hidden Figures

I have to mention one additional nonfiction space book that’s had recent commercial success, Hidden Figures. The concept, bringing to light the crucial contribution of black women who worked at NASA, is important and intriguing. However, the execution is…terrible. I hate that this book doesn’t do their stories justice. The narrative jumps wildly from one women’s story to another at different points in their lives in a manner that’s impossible to follow. It diminishes their enormous impact since you’re never sure exactly what’s happening with each women and when. However, I ADORED the movie . It’s remarkably well done and accomplishes everything that the book tried but failed to do.

Have you read any nonfiction books about space that deserve to be on this list?

nonfiction books about space for adults

29 Comments

This looks like a fantastic collection of books about space! Thanks for sharing!

Failure Is Not an Option — how did I miss this book? I adore reading about the early NASA years, and the guy in the white vest is one of my favorites. Adding to my TBR… Thanks for mentioning this book!

I’m so excited that there’s one here you missed! If you have any other recommendations from what you’ve read already please share 🙂

I love The Right Stuff! I read Bringing Columbia Home this year which is about the aftermath of the Columbia explosion. It was fascinating.

Ooh yes I’d love to read more about that tragedy as well. Thanks for suggesting.

I love how you tackle Hidden Figures head on. The book club at our library read it recently and even though I’m not in the club, I work at the library and could overhear the discussion. It seems like they were on the same page as you with the book. Hated the book, but loved the movie.

Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with that reaction. The movie is absolutely worth seeing at least!

ENDURANCE by Scott Kelly is a fascinating memoir of his life leading up to becoming an astronaut and then his time in the ISS. Highly recommend!

Very well done. Have you read Rocket Girl? [No pressure at all to read my review] here is my review: https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/2019/06/17/review-rocket-girl-by-george-d-morgan/

Love this list. I live near the Rocket City (Huntsville, AL) so it’s all about space here. My dad worked for NASA and I had a short stint as a Space Camp counselor in between accounting jobs. It was the most fun job I’ve ever had. 🙂 I admit I’ve seen more of these movies than read the books. ha.

Wow those are incredible connections! By the way, I’m an accountant now! I’ve never had any fun space counselor jobs though…

What a great book list. Can you please remind me to get on nonfiction November next year…please!?! I am literally the worst book blogger alive when it comes to seasonal, timely things like this. I keep seeing all of these amazing nonfiction lists, and I am just mad jellie over here, hehe. …And you think it’s not too late, but for me, it is. I just CAN’T! lol

I really want to read A Brief History of Time. Hawking has always been an inspiration to me (and was always talked about on The Big Bang Theory).

The only books that I have read about space are fiction: The Martian by Weir (it was sooooo dry for me, but the movie was a tad better) and a jfic book called, Space Case. I guess Ender’s Game counts too. Maybe I should try some nonfiction out of this world books. Thanks for the inspo! Xxx

Yes! I promise I will let you know. I happened upon it literally a few days before it started, so I got a bit lucky this year. It’s ridiculously helpful having prompts, especially with the flexibility to talk about topics that interest me! It forces me to think outside of my comfort zone since I don’t normally research or read many nonfiction books. It’s funny you mention The Martian because I actually LOVE both the book and the movie 🙂 I do have a particular interest in Matt Damon, though. Swoon. Maybe nonfiction will be more to your liking haha!

The latest Australian space book on my radar (see what I did there 🙂 is called Dr Space Junk by a space archaeologist (doesn’t that sound like the coolest job ever!) https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/here-comes-dr-space-junk/

What an awesome list! I think choosing space books was a great idea. I recently saw Apollo 11 in theaters and really liked it. Can you imagine what it’s like being up there in space? Geez. One day regular people will get to go. Can you imagine when that’s on your travel list? Ugh I wish it could happen in my lifetime! Unimaginable! Do you want to go to the Grand Canyon this year or should we go view planet Earth from the moon?

I can’t believe Hidden Figures the book was so bad when it was such a good movie! Rocket men does sound good!

Was it the first time you saw Apollo 11?? I love that movie – so intense. It is beyond my comprehension that regular people like us might one day be able to go to space. I’m for sure going to be one of those old people that absolutely refuses to leave Earth. The thought of going somewhere where there’s no oxygen terrifies me!!

Annnndd I just realized the movie I’m thinking of was Apollo 13 hahah!! I just noticed there’s a new movie about Apollo 11! Now I want to see it!

I’ve read a lot of fiction books set in space but not a ton of nonfiction. I agree that Hidden Figures the movie was better than the book. Have you read Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake? He’s an astronaut who spent time on the International Space Station.

I haven’t, but sounds like a good book to add to the list!

Too bad you didn’t like Hidden Figures. That’s on my to-read list next year! lol

Oh wow, this reminds me of a book a friend from HS bought me- Rocket Boys! it inspired the movie October Sky. I couldn’t tell you if it’s good though, as I’ve had it for about 15 years and still haven’t read it lol.

An interesting & varied collection of books you hope to read about space. I imagine space to be such a fascinating topic to learn more about, with so many elements and perspectives. I hope you enjoy reading more about this specific topic.

I don’t have any non-fiction books on your subject to recommend but I’d use any excuse to watch Apollo 13 again. I love the scene where the boffins at the space centre have to use whatever is available to the astronauts to cobble together a repair. If it’s ‘allowed’, and as you say you read mostly fiction, a book that was one of the first I got from NetGalley when I started blogging is The Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar.

What an interesting topic, thanks for sharing. You might like to add Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt to your list.

Please stop by to see my NonFicNov: Become The Expert

You might like “Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell To Earth” by English journalist Andrew Smith. Smith writes to try to find the answer to the question: “What do astronauts do/how do they cope when they’ve been to the moon and then have to live on earth for the remainder of their lives? How do they handle the ordinariness of earth life after traveled to space?” It’s a fascinating and well-written book with a great sense of humor (very dry). Highly recommended.

Dry humor sounds great! It would be neat to read about their lives after their missions. Not something we think about too often…

Ooh, great topic! I would add Col Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, and amazing memoir by a Canadian astronaut. Also, Packing for Mars by Mary Roach answers a lot of questions you might have about space but were afraid to ask. She’s quite humourous!

I’ve read a decent amount about modern physics and women involved in the space program, but I haven’t read anything on the Apollo missions! The Right Stuff and Rocket Men feel like classics on the topic that I should really pick up eventually 🙂

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Good books about space travel, including both nonfiction and fiction

Posted by Mal Warwick | Reading Recommendations , Science , Science Fiction | 0

Good books about space travel, including both nonfiction and fiction

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

In its earliest days, science fiction was almost always about space travel. Back in the bad old days of the 1920s and 30s, when the genre was gathering steam in the American pulps, heavily muscled spacemen and bug-eyed alien monsters predominated. It was only when John W. Campbell Jr. took on the editorship of Astounding Stories  in 1937 and began to recruit as contributors the likes of Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein that sci-fi started turning respectable (in its own eyes, if in few others at the time).

This post was updated on September 26, 2023.

Science fiction . . . or “speculative fiction?”

Later, widely acclaimed writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, and Doris Lessing began writing science fiction even though they denied that was what they were doing. And that was when critics started referring to the genre as “speculative fiction” while casting aspersions on mainstream efforts in the field. But that was a mistake. By then—the 1950s and 60s—the best science fiction authors were producing stories that could stand up to the best that the “literary” critics could point to . . . if only they weren’t looking down their noses with such disdain. And that is most assuredly still the case today.

Are space operas really about space travel?

Nowadays, space travel is merely one of a number of themes commonly explored in science fiction. While novels of that ilk still frequently appear, they’re matched by equal numbers of stories about artificial intelligence and robotics, dystopian visions of the future, speculation about time travel, and other themes. Thus, although I’ve read hundreds of science fiction novels and nonfiction books about science and technology, I find that only a few dozen are truly about space travel. Admittedly, thousands of space operas have been sold which, in my view, are only tangentially about space travel. They’re . . . well, the literary descendants of the old “horse operas” from the era of the pulps. And they rarely give any sense of what the experience of living and working in space might actually be like.

Now, I love good space operas. I’m a particular fan of the long-running Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, who has won numerous literary awards for the books. (You can find my reviews of those stories at The pleasures of reading the complete Vorkosigan Saga .) But I don’t regard these novels as casting any light on the reality of space travel, so I’m not listing them here.

The lists that follow include only those individual books that directly concern space travel. In several cases, trilogies or longer series of novels include only one such book, and that’s the only one I’m listing here. Also, I’m including only those books I’ve awarded scores of ★★★★☆ or ★★★★★. Numerous others that received lower scores don’t appear here.

I’ve listed six nonfiction books first. The rest are novels. In both lists, titles appear in alphabetical order by the authors’s last names.

Books about space travel: nonfiction

The Mission: A True Story by David W. Brown— Mission to Europa to find extraterrestrial life

The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos  by Christian Davenport— Four billionaires, private space companies, and humanity’s future in the cosmos

Beyond: Our Future in Space  by Chris Impey— A colony on Mars? Really? An astronomy professor thinks so.

The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth  by Michio Kaku— From the moon and Mars to the multiverse

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void  by Mary Roach— The nitty-gritty details of space travel, funny and otherwise

Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race  by Margot Lee Shetterly— The amazing true story of the Black women in the space race

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future b y Ashlee Vance— Elon Musk wants to build a colony on Mars (for real)

Books about space travel: novels

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson— In this great example of classic hard science fiction, humankind reaches the stars

Startide Rising (Uplift #2)  by David Brin— Life in the Uplift Universe is endlessly fascinating

Neptune Crossing (Chaos Chronicles #1) by Jeffrey A. Carver— Chaos theory triggers an interplanetary adventure

Retrograde (Retrograde #1) by Peter Cawdron— What life on Mars would really be like

Cold Eyes (First Contact #18)  by Peter Cawdron— First Contact with the people of a Super-Earth

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)  by Becky Chambers— A delightful modern space opera that’s all about character development

Downbelow Station  by C. J. Cherryh— In this interstellar war, the combatants are all human

Skywave (Rorschach Explorer #1) by K. Patrick Donoghue— A private space company threatens a decades-long government coverup

Gravity: A Novel of Medical Suspense  by Tess Gerritsen— An action-packed medical thriller set in orbital space

The Forever War (Forever War Trilogy #1) by Joe Haldeman— This classic science fiction war novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards

The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal— This novel shows just how good hard science fiction can be

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal— An astonishingly good science fiction novel about the first manned mission to Mars

The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal— The third Lady Astronaut novel doesn’t live up to the promise of the first two

The Spare Man  by Mary Robinette Kowal— Murder in space on an interplanetary cruise ship

If Tomorrow Comes (Yesterday’s Kin #2) by Nancy Kress— In this highly anticipated science fiction sequel, surprises are the order of the day

The World Gives Way  by Marissa Levien— When hope dies on a generation starship

Noumenon (Noumenon #1) by Marina J. Lostetter— A visionary science fiction novel with hard science at its core

Amphitrite (Black Planet #1) Brandon Q. Morris— Journey to a newly discovered planet far out from the sun

A History of What Comes Next (Take Them to the Stars #1) by Sylvain Neuvel— An alternate history of the space race

Until the Last of Me (Take Them to the Stars #2)  by Silvain Neuvel— Humanity’s route to the stars

Before Mars (Planetfall #3) by Emma Newman— A psychological thriller in a science fiction setting

Binti (Binti Trilogy #1)  by Nnedi Okorafor— An African student travels to the stars in the first book of the Binti Trilogy

Quantum Space (Quantum #1) by Douglas Phillips— A breakthrough in quantum physics opens new vistas

Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas  by John Scalzi— Diabolically clever, and very, very funny

Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg— A science fiction master imagines a uniquely advanced alien civilization

Delta-V (Delta-V #1 of 2) by Daniel Suarez— A brilliant hard science fiction novel about asteroid mining ).

Critical Mass (Delta-V #2 of 2)  by Daniel Suarez— This is humanity’s future in space

Children of Time (Children of Time #1)  by Adrian Tchaikovsky— Accelerated evolution is the theme in a superior science fiction novel

The Ark (Children of a Dead Earth #1 of 3) by Patrick S. Tomlinson— On a starship, an art heist, a murder, a coverup

Trident’s Forge (Children of a Dead Earth #2 of 3) by Patrick S. Tomlinson— A suspenseful mash-up of science fiction and mystery

Red Thunder (Thunder & Lightning #1) by John Varley— Wacky science fiction from a master of hard SF

The Martian  by Andy Weir— Hard science fiction at its best

For related reading

For more good reading, check out:

  • These novels won both Hugo and Nebula Awards
  • The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels
  • 10 top science fiction novels
  • The top 10 dystopian novels
  • Ten new science fiction authors worth reading now

And if you want to read a less successful novel about space travel, see The Engines of God (The Academy #1 of 8) by Jack McDevitt ( Archaeologists explore alien artifacts among the stars ).

You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels .

And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page .

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the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on the left attached to the International Space Station in 2014, while Samantha Cristoforetti was on board.

Top 10 books about space travel

The Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti chooses her favourite extraterrestrial reading, taking in fiction by Italo Calvino and Stanisław Lem alongside reportage and history

O ne of the funny little things I noticed after having lived in space for a while is that, contrary to everyday experience on Earth, it took some effort to keep my arms pressed against my body. Had I remembered better my childhood reading, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Jules Verne imagined this back in 1865. At one point, the protagonists of his From the Earth to the Moon realise that “their bodies were absolutely without weight. Their arms, full extended, no longer sought their sides.”

That wasn’t the first time literature imagined a trip to the moon: in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1516), the knight Astolfo flies to the moon in search of Orlando’s lost wits. Cyrano de Bergerac’s satirical novel The Other World: Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon dates back to the 17th century, and in 1857 Italian astronomer Ernest Capocci wrote a novel about the first journey to the moon, which he imagined undertaken in 2057 by a woman named Urania. Yet Verne was the first to narrate the endeavour with some measure of engineering credibility, eventually coming to be recognised as one of the fathers of science fiction.

