Top science fantasy / science fiction books

A definition, offered by Rod Serling, is that science fiction makes the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible plausible. The meaning is that science fiction describes unlikely things that could possibly take place in the real world under certain conditions, while science fantasy gives a veneer of realism to things that simply could not happen in the real world under any circumstances. Another interpretation is that science fiction does not permit the existence of supernatural elements; science fantasy does. Even the usage of this definition is difficult, however, as some science fiction makes use of apparently supernatural elements such as telepathy. For many users of the term, however, science fantasy is either a science fiction story that has drifted far enough from reality to feel like a fantasy, or a fantasy story that is attempting to be science fiction. While these are in theory classifiable as different approaches, and thus different genres (fantastic science fiction vs. scientific fantasy), the end products are sometimes indistinguishable.

Recommended Reading

Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a London filled with deformed clowns, organised beggar societies, insane homunculi and magic. When he is kidnapped by gypsies and consequently misses his return trip to 1983, t...

Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune cover image logo logo

The Duke of Atreides has been manoeuvred by his arch-enemy, Baron Harkonnen, into administering the desert planet of Dune. Although it is almost completely without water, Dune is a planet of fabulous wealth, for it is the only source of a drug prized throughout the Galactic Empire. The Duke and his son, Paul, are expecting treachery, and it duly comes - but from a shockingly unexpected place. Then Paul succeeds his father, and he becomes a catalyst for the native people of Dune, whose knowledge of the ecology of the planet gives them vast power. They have been waiting for a leader like Paul Atreides, a leader who can harness that force...

"If you are a fan of epic fantasy or large-scale science fiction (and are not afraid to examine weighty issues such as religion and politics), then I cannot strongly recommend Dune enough. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of this genre must read it at some point in their lives." Nicholas King, Fantasy Book Review

The Seven by Peter Newman
The Seven cover image logo logo

The Sixth World of Men by Walter E Mark
The Sixth World of Men cover image logo logo

On the surface, the sixth world of men is a glorious world. It is a world of great technological advancement. It is a world that has been at peace for a hundred years. While the world known as Kosundo by its inhabitants goes about its usual business, an ancient prophesy ominously predicts that the time of the soulless has come. Then, a mysterious man lurks about a secret city. A forgotten miscreation is plotting revenge. An emperor is going mad. A terrible weapon threatens to wreak destruction. And finally, a being of absolute evil is planning to make the world his own. But a prophet reveals a beacon of hope and tells of choices that need to be made. Each choice will determine whether another beacon of hope shines forth or if the darkness of evil prevails.

"It's style is simple and you are able to fully immerse yourself and visualise this world." Fantasy Book Review

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
One Word Kill cover image logo logo

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lost World cover image logo logo

The Malice by Peter Newman
The Malice cover image logo logo

The Human Race by OC Heaton
The Human Race cover image logo logo

Ever had a secret so big that the very knowledge of it consumed you? Uma Jakobsdóttir has one. A huge one. And if it falls into the wrong hands it could obliterate mankind.

Unfortunately two men have discovered it.

Ethan Rae, Britain’s richest man, is counting on Uma’s secret to finally seal his position as the greatest deal maker of all time.

Across the Atlantic, Samuel Reynolds III, playboy CEO of Reynolds Air, is battling to keep the airline his granddaddy built alive. Once the largest company in America, it’s now facing bankruptcy as the fallout of 911 cripples the airline industry. He desperately needs Uma’s secret to ensure its survival.

From the leafy suburbs of London to the frozen wastelands of Iceland, in the shadow of Ground Zero and under the barren dryness of the Mojave Desert, both men will stop at nothing to get what they want.

There can only be one winner and the fate of the human race hangs in the balance as they battle it out.

The race is on…

"Now here is an unusual book. The author, Mr Heaton, has clearly spent many a long day researching all things Icelandic, American airline history and a great deal of quantum physics relating to the plausibility of teleportation. Then he has taken said research and built a novel around it without killing the story at all. Congratulations are in order (raises hat in salute)." Fantasy Book Review

No Return by Zachary Jernigan
No Return cover image logo logo

On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists--only what his intentions are. Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon--a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle--warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Tchootoo, on the far side of Jeroun's only inhabitable continent. From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Manshep, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Tchootoo, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow. On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas--which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

"I haven't read a book this deep in quite some time. No Return is a book of contrasts, a book that not only shows the extreme ends of an argument, but all the shades of grey in between. If you are looking for a fun Sunday afternoon read then you might want to keep looking, but those who are looking for an entertaining yet challenging book, I think you will love No Return." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

When the world was flat (And we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach
When the world was flat (And we were in love) cover image logo logo

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general. But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love. When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

"When the world was flat (And we were in love) is one of the best YA stories I've read this year. It was charming, it had heart, it had cool science fiction, and it made me feel stuff on the inside. Regular readers of YA will love this book, while I think there is plenty for casual and non-readers of YA too." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

Paris Adrift by EJ Swift
Paris Adrift cover image logo logo

Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through the turbulent past and future Paris, making friends, changing the world - and falling in love. But with every trip, Hallie loses a little of herself, and every infinitesimal change she makes ripples through time, until the future she’s trying to save suddenly looks nothing like what she hoped for...

