John Scalzi's 6 favorite works with science fiction themes
The award-winning novelist recommends work by Ryka Aoki, Rebecca Roanhorse, and more
John Scalzi is an award-winning novelist and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. His latest novel, The Kaiju Preservation Society, follows a delivery driver who is transported to an alternate dimension.
The Actual Star by Monica Byrne (2021)
We're living in a wildly ambitious era for science fiction and fantasy, and few authors are more ambitious than Byrne, whose story spans three millennia and three wildly disparate and fascinating cultures, including our own. Buy it here.
Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (2021)
It's a feat for a story to be delightful and heartbreaking at the same time, but Ryka Aoki manages it. Story threads featuring aliens, deals with devils, the redemptive power of music, and — yes! — doughnuts weave together for a narrative unlike any other out there right now. Buy it here.
Space Opera by Catherynne Valente (2018)
Humor in science fiction is often difficult to write. With Space Opera, Valente adds to the challenge by tying the fate of the Earth to a Eurovision-style galactic music competition. It's madly daring, and Valente pulls it off. She may be the only one who could. Buy it here.
Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi (2022)
I would tell you write down the name "Tochi Onyebuchi," so you remember it, but you won't need to: You'll be seeing the name of this rising star a lot. Goliath is proof of this, with a sprawling collection of characters making their way across a future Earth — already abandoned by the wealthy — that feels vividly, grimly real. This is an arrival. Buy it here.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020)
A world of fantasy and magic, yes — but the real story here is a Western Hemisphere that the Europeans never touched. Where are they? Who cares? The world Rebecca Roanhorse gives us is enough: complex and fascinating and close enough to touch. Buy it here.
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (2019)
Kameron Hurley is the kind of writer that writers admire: Great stories with an attitude that can't be faked. The Light Brigade is the current endpoint of a multigenerational line of military science fiction that threads through Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, and it stands with them not in imitation but in innovation. You won't regret reading this. Buy it here.
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.