Decades later, space travel became a reality. So along with fiction, which continues to challenge the limits of our imagination and confront us with profound questions, we now have books that tell the story of real spaceflight. My book is one of those. It’s the story of my journey as an apprentice astronaut, from the long, nerve-wrecking selection process through five years of training. Years spent in classrooms and simulators, swimming pools and centrifuges, emergency and survival drills, suitcase always to hand, living across continents. Until, one day, a rocket was waiting to take me to the International Space Station , humanity’s outpost in space. For 200 days, I would inhabit a weightless body, I would see the sun rise and set 16 times per day, I would enjoy the sublime view of the Earth moving beneath me. And I would slowly learn to be an extraterrestrial human being.

In fiction and in fact, these books seem truest to that extraordinary experience.

1. Carrying the Fire by Mike Collins I am fascinated by Collins, by the absolute loneliness of his solitary orbits around the moon while his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the surface during the Apollo 11 mission. This is his autobiography – and it is honest, humble, unafraid to delve into the details. My favourite quote from the book: “I have not been able to do these things because of any great talent I possess; rather, it has all been the roll of the dice, the same dice that cause the growth of cancer cells, or an aircraft ejection seat to work or not.”

2. If the Sun Dies by Oriana Fallaci One hundred years after Jules Verne published From the Earth to the Moon, Fallaci published this account of the US space endeavour, after months of research and with extensive access to all the famous sites of the Apollo missions and to dozens of astronauts, scientists and doctors. It is written with uncompromising honesty and an engaging style that mixes factual reporting and her own emotional and intellectual struggle. Torn between embracing technology-driven progress and remaining loyal to humanistic tradition, Fallaci creates a vivid picture of the space community, and the astronauts in particular, that shatters every stereotype.

3. How Apollo Flew to the Moon by W David Woods This is an unapologetically geeky book: the complete story of how the Apollo missions were accomplished and of the engineering feats that made them possible. Rigorous and exhaustive, but written in an accessible and engaging style well-suited for the non-technical reader.

4. Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge by Asif A Siddiqi This is a scholarly work, grounded in many years of research of Russian-language archival sources available in the post-Soviet era. It is a fascinating account of the epic achievements and struggles of the USSR’s space programme, from its origins to the 1970s, and enjoyable reading for anyone interested in history as well as space.

5. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach If there is a Q&A session, I know that this question will be asked: how do you pee in space? This entertaining, at times hilarious book is an account of the author’s quest to understand this and many other challenges of functioning as a human being in space. While she makes no effort to hide a preference for the less palatable, sometimes disgusting, anecdotes going back to the early days of human spaceflight, and the work predates the more mature conditions of the International Space Station that I am personally familiar with, this is a fun and informative book.

Matt Damon in the film version of The Martian.

6. The Martian by Andy Weir The story is well known because of the film adaptatio n, in which Matt Damon, stranded on Mars, famously declares: “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” With the exception of the initial storm setting the events in motion, and the almost supernatural portion of luck needed for everything to work out just right, everything is plausible.

7. The Invincible by Stanisław Lem Opening with a masterful sequence out of hard science-fiction’s classic repertoire – a vivid depiction of an interstellar spaceship’s landing on an alien planet to investigate the mystery of another crew’s demise – this novel weaves together memorable futuristic battles with an intriguing quest for understanding that shakes conventional, anthropocentric assumptions about intelligence and evolution.

8. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon The consciousness of the disembodied narrator, to his own astonishment, is projected away from Earth on a mind-blowing journey through time and space that, by itself, would make this book unforgettable. This is obviously not about conventional space travel, not a conventional novel and there is no conventional plot. Rather, it is social-philosophical speculation on a cosmic scale accompanied by boundless, fearless imagination and mythopoeic ambition.

9. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino In the first of his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, devoted to the virtue of lightness, Calvino wrote: “Lightness for me is related to precision and definition, not to the hazy and haphazard.” Paul Valéry said: ‘One must be light like the bird, not like the feather.’” That’s the essence of the Cosmicomics. These short stories are a dizzying journey of the imagination, witty, light-hearted, endearing and yet clearly inspired by scientific theories and coherent with their basic premises.

10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams “‘Forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm” after pondering for million of years to answer the “ultimate question to life, the universe and everything”. As a crew-member of Expedition 42 on the International Space Station, I made sure that this was in my essential luggage. It provided two important reminders for space travellers. First, don’t panic! Second, let’s not take ourselves too seriously.

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Gift of Curiosity

Sparking children's creativity and learning

14 children’s books about astronauts and space travel

Preschool , Kindergarten , 1st Grade , 2nd Grade , 3rd Grade , 4th Grade , 5th Grade

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There are so many fascinating aspects of space travel that children seem to be drawn to. For some kids, it is the thought of being weightless in space and having to navigate zero gravity that captures their imagination. Other children might be more interested in spaceships and space travel. Whatever it is that captures a child’s imagination, these 14 children’s books about astronauts and space travel are sure to have something to delight.

There is some overlap between this list children’s books about astronauts and space travel and my list of children’s books about the moon , and you may want to check out both lists for books that your child will enjoy.

Note: For more space-related activities, see my Space Unit Study page. 

Non-fiction books about astronauts and space travel

Floating in Space by Franklyn M. Branley

This book begins by asking kids to jump as high as they can – which of course isn’t really very high as long as they are on Earth. The book then explains that if they were on the moon, they could jump much higher because the gravity is weaker. And on a space shuttle, where there is virtually no gravity, they could jump so high their head would hit the ceiling! The book then explains all the things that are made difficult by the lack of gravity, including eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. It also explains how astronauts must exercise everyday to keep their muscles strong, because it doesn’t require as much strength to move in space as it does on Earth. The book also describes how astronauts get taller in the zero gravity environment of space and then shrink again when they get back to Earth. This is a great book for kids ages 4-8 who are fascinated by life in space.

Astronaut Living in Space by Kate Hayden

This book is all about a fictional astronaut named Linda, who grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Out of hundreds of thousands of applicants, she was one of six who was accepted for the job of astronaut. After getting the job, she spent 18 months in training, learning to live in a weightless environment and repair telescopes in space. Finally, we get to follow Linda on a mission to space. We learn how she eats in space, bathes in space, exercises in space, and sleeps in space. We also get to read about Linda’s work repairing a broken telescope. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5-8.

The International Space Station by Franklyn M. Branley

The main work currently being done by astronauts in space is primarily being done aboard the International Space Station. This book will give young readers a wonderful introduction to the construction of the station, its many parts, some of the work being done on the station, and life on board the station for astronauts. This book was unique in its focus on the ISS, and will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5-9.

The Best Book of Spaceships by Ian Graham

This book is all about different types of spaceships, rockets, and other crafts that have been used for space travel. Young readers will learn about the Apollo spacecraft which landed a man on the moon, the space shuttle that carries large equipment into orbit, space suits which make it possible for astronauts to survive in space, different kinds of satellites that float in space, and the international space station. This book will appeal most to kids ages 5-8.

One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown

This book is a biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. We meet about Armstrong as a young boy with an interest in planes. Eventually, Armstrong begins flying lessons, earning his student pilot license on his 16th birthday. He later joined the navy, and eventually became an astronaut. Young readers will read how he and two other astronauts flew to the moon, landed safely, and gathered moon rocks. This is a wonderful biography to share with kids ages 5-8. It may just inspire some of them to launch their own careers as astronauts!

This book documents the Apollo 11 journey from Earth to the moon and back with snappy rhymes and kid-friendly illustrations. The text is limited, so it lacks details about the mission. However, it is a great introduction to early space travel and the Apollo 11 mission that would be great for for children ages 3 to 6.

This book tells the story of the first moon landing in comic book format. Unlike many other books about the moon landing, this book also discusses the geopolitics between the USSR and United States as well as some of the early Apollo missions leading up to the moon landing. But the bulk of the story has to do with the Apollo 11 mission that saw Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin be the first humans to set foot on the surface of the moon. This book will be most appreciated by kids ages 8 and up. However, my 5-year-olds asked me to read this book over and over (although some of the geopolitics admittedly went over their heads).

This book tells the thrilling story of the Apollo 11’s journey to the moon. It features mostly real photographs of the mission coupled with a few illustrations to explain how Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to the moon and back. This book does a good job of portraying some of the anxiety of the trip, such as the difficulty Armstrong encountered when trying to land the lunar module on the surface of the moon, and the fears faced by all three astronauts that Armstrong and Aldrin would not be able to leave the moon and return to earth with Collins. At the same time, the story also helps the reader understand just how much fun Armstrong and Aldrin had getting to explore the moon. This book is geared toward kids ages 7 to 9 who are independent readers, although slightly younger kids may enjoy the story as well if an adult shares it with them.

Fiction books about astronauts and space travel

This book will appeal to any child who, like the protagonist, has ever dreamed of being an astronaut, joining a crew, flying on a shuttle, eating space space food, sleeping in zero gravity, and walking around in space. This book, with its simple text and bold illustrations, is most appropriate for kids ages 2-5.

This book is part of the Amazing Machines series from the author/illustrator duo of Mitton and Parker. The book features rhyming text, fun illustrations, and a picture dictionary to build children’s space related vocabulary. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 3-5.

Readers of this book will be taken to astronaut school, where they will learn everything they need to know to become an astronaut and prepare for their first mission. Readers will decide what kind of astronaut they want to be, learn what subjects they will study, and go through survival training to prepare for harsh living conditions. Readers will then learn how to get around in zero gravity on the Vomit Comet. They will also select the food they will eat while in space and learn how to use a space toilet. Finally, readers will blast off on their mission. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 3-8.

Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story  by Mark Kelly

This work of fiction was inspired by a real mouse who flew on board the space shuttle Endeavour with author (and astronaut) Mark Kelly. This hero of this story is Meteor, a mouse smaller than the rest who seems to have an affinity for space flight. While the weightless environment of space causes all the other mice to cling to their cage in terror, Meteor seems to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness. When the astronauts notice this, they call him a “mousetronaut.” Meteor is taken from his cage and given the opportunity to look around the space ship. When an astronaut accidentally drops an important key in a tight spot, Meteor comes to the rescue by fishing out the key, saving the mission. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 4-8.

Although this book is a work of fiction, there are many truthful elements to the story that will help children better understand what space travel is like for an astronaut. The story follows a young boy who decides to go to the moon. He travels there by rocket ship, and the details about his journey are rich with facts about moon travel, such as how long it takes to get there, what other objects you might encounter on the way, and what it is like to be weightless. The boy eventually lands on the moon and enjoys a spacewalk. He experiences walking in less gravity than on Earth and the eerie quiet of the moon. After visiting the astronauts’ camp and planting a flag, he returns to Earth with deeper appreciation of the importance of protecting our home planet. This book is best suited for kids ages 4-8.

If I Were an Astronaut by Eric Braun

If I were an astronaut. . . I would do many, many things! This book, which will most appeal to kids ages 3-7, tells kids about all the things they would do if they were an astronaut. Those things include docking with the international space station, working on a team with other astronauts and scientists, fixing sections of the space station, and doing cool science experiments.

More resources for learning about space

More space-related posts from Gift of Curiosity:

  • Space Printables Pack
  • How do astronauts eat in space?
  • DIY astronaut glove box
  • Astronaut Do-a-Dot Printables
  • Montessori phases of the moon activities
  • How did the moon get its craters?
  • Recording the Earth’s rotation with shadows
  • How planets orbit the sun
  • Constellation craft for kids
  • Solar system 3-part cards

You’ll find more resources for learning about life in space on my Space Unit Study page and my  Space and the Solar System  Pinterest board.

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24 Must-Read Books About Space Travel

Last month, we asked you to name your favorite book about space travel and explain why. Hundreds of you replied with awesome, succinct, and sometimes very funny explanations of your favorites.

Below, find two dozens of your best recommendations, from childhood favorites to Mars colonization to, yes, alien sex. And be sure to comment below if anything is missing.

The Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke

I remember picking up Rendezvous With Rama from my school library in 7th grade (yeah I was that popular) and couldn't put them down until I finished Garden of Rama. I was quite ecstatic when I found out that Rama Revealed was set to be released later that year. Gentry Lee (who co-wrote the last three books in the series) also wrote two outstanding books set in the Rama universe. They are Bright Messengers and Double Full Moon Night. If you liked the Rama books GET THEM! They help flesh out the universe, and answer a lot of questions from the later Rama books that went unanswered.

- SamLJackson [ Amazon ]

Ringworld by Larry Niven

I loved it for its wildly fantastical yet legitimate sounding feats of engineering. Also its bizarre explanation of the origin of humanity. Some of the weird alien sex seemed kind of shoehorned in there but somehow I got over that.

- Spamwich76 [ Amazon ]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

There is only one book for space travel, and it has the words "DON'T PANIC" written in large, friendly letters on the front. What more could you need?

- nuksies [ Amazon ]

The Expanse Trilogy by James S A Corey

I keep going back to the Expanse Trilogy by James S A Corey. It's a ripping yarn, but the cool thing is the science of living in space: the effects of microgravity, the fungal foods, the availability of fresh water, the problems of drinking coffee at half a G, the long periods of acceleration and deceleration for interplanetary travel, and ship design. It's a great series that sucks you right in. Start at Leviathan Wakes.

- owen-magnetic [ Amazon ]

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

That was my first serious SciFi book I read and never felt like SciFi but at the same time I geeked out on all the space traveling stuff and the social impact on earth.

