Okay, so the force has awakened, we are back in the universe of Han and Luke and Leia. A universe where there is a mighty galactic empire threatened by a plucky rebel movement, a mysterious mystical movement, light sabers and space battles and lots more. It’s the American Revolution rewritten according to Joseph Campbell’s ideas of the hero’s journey (but don’t mention its similarity to what is happening in the Middle East at the moment). And it borrows from all sorts of sources: the spice mines are a straight lift from Frank Herbert’s Dune, the light sabers first appeared (as power blades) in Samuel R. Delany’s The Fall of the Towers. In other words it’s a love fest for everything science fictional. So once you’ve enjoyed the movie you’ll want more of that wide-screen action, more of that cool tech, more of that fast-paced story telling. Fortunately, there’s a whole library of great stuff out there just waiting to give you another hit of the Star Wars drug.
Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
So you’ve got an evil empire, space battles, weird aliens, space pirates, and the coolest tech you’re likely to find anywhere. What more could you want? Oh, and it’s great fun with non-stop action and a whole feast of other brilliant Culture novels to read afterwards.
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
And another galactic empire is threatened with destruction, once more there’s a secret hiding place where those who believe in the way and the truth and the light can hide out, and there’s another mystical idea, not the Force but Psychohistory.
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Want to know where that brilliant space cantina scene came from in the orignal Star Wars? It’s lifted straight from this short novel. And once again there’s a massive space war, and a secret weapon, an extraordinary language that turns everyone who learns it into a traitor.
Hellburner by C.J. Cherryh
Earth company is preparing its warships, ready for the war against the Union. Like the Culture novels, there’s a whole lot of other books to keep the story going, but for military action out in space this is a good place to start.
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
If you want what George R.R. Martin has called “kickass space opera”, look no further. It’s the first volume of the Expanse series (which is now on TV as well), and it starts with war in the solar system and spreads out to thousands of other worlds.
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
If you like the wide-screen baroque effect of Star Wars, then science fiction doesn’t come much more wide-screen than this novel: mysterious aliens, awesome discoveries, forces that could wipe out the entire human race, this is big league stuff that’s going to leave you breathless.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.