These Female-Led Sci-Fi Books Will Have You Flipping Pages All Night Long

by Sadie Trombetta

I know, I know, I have given you a lot of reading recommendations this summer, but I'm here to tell you to make room on your TBR list, because these science fiction books starring women can't be missed. Filled with action, excitement, and some serious badass heroism, these 2017 releases will make you feel like you're on an intergalactic adventure, even if you spend all summer reading on the couch.

If your social media feed is anything like mine right now, it is filled with pictures of beach panoramas, wine glasses at sunset, and suntanned selfie after suntanned selfie. While it seems like the rest of the world is out there enjoying the summer season, I am stuck indoors at my home office suffering from a serious combination of wanderlust and #FOMO.

Thankfully, there's a cure for that, and it's sitting on my bookshelf. Whenever I need to take a trip without leaving the house, I know I can count on books to get the job done, specifically science fiction books. I feel trapped at home, suffocated by work, or just plain old bored, I reach for an exciting space adventure that can give me the vacation I want, without the hassle of actually leaving the house.

Buckle in and get ready for liftoff, because these 13 sci-fi books starring women will take you on an adventure that is out of this world.


'The Space Between the Stars' by Anne Corlett

In this remarkable debut novel from Anne Corlett, one woman is forced to forge a new path for herself in the stars when humanity is nearly wiped out by a deadly virus. Unlike those forced to flee, Jamie Allenby left Earth by choice and carved out a new life on the edges of space. But then the virus hit, and Jamie found herself alone in the universe with nothing but the dead to keep her company. That is, until a message from her home planet gives her hope for a new life back on Earth. Together with a unlikely group of survivors she meets along the way, Jamie sets out on a dangerous journey to the place — and the people — she once called home.

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'Borne' by Jeff VanderMeer

In this dystopian future, the world is dangerous: drought and conflict have torn apart the cities, and the experiments from the now defunct Company, a devious biotech firm, litter the streets. Rachel and her partner Wick survive by scavenging, but one day, Rachel finds something unexpected: Borne, a living little green lump that she almost immediately grows attached to. As her bond to the unknown organism grows alongside Borne's intelligence, so do the threats around them as it becomes more and more obvious that the Company may not be gone after all. Will Rachel lay it all on the line to protect Borne, or are the risks just too great? You'll have to read this breathtaking novel to find out.

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'The Stars are Legion' by Kameron Hurley

In this epic space opera, two sisters put their futures, and their lives, on the line to save what is rest of the decaying world they know. The world's population survives in decaying world-ships that linger on the outer rim of the universe, world-ships that have been at war for hundreds of years. To bring peace to the outer rim, Anat, the leader of the Katazyrna ship, arranges a marriage between her daughter Jayd and her greatest rival. Meanwhile, Jayd's sister Zan is forced to face the responsibility of leading a group of warriors to save her sister from the clutches of their enemy. A gripping adventure about family, loyalty, betrayal, war, and revenge, The Stars Are Legion is an action-packed read you won't want to miss.

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'Six Wakes' by Mur Lafferty

In a world where cloning can keep people "alive" indefinitely, the crew of a spaceship is faced with the threat of unstoppable death at the hands of an unknown murderer. When Maria Arena wakes up in her cloning vat covered in blood, she cannot remember how she died. All she knows is something is different this time, and as she looks around her she realizes she isn't the only one of her crew members to meet their untimely death recently. Can Maria and the rest of the newly awakened clones find out who wants them dead, or is the spaceship Dormire doomed? Hop on board this page-turning adventure and find out.

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'Empress of a Thousand Skies' by Rhoda Belleza

If you haven't picked up this stunning debut yet, seriously, what are you waiting for? A beautiful, exciting, and empowering space epic about a vengeful princess, a wrongfully accused fugitive, and an evil madman, Empress of a Thousand Skies will take you on an adventure across the galaxies like you've never imagined before.

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'The Ship' by Antonia Honeywell

In this unique post-apocalyptic novel, the fate of humanity rests on the deck of a new age Noah's Ark big enough to save 500 people. Lalla has grown up sheltered from the crumbling world around her, but when things go from worse to unbearable, her father finally decides its time to flee the death and destruction of London in favor of their planned escape: a ship. But what starts as a utopia with enough food and clothes for everyone on board quickly transform into a new kind of danger Lalla never expected. An intense and thought-provoking debut, The Ship will make you rethink the phrase "too good to be true."