- Saber Karmous [ Amazon ]

Have Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

Have Space Suit-Will Travel , Robert Heinlein, 1958. Loved it as a kid. I tried to make my own space suit out of some coveralls and a fish bowl. Looking back, I'd have to say the results were mixed.

- mwhite66 [ Amazon ]

Titan by Stephen Baxter

This book is a personal favorite of mine in the "all things interplanetary and near-real tech" department. It's not a very optimistic book, but it really stuck with me. There was a core theme about the forces of ignorance and militarism corrupting, and ultimately prevailing over, the "old school" people of NASA that still believe in science and human advancement that resonated with me. It wasn't the voyage of the central characters (to Titan, using re-purposed Shuttle technology) that I found memorable, it was the way the world deteriorated after they left. A Christian fundamentalist was in the White House, science education was pushed out of schools, mysticism and superstition came to dominate everyday life, and by the time the astronauts completed their years-long voyage, only a few people cared enough to watch the landing on a grainy web stream. In the end, the worst nihilistic impulses of humanity are on display at large scale back on Earth, and at tiny, claustrophobic scale among the remaining astronauts. Baxter has always had an unhappy view of human nature, but the plausibility of his future was what really rocked my world. I still read it about once a year.

- Ark [ Amazon ]

Solaris by Stanisław Lem

Not much space traveling going on, but a lot of psychological tricks played on humans by a planet that is believed to be one entire living organism. Ultimately shows how little we can hope to understand the universe as flawed human beings.

- SweetCuppinCakes [ Amazon ]

The Night's Dawn Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton

Epic, grand scale, planetary colonization, "Speciesization" of humanity across space, warfare, the afterlife; space opera at its best, and a lot of fun.

- tampa2020 [ Amazon ]

The Mote In God's Eye by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven

If I'm feeling serious, it's the Mote In God's Eye. A great hard SF series. But the book I have read, probably more than any other, is the Hitchhiker's Guide It's been my constant companion since I first read it in 1980, when I was ten years old.

- thisusernameforsale [Amazon]

The Lost Fleet by John G. Hemry

Not sure if this exactly counts as being about Space Travel, but The Lost Fleet series is one of my favorite Scifi novels I've had the pleasure of reading. One of the few books I've read that included visual lag based on the distance of a target in space.

- sam2795 [ Amazon ]

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

I just finished reading the whole series. Fantastic hard sci-fi space opera. Reynolds takes time dilation into account by having the story lines take place decades apart until they all "catch up" to each other.

- fire_marshal , recommended by Soused [ Amazon ]

Vacuum Diagrams by Stephen Baxter

The Zeelee Saga is probably one of the most scientifically accurate portrayals of space travel and aliens that I've ever read.

- Wonderdog [ Amazon ]

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

I was hoping someone was going to suggest this book. I think The Sparrow and Children of God are two of the best books I've read in recent years, and I read a lot of books and a lot of science fiction. I suppose these books would fit more under the umbrella of "First Contact" books, but there is space travel, and the characters, the writing, the premise, the philosophy/religion are all just superb.

- Gillian , recommended by Tenno [ Amazon ]

The Gap Cycle by Stephen R. Donaldson

Examines psychological effects of FTL jumps. Also very realistic descriptions about air scrubbers and gravity drives etc. This is not to mention a gripping, twisting, plot. Great books. There are 5 of them.

- Feyd Carroll [ Amazon ]

Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro

Gotta be Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro . Picked it up in a used bookstore, and I've since real loads of books by her. She's a physicist that has great characters, storylines and believable science. She might be a rock star too ... not sure. That image is linked from her website.

- owensa42 [ Amazon ]

The Genesis Quest and Second Genesis by Donald Moffitt

Best is hard to say, but one I don't see in the comments so far is The Genesis Quest and Second Genesis by Donald Moffitt. I don't think it is a spoiler to include this from the book description on Amazon: After intercepting a message from Earth, Nar scientists have learned the secret of human life. The alien species understands everything about human technology and culture and uses this knowledge to build on each breakthrough until they succeed in re-creating humans. There is a lot more to it than that, and it deals with a lot of interesting concepts.

- J.R. Jenkins [ Amazon ]

Raft by Stephen Baxter

So many great choices, but I just love Raft by Stephen Baxter. It takes place in strange universe where trees are uses as transportation and gravity is a billion times stronger than our universe. I recommend it highly!

- Gavin S. [ Amazon ]

The Star Web by George Zebrowski

The Star Web - really old pulpy sci-fi, but having to first of all figure out they're ON a an ancient ship, and then how fast they've moving, and how to get home... Fantastic read, and really reminds me of Stargate Universe, as the ship may have telepathic influences, is ancient, and recharges inside stars.

- apronboobsface [ Amazon ]

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

This probably isn't the best I've read but it has some pretty cool sections and concepts that make it a really good read. One cool plot line revolves around a traveler visiting a lover on another planet but she ages way quicker because of his faster-than-light travel.

- SaturdayMorning [ Amazon ]

Ursula le Guin's Hainish Series

I'm going to sound very strange here, but my favorites were always Ursula le Guin's Hainish series. You're probably thinking that this is a stupid choice because space travel is very rarely (if at all) a part of the stories. That's why I love them... the absence of writing about the space travel makes these the travel itself be what it could only be for us in the early 21st century: beyond our imagination.

- sckinjctn [ Amazon ]

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

It's a story concerning what happens, when we finally reach out in the galaxy only to find out that a whole lot of other creatures beat us to it, and now we have to fight for every inch of what we find. Sort of. At the same time it's also a story of how you as an American gets teased with another life after life. When you reach 75 you can sign up for basically a space marine program, governed by the private cooperation who controls the only way man can leave earth. CDF promise you that you will get a new life beyond the stars and that's the promise, the protagonist of Old man's war travels for. It's part of a series and the two first sequels are equally great but the first novel will always hold a special part in my heart. It combines the dreams of "what will happen, when we finally get away from here" with some truly great writing that never alienates the reader and tells a very human tale, if that makes sense. (English isn't my native language so I apologize for every single error. I hope it can be read without a lot of trouble.) TLDR: Old Mans War. Read it.

- pkoch [ Amazon ]

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson

To be sure, a masterwork about space travel and colonization. Hell, a not insignificant chunk of Red Mars alone is just about getting to Mars.

- Patrick Halloran [ Amazon ]

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Anathem by Neal Stephenson not only includes an exciting space travel sequence but themes tied in with quantum mechanics, parallel universes and a heaping dose of philosophy.

- Patrick [ Amazon ]

Best space books for 2023

Space Books Recommended Reading

There are plenty of great books out there about space — so many, in fact, that it can feel a little overwhelming to figure out where to start, whether searching for a perfect gift or your next engrossing read. So the editors and writers at Space.com have put together a list of their favorite books about the universe. These are the books that we love — the ones that informed us, entertained us and inspired us. We hope they'll do the same for you!

We've divided the books into five categories, which each have their own dedicated pages. On this page, we feature books we're reading now and books we've recently read, which we will update regularly. Click to see the best of:

  • Space books for kids
  • Astronomy and astrophysics
  • Spaceflight and space history
  • Space photography
  • Science fiction

We hope there's something on our lists for every reader of every age. We're also eager to hear about your favorite space books, so please leave your suggestions in the comments, and let us know why you love them. You can see our ongoing Space Books coverage here .

What we're reading:

Why you can trust Space.com Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test and review products.

"The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy"

by Moiya McTier

The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy$27now $23.28 from Amazon

The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy | $27 now $23.28 from Amazon

Astronomers have written the Milky Way's story many times over; scientists have traced violent collisions in its past and future and peered into the supermassive black hole lurking at its heart. But if our galaxy could tell us its story, what would it say? Astrophysicist and folklorist Moiya McTier tells that story in her delightful new book, "The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy." McTier's Milky Way makes for a prickly narrator as the book zips through everything from the formation of the universe through the ways scientists think it might come to an end. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Moiya McTier Read an excerpt from "The Milky Way"

Buy "The Milky Way" on Amazon

"A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman"

by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman$29.99now $22.49 from Amazon

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman | $29.99 now $22.49 from Amazon

Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University is the principal investigator of NASA's Psyche mission, a spacecraft designed to explore the asteroid of the same name, which appears to be primarily made of metal. But the path she followed to get to that position is full of intriguing side trips she shares in her new memoir, "A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman." The book covers everything from her experience conducting field research in Siberia to her work supporting healthy culture in the ivory tower. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Buy "A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman" on Amazon

"Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science"

by James Poskett

Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science,

Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science," James Poskett | $30 now 20.99 from Amazon

What if everything we're taught about the history of astronomy and physics is wrong? In his new book, "Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science," James Poskett, a historian of science and technology, focuses on how science has always been a global endeavor and how that story was overshadowed by a biased Westernized version. Astronomy and physics play key roles in the story he tells, with cameos from key figures such as Ptolemy and Isaac Newton, although the book spans several scientific fields, including natural history and evolution as well. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with James Poskett

Buy "Horizons" on Amazon

"Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space"

by Fred Scharmen

Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space | $26.95now $21.91 from Amazon

Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space | $26.95 now $21.91 from Amazon

Like plenty of kids, Fred Scharmen was fascinated by the depictions he saw of what life in space might look like. But Scharmen grew up to be an architect and urban designer, which taught him to see all the silent assumptions, fears and hopes that were hidden in those images. In "Space Forces," Scharmen examines seven different visions of life in space, exploring the cultural beliefs they betray and asking us to think more critically about why we want to go to space and how to translate our values into exploration. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Fred Scharmen Read an excerpt from "Space Forces"

Buy "Space Forces" on Amazon

"Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet ― And Our Mission to Protect It"

by Nicole Stott

Back To Earth $30 now $20.41 on Amazon. 

Back To Earth $30 now $20.41 on Amazon . 

Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott is one of the fewer than 600 people to have reached space, and she hopes the stories of that experience will inspire readers to take a planetary perspective on their daily lives. She offers new philosophies for living on Earth informed by her experience in orbit and melds her experiences in space with stories of people on Earth who act on the same value she sees as so crucial to spaceflight. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read an interview with Nicole Stott Read an excerpt from "Back to Earth"

Buy "Back to Earth" on Amazon

"The Apollo Murders" (Mulholland Books, 2021) 

By Col. Chris Hadfield

The Apollo Murders $28 now $14.63 on Amazon. 

The Apollo Murders $28 now $14.63 on Amazon . 

New York Times bestselling author, YouTube star, international speaker, and popular Twitter personality, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, has a creative eye on the moon in his first dive into fiction, "The Apollo Murders." It's a rousing adventure placed amid the tense days of the U.S.-Soviet Union space race in the 1970s following America's lunar landings. The alternative history is set in 1973 when NASA launches a final top-secret mission to investigate a crewed Soviet space station called Almaz. The clandestine flight continues to the moon as both Russian and American crews target a huge bounty hidden on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about writing the book Read an excerpt from "The Apollo Murders"

Buy "The Apollo Murders" on Amazon

"Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space" (Harper, 2021) 

By Stephen Walker 

Beyond $29.99 now $16.49 on Amazon. 

Beyond $29.99 now $16.49 on Amazon . 

On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to leave Earth's orbit and travel into space, marking a significant milestone in the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. In "Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space" (Harper, 2021), author and documentary filmmaker Stephen Walker recounts intimate details of the months, and years, leading up to Gagarin’s historic flight, revealing the true stories of the Soviet space program as the agency prepared to launch the first human into space — only weeks before American astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. Walker also discusses the historical impact of Gagarin's flight and how it set the stage for NASA's Apollo program. ~ Samantha Mathewson

Buy "Beyond" on Amazon.com .

"The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred" (Bold Type Books, 2021)

By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

The Disordered Cosmos $28 now $14.74 on Amazon.

The Disordered Cosmos $28 now $14.74 on Amazon .  

Theoretical physics is supposed to be about pure, crisp ideas. But physics is done by humans, and human society brings messiness to any endeavor. That reality means every aspect of physics is marked by the social constraints of who is allowed to do physics in harmony with their identity and who is not. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a theoretical physicist at the University of New Hampshire, tackles the implications of that reality in her thought-provoking new book. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read Space.com's interview with the author here .

Buy "The Disordered Cosmos" on Amazon.com

"The Relentless Moon" (Tor, 2020)

By Mary Robinette Kowal

Relentless Moon now $17.60 on Amazon. 

Relentless Moon now $17.60 on Amazon . 

Mary Robinette Kowal's Lady Astronaut series imagines what would have happened if Apollo-era spaceflight had continued at the same pace, pushed forward by the existential threat of meteor-caused climate change. This third book follows astronaut Nicole Wargin on an investigation of threats to a lunar base, exploring how life on the ground continues amid ambitious space exploration. ~ Meghan Bartels

Buy "The Relentless Moon" on Amazon.com

"The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World" (Crown, 2020)

By Sarah Stewart Johnson

The Sirens of Mars $28.99 now $21.16 on Amazon. 

The Sirens of Mars $28.99 now $21.16 on Amazon . 

Planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson shares the human story of the search for life on Mars in this compelling book. A host of hidden moments about scientists' views of the Red Planet decorate the book's pages, and Johnson explores how scientists have found and lost hope in the process of studying our nearest neighbor. ~ Meghan Bartels

Buy "The Sirens of Mars" on Amazon.com

"See You in Orbit?: Our Dream of Spaceflight" (To Orbit Productions, 2019)

By Alan Ladwig

See You In Orbit?: Our Dream Of Spaceflight now $18 on Amazon. 

See You In Orbit?: Our Dream Of Spaceflight now $18 on Amazon . 

Alan Ladwig, a former NASA manager, dives into the promise of public spaceflight in this new book, which comes as Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and more take aim at private and commercial space travel.

Read Space.com's interview with the author  here . 

Buy "See You In Orbit?: Our Dream of Spaceflight" on Amazon.com.

