Space Opera Books

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Public list of popular space opera books, ranked by user votes. Note that this is a list of books not necessary series.
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1

Dune

by Frank Herbert

4.19 avg rating
Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Nebula
Hugo

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Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

4.48 avg rating
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike.  There are those who worship it.  There are those who fear it.  And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.  In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all.  On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives.  Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret.  And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.  
Hugo
Locus Science Fiction
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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Foundation

by Isaac Asimov

4.2 avg rating
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun—or fight them and be destroyed.
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Ender\'s Game

by Orson Scott Card

4.18 avg rating
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
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Revelation Space

by Alastair Reynolds

4.4 avg rating
Alastair Reynolds's critically acclaimed debut has redefined the space opera with a staggering journey across vast gulfs of time and space to confront the very nature of reality itself.
BSFA
Arthur C. Clarke
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11

Old Man\'s War

by John Scalzi

4.11 avg rating
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.
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Pandora\'s Star

by Peter F. Hamilton

5 avg rating
Critics have compared the engrossing space operas of Peter F. Hamilton to the classic sagas of such sf giants as Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. But Hamilton’s bestselling fiction—powered by a fearless imagination and world-class storytelling skills—has also earned him comparison to Tolstoy and Dickens. Hugely ambitious, wildly entertaining, philosophically stimulating: the novels of Peter F. Hamilton will change the way you think about science fiction. Now, with Pandora’s Star, he begins a new multivolume adventure, one that promises to be his most mind-blowing yet.

The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars some four hundred light-years in diameter, contains more than six hundred worlds, interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: Over one thousand light-years away, a star . . . vanishes. It does not go supernova. It does not collapse into a black hole. It simply disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat. In command is Wilson Kime, a five-time rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot whose glory days are centuries behind him.

Opposed to the mission are the Guardians of Selfhood, a cult that believes the human race is being manipulated by an alien entity they call the Starflyer. Bradley Johansson, leader of the Guardians, warns of sabotage, fearing the Starflyer means to use the starship’s mission for its own ends,.

Pursued by a Commonwealth special agent convinced the Guardians are crazy but dangerous, Johansson flees. But the danger is not averted. Aboard the Second Chance, Kime wonders if his crew has been infiltrated. Soon enough, he will have other worries. A thousand light-years away, something truly incredible is waiting: a deadly discovery whose unleashing will threaten to destroy the Commonwealth . . . and humanity itself.

Could it be that Johansson was right?



From the Hardcover edition.
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A Fire Upon The Deep

by Vernor Vinge

4.05 avg rating
In 1992 Vernor Vinge amazed the science fiction world with this epic novel of star-spanning adventure. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and has since become a landmark in the field. Now, with the long awaited sequel The Children of the Sky about to be published, we are proud to offer the first-ever trade paperback edition of this big-screen SF classic.
 
A Fire Upon The Deep is the winner of the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Hugo
Nebula
Locus Science Fiction
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The Mote In God\'s Eye

by Larry Niven

4.46 avg rating
Writing separately, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are responsible for a number of science fiction classics, such as the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ringworld, Debt of Honor, and The Integral Trees. Together they have written the critically acclaimed bestsellers Inferno, Footfall, and The Legacy of Heorot, among others.
The Mote In God's Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind's first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre.
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The Reality Dysfunction

by Peter F. Hamilton

4.4 avg rating
Space is not the only void...

In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature's boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp.

But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal's chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it "The Reality Dysfunction." It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

THE REALITY DYSFUNCTION is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale.
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On Basilisk Station

by David Weber

4.5 avg rating
Special Signed Limited  Leather-bound Edition First Entry in the Honor Harrington Series. Baen Books celebrates a twenty years of Honor with the reissue of the book that started it all: internationally best-selling phenomenon David Weber’s On Basilisk Station.

Special Leather-bound Edition.

Baen Books celebrates twenty years of the Honor Harrington saga with the reissue of the first book in the series: multiple New York Times best-seller David Weber’s On Basilisk Station. 

The Book That Started It All!

Honor Harrington has been exiled to Basilisk station and given an antique ship to police the system. The vindictive superior who sent her there wants her to fail. But he made one mistake; he's made her mad...

About On Basilisk Station:

“Without question SF's most popular military-themed series, the Honor Harrington novels are also among the genre's most intelligent, exciting and rewarding. On Basilisk Station, the series' premiere volume, is a spectacular piece of action storytelling that does virtually everything right.”—SF Reviews

About David Weber and the Honor Harrington series:

“. . .everything you could want in a heroine….excellent…plenty of action.”–Science Fiction Age

“Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!”–Anne McCaffrey

“Compelling combat combined with engaging characters for a great space opera adventure.”–Locus

“Weber combines realistic, engaging characters with intelligent technological projection. . .Fans of this venerable space opera will rejoice. . .”–Publishers Weekly

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Warrior\'s Apprentice

by Lois McMaster Bujold

4 avg rating
Discharged from the Barrayan Military Academy, Miles Vorkosigan chances on a jumpship with a rebellious pilot and arranges to take over the ship. Events escalate from there, and soon Miles is commander of a mercenary fleet and reinvents himself as Admiral Naismith of the Dendarii Mercenary Army. “The pace is breathless, the characterizations thoughtful and emotionally powerful… Highly recommended,” writes Booklist.

"Bujold's first book SHARDS OF HONOR was called 'possibly the best first novel of the year' by the Chicago Sun Times. THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE is even better."
- Fantasy Review

"The action is fast, furious and delicious... Best of all, Bujold achieves a fine balance of comedy with intelligence, heroics with loss, so THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE goes far beyond simple entertainment."
- Locus Magazine

"The pace is breathless, the characterization thoughtful and emotionally powerful, and the author's narrative technique and command of language compelling. Highly recommended."
- Booklist

“Bujold continues to prove what marvels genius can create out of basic space operatics.”
- Library Journal

“Bujold is not just a master of plot, she is a master of emotion.”
- SF Site

“Bujold is one of the best writers of SF adventure to come along in years.”
- Locus Magazine

“A superb craftsman and stylist, Ms. Bujold is well on her way to becoming one of the great voices of speculative fiction.”
- Rave Reviews

“Bujold has a gift, nearly unique in science fiction, for the comedy of manners.”
- Chicago Sun Times

“Superb far-future saga.”
- Publishers Weekly on the 'Vorkosigan' series

Bujold's "work remains among the most enjoyable and rewarding in contemporary SF."
- Publishers Weekly

"Bujold is also head and shoulders above the ruck of current fantasists and well as science-fictionists."
- Booklist.- Publishers Weekly

"Bujold is also head and shoulders above the ruck of current fantasists and well as science-fictionists."
- Booklist.

Lois McMaster Bujold was born in 1949, the daughter of an engineering professor at Ohio State University, from whom she picked up her early interest in science fiction. She now lives in Minneapolis, and has two grown children. She began writing with the aim of professional publication in 1982. She wrote three novels in three years; in October of 1985, all three sold to Baen Books, launching her career. Bujold went on to write many other books for Baen, mostly featuring her popular character Miles Naismith Vorkosigan, his family, friends, and enemies. Her books have been translated into twenty-one languages. Her fantasy from Eos includes the award-winning Chalion series and the Sharing Knife series.
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Consider Phlebas

by Iain M. Banks

4.13 avg rating
"Dazzlingly original." -- Daily Mail
"Gripping, touching and funny." -- TLS

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.
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The Uplift Saga

by David Brin

3.8 avg rating
No species has ever reached for the stars without the guidance of a patron--except perhaps mankind. Did some mysterious race begin the uplift of humanity aeons ago? Circling the sun, under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in history--a journey into the boiling inferno of the sun.
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Gap Cycle

by Stephen R. Donaldson

5 avg rating
Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson retums with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us.



Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed locked out of his way.  Those who didn't ended up in the lockup--or dead.  But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallory's Bar & Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice.  Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer--until she met up with Thermopyle.



But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated.  Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleek frigate fitted for deep space.  Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course.  What nobody expected was how quickly it would be over--or how devastating victory would be.  It was common enough example of rivalry and revenge--or so everyone thought.  The REAL story was something entirely different.



In The Real Story, Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.
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