"Paris Adrift is a great time travel story, inventive and at times overwhelming. Hallie is a compelling character to read, as she is not all-knowing and manages to keep her sense of disbelief for as long as possible. Hallie through the book comes to find an inner strength that she didn’t know existed as she faces challenges without a lot of resources. I can’t really express how much I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from E. J. Swift soon."

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness cover image logo logo

Hidden Empire by Jaine Fenn
Hidden Empire cover image logo logo

Khesh City floats above the surface of the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. Topside, it's extravagant, opulent, luxurious; the Undertow is dark, twisted and dangerous. Khesh City is a place where nothing is forbidden - but it's also a democracy, of sorts, a democracy by assassination, policed by the Angels, the elite, state-sponsored killers who answer only to the Minister, their enigmatic master. Taro lived with Malia, his Angel aunt, one of the privileged few, until a strange man bought his body for the night, then followed him home and murdered Malia in cold blood. Taro wants to find the killer who ruined his future, but he's struggling just to survive in the brutal world of the Undertow. Then an encounter with the Minister sets him on a new course, spying for the City; his target is a reclusive Angel called Nual. Elarn Reen is a famous musician, sent to Khesh City as the unwilling agent of mankind's oldest enemy, the Sidhe. To save her own life, she must find and kill her ex-lover, a renegade Sidhe. Though they come from different worlds, Taro and Elarn's fates are linked, their lives apparently forfeit to other people's schemes. As their paths converge, it becomes clear that the lives of everyone in Khesh City, from the majestic, deadly Angels to the barely-human denizens of the Undertow, are at risk. And Taro and Elarn, a common prostitute and an uncommon singer, are Khesh City's only chance...

"Wonderful descriptions, tragic yet heroic characters and surprising hints all combine to draw you into the final conflict and revelation in the heart of Khesh City. This is sci-fi with a fantasy twist and just a touch of romance. While I felt drawn to Taro and his struggles, I felt less empathy for the singer Elarn. Her character seemed somewhat muted, but that could be deliberate as you discover the reasons behind her quest. You can’t take anything for granted in this story, and even by the end when you think you know it all, you’re left feeling that there’s more to come." Pippa Jay, Fantasy Book Review

Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold
Babylon Steel cover image logo logo

Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. She's not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it's tax time, and there s not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night's takings are at risk when Babylon's hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat.

"All in all I was more than pleased with Babylon Steel, and it is these types of book that give me a great pleasure in reading. Authors that dare to go outside the box and combine - in a great way - existing fantasy genres to create something new. And in this Gaie Sebold has more than succeeded. Using a great narrative behind the strong character of Babylon, interweaving the past and present , which in the end came neatly together, and all this in a carefully constructed world, which will allow in the books to come more exploration of this great universe. I can only say that this is worth a hearty recommendation." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

The Galaxy Boys and The Sphere by Andrew Steele
The Galaxy Boys and The Sphere cover image logo logo

On Earth, unaware of life outside, dumped by their outrageous aunt in an orphanage in Brooklyn, the four Roar brothers have lost hope they will ever see their parents again. But then they receive a mysterious message telling them to get home fast. Before they know what has befallen them, the boys are catapulted into a galactic reality before unimagined, a reality that threatens to send the galaxy s many inhabited worlds spiralling into chaos. Racing from the east coast to the west, with the help of their father s friend and his two robots, plus two tenacious girls, the Roar brothers then leave Earth behind completely and enter a fast paced galactic game of hopscotch. Bouncing from one far flung world to the next, they race across the heavens, the guardians of a mysterious white sphere a fantastic repository of all galactic knowledge. The evil Boargen and their leader Admiral Slatter give chase, prepared to stop at nothing to possess the brilliant orb and to rule the galaxy. Amongst all the chaos, the Roar brothers hope to find their parents. But then their new friend Katia and her robot Keb are captured, and so is the sphere, making all seem hopelessly lost. In a final desperate dash of rescue and discovery, the Roar brothers flee for their lives, right out from underneath Admiral Slatter s nose, back to Earth s solar system, the relentless Boargen following close behind. There, the boys must continue the fight for their lives, a fearful struggle between good and evil, the freedom of the galaxy hanging in the balance. Battling to exhaustion, with the help of the two Earth girls, the Roar brothers make a dramatic final escape, sending the Boargen scattering in defeat for now. In the end, safely back in the Brooklyn orphanage, the boys make one more discovery: that the sphere has had more to do with their adventure than not.