"Identified Flying Objects" (Masters Creative LLC, 2019)

By Michael Masters

Identified flying objects now $22.95 on Amazon. 

Identified flying objects now $22.95 on Amazon . 

Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have captured the public's attention over the decades. Rather than aliens, could those piloting UFOs be us — our future progeny that have mastered the landscape of time and space? Perhaps those reports of people coming into contact with strange beings represent our distant human descendants, returning from the future to study us in their own evolutionary past. The idea of us being them has been advanced before, but this new book takes a fresh look at this prospect, offering some thought-provoking proposals. ~Leonard David

Read Space.com's review  here . 

Buy "Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon" on Amazon.com.

"They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers" (Pegasus Books, 2020)

By Sarah Scoles

They Are Already Here $27.95 now $17.30 on Amazon. 

They Are Already Here $27.95 now $17.30 on Amazon . 

Do you remember reading a New York Times story in 2017 that claimed to unveil a Pentagon program dedicated to investigating UFOs? Did you hear rumors about why the FBI closed a solar observatory the next year for then-undisclosed reasons? Are you confused about why there seem to be so many documentaries about alien sightings? "They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers" by freelance journalist Sarah Scoles, tackles these questions and many more. Read an excerpt from "They Are Already Here," and read Space.com's interview with the author  here . 

Buy "They Are Already Here" on Amazon.com.

"The Andromeda Evolution" (Harper, 2019)

By Daniel H. Wilson

The Andromeda Evolution now $7.50 on Amazon. 

The Andromeda Evolution now $7.50 on Amazon . 

There's finally a sequel to Michael Crichton's 1969 classic about extraterrestrial life trying to take over humanity from, of all places, Arizona. In "The Andromeda Evolution," author Daniel H. Wilson continues Crichton's work and brings the terrifying tale into outer space. ~Elizabeth Howell

Read Space.com's review here . 

Buy "The Andromeda Evolution" on Amazon.com.

"For Small Creatures Such As We" (G.P Putnam's Sons, 2019)

By Sasha Sagan

For Small Creatures Such As We $26 now $14.45 on Amazon. 

For Small Creatures Such As We $26 now $14.45 on Amazon . 

In her new book "For Small Creatures Such as We," Sasha Sagan, daughter of "Cosmos" co-writer Ann Druyan and famed astronomer Carl Sagan, dives into the secular side of spirituality. Upon starting a family of her own, Sagan wanted to have rituals and traditions that would bond them together. But being non-religious, she reevaluated what these traditions could be and this book explores how rituals like holidays can be inspired by the "magic" of nature, space and science rather than religion. ~Chelsea Gohd

Buy "For Small Creatures Such as We" on Amazon.com . 

"Dr. Space Junk Vs. the Universe" (MIT Press, 2019)

By Alice Gorman

Dr. Space Junk Vs The Universe $27.95 now $20.69 on Amazon. 

Dr. Space Junk Vs The Universe $27.95 now $20.69 on Amazon . 

What happens to satellites when they die, and come to think of it, when do they die? Alice Gorman is an Australian archaeologist who studies objects related to spaceflight, and what we can learn by thinking about space through the lens of archaeology. Her book is an engaging story of the ways being human shapes how we go to space. From Aboriginal songs tucked on the Voyagers' Golden Records to the importance of the size of a spacecraft, Gorman offers a new perspective on the history — and future — of space. ~ Meghan Bartels

Read a Q&A with Gorman about the new book and the archaeology of space here .

Buy "Dr. Space Junk Vs. the Universe" on Amazon.com.

"Einstein's Unfinished Revolution" (Penguin Press, 2019)

By Lee Smolin

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution $28 now $23.55 on Amazon. 

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution $28 now $23.55 on Amazon . 

Although many believe that the quantum-mechanics revolution of the 1920s is settled science, Lee Smolin wants to disrupt that assumption. Smolin, a theoretical physicist based at the Perimeter Institute in Toronto, argues that quantum mechanics is incomplete. The standard quantum model only allows us to know the position or trajectory of a subatomic particle — not both at the same time. Smolin has spent his career looking to "complete" quantum physics in a way that allows us to know both pieces of information. Smolin's very engaging new book, "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution," offers this unique perspective honed through four decades at the forefront of theoretical physics. ~Marcus Banks

Read a Q&A with Smolin about the new book and the state of quantum physics here .

Buy "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution" on Amazon.com . 

"Apollo's Legacy" (Smithsonian Books, 2019)

By Roger Launius

Apollo's Legacy now $27.95 on Amazon. 

Apollo's Legacy now $27.95 on Amazon . 

How do we understand a transformative event like the Apollo missions to the moon? Many present it as proof of American ingenuity and success, but there's much more to the story. In "Apollo's Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landings," space historian Roger Launius probes the impacts Apollo had technologically, scientifically and politically, as well as analyzing what we can draw from it to understand the country's modern space program. The slim volume is written as a scholarly text, but it's accessible to anybody with an interest in space history and the circumstances that spawned Apollo. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with the author here . 

Buy "Apollo's Legacy" on Amazon.com.

"Finding Our Place in the Universe" (MIT Press, 2019)

By Hélène Courtois

Finding Our Place In The Universe now $24.95 on Amazon. 

Finding Our Place In The Universe now $24.95 on Amazon . 

In "Finding Our Place in the Universe," French astrophysicist Helene Courtois describes the invigorating quest to discover the Milky Way's home. In 2014 Courtois was part of a research team that discovered the galactic supercluster which contains the Milky Way, which they named Laniakea. This means "immeasurable heaven" in Hawaiian. 

In this engaging and fast paced book, Courtois describes her own journey in astrophysics and highlights the key contributions of numerous female astrophysicists. The reader is right there with her as Courtois travels to the world's leading observatories in pursuit of Laniakea, and it's easy to see why the challenge of discovering our galaxy's home became so seductive. Readers who want them will learn all the scientific and technical details needed to understand the discovery of Laniakea, but it's also possible to enjoy this book as a pure tale of adventure. ~Marcus Banks

Read a Q&A with Courtois about her book and the hunt for Laniakea here .

Buy "Finding Our Place in the Universe" on Amazon.com.

"The Girl Who Named Pluto" (Schwartz & Wade, 2019)

By Alice B. McGinty, Illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

The Girl Who Named Pluto $18.99 now $17.99 on Amazon. 

The Girl Who Named Pluto $18.99 now $17.99 on Amazon . 

How did an 11-year-old English schoolgirl come to name Pluto? In "The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney," Alice B. McGinty recounts one child's history-making turn on a fateful morning in 1930. Although the book is aimed at kids ages 4 to 8, there's plenty for older children to connect with as well. And the vintage-flavored illustrations by Elizabeth Haidle make the experience a visual delight. 

Venetia had connected her love of mythology with her knowledge of science to christen the new planet after the Roman god of the underworld, refusing to let her age or gender to hold her back. 

McGinley says she hopes Venetia's tale inspires her readers — girls, in particular. "I hope girls read it and feel empowered to be part of the scientific process," she said. "I hope boys read it and feel empowered, too, and understand how important girls are to science." ~Jasmin Malik Chua

Read Space.com's interview with the author here . 

Buy "The Girl Who Named Pluto" on Amazon.com.

"Delta-v" (Dutton, 2019)

By Daniel Suarez

Delta-V now $28 on Amazon. 

Delta-V now $28 on Amazon . 

In "Delta-v," an unpredictable billionaire recruits an adventurous cave diver to join the first-ever effort to mine an asteroid. The crew's target is asteroid Ryugu, which in real life Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has been exploring since June 2018. From the use of actual trajectories in space and scientific accuracy, to the title itself, Delta-v — the engineering term for exactly how much energy is expended performing a maneuver or reaching a target — Suarez pulls true-to-life details into describing the exciting and perilous mission. The reward for successful asteroid mining is incredible, but the cost could be devastating. ~Sarah Lewin

Read a Q&A with the author  here .

Buy "Delta-v" on Amazon.com.

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space travel non fiction

Every morning that I wake up and realize that, yes, the Trump administration is still in power and this hasn't all been some kind of cruel nightmare, I can't help but wonder: When are we moving to Mars already? While life on another planet is still only a fictional possibility rather than a realistic one, these new science fiction books about space travel will let you pretend like moving to space is an option.

One of the best things about the science fiction genre is its capacity for complexity, creativity, and imagination. From action-packed space operas to dystopian alternate futures to robot fiction, sci-fi has the power to transport readers to another time, another place, and another world entirely. It's the kind of genre that lets you unplug from the real world and instead enter a wholly new, fully-fleshed out universe where the only limitation is that of your own imagination.

To me, the best kinds of science fiction books are the ones that bring readers aboard a ship and into the deep, vast expanse of space. They're brimming with adventure, overflowing with action, but, most importantly, full of endless possibility. They may not be an actual ticket to the outer planets of the solar system, but they're a pretty good next-best thing. When you're flying through space, hopping from galaxy to galaxy at light speed, its easy to forget about the problems right here on the home planet. At least, for a little while.

If you need a break from your Earthly worries, check out one of these nine new science fiction novels about space travel. Who knows, maybe there's a planet out there

'The Collapsing Empire' by John Scalzi

space travel non fiction

You're going to want to buckle up, because John Scalzi's latest space opera is a truly thrilling intergalactic ride. In The Collapsing Empire , humanity has abandoned Earth in favor of the vast expanse of space, thanks in part to the discovery of an extra-dimensional field called The Flow that makes traveling around to other planets and stars possible. But when The Flow is revealed to be far more complicated than it seems, it's up to a rag-tag team of heroes to keep humanity together across time and space.

Click Here To Buy

'Radiate' by C.A. Higgins

space travel non fiction

Hit the skies again in the third installment of C.A. Higgins's The Lightless Trilogy, a suspenseful and exciting sci-fi adventure. In Radiate , Althea and Ananke, now a sentient artificial intelligence with the power of a god, travel the galaxy in search of the advanced space ship's "father," Mathew, the man responsible for creating the code that gave her life. Meanwhile, Matthew is on a journey of his own, but soon enough, their paths will collide in one brilliant burst of light. A beautiful and bold story about what it means to be alive, Radiate will take you to the corners of space you've never even dreamed of going and beyond.

'The Stars Are Legion' by Kameron Hurley

space travel non fiction

Take an journey to the outer rim of the universe with award-winning author Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion , an epic space adventure starring one unforgettable heroine. In a sci-fi reality where humanity is pushed off of the dying planets and onto a fleet of decaying world-ships known as the Legion, one girl has the power of salvation: she can board one of the ships capable of breaking away from all the rest. But When Zan is forced to pick sides in the war for control and survival, she must decide who she can trust, and who she can believe in. An electrifying work of science fiction, The Stars Are Legion will pull you out of this world and drop among the stars.

'Infinity Engine' by Neal Asher

space travel non fiction

The final installment of the Transformation series, Neal Asher's Infinity Engine is another out-of-this-world adventure staring the unforgettable rogue AI, Penny Royal. The power struggle for control over Factory Station 101, the war factory that produced Penny Royal, continues to heat up in this third novel, and aliens, humans, and AI's are all attempting to come out on top. Things get even more complicated when an ancient alien with unknown motivations boards the ship, throwing the already tense situation into further upheaval. An action-packed conclusion to a thrilling series, Infinity Engine will take you to the edge of a black hole and back, but don't be surprised if you leave a part of yourself behind.

'Vanguard' by Jack Campbell

space travel non fiction

Return to the world of of Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet novels in his latest installment, Vanguard . A prequel to the author's beloved bestselling series and the first in the Genesis Fleet series, this newest book chronicles the founding of the Alliance, including the lives and sacrifices of the men and women who gave up everything to create it. An imaginative and in-depth novel that spans time and space, Vanguard will make you want to explore the vast possibilities the universe has to offer.

'Defy the Stars' by Claudia Gray

space travel non fiction

Starring a bad ass heroine so inspiring you'll want to sign up to fight in the interstellar war in her name, Defy the Stars is an imaginative and exciting journey through space. When Noemi, a teen soldier, finds herself stranded on an abandoned enemy spaceship following a disastrous battle, she soon learns she is not alone. Abel, a complex AI with complex human-like emotions, is there waiting in the darkness to kill her, but his programming instead forces him to serve her instead. With his reluctant help, will Noemi be able to save the universe, or will Abel's humanity stop her from winning the war? You'll have to take a journey to the stars to find out.

'The Wanderers' by Meg Howrey

space travel non fiction

If you've dreamed of being an astronaut but never quite made it to NASA, Meg Howrey's latest novel is the next best thing. In The Wanderers , three brilliant individuals train for the mission of a lifetime as they prepare to be the first humans on Mars. But as their seventeen month stimulation begins to feel too real, the astronauts begin to realize that the complications they face on Earth won't stay behind when they're launched into the sky. While this book may take place on this planet, it's story is so out of this world, it will make you feel like you're living among the stars.

'Empress of a Thousand Skies' by Rhoda Belleza

space travel non fiction

A sweeping novel that is as beautiful as it is diverse, Rhoda Belleza's Empress of a Thousand Skies plucks readers off of Earth and drops them among the stars for a dazzling adventure unlike any other. On the Eve on her coronation, Rhee can taste the power and, more importantly, revenge she's been waiting her whole life training to achieve, but a deadly attack changes everything. When Aly, a war refugee and famous star of the DroneVision show, is blamed for the princess's murder, he must team up with the girl he's accused of killing to uncover the truth behind the violence that threatens the safety of the entire galaxy. A phenomenally stunning debut, Empress of a Thousand Skies kicks off what is sure to be an outstanding series that is out of this world.

