7 Sci-Fi Books For People Who Don’t Like Science Fiction, Or So They Think

Sci-fi has always been one of my favourite genres, be it books, films or TV series. In my teenage years I used to be glued to the telly every time Star Trek was on, and I’ve been secretly dreaming ever since of joining the Starfleet, if it ever becomes a thing.

I love the bold, but often strange ideas, the epic battles, people going up against alien life forms that threaten to overtake our worlds.

It’s weird to think about the fact, that not everyone likes what I enjoy, but I hear you, and I got your back!

Whether you are a sci-fi novice and not sure where to start, or just someone who hasn’t found the right fit, I have something for you. Seasoned veterans are also welcome, of course. Come, and share your favourite reads with us!

Now let’s see what we have here.

Dry humour and wiseass characters

If you enjoy this sort of thing, try The Interdependency series by John Scalzi. The man wields sarcasm with great skill, and in the first book, The Collapsing Empire, he crafted some of his most memorable characters I’ve came across so far.

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.

Strange ideas, and some deep philosophical musings

If that’s your jam, you will most likely enjoy this gem from the 60’s. In Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein not only came up with an interesting story about a man who was raised by Martians, but also explored the concept of learning, integrating, and religion. It’s and oldie, but a goodie.

NAME: Valentine Michael Smith
ANCESTRY: Human
ORIGIN: Mars

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.

Intergalactic war with a twist

Ever contemplated the loss of young lives during war time? Of course, dying a violent death is never pleasant, but what if you only got enlisted in the military once you don’t have much time left anyway? This is the idea that John Scalzi explores in his series, Old Man’s War, and let me tell you, it’s thoroughly entertaining. There are some great battle scenes, interesting technology, and his trade mark dry humour to tide you over some difficult topics.

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.

Detectives of the future

Sci-fi doesn’t need to be about space travel, or aliens. If you are like me, and enjoy a good murder investigation, Lock In by John Scalzi might just be right up your alley.
Body swapping and weird gadgets are just as fascinating. Coupled with questions like what makes us who we are, what would we become if we could live forever, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan is the perfect mix of cyberpunk and hard-boiled detective story.

Lock In by John Scalzi
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
Four hundred years from now mankind is strung out across a region of interstellar space inherited from an ancient civilization discovered on Mars. The colonies are linked together by the occasional sublight colony ship voyages and hyperspatial data-casting. Human consciousness is digitally freighted between the stars and downloaded into bodies as a matter of course.

But some things never change. So when ex-envoy, now-convict Takeshi Kovacs has his consciousness and skills downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug and presented with a catch-22 offer, he really shouldn’t be surprised. Contracted by a billionaire to discover who murdered his last body, Kovacs is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that stretches across known space and to the very top of society.

Mind boggling science

Physics was one of my most hated subjects in high school, and yet, a lot of these books I’m enjoying are based on theories of actual physics. Of course it’s way more interesting to read about a dude going through parallel universes than trying to figure out the resistance of some dirty copper wire, or having your teacher rub your hair with a plastic stick to demonstrate electrostatic attraction to your dummy classmates. If you are with me on this, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch will surely appeal to you as well.

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

Geeks and hackers everywhere

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is not only an action packed page turner about a pizza delivery driver who ends up in the middle a deadly race against the most vicious hackers, but also a very interesting take on linguistics and how basically language is a virus.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince.

Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.

Have you read any of these? Are you planning to give them a try? What are your favourites?

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84 comments

  1. This is directed squarely at me, Norrie! I’d like to think I’m just picky but science has always been my weak subject…so I married a scientist 😍 When I get into trouble with these stories, I just ask him for help now.

    I’ve read Dark Matter (loved it) so I’ll check out your other recommendations. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha 😀
      I think out of these, Dark Matter was the most heavy on actual science that mattered to the story. The rest are although sci-fi, but all the tech and other stuff they talk about is very digestible 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha this is a post for me too! I’m seriously not attracted at all to the first two covers but the third one Lock-In already looks and sounds more interesting and Dark Matter piques my interest too… but a whole book… I’m still not entirely sure I can like it that much. I won’t know until I try it of course, I really should try one out.. thanks for the recs Norrie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, i agree, those covers are a bit meh… If i didn’t know Scalzi’s stuff before i would have gotten the wrong idea about Collapsing Empire.

      Dark Matter (out of these) is the one that talks more about actual sciency stuff, but it’s also very suspenseful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love watching sci-fi movies and TV but somehow never got into reading sci-fi books. I don’t know why, I suppose I tend to read more fantasy and horror rather than sci-fi.