"The Galaxy Boys had no idea they were boys of the galaxy, living in an orphanage in Brooklyn as they were. They also had no perception of events outside planet Earth - now racing towards them across the heavens - events that would change their understanding of reality, then their lives respectively." Fantasy Book Review

Mainspring Universe by Jay Lake
Mainspring Universe cover image logo logo

Jay Lake's first trade novel is an astounding work of creation. Lake has envisioned a clockwork solar system, where the planets move in a vast system of gears around the lamp of the Sun. It is a universe where the hand of the Creator is visible to anyone who simply looks up into the sky, and sees the track of the heavens, the wheels of the Moon, and the great Equatorial gears of the Earth itself."Mainspring" is the story of a young clockmaker's apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is running down, and disaster to the planet will ensue if it's not rewound. From innocence and ignorance to power and self-knowledge, the young man will make the long and perilous journey to the South Polar Axis, to fulfil the commandment of his God.

"Mainspring has a marvellous and highly original world, and the story was great to read. Lake has a good writing style that really involve you in the novel. An original blend of science fiction and fantasy set in an alternate 19th century Earth." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner cover image logo logo

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there - or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything - even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out.

"This is the first instalment of ‘The Maze Runner’ trilogy, which explores the themes of survival, identity, friendship, global warming and human intelligence. Although the novel is aimed at YA readers, full grown adults will enjoy the series too. It is fast paced and has plenty of action, so it’s impossible to get bored. Plot-wise, the book kept me guessing until the end. Is this an experiment? Are they human ‘lab rats’? Or are the group being punished, with the maze serving as some kind of prison? There are several plot twists within the book, and I have a feeling there will be more surprises in the following books. I don’t think the true answers will be fully revealed until the end of the last book." Ceimone Kercher, Fantasy Book Review

Golgotha Falls: Genesis by George Udenkwo
Golgotha Falls: Genesis cover image logo logo

Golgotha Falls: A city of carnal nightmare and monstrous appetite, nowhere in all the worlds of empire will you find its equal. Forged from dark science and steeped in ancient myth, it is a city ruled by ancient gods and policed by angels, where your every desire can be satiated and your every terror made flesh. Here in this sweating, convulsive metropolis of ninety million souls, the spider-god Desdemona, is the most feared of all the city's deities. Sixteen spell-binding tales unfold the chronicles of this new age medusa, a hero unlike any you have ever encountered before.

"There is obviously a lot of George Udenkwo in Golgotha Falls, all of his inspirations, loves, favourite books and films. There are lashings of Norse, Greek and Roman mythology. Udenkwo’s intelligence and passion come through clearly in his work – he is also an author of frightening imagination. The book made me use my brain and gave me the inclination to further research the figures of mythology mentioned in the tales. I would happily recommend George Udenkwo and Golgotha Falls to readers who enjoy a fine mixture of science and fantasy in their books. Golgotha Falls is a stunning debut from an author of exceptional imagination." Fantasy Book Review

Orbus by Neal Asher
Orbus cover image logo logo

This is a follow-up to The Voyage of the Sable Keech tracing the journey of an Old Captain, Orbus - a sadist in charge of a crew of masochists - to a planetary wasteland called The Graveyard’ lying between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom. An ancient war drone by the name of Sniper has stowed away aboard his spaceship, and the purpose of the journey is not entirely what the captain expected. Also heading in the same direction is the Prador king and the Prador Vrell. Vrell, having been mutated by the Spatterjay virus into something powerful and dangerous, has seized control of a Prador dreadnought, killing much of its crew, and is intent on heading back to the Prador Third Kingdom to exact vengeance on the King of the Prador, who tried to have him killed. All three ships are heading towards a climatic confrontation to The Graveyard, where underlying truths about the virus are revealed and an ancient menace to civilization reappears...

"Being a Spatterjay novel, the book is laced with Asher’s usual gruesomely detailed explanations of how the virus is transmitted and the terrible effects bestowed upon any creature unfortunate enough to be cursed by it. Immortality may be desirable, but the risks of becoming something not human are even more far-reaching and potentially destructive than the early sections of the book might lead you to believe, as the virus gradually reveals its true secret." Pippa Jay, Fantasy Book Review

The Departure by Neal Asher
The Departure cover image logo logo

Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it's a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers.Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human beings need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online... This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and who killed his interrogator...