'Mars One' by Jonathan Maberry

space travel non fiction

Prepare for the mission of a lifetime alongside Tristan and his family, the first humans tasked with colonizing another planet, in Jonathan Maberry's YA space adventure, Mars One . Trained since the age of 12 to be the first mission to leave Earth and settle among the stars, Tristan is now 16 and the time has come to leave his home planet and say goodbye to everything he loves, including Izzy. But when the world learns there is another ship already en route to Mars, a terrorist group steps in and begins to threaten the project and the future of Tristan and his family. Is taking the trip to space really worth it, or is Earth the only place they can stay safe? You'll have to read Mars One an find out for yourself.

space travel non fiction

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The Best Fiction Books » Science Fiction

Space travel and science fiction books, recommended by christopher mason.

The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds by Christopher Mason

The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds by Christopher Mason

Space travel may be the stuff of science fiction but some of it is getting closer and closer to becoming reality. What's more, we have a duty to pursue it, says Christopher Mason , Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine and author of The Next 500 Years , a blueprint of how to set about leaving our solar system. Here, he recommends his favourite science fiction about space travel, and an essential philosophy book.

Interview by Sophie Roell , Editor

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books - The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books - Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books - Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books - The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant

The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant

Space Travel and Science Fiction Books - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein

space travel non fiction

1 The Martian by Andy Weir

2 seveneves by neal stephenson, 3 foundation trilogy by isaac asimov, 4 the metaphysics of morals by immanuel kant, 5 the moon is a harsh mistress by robert a heinlein.

You’re interested in the kind of space travel—living on the moon, visiting Mars, leaving our solar system—that’s very much the stuff of science fiction , but in your view it’s something we actually have to do; it’s a categorical imperative. Why?

All moral questions become exquisitely clear through the lens of one billion years in the future. That is when the sun will start to get too hot, and it will become almost impossible for us to stay on Earth. After about 4.7 billion years, it’s going to be impossible, because the sun will engulf the inner planets and probably be very close to the Earth. So, we know that Earth is finite, and that life on Earth is almost certainly finite, but the life Earth gave birth to doesn’t have to end with this planet. There are other systems that we can go to.

I think it’s only a question of when, not if, we leave the solar system. There are companies and groups trying to make it happen as fast as possible. Many people have written about what they hope will happen in thousands of years or even hundreds of thousands or millions of years. I wrote my book about the next 500 years. It is science fiction, because it’s in the future, but it will be listed in nonfiction because everything in it is based on what we know today in science . Every chapter is written based on datasets that we use or have generated in our own lab, or on scientific principles that we know function today to enable adaptations to live on other planets and potentially other solar systems. That’s the technical part.

The duty part comes from the cosmological fact that suns come and go but, as far as we know, life does not. To our knowledge, this is still the first and only planet that has complex life or any life. It’s also the only planet that has a conscious life. A key factor that only humans have­, as far as we know, is awareness of extinction. Extinction means not just having one thing die, or 10 things die, but the loss of species or many species or even a planetary-scale extinction. If you do nothing, you have abrogated the duty that your awareness affords. We’re the only ones that understand it—we’re even causing it a little bit. That’s another problem, but it’s a different problem. But it means we’re the only ones that can prevent it by moving life to another planet or expanding to another planet.

“The best science fiction is heavy on science and light on fiction”

If we don’t do it, life as we know it, and potentially the only life that exists in the universe, will all eventually end. I think that would be sad because I think life is great. I like humans, I think we’re worth preserving. But, also, besides gravity, life is the only other thing that counteracts entropy and organizes atoms in the universe. Life also has other bonus features, it’s a unique entity in the universe that can create poetry and music and all these other wonderful, beautiful things. It’s a rare thing and I don’t think we should just assume it’s okay to let it all die.

Some of it’s just about survival. Whatever your moral imperatives are, whatever your moral priorities, you have to exist to have them. If you have anything that you like, or that you want to be preserved, you must exist first. It’s a logical syllogism. If you say, ‘I want music to survive as long as possible’ or art or it could even be an assault rifle, maybe you really like guns. Whatever it is that you really like, for it to survive, eventually we’ll have to take it to another solar system.

When did you come to this conclusion? Was it when you were quite young?

I think probably the age of 14 or 15. I remember doing a Model United Nations in high school. It’s when your class gets to be the United Nations, and every child gets a country. it gives you the chance to learn about a country. It’s a cool way to teach geography and different cultures to a class of high school students. We did a version of it and I got Panama. Everyone can draft resolutions and you learn about procedures—how countries come together and propose resolutions about stopping or starting a war or trade disputes. I drafted a resolution called ‘the preservation of humans.’ I proposed that because not all member states could have their own space programs—they’re very expensive—one thing every country could have is a landing strip for a space shuttle. That way, instead of always having to land in one spot, they could land in many places around the Earth. My idea was that it was pretty low cost to have a nice place for a spacecraft to land. So, I proposed this as a resolution, and it didn’t go over so well. There was a fake crisis, Russia was going to invade Afghanistan, and everyone was like, ‘Why are we even talking about this?’ It was too far away.

But I’ve had the same thoughts since I was a kid because it’s a very simple series of steps in your head. I do this in the beginning of the book, I call it the ‘entropy goggles.’ If you could just imagine the room in front of you 100 years in the future, or 500 years, or 10,000 years. It’s extraordinary how fast everything decays, and you just take it to the farthest level of a billion years, and then there’s nothing left.

Isn’t the biggest challenge to space travel the fact the human body can’t survive? It’s not about the transport system to another solar system, as much as it is about the human body not doing so well. And am I right that that’s what you’re focused on in your professional life?

It’s the work I’m closest to . They’re both challenges, for sure. In the book, I don’t presume that we have any antimatter-based propulsion or even fusion propulsion. I hope I’m wrong, maybe we’ll have better propulsion. But if we don’t solve that problem, the only way around it is to assume that multiple generations will have to live and die on one spacecraft on the way to a new planet. What I wanted to point out is that it’s possible to do that over the next few 100 years—to establish and perfect the technology that would let that be a reality.

There’s so much that’s changed in the last 20 years or so. In 1995, there was only one exoplanet known and there were about 45,000 genes. Now, there are more exoplanets, and we have 60,000 genes, with more being discovered. I call them the twin engines of discovery, we’re discovering new genes and genetic functions, and also discovering new planets on which we could maybe have those genes function.

Your book made me feel quite good about the future. I thought, ‘Well, finding the ultimate way to stop cancer can’t be that far off when we have this much knowledge’.

I’m very much an optimist, so I’m glad that that came through in the book. The last chapter is the end of the universe. I detail everything that’s estimated will happen in the next 10 to 100 trillion years in the future. Does our duty extend to us even preventing the collapse of the universe or endless expansion? To which I answer ‘yes.’ But it’s depressing to think about everything completely dissociating and coming to a cold end. I sent off the final chapter to my editor, Bob Prior, and said, ‘It’s kind of depressing to have written that chapter.’ He wrote back saying it’s a long time away and no big deal. I was like, ‘No, it’s very sad.’ I had this palpable sense of sadness about something extremely far away, which I recognize is not a normal response.

In terms of the books that you’re recommending for us today, about space travel, you’ve chosen mainly works of science fiction. As a scientist, what role does science fiction play in science, would you say?

The best science fiction is heavy on science and light on fiction. It’s good fiction but it’s driven by extensive, rigorous, and well-anchored science. For example, The Martian , which I chose as one of the books. We were starting the twin study when that came out. Everyone around NASA headquarters was reading it. The book started as chapters that were released for free and everyone was effusive in their praise for the accuracy of the technical details and the acumen of the writer to get everything just right. Even though it’s fiction, everything’s based on technology and methods that exist. It required no new technology that we don’t have right now. I based my book on the same concept: based on everything we know today, what could I reasonably project we’d be able to do in the next 500 years?

Do you want to quickly explain what the twin study is, because it’s quite central to your work? These are two brothers, identical twins, and one spent a lot of time in space.

Scott Kelly spent a year in space. A lot of the logistics was about collecting samples from space and doing every kind of molecular profiling we can, because we don’t know what happens to the body after a year of being in space, at least at a molecular level. We knew that it was possible to survive because the Russians did it first. But only three cosmonauts had gone past a year. It was the first ever NASA mission that was that long. We embedded so many metrics and medical measurements that we could get an unparalleled view of what happened in the body. Scott was really a pioneer in giving blood, sweat and tears to the study and much more—stool and skin and all sorts of samples.

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It was a little bit frightening, because you can see how much his body really did not like being in space that long. Once he got to space, it was okay, it was really coming back from space that was very difficult on his body. His ankles swelled up to the size of basketballs. All these molecular markers called cytokines or inflammation markers, were spiking. There was an eerie similarity when we started looking at COVID-19 patients. We could see some of the same spikes of the body’s pro and anti-inflammatory systems battling each other. For Scott it was bad for a few days and then it went back to normal again, whereas for COVID patients some of these just persist for days or months. And they don’t go away.

But what we learned is that the body is plastic. All these things might be painful and difficult, but the body is extraordinarily adaptive. He did get DNA damage that we could measure. We could see fragments of DNA and loss of bone in his urine. We could see gene expression changes and the immune system really underwent a lot of stress. But his body managed to adapt. Writ large, it was surprisingly adaptive towards spaceflight.

Were there any positives?

Some of his aging signatures got better in space. His telomeres got longer so, in some ways, he did get genetically younger in space. His ‘clonal hematopoiesis’ also got better in space, which is how many clones in your blood are carrying mutations. Some of his epigenetic age, the metrics of aging, looked stable. So, all things considered, not too bad.

And his twin is also an astronaut. Has he been to space ?

Mark Kelly has been to space, about 54 days total across a few missions. Scott Kelly has been up there about 525 days, if I recall, so about 10 times longer. Imagine being at a cocktail party and telling someone both of your sons are astronauts. No one would believe you, but it’s true.

Getting back to the space travel science fiction books, you were saying the science in The Martian was pretty accurate. At what point in the future could something like The Martian happen?

Actually, very soon. It’s planned to happen in about 12 to 13 years, sending a crew there. Now the first crew will be there for a very short term. What is depicted in The Martian is probably in a matter of 10 or 20 years. I don’t think it’s 50 to 100 years, because the plan is to have people there, potentially, by the end of this decade. Elon Musk would like it to be tomorrow. I think that’s a bit ambitious, it’s more likely the early 2030s.

“I think it’s only a question of when, not if, we leave the solar system”

It’s not just the United States, it’s also private enterprise, it’s multiple other countries. Unlike the space race of the 60s, when there were two big players, now we have five or six pretty big players and some private players. There’s almost an order of magnitude bigger of a space race today than what we had 50 years ago.

Who are the big players? You mentioned China a few times in your book.

Whenever you get a grant from NASA you have to sign a document that promises that none of the funds will be used for anyone that is in China, that works for someone in China or that has any relation to anyone in China. There’s a clear wall of separation, a firewall between anything happening in NASA and anything in the Chinese space agency. I understand, politically, why that’s the case. But scientifically, I think it’s a wasted opportunity, because they’re expanding very rapidly. They developed cotton plants that can grow on the moon, and they have multiple missions.

I couldn’t believe that.

It’s amazing. They’re ramping up their space program, akin to what the US was doing in the 60s. It could really be an extraordinary time to work with them. There’s even a term for this at the State Department: ‘science diplomacy’. If you get scientists together, they’re generally trying to solve the mysteries of the universe and work together. And it is one way you to bridge the gap between cultures and politics. But politics usually gets in the way, after a while.

China is ramping up, Russia is still doing a lot in space. Israel had their spacecraft that crashed on the moon, India has a space program that’s ramping up, the UAE has one. There are obviously the Japanese and European space agencies that are have been going for a while and are still ongoing. We’re now approaching more than 10 different agencies. There’s even one for Australia. They’ve never flown anything, but they do have a new space agency they’ve just started. It’s an exciting time because there’s never been more.

Where do you think it’s coming from?

It’s a good question, what’s driving them. Maybe every country is a little bit different. A lot of the scientists and staff who work at NASA, or in my lab, just have an innate sense of curiosity. There’s a very human characteristic of exploration that is driving a lot of it.

Politically, though, some of it is probably driven by the prestige and saying: ‘We are a spacefaring country.’ It also gives you access to satellites that control communication systems, there’s questions of defense. A lot of these geopolitical machinations are also at play.

In my case, I have this sense of duty towards humanity that I feel I must fulfil for my limited time on this planet.

I think you’re probably quite unusual in worrying about the end of life in our solar system.

We’ve got about a billion years. We’ve got some time, but it’s not infinite. To me, a billion seems really short in the grand scheme of things. It’s just not that far away. I’ll be dead for the vast majority of it, but the problem won’t go away. It’s the laziest thing a human being can do is to say, ‘Well, I’ll be dead. I’ll just leave this problem to someone coming after me.’ Why would you do such thing?

It does put our worries about climate change into a different perspective.

I’ve started to look up what the last 500 million years of Earth’s history looks like in terms of its temperature. If you look at the last 50 million years, it’s interesting to see how much it’s fluctuated. It’s actually strikingly stable. It’s always within about 40 degrees, over everything that’s happened. Now, there were some times before then where the Earth was all magma and was much hotter or colder. And there’ll be a time about a billion years from now where it starts to get much hotter and there’s not much we can do about it unless we literally move the earth. (There’s a movie about that called Wandering Earth , actually). But I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it would have been much more varied over the past. Now, whenever there are big swings, mass extinctions have occurred.

Again, we’re the only ones that know this is the case. And we’re the only ones that can do anything about it.

So finishing up with The Martian , can you summarize why it’s so good?

It’s a fabulous book of something that will likely be in our near future, of people on Mars, hopefully not using their own stool as fertilizer, necessarily, but of people that can be on Mars and make their way back.

Let’s move on to the next work of science fiction about space travel you’ve recommended, which is Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. This looks like an epic, some 800 pages. Is it very gripping? Tell me why I need to read it.