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'Binti: Home' by Nnedi Okorafor

In this highly-anticipated sequel to her Nebula-winning novel Binti, Nnedi Okorafor invites readers back into the incredible world of action, conflict, and heroism for another adventure. This time, Binti has to go home to Earth, and she is bringing Okwu with her. No one of his race has dared step foot on Earth in over a century, so how will the planet react to his peaceful arrival? One thing is for certain: the universe will never be the same again.

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'Radiate' by C.A. Higgins

In the stunning conclusion to the Lightless trilogy, Ananke searches the universe for her "father" in the hopes of finding the answers to the very human questions this god-like sentient space ship has been plagued with since becoming "alive." Once a military spacecraft, Ananke was brought to life by her engineer "mother" Althea, but now she is desperate to find her programmer "father," Matthew, a complicated man on a dangerous mission of his own. When the two inevitably collide, the consequences of their meeting are greater than anyone could have imagined.

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'An Oath of Dogs' by Wendy Wagner

Between eco-terrorism and the violent sentient dogs on the planet, The people of the forest-world Huginn have enough to worry about. So when newcomer Kate Standish starts digging around and investigating the mysterious death of her boss a week after her arrival, no one seems that interested. That is, until her search for the truth uncovers a conspiracy that could threaten the fate of everyone on Huginn. Fast-paced and exciting, An Oath of Dogs is an inventive sci-fi novel about nature, science, corporations, and the drive for survival in us all.

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'Amatka' by Karin Tidbeck

Question the meaning of language and freedom with Karin Tidbeck's inventive novel about a dystopian future where reality is never what it seems. When Vanja, an information assistant, is sent to the wintry city of Amatka on assignment to collect data for the government, she only intends of staying temporarily. But when she falls in love with her housemate, Nina, Vanja decides to extend her stay only to find that things on Amatka aren't what they appear as she uncovers evidence of something sinister at work in the colony. A phenomenal and wholly original work from a writer to watch, Amatka is a book that is truly out of this world.

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'The Prey of Gods' by Nicky Drayden

A fantastic mix of science fiction, horror, fantasy, and humor, The Prey of the Gods is a unique novel that defies categorization. The South African coastal town of Port Elizabeth is booming: the genetic engineering industry has brought the area money, stability, and fame. But despite how great things look on the surface, danger looms not far below in the form of a new hallucinogenic drug sweeping South Africa, a possible AI uprising, and a vengeful demigoddess determined to rise to power again. The only hope for salvation? A ragtaag team of misfits that include a mind-controlling queer teenager, a spoiled diva, and a misguided politician with more issues between them than anyone can count. Fun and engaging, The Prey of the Gods is an unforgettable read.

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'The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter' by Theodora Goss

Literature's greatest science fiction classics collide in Theodora Goss' incredibly inventive new novel about an incredible team of unlikely crime fighters. Mary Jekyll is determined to get to the bottom of her father's mysterious past, even if that means tracking down his former partner and notorious murderer, Edward Hyde. When her search leads her to Hyde's daughter, Diana, the two form an unlikely bond that is the beginning of Mary's run-ins with the creations of infamous scientists, including Catherin Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, and Beatrice Rappaccini. With the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, can these forgotten women band together and help good win over evil, or are they destined for the fates of their creators?

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'The Book of Joan' by Lidia Yukanvitch

A national bestseller and one of the most buzzed books of the year, this sci-fi re-imagination of the Joan of Arc story is unlike anything you've ever laid eyes on. Set in the near future, a world war has torn the planet apart and sent the surviving humans to a mysterious platform called CIEL that hovers above the radioactive land. Humans have evolved into unrecognizable, sexless, hairless, pale-white beings, and among them, an evil leader rises: Jean de Men, a violent cult leader determined to seize power at any cost. But his rule is threatened when rebels use a child warrior, Joan, to bring Jean down, and when Joan becomes a new kind of martyr, the consequences are greater than anyone imagined. A beautiful and devastating novel of survival, The Book of Joan is utterly unputdownable.

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