"I was fascinated by the section set on the Mars base, of the Martian colonists’ struggle to survive when spiralling transport costs lead the Earth to abandon them. To be honest I would have liked a little more of the story to have been set there, so I’m hoping the sequel will do so." Pippa Jay, Fantasy Book Review

Embassytown by China Mieville
Embassytown cover image logo logo

Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.

"China Mieville is one the of most unique and exciting authors writing in any genre at the moment. I would not be surprised if Embassytown doesn’t bag him another bagful of awards next year. With the release of Embassytown Pan Macmillan have decided to repackage all of his former novels and try to make him into some kind of brand, this is wholly unnecessary. Mieville is far too good to be pigeonholed." Charlie White, Fantasy Book Review

Star Wars: Hand of Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Star Wars: Hand of Thrawn cover image logo logo

From Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn, whose unprecedented bestselling trilogy continued the saga of George Lucas's blockbuster films and became a landmark in the history of science fiction publishing, comes a dramatic new chapter in the greatest science fiction epic ever told. Now Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo must battle to safeguard the fledgling New Republic from a dead Imperial warlord--and from itself. Once the unquestioned master of countless solar systems, the Empire is tottering on the brink of total collapse. Once commanding an invincible armada of Star Destroyers, its fleet has been reduced to a skeleton force. Day by day, neutral systems are rushing to join the New Republic coalition. But with the end of the war in sight, the New Republic has fallen victim to its own success. An unwieldy alliance of races and traditions, the confederation now finds itself riven by age-old animosities. Princess Leia struggles against all odds to hold the New Republic together. But she has powerful enemies. An ambitious Moff Disra leads a conspiracy to divide the uneasy coalition with an ingenious plot to blame the Bothans for a heinous crime that could lead to genocide and civil war. At the same time, Luke Skywalker, along with Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde, pursues a mysterious group of pirate ships whose crews consist of clones. And then comes the most startling news of all: Grand Admiral Thrawn--believed to be dead for ten years--is reported alive. The most cunning and ruthless warlord in Imperial history has seemingly returned to lead the Empire to triumph. As Han and Leia try to prevent the unraveling of the New Republic in the face of this fearful and inexplicable threat from the past, Luke sets out to track down the rogue pirate ships. To do so, he will team up with Mara Jade, with whom he will share his growing mastery of the Force and the ever-present threat of the dark side. All the while, lurking in the shadows is the enigmatic Major Tierce, a disciple of Emperor Palpatine, sharing his long-dead master's lust for power, schooled in the devious stratagems of Thrawn himself, and armed with his own dark plans for the New Republic and the Empire.

"Timothy Zahn is one of the reasons why I read Star Wars novels, and his continuing storyline continues in these books and really makes you live the Star Wars universe. The bad guys are real bad guys, and you love watching them get deeper into trouble. The good guys are good guys, and you are on the edge of your seat as they face trouble and hopefully get out of it.If  you’re looking for good Star Wars, this is where you should go (though wait a little while and we’ll have earlier Zahn books reviewed and why you should read those ones first)." Fantasy Book Review

The Black Cloud by Frank Hoyle
The Black Cloud cover image logo logo

A giant black cloud comes towards Earth and sits in front of the sun, causing widespread panic and death. A select group of scientists and astronomers - including the dignified Astronomer Royal, the pipe smoking Dr Marlowe and the maverick, eccentric Professor Kingsly - engage in a mad race to understand and communicate with the cloud, battling against trigger happy politicians.

"The Black Cloud takes an interesting turn once the cloud arrives, which I do not want to spoil by giving away, but which brings with it a whole new set of questions regarding what this means for humankind and its place in the universe. Overall this is a fascinating idea very well explained that rises above the apocalypse to grasp at what may possibly be out there." Cat Fitzpatrick, Fantasy Book Review

Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton
Great North Road cover image logo logo

In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, AD 2142, Detective Sidney Hurst attends a brutal murder scene. The victim is one of the wealthy North family clones - but none have been reported missing. And the crime’s most disturbing aspect is how the victim was killed. Twenty years ago, a North clone billionaire and his household were horrifically murdered in exactly the same manner, on the tropical planet of St Libra. But if the murderer is still at large, was Angela Tramelo wrongly convicted? Tough and confident, she never wavered under interrogation - claiming she alone survived an alien attack. But there is no animal life on St Libra. Investigating this alien threat becomes the Human Defence Agency’s top priority. The bio-fuel flowing from St Libra is the lifeblood of Earth’s economy and must be secured. So a vast expedition is mounted via the Newcastle gateway, and teams of engineers, support personnel and xenobiologists are dispatched to the planet. Along with their technical advisor, grudgingly released from prison, Angela Tramelo. But the expedition is cut off, deep within St Libra’s rainforests. Then the murders begin. Someone or something is picking off the team one by one. Angela insists it’s the alien, but her new colleagues aren’t so sure. Maybe she did see an alien, or maybe she has other reasons for being on St Libra...