This book highlights how humans can adapt to what would seem to be an impossible survival circumstance. I’m not giving anything away, because it’s in the first two pages, but the moon is shattered and is eventually going to land on the Earth with a huge barrage of asteroids. In the first third of the book, everyone’s trying to figure out how to survive. Some people go to space, some people go deep underground. It really highlights the fragility of our planet. It’s something I think about a lot, with almost everything I look at. I’m not really a depressive person. You think I’d be really sad all the time but I view it as enabling and a good reminder to work faster.

Because even though we’ve been talking about the distant future some calamity could happen before that we can’t predict.

Yes, it could be an asteroid or some other cataclysmic climate event. Think about the hole in the ozone layer with CFCs. We tackled that problem, but what if we hadn’t figured it out till it was too late and we had no ozone layer? It’d be a very different world we’d be living in now. There’s are plenty of ways we can screw things up and plenty of ways we can fix them, too.

Now we’re at Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Is this a trilogy?

There’s a whole series. The first one is Foundation . It’s a very beautifully written book imagining that humans were so broadly successful in the universe that they’re in multiple galaxies and working at an interplanetary scale. There is even a capital city where the entire planet is one big city. It has seven or eight other planets that are agricultural, just bringing food to the other planet, because it was so big. Some people would live and die and never see the sun their whole lives because the city is so deep, but they didn’t see it as bad. That’s just how they live here. So it’s interesting imaginings of humans at that scale.

The second thing I found really striking about that book is that the protagonist in the book is something called a psychohistorian. He has studied history so well that he can try and predict what will happen next. He knows that strife and war are coming, and that the big Galactic Empire is going to crumble, and there’s no way to stop it. All he can do is limit the amount of time there will be this dark period, where people are scattered throughout the galaxy, with massive deaths and loss of technology and quality of life. And he realizes the thing that is needed to decrease the amount of suffering during that period is to preserve information, that the reason people fall into these big traps is because they don’t know how to build things. They don’t know the technology that drives survival in many cases.

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So his obsession is not so much to stop the end of the Galactic Empire, but just to reduce the length that it would be in this dark period and preserve information.

These are all such interesting concepts—just about thinking at a galactic scale, and what the world look would look like if you could. It introduced to me, at an early age, to the idea that maybe it’s possible.

Asimov was the first book I ever read where I got curious about the author. I was like, ‘Who is this guy? What brain could come up with this?’ I started to read him and it’s the first time I learned what the word humanist means. Until I read about Asimov I didn’t know what a humanist was, I was a kid in high school and I thought, ‘Wow. That’s really interesting. I think I’m a humanist.’ But he had died by then. He died in 1992 and I started reading his books in ’93, or ’94. I was palpably sad that I had just missed meeting him. I don’t know what I would have said to him except, ‘I like your book.’

Apart from space travel, are you a huge reader of science fiction?

I usually like nonfiction better. Most fiction I dislike because it’s too fictional. That’s why I like The Martian , because even though it’s fiction, it’s very anchored in fact. If it’s very scientifically-based fiction, then I’ll be happy. But if it’s too fiction-y, I just have to be in the right mood for it, I guess.

Asimov isn’t too fiction-y then?

He isn’t too fiction-y because he based his books on scientific precepts and principles that were known and that were based in reality. He didn’t have to concoct anything new. That’s why I like it.

Okay, now we’re at the one philosophy book on your list, which is the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant . How does he relate to space travel?

This is the categorical imperative that you alluded to at the beginning. In my book, I try to create a synthesis between a variety of ethical frameworks. I wanted to put something in front of all of them, something that’s antecedent to any one of them.

There’s utilitarianism, which is the greatest good for the greatest number. How do we know what’s right or wrong? If we just make the most people happy, then that should be about right. There are problems with that, which you can read about. But that’s one option.

“All moral questions become exquisitely clear through the lens of one billion years in the future”

Another one is like when you were a kid, and you stole a candy bar, and your parents would say to you, ‘What if everyone stole a candy bar? Then there wouldn’t be any candy bars.’ That’s the simplest precept of, if you do something wrong, imagine in your head what it would be like if everyone did that thing you’re about to do. And then imagine what the world would look like. That’s the crux of the categorical imperative: take any action you’re about to take and imagine it was an axiom, a rule for all of humanity, and then imagine what the world would look like. It’s not perfect, but it does a pretty good job of thinking though whether this would be good or bad for the world. It’s a version of the golden rule, treat others as you would like to be treated.

But the thing I love about Kant is he goes on and on in most of his books about a sense of duty. He talks about duty in a variety of contexts: to family, to country, to children, but also about the duty to do the right thing. Most people, when they think of duty, it’s one of least exciting words that they can imagine. A lot of duties can be abrogated. You can say, ‘I’m a father, but I’m going to leave and start a different family.’ You can go to live in a different country. You can fight for one country and 10 years later fight against your country. Many duties are transient, really. But Kant argues that a lot of your moral duty is innate. And I think our duty towards humanity and towards being the guardians or shepherds of life is also something that’s innate and activated by awareness of extinction. I take a lot of his writings on duty very much to heart, I guess I’d say.

Finally let’s talk about the last book on your space travel reading list which is another work of science fiction, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress . Tell me more.

This is one is the most science fiction-y of all my choices. In the book, people who live on the moon are called Loonies. Their bodies have adapted to the lack of gravity and they have lighter bones. It’s basically a penal colony, because once you spend too long there, you can’t go back to Earth. This is also comes up in a book series called The Expanse . If you’re out in the asteroids too long, the gravity’s too hard on the body, and you can’t really survive. I just like the idea of the adaptation in the biology of humans to different gravities and things like that which I’m sure would happen if people were growing up or living on the moon or on Mars.

In the book, it actually becomes an advantage. At some point, the moon wants to have its own independent government. It’s very much a colony, with minerals being extracted, et cetera. They can’t survive and they rebel. Then, when the Earth army sends people to attack the moon, they don’t know how to handle the 1/6 gravity, so they all get slaughtered.

I also liked the book because it’s interesting about the need for autonomy and the recognition that people want to form their own governments. It’s something we should be aware of from the get-go. It’s happened again and again throughout human history and I don’t know why anyone would think it won’t happen this time. We should plan, in advance, for the moon to have its own government.

Have any of Scott Kelly’s adaptations become permanent? Or did everything go back to normal?

Most things went back to normal, but some are still changing. We’re still taking blood samples from him routinely. We won’t know how much it’s a function of his spaceflight until we get more astronaut studies.

For his clonal hematopoiesis, he had fewer visible mutations in his blood in space, but when he got back to Earth they were higher than before the mission. Was that just normal? Or was that because of radiation or stress? We don’t know. The immune signature seems like it mostly recovered, but did it prime the immune system in any other way? Will he be more or less likely to get infections? We just don’t know, at this point. Overall I’d say that of the genes that were changing in flight, 93% of them came back to normal, but 7% didn’t. We’re still keeping an eye on him.

Didn’t he become two inches taller because of the lack of gravity?

Yes, it was a boost but it didn’t last. As soon as he got back to Earth he got smooshed down again.

Chris, thanks so much for speaking to me and for worrying about the distant future. It’s been so interesting to me because it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. I’ve always thought spending money on space travel was a waste, when we have so many problems here on Earth still to sort out—but you’ve convinced me it is important.

I want people to come away with a sense that this is something that they can do and that they can care about. It’s your birthright, as a human being with a consciousness , to think as far ahead as you want. Usually, there is no reason to think that far ahead and you don’t have to. But it is an extraordinary exercise. You can think in a more cogent capacity about what you want to accomplish, not just as a person, but as a species.

In an ecosystem, you have producers, consumers and decomposers. I try to make the case in the book that we also need guardians who will keep all of it going. Because if you don’t have anyone keeping track, all of this will go away, which I just find sad. People talk about AI and that maybe machines will come and take us over I think it’s possible. What if the machines became self-aware and maybe became guardians? What if they had a sense of duty towards life as well as inorganic life? That’s my hope, anyway. I don’t know. It depends who programmed the machines. We’ll find out. It’s a bit far in the future, but we’ll see.

May 17, 2021

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Christopher Mason

©Pershing-Square-Sohn-Cancer-Research-Alliance-Melanie-Einzig

Christopher Mason

Christopher E. Mason is a geneticist and computational biologist who has been a Principal Investigator and Co-investigator of seven NASA missions and projects. He is Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, with affiliate appointments at the Meyer Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School, and the Consortium for Space Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

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50 Must-Read Books Set In Space

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Jenn Northington

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL .

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I grew up watching the various Star Trek s and Star Wars ; I saw Apollo 13 in the theaters. Space, that final frontier, has always been one of my favorite frontiers to explore. And there are a ton of writers who apparently just want to make me happy, because there are many, many—seriously, so many!—excellent books set in space just waiting to be read! While there are many great nonfiction books about actual space, I’ve always leaned more towards fictional Spaaaaaaaaaace, if you will. What might be out there? (Aside from The Truth, obviously.) And so my criteria for putting together this list was simple: a work of science fiction or fantasy set at least partly in outer space, or on a planet other than Earth that required space travel to get to. Here are 50 speculative works that play with Spaaaaaaaaaace in all its mystifying, occasionally terrifying, really freaking huge glory, in alphabetical order.

Note: descriptions in quotations are taken from publisher materials.

50 must-read books set in space. book lists | books set in space | science fiction | space books

After the Flare (Nigerians in Space #2) by Deji Olukotun

I know this is #2 in a series—just trust me!

“After a solar flare upended the world order, Kwesi Brackett’s life disintegrated. His wife took up with a millionaire in the heavily armed Silicon territories and his daughter’s university, Yale, relocated to the Caribbean. After being laid off by NASA, Brackett finds himself in Africa, as one of the head engineers for the newly formed Nigerian Space Program. Suddenly, the NSP’s goal of getting astronauts into space is more important than ever. With most of Europe, Asia, and North America knocked off-line, thousands of satellites about to plummet to Earth, and the political minefield that is the rescue of an international group of astronauts trapped on the international station, time is of the essence.

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“The deranged and violent militant group Boko Haram is steadily approaching, and the last surviving members of the Fulani tribe, an ancient matriarchal nomadic society, have found refuge in the abandoned caves of the Saon people. Accessible only by sonic vibrations, the sophisticated cave system contains messages from the past in a series of astrolabes, powerful amulets whose destructive force is harnessed by the Fulani tribeswomen.

“Nigeria’s past and present are threatening to collide in a battle over its own future.”

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

This series has Murderbot in its name but do not be fooled. This is cozy, character-driven sci-fi at its finest.

“In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

“But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

“On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

“But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.”

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie

“On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.”

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Looking for a queer female lead who is also a woman of color, is a brilliant mechanic, and must deal with a chronic illness while helping save her sister and the crew of the spaceship she’s stowed away on? Please look no further!

“Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego…and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything—even destroying planets—to get their hands on her.”

Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

“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 Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi

“Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

“Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

“The Flow is eternal—but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency—are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.”

Consider Phlebas (Culture #1) by Iain Banks

If you’ve never read Iain Banks and enjoy Star Trek , Battlestar Galactica , and/or The Expanse , I cannot recommend highly enough that you start here.

“The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

“Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.”

Dark Mirror (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Diane Duane

This was the first (and, if I’m honest, only) Star Trek  franchise novel I’ve read, and Duane has convinced me that I need to read more.

“One hundred years ago, four crew members of the U.S.S. Enterprise crossed the dimensional barrier and found just such an empire. A mirror image of their own universe, populated by nightmare duplicates of their shipmates. Barely able to escape with their lives, they returned thankful that the accident that brought them there could not be duplicated. Or so they thought.

“But now the scientists of that empire have found a doorway into our universe. Thier plan: to destroy from within, to replace one of our starships with one of theirs. Their victims: the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701-D.”

Dawn (Lilith’s Brood #1) by Octavia Butler

“Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.

“The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet’s untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly.”

Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

Do you love graphic novels AND getting your heart stomped on? Here’s one for you.

“Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Written by award-winning creator, Jeff Lemire, Descender is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey. Lemire pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. ”

Dune by Frank Herbert

There’s no way I could skip listing a book that I reread multiple times as a teenager, and that one day I will finally get around to rereading as an adult.

“Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the ‘spice’ melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.”

Embassytown by China Mieville

China Mieville’s brain is one of the strangest on the planet, and in this one he’s given us aliens that don’t understand lies—and so much more.

“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 yet speaks through her.”

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

I like to pitch this one as “space princess on the run from assassins,” but if you need more here’s the actual description.

“The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne—and her revenge.

“Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

“Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

“The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding—even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.”

Exo (Exo #1) by Fonda Lee

“It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

“When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one…”

Feed by M.T. Anderson

“For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon—a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world—and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.”

Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach

“Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day—but not just yet.

“That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.”

Galactic Empires , edited by Neil Clarke

Want a smorgasborg of stories exploring different variations on interstellar empires, written by SF/F luminaries such as Aliette de Bodard, Ann Leckie, Yoon Ha Lee, Naomi Novik, and more? You’re welcome!

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

Particularly for folks looking for an inclusive Ender’s Game –esque novel!

“For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch, but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning – and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite. But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution – involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

On a personal note, I celebrate Towel Day every year (May 25; mark your calendars!) and will rewatch the 2005 movie at the slightest prompting. In fact, perhaps I should go do that now…

“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”) and 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; and Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot.”

Hunger Makes the Wolf (Hob #1) by Alex Wells

Already torn through Becky Chambers’s books and need something else with found family and space hijinks? Tada!

“The strange planet known as Tanegawa’s World is owned by TransRifts Inc, the company with the absolute monopoly on interstellar travel. Hob landed there ten years ago, a penniless orphan left behind by a rift ship. She was taken in by Nick Ravani and quickly became a member of his mercenary biker troop, the Ghost Wolves.

