With a lot of folks fleeing hostile governments across the globe, and with astronomers excited about the discovery of seven potentially habitable planets, now seems like a pretty good time to read some novels about space travel. Because what's a better way to change your life than to leave the whole planet behind?
On Wednesday, University of Liege researcher Michael Gillon announced that seven Earth-sized planets were discovered in orbit around Trappist-1: a cool, dwarf star roughly 40 lightyears from Earth. The Trappist-1 system was previously believed to host only three planets that could support life. More research is needed, but, given that no star system has ever shown this many planets in the habitable zone, we may be closer than ever to discovering life on other worlds.
Regardless of whether or not humanity ever leaves Earth to live elsewhere, the lessons that diverse sci-fi books have to teach us are invaluable. For decades, science fiction writers have used interplanetary relations to explore the problems found in our own backyards, including sexism, racism, and religious discrimination. At a time when prejudice and hate crimes are on the rise, we need to make sure our fiction is helping us to be better citizens.
Check out the 10 books about space travel I've recommended below, and share your favorites with me on Twitter!
1'Radiance' by Catherynne M. Valente
In this decopunk novel set in 1986 centers on Severin, an aspiring young filmmaker who sets out to document life on other planets.
2'Binti' by Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor's eponymous heroine is a Himba teen whose journey to a prestigious school is cut short by an alien invasion.
3'Midnight Robber' by Nalo Hopkinson
Nalo Hopkinson brings Caribbean folktales into the near-future with this tale of a young girl whose father absconds with her into a parallel world.
4'The Dispossessed' by Ursula K. Le Guin
The first book in Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle takes place on two neighboring planets that have developed radically different cultures.
5'Bitch Planet' by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's Bitch Planet transports readers to the titular penal colony, where women are sent for crimes against an ultra-patriarchal government.
6'End in Fire' by Syne Mitchell
On her way home to Earth, astronaut Claire Logan is left stranded in space when nuclear war breaks out on the surface.
7'The Sparrow' by Mary Doria Russell
After the planet Rakhat makes contact with Puerto Rico, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow explores the immediate aftermath of discovering extraterrestrial life.
8'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet centers on Rosemarie, who has just landed a clerk job on the Wayfarer: a ship responsible for facilitating interplanetary travel and communication by clearing paths through hyperspace.
9'Ninefox Gambit' by Yoon Ha Lee
On a mission to purge a rogue fortress, Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit pairs math-savvy soldier Cheris with a not-quite-sane ghost named Jedao, who happens to live in her head.
10'Ancillary Justice' by Ann Leckie
In Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie's heroine used to be a ship called the Justice of Toren. Now a weak human, Breq still remembers what it was like to be a space vessel. She remembers what happened to change things. And she wants her revenge.