"This is exactly what it says on the tin. (Okay, inside front cover to be precise). It’s a sort of Northern high-tech Noir Crime thriller, meets Starship Troopers on a bug hunt. If the book has a tag line then I guess this might be it. In the hands of most authors I would have though it impossible to fit all of this into one book, but Peter F Hamilton manages it, and it’s fun, it’s huge, and it covers a lot of ground. I’ve tried not to spoil it, so grab the book, (or ebook as it’s going to be a large hardback) and settle back to spend a week lost in the “Great North Road”." Stephanie Gelder, Fantasy Book Review

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolf
The Shadow of the Torturer cover image logo logo

Severian is a torturer, born to the guild and with an exceptionally promising career ahead of him... until he falls in love with one of his victims, a beautiful young noblewoman. Her excruciations are delayed for some months and, out of love, Severian helps her commit suicide and escape her fate. For a torturer, there is no more unforgivable act. In punishment he is exiled from the guild and his home city to the distant metropolis of Thrax with little more than Terminus Est, a fabled sword, to his name. Along the way he has to learn to survive in a wider world without the guild - a world in which he has already made both allies and enemies. And a strange gem is about to fall into his possession, which will only make his enemies pursue him with ever-more determination...

"Shadow of the Torturer and the subsequent series are not for beginners in the science fiction or fantasy genre. Wolfe’s prose is lyrical, dense, and filled with double and triple meanings. He is by no means an easy author to read. While he does not invent words for his world, he does use old, archaic language to fill in the gaps, which would force a reader to consult a dictionary (or in this day and age Google) in order to understand the deeper meanings in the prose. I would recommend this book only to seasoned fans of the genre and it will probably require multiple readings to fully grasp what is hiding beneath the surface." Nicholas King, Fantasy Book Review

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
The Lives of Tao cover image logo logo

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it. He wasn't. He now has a passenger in his brain - an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions - the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix - the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that's what it takes. Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that's going to end up well...

"The Lives of Tao is a fun book with a lot of energy and it really worked for me. Full of action, adventure, martial arts, gunplay, and large quantities of geeky goodness. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something a lighter than the current swathe of serious sci-fi / fantasy." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

John Golden: Freelance Debugger by Django Wexler
John Golden: Freelance Debugger cover image logo logo

John Golden is a debugger: he goes inside the computer systems of his corporate clients to exterminate the gremlins, sprites, and other fairies that take up residence. But when he gets a frantic call from Serpentine Systems, a top-of-the-line anti-fairy security company, John finds out he's on much more than a simple smurf-punting expedition. With the help of his sarcastic little sister Sarah (currently incarnated in the form of a Dell Inspiron) and a paranoid system administrator, John tackles Serpentine's fairy problem. But the rabbit hole goes deeper than he thinks, and with the security of all of the company's clients in danger, there's more at stake this time than John's paycheck!

"John Golden: Freelance Debugger is a fast read with a great style and a unique spin on incorporating the fairy realm into our own. If you have ever worked in IT or if you enjoy watching The IT Crowd, then I think you will really get a kick out of this book." Ryan Lawler, Fantasy Book Review

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones
Dogsbody cover image logo logo

A powerful being fights for his life within the body of a humble, earthbound puppy. Sirius, immortal Lord of the Dog Star and infamous for his quick temper, cannot believe it when he is falsely accused of murder and banished to Earth. There he is reborn into the body of a puppy and learns that he has the life-span of that creature to recover the missing murder weapon. If he fails, he will die. He is adopted by Kathleen, who has no idea that her beloved Leo is anything more than an abandonded stray. She is a loving owner, but an unwanted guest in a family who mostly resent her presence. Sirius soon learns that he has enemies amongst the humans as well as amongst the unearthly beings who sentenced him. How on earth can he clear his name without his special powers?

"Dogsbody, though showing some of the lack of resolution of a book written comparatively early in Wynne Jones career, is nevertheless an amazing story. Few books I've encountered have managed to blend the heavenly and earthly quite so spectacularly."