“Ten years later, she discovers the body of Nick’s brother out in the dunes. Worse, his daughter is missing, taken by shady beings called the Weathermen. But there are greater mysteries to be discovered – both about Hob and the strange planet she calls home.”

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

“Everyone in the universe knows his name. Everyone in the universe fears him. But no one realizes that notorious outlaw Ia Cocha is a seventeen-year-old girl.

“A criminal mastermind and unrivaled pilot, Ia has spent her life terrorizing the Olympus Commonwealth, the imperialist nation that destroyed her home. When the Commonwealth captures her and her true identity is exposed, they see Ia’s age and talent as an opportunity: by forcing her to serve them, they will prove that no one is beyond their control.

“Soon, Ia is trapped at the Commonwealth’s military academy, desperately plotting her escape. But new acquaintances—including Brinn, a seemingly average student with a closely-held secret, and their charming Flight Master, Knives—cause Ia to question her own alliances. Can she find a way to escape the Commonwealth’s clutches before these bonds deepen?”

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

“Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him—something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.”

Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel by Daniel José Older

Listen, there are A LOT of Star Wars books out there. Take it as read that you should read this one and many others!

“Then: It’s one of the galaxy’s most dangerous secrets: a mysterious transmitter with unknown power and a reward for its discovery that most could only dream of claiming. But those who fly the Millennium Falcon throughout its infamous history aren’t your average scoundrels. Not once, but twice, the crew of the Falcon tries to claim the elusive prize — first, Lando Calrissian and the droid L3-37 at the dawn of an ambitious career, and later, a young and hungry Han Solo with the help of his copilot, Chewbacca. But the device’s creator, the volatile criminal Fyzen Gor, isn’t interested in sharing. And Gor knows how to hold a grudge…

“Now: It’s been ten years since the rebel hero Han Solo last encountered Fyzen Gor. After mounting a successful rebellion against the Empire and starting a family with an Alderaanian princess, Han hasn’t given much thought to the mad inventor. But when Lando turns up at Han’s doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s Fyzen’s assassins that he’s running from. And without Han’s help, Lando — and all life on Cloud City — will be annihilated.

“With the assistance of a young hotshot pilot, an Ewok slicer prodigy, the woman who might be the love of Lando’s life, and Han’s best and furriest friend, the two most notorious scoundrels in the New Republic are working together once more. They’ll have to journey across the stars — and into the past — before Gor uses the device’s power to reshape the galaxy.”

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

“Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

“Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.”

Lightless (Lightless #1) by C.A. Higgins

“Serving aboard the Ananke, an experimental military spacecraft launched by the ruthless organization that rules Earth and its solar system, computer scientist Althea has established an intense emotional bond—not with any of her crewmates, but with the ship’s electronic systems, which speak more deeply to her analytical mind than human feelings do. But when a pair of fugitive terrorists gain access to the Ananke, Althea must draw upon her heart and soul for the strength to defend her beloved ship.

“While one of the saboteurs remains at large somewhere on board, his captured partner—the enigmatic Ivan—may prove to be more dangerous. The perversely fascinating criminal whose silver tongue is his most effective weapon has long evaded the authorities’ most relentless surveillance—and kept the truth about his methods and motives well hidden.

“As the ship’s systems begin to malfunction and the claustrophobic atmosphere is increasingly poisoned by distrust and suspicion, it falls to Althea to penetrate the prisoner’s layers of intrigue and deception before all is lost. But when the true nature of Ivan’s mission is exposed, it will change Althea forever—if it doesn’t kill her first.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

“Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

“Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.”

The Martian by Andy Weir

“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—and 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 Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

“The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

“But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them—and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.”

Medusa Uploaded (The Medusa Cycle #1) by Emily Devenport

“The Executives control Oichi’s senses, her voice, her life. Until the day they kill her.

“An executive clan gives the order to shoot Oichi out of an airlock on suspicion of being an insurgent. A sentient AI, a Medusa unit, rescues Oichi and begins to teach her the truth—the Executives are not who they think they are. Oichi, officially dead and now bonded to the Medusa unit, sees a chance to make a better life for everyone on board.

“As she sets things right one assassination at a time, Oichi becomes the very insurgent the Executives feared, and in the process uncovers the shocking truth behind the generation starship that is their home.”

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1) by Yoon Ha Lee

This trilogy is not only mind-blowingly good, it’s also complete! All three books are out right now; go forth.

“Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

“Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

“The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao—because she might be his next victim.”

Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War #1) by John Scalzi

I know I already recommended a Scalzi series; you should consider both of them. They’re very different!

“John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

“The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce—and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

“Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

“John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine—and what he will become is far stranger.”

On a Red Station, Drifting (The Universe of Xuya) by Aliette de Bodard

Don’t have time for a epically long, long-running space opera? These novellas are SO GOOD!

“For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.

“But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe.

“What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…”

Planetfall (Planetfall #1) by Emma Newman

“Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

“More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

“The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…”

Provenance by Ann Leckie

While there are ties between Provenance and the Imperial Radch series, Provenance stands beautifully on its own—and is a great introduction to Leckie’s work!

“A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

“Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.”

Space Opera by Cat Valente

“A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

“Once every cycle, the civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Instead of competing in orbital combat, the powerful species that survived face off in a competition of song, dance, or whatever can be physically performed in an intergalactic talent show. The stakes are high for this new game, and everyone is forced to compete.

“This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

“A one-hit-wonder band of human musicians, dancers and roadies from London—Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes—have been chosen to represent Earth on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of their species lies in their ability to rock.”

Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga #1) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Do you need me to tell you to read Saga ? You probably don’t, but I will anyway!

“When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

“From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.”

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

“Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean.”

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

“It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

“At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

“Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently…”

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

“All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

“Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive.

“Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be…”

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

“Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procházka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country’s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he’s dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father’s sins as a Communist informer, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions.

“Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka?”

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

“In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

“Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

“It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.”

The Sparrow (The Sparrow #1) by Mary Doria Russell

“In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet that will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question what it means to be ‘human’.”

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

“Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

“Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation—the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

“Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction—and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?”

The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj

“On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge…and self-knowledge…but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love. Some will rush home to make love to their wife. Or wives. Or husbands. Or indeterminate gender human and/or alien partners. Others will be forced to decide where they stand—what is worth fighting for, or maybe even worth dying for.”

The Telling (The Hainish Cycle #9) by Ursula Le Guin

Listen. You could start The Hainish Cycle with The Dispossessed , which is #1, or even The Left Hand of Darkness , which is #6. But The Telling is my favorite, and it’s going to be a movie soon, and this is my list, so there.

“Once a culturally rich world, the planet Aka has been utterly transformed by technology. Records of the past have been destroyed, and citizens are strictly monitored. But an official observer from Earth named Sutty has learned of a group of outcasts who live in the wilderness. They still believe in the ancient ways and still practice its lost religion—the Telling.

“Intrigued by their beliefs, Sutty joins them on a sacred pilgrimage into the mountains…and into the dangerous terrain of her own heart, mind, and soul.”

Tracked (Tracked #1) by Jenny Martin

This series was pitched to me as a teen Fast and Furious set in space, and they were not lying.

“On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn’t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It’s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?”

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

“Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

“Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

“When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.”

Warchild (Warchild #1) by Karin Lowachee

“The merchant ship Mukudori encompasses the whole of eight-year-old Jos’s world, until a notorious pirate destroys the ship, slaughters the adults, and enslaves the children. Thus begins a desperate odyssey of terror and escape that takes Jos beyond known space to the home of the strits, Earth’s alien enemies.

“To survive, the boy must become a living weapon and a master spy. But no training will protect Jos in a war where every hope might be a deadly lie, and every friendship might hide a lethal betrayal. And all the while he will face the most grueling trial of his life…becoming his own man.”

Waypoint Kangaroo (Kangaroo #1) by Curtis Chen

“Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is ‘the pocket.’ It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

“After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory ‘vacation’: an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

“Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

“Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?”

The Wrong Stars (Axiom #1) by Tim Pratt

“The shady crew of the White Raven run freight and salvage at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Alien Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien allies already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials… and the gifts they bestowed on her could kill all humanity, or take it out to the most distant stars.”

Whew! If you’ve made it this far, I need to know: what’s your favorite space novel that didn’t make my list? Explode my TBR, please and thank you!

space travel non fiction

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StarsInsider

StarsInsider

Space tourism and the otherworldly future of travel

Posted: December 27, 2023 | Last updated: December 27, 2023

<p>What once seemed like a science fiction fantasy is fast becoming a reality thanks to the <a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/lifestyle/633182/what-did-going-to-the-moon-achieve-really" rel="noopener">Space Race</a> of the 21st century—a battle among billionaires to be the first to offer commercial spaceflights to the average Joe (as long as he can pay for it!). But that's not all. Orbital hotels, luxury space cruises, and day trips to the moon are all under development in this new tourism sector.</p> <p>Discover a world where space travel is no longer a dream, but an emerging reality, opening a universe of extraordinary possibilities. Click through the gallery to see what the future of travel holds. </p><p>You may also like: </p>

Exploring space tourism and the future of travel

What once seemed like a science fiction fantasy is fast becoming a reality thanks to the Space Race of the 21st century—a battle among billionaires to be the first to offer commercial spaceflights to the average Joe (as long as he can pay for it!). But that's not all. Orbital hotels, luxury space cruises, and day trips to the moon are all under development in this new tourism sector.

Discover a world where space travel is no longer a dream, but an emerging reality, opening a universe of extraordinary possibilities. Click through the gallery to see what the future of travel holds. 

You may also like:

<p>Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are turning space tourism into reality. Their efforts range from offering suborbital flights to ambitious plans for orbital hotels, bringing space travel closer to public accessibility.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Commercial spaceflight emerges

Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are turning space tourism into reality. Their efforts range from offering suborbital flights to ambitious plans for orbital hotels, bringing space travel closer to public accessibility.

<p>Projects like Orion Span's Aurora Station envision luxurious hotels in orbit. Offering unique experiences like multiple sunrises and sunsets daily, these ventures propose a new kind of vacation destination above Earth.</p><p>You may also like: </p>

Orbital hotels on the horizon

Projects like Orion Span's Aurora Station envision luxurious hotels in orbit. Offering unique experiences like multiple sunrises and sunsets daily, these ventures propose a new kind of vacation destination above Earth.

<p>Moon tourism is transitioning from fantasy to potential reality. SpaceX's 'dearMoon' project, planning to fly artists around the Moon, symbolizes the future possibilities of lunar exploration for civilians.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Moon tourism gains momentum

Moon tourism is transitioning from fantasy to potential reality. SpaceX's 'dearMoon' project, planning to fly artists around the Moon, symbolizes the future possibilities of lunar exploration for civilians.

<p>Mars colonization, spearheaded by visionaries like Elon Musk, remains a distant goal. This ambitious vision is shaping current space technology, aiming to turn Mars into a future home for humanity.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/195469?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> The best British national parks for wintry walks this Easter</a></p>

Mars: The ultimate destination

Mars colonization, spearheaded by visionaries like Elon Musk, remains a distant goal. This ambitious vision is shaping current space technology, aiming to turn Mars into a future home for humanity.

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<p>Zero-gravity flights, once exclusive to astronauts, are now accessible through companies like Zero Gravity Corporation. These experiences offer a taste of space travel without leaving Earth's atmosphere.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Zero-gravity experiences for all

Zero-gravity flights, once exclusive to astronauts, are now accessible through companies like Zero Gravity Corporation. These experiences offer a taste of space travel without leaving Earth's atmosphere.

<p>Space tourism is influencing fashion, with companies designing stylish yet functional spacewear. This new trend in clothing aims to make space travel not only feasible but fashionable.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/223010?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Celebrities in the same outfits: Who wore it better? </a></p>

Space fashion evolves

Space tourism is influencing fashion, with companies designing stylish yet functional spacewear. This new trend in clothing aims to make space travel not only feasible but fashionable.

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<p>Imagining the future, space enthusiasts dream of interstellar cruise ships touring the solar system. These visions represent the ultimate aspiration of space tourism, extending beyond the Moon and Mars.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Interstellar cruise ships

Imagining the future, space enthusiasts dream of interstellar cruise ships touring the solar system. These visions represent the ultimate aspiration of space tourism, extending beyond the Moon and Mars.

<p>The fascination with alien worlds beyond our solar system grows. While physical travel is currently impossible, studies and virtual simulations of exoplanets stir public interest in interstellar possibilities.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/225696?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> 30 books that influenced the world</a></p>

Exploring exoplanets virtually

The fascination with alien worlds beyond our solar system grows. While physical travel is currently impossible, studies and virtual simulations of exoplanets stir public interest in interstellar possibilities.

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<p>Space tourism is revolutionizing space cuisine. Moving beyond basic meals, there's a growing interest in providing gourmet dining experiences in microgravity, changing how we think about eating in space.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Gourmet food in space

Space tourism is revolutionizing space cuisine. Moving beyond basic meals, there's a growing interest in providing gourmet dining experiences in microgravity, changing how we think about eating in space.

<p>Virtual reality technology offers immersive space experiences on Earth. This accessible tool not only broadens public engagement in space exploration but also serves as an informative and educational medium.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/228630?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Highly successful people who wear the same outfit every day</a></p>

VR: The accessible space experience

Virtual reality technology offers immersive space experiences on Earth. This accessible tool not only broadens public engagement in space exploration but also serves as an informative and educational medium.

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<p>Companies like Space Adventures offer training programs for civilians, simulating the astronaut experience. This training is crucial for preparing space tourists for the rigors and wonders of space travel.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Astronaut training for tourists

Companies like Space Adventures offer training programs for civilians, simulating the astronaut experience. This training is crucial for preparing space tourists for the rigors and wonders of space travel.