    I have downloaded a sample of Dark Matter as I have a feeling it will be my thing and am looking forward to reading it. And I’ll be checking your other recommendations out as well, thanks Norrie.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not a genre that I have read but I am pleased to see Dark Matter on your list. At least I have a copy that book and I am glad to hear that it would work for a novice. Great list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    • Oh, i hope you'll enjoy it if you decide to try it 🙂
      My fave sci-fi reads usually have some other stuff going for them as well. Like they have a mystery, or they are suspenseful, or have the humour, etc 🙂

      Like

  5. I never thought I’d like sci-fi, but I read the Illuminae series, and those sucked me in. Since they’re a YA space opera, they’re easy to get in on and don’t try to break your brain building up lore for 10,000 years of space colonization, a feature frequently in sci-fi that has previously scared me away from the genre. The books on this list have given me some ideas for where I can continue inching my way into sci-fi. Maybe I’ll be able to tackle the bigger epics in the future, but I’ll take baby steps for now.

    Like

    • Squee! I just read the first one, and it was so good! I listened to the audio as well, and it was really immersive.

      I also don’t like very much the sci fi books that have a long build up and take 500 pages to just set the scene 😀

      The books in this list don’t really have the epic colonizing thing going on, so you are safe 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You must have been reading my mind because I was just thinking the other day about how I have never read any sci-fi but really want to! this post was really useful, thank you so much I will definitely be getting some of these!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the list, and yes, have also stolen the idea for a post later on this week. 😀 Of those on your list, I’ve only read the Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (natch). But the others might go for consideration at a later date.

    Like

  8. I’ve only read Dark Matter which is didn’t love as much as I hoped- of course that book was pretty hyped so expectations were high 🙂 I really need to read Scalzi and Heilen. I also want to give a go to the Expanse series. I’ll definitely check out your suggestions!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post!! I like the sound of stranger in a strange land and I’m definitely keen to check out alternate carbon. And I’ve wanted to read dark matter for ages- I’m so glad it’s so interesting! Definitely inspires me to check out more sci fi 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is definitely interesting! The concept was mind boggling, and it was also fast paced and suspenseful.

      Stranger in a Strange Land had some very interesting ideas and concepts ❤

      Like

    • Oh, that’s great! 🙂 I think a lot of people are reluctant to read sci-fi because they think it’s going to be heavy on science, or space battles and such 😀

      Like

    • Exactly! I’m the same with romance, almost never read it, but every now and then i come across one that i actually end up reading and it’s quite ok 😀

      Lifel1k3 sounds pretty awesome! I hope i manage to read it soon 🙂

      Like

  10. I’ve recently started reading Science Fiction and am looking for new books, these suggestions came up just at the right time for me! Lock In looks really interesting so I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. emmareadstoomuch

    i have never felt more spoken to in my life than i do by the title of this. REAL. (especially because of how i loved Dark Matter.) great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved the Collapsing Empire, and am looking forward to the sequel, which I have but haven’t read yet. Snow Crash is one I should probably try, as I like a good cyberpunk read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Snow Crash i can’t recommend enough if you like cyberpunk 🙂
      I still need to buy a copy of Consuming Fire, not sure i can this month, but maybe it will be a christmas prezzie for myself 😀

      Like

  13. Holly B / Dressedtoread

    Lock in and Dark Matter have been on my TBR for awhile, but always get pushed back. I’m not a regular reader of Sci-Fi, but every now and then I find a fantastic one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read as many lately as i used to. I can safely say, i usually enjoy the sci-fi book that have other things going for them. Like the murder investigation, or the thriller aspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Madam Mim

    This is sooo me haha I’ve come to the conclusion I just don’t like sci-fi… But I have to say, Lock In sounds pretty good. Maybe I should give sci-fi another go…

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are so many subgenres within sci-fi. I personally don’t really like those colonization stories, or the ones where they are travelling in space for endless amount time and nothing else really happens, etc.
      I hope you’ll find something you enjoy 🙂

      Like

    • I also wasn’t 100% sure, to be fair 😀 But these books all have some other stuff going for them, so i figured some will appeal to crime / thriller / funny book fans.

      Like

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  16. Ouhh – Lock in sounds good to me ! It feels kind of like the one and only scifi Ive ever read in a way.

    I love when the world is similar to ours but different; it makes it easier on my brain than any made up world xD it was the unexpected inlander that I had read ; which have two types of human- normal and « gene modified » where they are immune to some sickness and other things ive forgotten now ahah with a mix of « kinda » thriller type as our main character is a type of officer from gov. Who kills bad guys in secrecy kinda thing. I had liked it!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hmm… I think Snow Crash is one of those that I will have to check out! 🙂
    I read Dark Matter last year I think and it was quite enjoyable… I did have some minor issues but generally, it was a great, entertaining book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ah, Star Trek… yea. What i like about my fave sci-fi stories is that the science part is not so obvious. It’s mostly about the people, they just have fancy tech stuff 😀
      But for example in Collapsing Empire their tech is a bit backwards cuz when they are on the ship, they can’t send messages to each other, so they get news like 9 months later once they arrive.

      Liked by 1 person

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