Galaxy Trotters by Marie C Lukic
Galaxy Trotters cover image logo logo

Galaxy Trotters is a humorous science fiction fantasy quest about two inquisitive children who adventure in a space craft to a number of bedazzling planets. They learn about space travel, greening planets, deception and betrayal. It all begins one evening. Nikki and Peter are doing homework when they are disturbed by a crash. They investigate to find Sowelu - a flying piglet and member of the Astro Piglet Guild - has landed in their yard in a distressed state. The children help her and in return Sowelu grants them their wish and tries to take them to Mars in her galaxy hopper space craft to find her lost pig love, Romeo. The galaxy hopper travels in Superquicktime and the children use their intergalactic-gosmos- antimatter-divetmakers to enter wormholes and visit antimatter planets. They also encounter Archie Kinestra's finest inventions, his hybrid flying pigs. The galaxy hopper develops mechanical problems and the children are sucked into a wormhole where they meet the evil traitor, Dr Carr Bunkel.

"When I asked to review Galaxy Trotters I had a good feeling that it was going to be a funny book and an enjoyable read. And now, after reading it, I can safely say that my assumption was correct - Galaxy Trotters is a great children’s book." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

TimeRiders series by Alex Scarrow
TimeRiders series cover image logo logo

Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand . . .’ But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose – to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That’s why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

"The book has clearly been written with one eye on the future, as it is evidently constructed with the mindset of tying it in with perhaps future video games / cartoons / merchandise spin-offs etc, should it prove to be a success. Whilst not particularly unique or ground-breaking, its nevertheless a fun read, and hopefully only the first keystone in what could be a very successful series, should its aimed readership pick up the ball and run with it." Robert Johnston, Fantasy Book Review

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
Limited Wish cover image logo logo

One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.

It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.

When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.

Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.

Game on.

"Limited Wish might not quite measure up to One Word Kill, but it’s still a wonderful sci-fi read with fun characters and a plot that keeps you thinking long after you’ve put the book down for the last time. Highly recommended."

Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
Inside Out cover image logo logo

I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I just do my job and try to avoid the Population Control Police, who dream of recycling scrubs into fertiliser. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels?It’s not like it’s dangerous… Well, turns out it is. Because I know every corridor, pipe and shortcut I’ve become the go-to girl to lead a revolution. I know if we find a gateway to Outside it’ll be suicide plain and simple. But guess who likes a challenge? I should have just said no…

"I would highly recommend this book to any Snyder fans although this book seems to follow a similar pattern to Poison Study (Snyder’s first book). This book is not the sort of high fantasy of the Yelena Zaltana and Opal Cowan novels. It has more of a sci-fi feel to it and even though it is nothing compared to novels like Ender’s Game, Snyder pulls it off well." Anna Sheldrick, Fantasy Book Review

SEAL Team 666 by Weston Ochse
SEAL Team 666 cover image logo logo

All in all, SEAL Team 666 is a great dark-supernatural read. Showing, I think, a great glimpse of realism within in the team itself, a thrilling dark setting of the introduced demons and the threat they pose but also a bit of the camaraderie and humour of a team. I also found out that the movie rights of the book have already been sold to MGM and looking back at the book I do think that this can turn in quite a great action movie. But moreover I hope that this isn’t the last SEAL Team 666 book that Weston Ochse is planning to write. The setting of this book and the direction that this first book went really proves that this can grow into a great series. I just hope that some of the team members will have a longer longevity.

Thin Air by Richard K Morgan
Thin Air cover image logo logo

City of Burning Shadows by Barbara Webb
City of Burning Shadows cover image logo logo

Joshua "Ash" Drake is a man in hiding. Hiding from the past, from the horror of his life as a priest after the gods disappeared. Hiding from his emotions, denying the nightmares that haunt his sleep and the anger that fuels his days. Most of all, hiding from the truth - that no matter how much he keeps his head down, no matter how he clings to the echoes of everyday life, his city - his world - is dying. When a new technology offers salvation to his desperate city, Ash must reach out to people he left behind and step back into the world that almost killed him. But coming out of hiding now could be the worst mistake Ash has ever made. Because there are monsters in the darkness, feeding the chaos, watching the city burn. And once those monsters know his name, Ash will never be able to hide again.

Revise the World by Brenda Clough
Revise the World cover image logo logo

Revise the World by Brenda Clough is a work of science fiction with elements of historical fiction. The first section of this book appeared as the novella May Be Some Time, a finalist for both the Nebula and the Hugo awards.

Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber
Death Troopers cover image logo logo

In the time immediately following the destruction of the Death Star and the years between the Battle of Yavin and the foundation of the Rebel Base on Hoth, the Empire's grip on the galaxy has become an unyielding fist of retribution. Pressed into action by Emperor Palpatine, Imperial forces have stepped up efforts to hunt down and imprison Rebel sympathizers, shipping them off to newly formed detainment moons via huge prison barges. By necessity these barges are floating chambers of degradation and vice, notoriously unreliable spacecraft staffed by Imperial corrections officers whose cruelty rivals that of the inmates. The Imperial Prison Barge Virtue is hauling its load of prisoners, criminals and murderers, human and non-human, across the galaxy, when it breaks down in deep space. Soon after, the ship's warden discovers a derelict Star Destroyer, seemingly abandoned, and sends a boarding party to scavenge parts to repair the Virtue. Half of them don't come back. The ones that do are infected with a virus so deadly that within hours, it has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the barge's population. But for the handful of survivors -- two brothers, the Virtue's female chief medical officer, and a sadistic captain of the guards, along with a certain rogue smuggler and his Wookiee sidekick - the true horror is just begun. Because those inmates and guards who died of the virus don't stay dead...and when they come back, they're extremely hungry. Against their better judgment, the survivors take refuge aboard the massive creaking emptiness of the Destroyer, only to discover that its original population has not disappeared at all -- and that they've been waiting for them.

"The Star Wars universe offers rich source of material for any author willing to use it, and Schreiber has shown with Death Troopers that you do not need to be limited to the traditional Sci-Fi / Fantasy guidelines in order to make a Star Wars novel really work. While there are some big flaws, they are for the most part cosmetic and are overshadowed by some brilliant action scenes towards the end of the book. While this is a must read for all Star Wars fans, it can also be enjoyable for anyone who likes their horror set to moderate." Fantasy Book Review

Heaven's Shadow by David S Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Heaven\'s Shadow cover image logo logo

From screenwriter, film director and comic-book writer David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Ghost Rider) and television producer, screenwriter and author Michael Cassutt (The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone) comes this sci-fi novel: Heaven’s Shadow. In 2016 amateur astrologers spot an object in the sky, literally over the South Pole. An object one hundred kilometres across and heading towards Earth… As the Near Earth Object (NEO) approaches two manned spaceships operated by NASA and the Russian – Indian –Brazilian Coalition race to be the first to land on the unexplored surface. What both crews eventually encounter on this NEO is a discovery that will change humanity forever.

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Glow cover image logo logo

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue? Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them... Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

"Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow is definitely a story moulded from already existing science fiction parts. Rather remarkably though she acknowledges this, respects her source material, makes sure that the reader sees these plot ingredients and slowly weaves them to become a completely unique experience. Glow is complicated and surreal, yet Ryan’s writing allows you to use your own moral dilemmas to immerse yourself into an alien universe. Very impressive indeed."

Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Tales of the Dying Earth cover image logo logo

Seekers of wisdom and beauty include lovely lost women, eccentric wizards and man-eating melancholy deodands. Twk-men ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous: the evil are charming, the good are dangerous.

"I can see why the book is held with such respect. It is engaging, original, fascinating and superbly written. The first book may drag for some modern fantasy fans but all would enjoy the tribulations of Cugel. Its satirical edge would translate perfectly to the screen and who knows what the current surge in fantasy films may lead to. In short, I’d recommend it to all fantasy fans – it’s a significant work in the history of our genre and should sit there with the greats like Tolkien, Poul Anderson, Le Guin, Moorcock, Leiber and McCaffrey."

Star Wars: New Jedi Order by Various authors
Star Wars: New Jedi Order cover image logo logo

Twenty-one years have passed since the heroes of the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, breaking the power of the Emperor. Since then, the New Republic has valiantly struggled to maintain peace and prosperity among the peoples of the galaxy. But unrest has begun to spread and threatens to destroy the Republic's tenuous reign. Into this volatile atmosphere comes Nom Anor, a charismatic firebrand who heats passions to the boiling point, sowing seeds of dissent for his own dark motives. And as the Jedi and the Republic focus on internal struggles, a new threat surfaces from beyond the farthest reaches of the Outer Rim--an enemy bearing weapons and technology unlike anything New Republic scientists have ever seen. Suddenly, Luke Skywalker; his wife, Mara; Han Solo; Leia Organa Solo; and Chewbacca - along with the Solo children - are thrust again into battle, to defend the freedom so many have fought and died for. But this time, the power of the Force itself may not be enough...

"The New Jedi Order, or more commonly referred to as NJO, was started. The brains trust behind the Star Wars novels decided it was time for a change, and the change would leave a lasting impression on the Star Wars universe." Fantasy Book Review

Star Wars: X-Wing by Michael A Stackpole
Star Wars: X-Wing cover image logo logo

Join the most elite fighting force in space on a do-or-die mission only the X-wings would dare to embark upon!

They are sleek, swift, and deadly. They are the X-wing fighters. And as the struggle rages across the vastness of space, the fearless men and women who pilot them risk both their lives and their machines. Their mission: to defend the Rebel Alliance against a still powerful and battle-hardened Imperial foe in a last-ditch effort to control the stars.