<p>Spaceports are being developed worldwide, from the US to UAE. These hubs are not just launch sites but are becoming centers of space tourism, blending cutting-edge technology with passenger comfort.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/249324?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Daniel Radcliffe and his more than two decades in the spotlight</a></p>

Spaceports emerge globally

Spaceports are being developed worldwide, from the US to UAE. These hubs are not just launch sites but are becoming centers of space tourism, blending cutting-edge technology with passenger comfort.

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<p>As space <a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/travel/367243/natural-wonders-destroyed-by-tourists" rel="noopener">tourism</a> grows, its environmental impact is under scrutiny. Companies are exploring sustainable rocket fuels and eco-friendly practices to minimize the ecological footprint of space travel.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Environmental considerations

As space tourism grows, its environmental impact is under scrutiny. Companies are exploring sustainable rocket fuels and eco-friendly practices to minimize the ecological footprint of space travel.

<p>Space tourism is becoming a lucrative market, with tickets for suborbital flights costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This emerging sector promises significant economic growth and new job opportunities.</p><p>You may also like: </p>

The economics of space tourism

Space tourism is becoming a lucrative market, with tickets for suborbital flights costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This emerging sector promises significant economic growth and new job opportunities.

<p>Space art, created under microgravity conditions, offers unique perspectives. Artists participating in space missions are expanding the boundaries of creativity, merging art and science in novel ways.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Art in zero gravity

Space art, created under microgravity conditions, offers unique perspectives. Artists participating in space missions are expanding the boundaries of creativity, merging art and science in novel ways.

<p>Space tourism enables stunning celestial photography. From capturing the curvature of Earth to shooting distant galaxies, this new genre of photography is a testament to the wonders of space.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/263656?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Beautiful Islamic architecture from around the world</a></p>

Capturing space through photography

Space tourism enables stunning celestial photography. From capturing the curvature of Earth to shooting distant galaxies, this new genre of photography is a testament to the wonders of space.

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<p>Private companies are becoming key players in space exploration. Their competitive spirit is driving innovation and reducing costs, making space more accessible than ever before.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Private companies leading the way

Private companies are becoming key players in space exploration. Their competitive spirit is driving innovation and reducing costs, making space more accessible than ever before.

<p>As space tourism grows, so does the need for specialized insurance policies. These policies cover everything from launch delays to emergency evacuations, ensuring peace of mind for space adventurers.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/309193?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> The different ways we worship </a></p>

Insurance for space tourists

As space tourism grows, so does the need for specialized insurance policies. These policies cover everything from launch delays to emergency evacuations, ensuring peace of mind for space adventurers.

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<p>Suborbital flights, offering a few minutes of weightlessness, are an initial step towards more ambitious space journeys. They provide an accessible way for people to experience space travel.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Suborbital flights

Suborbital flights, offering a few minutes of weightlessness, are an initial step towards more ambitious space journeys. They provide an accessible way for people to experience space travel.

<p>Spaceport lounges offer luxury and comfort, much like premium airport lounges. These facilities set the tone for the upscale and exhilarating experience of space travel, combining comfort with the thrill of adventure.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/350963?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Bizarre eating habits of the stars</a></p>

Luxury at spaceports

Spaceport lounges offer luxury and comfort, much like premium airport lounges. These facilities set the tone for the upscale and exhilarating experience of space travel, combining comfort with the thrill of adventure.

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<p>Advanced propulsion systems and life support technologies are crucial for space tourism. Companies are innovating in these areas, making space travel safer and more efficient.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

The science behind space travel

Advanced propulsion systems and life support technologies are crucial for space tourism. Companies are innovating in these areas, making space travel safer and more efficient.

<p>High-tech simulators play a key role in preparing tourists for space. These devices, used in astronaut training, help acclimatize civilians to the unique conditions of space travel.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/403942?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Disney stars: Then and now </a></p>

Training simulators for tourists

High-tech simulators play a key role in preparing tourists for space. These devices, used in astronaut training, help acclimatize civilians to the unique conditions of space travel.

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<p>The novelty of space tourism extends to souvenirs. From space-flown items to unique merchandise, these mementos represent a new market, capturing the essence of an off-Earth experience.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Space tourism's unique souvenirs

The novelty of space tourism extends to souvenirs. From space-flown items to unique merchandise, these mementos represent a new market, capturing the essence of an off-Earth experience.

<p>Movies, games, and books inspired by space tourism are influencing popular culture. This entertainment not only excites the public but also educates them about space exploration's possibilities and challenges.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/446980?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Stars who drive classic cars</a></p>

Space-themed entertainment

Movies, games, and books inspired by space tourism are influencing popular culture. This entertainment not only excites the public but also educates them about space exploration's possibilities and challenges.

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<p>Reflecting on past space achievements provides context for space tourism. From the first human in space to the Moon landing, these milestones paved the way for today's commercial space ventures.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Historical milestones in space

Reflecting on past space achievements provides context for space tourism. From the first human in space to the Moon landing, these milestones paved the way for today's commercial space ventures.

<p>Space tourism could boost medical research in microgravity. This research has the potential to lead to medical breakthroughs, benefiting not just astronauts but humanity as a whole.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/480097?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> The unbelievably dramatic life of Princess Alice</a></p>

Medical research in space

Space tourism could boost medical research in microgravity. This research has the potential to lead to medical breakthroughs, benefiting not just astronauts but humanity as a whole.

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<p>Reliable communication technology is vital for space tourism. From staying in touch with Earth to ensuring safety, advancements in this area are key to the success of space missions.</p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Space communication

Reliable communication technology is vital for space tourism. From staying in touch with Earth to ensuring safety, advancements in this area are key to the success of space missions.

<p>As space tourism grows, the focus on sustainable spacecraft is increasing. Eco-friendly designs and fuels are being developed to reduce the environmental impact of space travel.</p><p>You may also like:<a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/n/499389?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=display&utm_campaign=referral_description&utm_content=639809en-us"> Intriguing facts about Popes</a></p>

Sustainable spacecraft development

As space tourism grows, the focus on sustainable spacecraft is increasing. Eco-friendly designs and fuels are being developed to reduce the environmental impact of space travel.

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<p>In the next 30 years, space tourism could see profound changes, from regular lunar vacations to the first steps toward Mars colonization. The future holds exciting possibilities for this burgeoning industry.</p> <p>Sources: (Virgin Galactic) (Science Direct) (EVONA) (The New York Times)</p> <p>See also: <a href="https://www.starsinsider.com/lifestyle/314675/probing-deep-space-journeys-into-darkness">Probing deep space: Journeys into darkness</a></p><p><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-7xx8mnucu55yw63we9va2gwr7uihbxwc68fxqp25x6tg4ftibpra?cvid=94631541bc0f4f89bfd59158d696ad7e">Follow us and access great exclusive content every day</a></p>

Predicting the future of space exploration

In the next 30 years, space tourism could see profound changes, from regular lunar vacations to the first steps toward Mars colonization. The future holds exciting possibilities for this burgeoning industry.

Sources: (Virgin Galactic) (Science Direct) (EVONA) (The New York Times)

See also: Probing deep space: Journeys into darkness

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IMAGES

  1. 9 Out-of-This-World Nonfiction Books About Space Travel

    space travel non fiction

  2. Top 10 Best Space Travel Films Of All Time

    space travel non fiction

  3. The Best Space Travel and Exploration Games

    space travel non fiction

  4. Nonfiction Books About Space: 8 Out of this World Reads

    space travel non fiction

  5. What is Space Travel? the best Astronomy blog for facts about the

    space travel non fiction

  6. This children's book on space travel is packed with inspiring stories

    space travel non fiction

VIDEO

  1. From Fiction to Reality: Space Travel Surprises #trending #space #cosmicdiscoveries

  2. Do Space Travel's Environmental Costs Matter? #lawrencekrauss #space #spacescience #physics #climate

  3. Space Travel Snippet

  4. space travel within seconds is possible

  5. New Way to Interstellar Travel

  6. Space Movies

COMMENTS

  1. Space Travel Nonfiction Books

    Space Travel Nonfiction Books Discover new books on Goodreads Meet your next favorite book Join Goodreads Shelves > Space Travel Nonfiction > Space Travel Nonfiction Books Showing 1-15 of 15 Riding Rockets (Paperback) by Mike Mullane (shelved 2 times as space-travel-nonfiction) avg rating 4.18 — 4,393 ratings — published 2006 Want to Read

  2. 9 Out-of-This-World Nonfiction Books About Space Travel

    9 Nonfiction Books About Space Travel Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing with these revealing nonfiction reads about exploring the final frontier. Promoted by Open Road Media | By Sarah Mangiola | Updated Jul 15, 2019 | Published Oct 26, 2018

  3. 8 Incredible Nonfiction Books About Space

    8 Nonfiction Books About Space That Are Literally Out Of This World Books 8 Incredible Nonfiction Books About Space by Alex Weiss April 19, 2016 Josh Wallace / 500px/500px/Getty Images...

  4. Space Nonfiction Books

    Showing 1-50 of 85 Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Paperback) by Gene Kranz (shelved 4 times as space-nonfiction) avg rating 4.29 — 9,116 ratings — published 2000 Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars Cosmos (Mass Market Paperback) by Carl Sagan

  5. Science-Fact: 10 Great Movies About Space Travel That Aren't Sci-Fi

    Given space travel is something that did become a reality in the 20th century, not all movies about characters going to space will be science-fiction. Historically accurate or more...

  6. Nonfiction Books About Space: 8 Out of this World Reads

    29 Comments Nonfiction Books About Space for Adults If you've ever had a chance to visit the Kennedy Space Center, you'll understand why I'm excited to track down nonfiction books about space. The Space Race was a fascinating time period in American history and that's just the beginning.

  7. Good books about space travel, including both nonfiction and fiction

    Books about space travel: nonfiction The Mission: A True Story by David W. Brown— Mission to Europa to find extraterrestrial life The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos by Christian Davenport— Four billionaires, private space companies, and humanity's future in the cosmos

  8. 19 Books About Space and the Universe That Are Out of This World

    PreK - 8 With an emphasis on superbly photographed and illustrated nonfiction, these 19 books will inspire space-curious readers to learn more about our solar system, the planets, and the heroic lives of some of America's greatest astronauts.

  9. Non Fiction Space Books

    Andrew Chaikin (shelved 3 times as non-fiction-space) avg rating 4.48 — 6,923 ratings — published 1994 Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond (Paperback) by Gene Kranz (shelved 3 times as non-fiction-space)

  10. Top 10 books about space travel

    1. Carrying the Fire by Mike Collins I am fascinated by Collins, by the absolute loneliness of his solitary orbits around the moon while his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the...

  11. 14 children's books about astronauts and space travel

    Non-fiction books about astronauts and space travel. Floating in Space by Franklyn M. Branley. This book begins by asking kids to jump as high as they can - which of course isn't really very high as long as they are on Earth. The book then explains that if they were on the moon, they could jump much higher because the gravity is weaker.

  12. The 5 kinds of sci-fi space travel, ranked by realism

    Realism Rating: 3/5. HYPERDRIVE. Duh. In the Star Wars films, all kinds of ships are equipped with hyperspace drives, from small personal fighters like Poe Dameron's X-wing, to larger freighters ...

  13. 24 Must-Read Books About Space Travel

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. That was my first serious SciFi book I read and never felt like SciFi but at the same time I geeked out on all the space traveling stuff and the social impact on ...

  14. Best space books for 2023

    Astronomers have written the Milky Way's story many times over; scientists have traced violent collisions in its past and future and peered into the supermassive black hole lurking at its heart....

  15. 8 Out of This World Sci-Fi Books About Space Travel

    A collection of loosely-connected short stories that were initially not meant for novel form, taken together, they chronicle a Mars that is explored and eventually colonized by those back on Earth who are living under the threat of nuclear war.

  16. Space Non Fiction Books

    Showing 1-50 of 134 An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (Hardcover) by Chris Hadfield (shelved 4 times as space-non-fiction) avg rating 4.16 — 58,459 ratings — published 2013 Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars A Brief History of Time (Paperback) by Stephen Hawking

  17. 9 New Science Fiction Books About Space Travel

    Take an journey to the outer rim of the universe with award-winning author Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion, an epic space adventure starring one unforgettable heroine. In a sci-fi reality ...

  18. The Science of Space: Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel by Willy Ley

    Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel. This book originally appeared as Rockets in 1944, ... And I'd also like to hear about your other favorite non-fiction resources as well: What books ...

  19. Space Travel and Science Fiction Books

    Space travel may be the stuff of science fiction but some of it is getting closer and closer to becoming reality. What's more, we have a duty to pursue it, says Christopher Mason, Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine and author of The Next 500 Years, a blueprint of how to set about leaving our solar system.. Here, he recommends his favourite science ...

  20. The fiction that predicted space travel

    The fiction that predicted space travel. As a scientist, many of Arthur C Clarke's predictions for the future came true. But his wildly imaginative science-fiction writing is his greatest legacy ...

  21. Space Travel Books

    Andy Weir (Goodreads Author) (shelved 72 times as space-travel) avg rating 4.51 — 526,378 ratings — published 2021 Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) by Beth Revis (Goodreads Author) (shelved 60 times as space-travel)

  22. 50 Must-Read Books Set In Space

    Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey. "Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach. "Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt.

  23. Space tourism and the otherworldly future of travel

    Orbital hotels, luxury space cruises, and day trips to the moon are all under development in this new tourism sector. Discover a world where space travel is no longer a dream, but an emerging ...

  24. The Hazards of Space Travel: A Tourist's Guide

    The Hazards of Space Travel is a science based nonfiction book about everything that could go wrong in space, and what you should consider before heading to space. From weather hazards on other planets, radiation, medical hazards, and readapting to earth, it takes the reader on the ride through the unknown of space.