Its very name strikes fear into enemy hearts. So when Rebel hero Wedge Antilles rebuilds the legendary Rogue Squadron, he seeks out only the best - the most skilled, the most daring X-wing pilots. Through arduous training and dangerous missions, he weeds out the weak from the strong, assembling a group of hard-bitten warriors willing to fight, ready to die. Antilles knows the grim truth: even with the best X-wing jockeys in the galaxy many will not survive their near-suicidal missions. But when Rogue Squadron is ordered to assist in the assualt of the heavily fortified Imperial stronghold of Black Moon, even the bravest must wonder if any at all will survive...

"X-Wing: Rogue Squadron is really a gem of a book, and if you’re at all interested in reading more of the Star Wars universe, this is definitely one of the best places to start. Set so close to the end of Return of the Jedi, it’s a great jumping on point with a great story and a great writer." Fantasy Book Review

Star Wars: The Old Republic by Various authors
Star Wars: The Old Republic cover image logo logo

3,500 years in the past of the far-away galaxy, when the Jedi and Galactic Republic clashed with the Sith Empire, smuggler Jet Nebula has stumbled across a treasure richer than he ever dreamed. The Hutts want to auction it to the highest bidder, be it the Republic or the Empire, both of whom hope to bolster their chances in the coming conflict. But the Sith are interested too, and they don’t bargain with anyone, the Jedi High Council is sending someone to investigate, a mysterious Mandalorian is chasing something connected to a long-forgotten crime, while a spy plays every side at once. What Jet has unearthed will surprise all of them, and leave none of them unchanged.

"All told this is one of the most solidly entertaining Star Wars novels I’ve read since Deathtroopers and a great stop gap for those who can’t wait to throw themselves into the world of The Old Republic." Fantasy Book Review

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land cover image logo logo

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.

"Religion and sexuality are two of the most difficult subjects to engage as a writer. Regardless of the writer’s intentions, someone is going to be deeply offended or challenged, probably both. Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land seeks to both offend and challenge. Heinlein uses the eponymous stranger to stand on a soap box and examine humanity’s penchant for ideology and sexual repression. Clearly a product of its time, the novel does not hold up as well on the speculative fiction front. On the psychological front, the novel can and does retain an impactful message for humans to examine their own foibles."

Terra by Mitch Benn
Terra cover image logo logo

No-one trusts humanity. No-one can quite understand why we're intent on destroying the only place we have to live in the Universe. No-one thinks we're worth a second thought. And certainly no-one is about to let us get off Rrth. That would be a complete disaster. But one alien thinks Rrth is worth looking at. Not humanity, obviously, we're appalling, but until we manage to kill every other living thing on the planet there are some truly wonderful places on Rrth and some wonderful creatures living in them. Best take a look while they're still there. But on one trip to Rrth our alien biologist causes a horrendous accident. The occupants of a car travelling down a lonely road spot his ship (the sort of massive lemon coloured, lemon shaped starship that really shouldn't be hanging in the sky over a road). Understandably the Bradbury's crash (interrupting the latest in a constant procession of bitter rows). And in the wreckage of their car our alien discovers a baby girl. She needs rescuing. From the car. From Rrth. From her humanity. And now eleven years later a girl called Terra is about to go to school for the first time. It's a very alien experience...

"With its themes of science, ecology, diplomacy and universal understanding, this will have huge crossover appeal. A fantasy story that also serves as social commentary (without being preachy) deserves plaudits. I really enjoyed Terra and I am sure readers of all ages will also like its quirky humour and insights too."

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Time Salvager cover image logo logo

In a future when Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key to maintaining a fragile existence among the other planets and their moons. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman–a convicted criminal recruited for his unique psychological makeup to undertake the most dangerous job there is: missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. Most chronmen never reach old age, and James is reaching his breaking point. On his final mission, James meets scientist Elise Kim, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and common sense, James brings her back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, and discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.

"Time Salvager delivers a fast paced story with big characters and cool sci-fi concepts. It's not going to change the world, but it will give you plenty of value for money. Chu has proven himself to be a reliable provider of entertainment, and I'll be sure to read anything he writes in the future."

FALL by JP Ashman
FALL cover image logo logo

Latest reviews

Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High fantasy books
High fantasy

Fantasy set in an alternative, fictional world
Epic fantasy books
Epic fantasy

Fantasy with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery fantasy books
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery

Fantasy with heroic adventures
Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
Urban fantasy

Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Image derived from Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns book cover
Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Praetorian cover image
Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
An image of Darth Bane, taken from the cover of a Star Wars book
Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
An image taken from the front cover of The Wind in the Willows
Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
An image taken from the front cover of Giant Thief.
The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
An image taken from the front of hush, hush.

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
An image portraying manga art.

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
An image portraying comic fantasy.
Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
An image of J. R. R. Tolkien
Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies