What To Read, Based On Your Fave Sci-Fi Show

by Charlotte Ahlin

I'm going to reveal something very personal to you, internet, because I trust you not to judge me: I love Star Trek. I don't just mean that I've seen a few episodes, or that I enjoyed the most recent reboot movies. I mean that I own an autographed photo of Brent Spiner dressed as Lt. Commander Data. Yeah. I'm pretty sure it was the voyages of the starship Enterprise that inspired me to start reading science fiction back in high school. And, while my love of all things sci-fi didn't help me much in the dating arena back then, it opened me up to a whole new galaxy of brilliant writing. Here's what to read next based on your favorite sci-fi show, because there is always an unexplored frontier.

I mean, sure, I like a good sci-fi movie (I reject the false Star Wars/Star Trek dichotomy, because the universe is large enough for multiple nerds). But science fiction TV shows just give you so much more: you have hours and hours to explore a strange new universe, to encounter different lifeforms, and to judge the props department on their application of forehead ridges.

So here are just a few great science fiction books to read, once you've run out of episodes to binge:


If you like 'Doctor Who'...

...then you probably enjoy wide-ranging, zany adventures that will take you to every corner of the space-time continuum. Try reading How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu, for a meta-fictional, wickedly clever time travel story. The protagonist, Charles Yu, struggles to confront his own past—but that's a lot harder for a time traveler to do than you might think. Or, if you just want some lovable aliens on the run through a dangerous galaxy, try Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, with gorgeous art by Fiona Staples. It's got action, heart, funny sidekicks, robo-men, and a whole lot of aliens with goofy heads.


If you like 'Star Trek: The Original Series'...

...then you're a huge nerd like me, who doesn't mind a bit of pulpy sci-fi adventure. The original Star Trek series is all about heady science fiction premises, monster fights, and the romantic tension between Kirk and Spock. Try picking up The Essential Ellison, a collection of brilliant short stories by veteran sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison, the author behind Star Trek episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever." Redshirts by John Scalzi is also great if you're looking for a little bit more of a tongue-in-cheek take on the crew of the Enterprise (and the life of a Redshirt).


If you like 'Firefly'...'re probably still upset about it being cancelled. But never fear, there are a few books out there that will give you a new, scrappy, vaguely western spaceship crew to fall in love with. Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks follows a motley crew of mercenaries in the wake of a galactic war. The stakes are high and the characters are flawed. And then there's The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, with its own ragtag bunch of space-farers on an eclectic journey from planet to planet in their patched-up construction vessel.


If you like 'Battlestar Galactica'...

...then you're all about epic space battles and overarching plots. Try The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. It's a space opera of BSG level, with romance, warfare, and several galactic plot twists. Or you could try Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, for more of an exploration of artificial intelligence, humanity, and vengeance, as Leckie follows the story of Breq, a spaceship turned human soldier.


If you like 'Black Mirror'...

...then you like the kind of short form sci-fi that makes you scared to use your own phone. Once you're done binging this creepy, clever sci-fi show, you're going to want to read Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Chiang is a master of the science fiction short story that starts with a "what if...?" and leads to people being swallowed up by pits of fire in the middle of the street. You could also try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for a vision of a future where everyone is hooked into a virtual reality.


If you like 'Stranger Things'...

...then you probably already know that I'm going to suggest something by Stephen King. King's Firestarter is eerily similar to the story of Eleven, and It is all about a gang of gangly kids going after a monster. Or you could try The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, for a wonderfully creepy story about a "special" little girl being raised in a high security, secret facility.


If you like 'Westworld'...

...then you should read Westworld by Michael Crichton (he's the same guy who wrote Jurassic Park, so clearly sci-fi theme parks are up his alley). If you've already read that one, check out Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for a dark, inventive look at the "humanity" of androids.


If you like 'The X-Files'...

...then I'm sure you're having a lot of feelings right now about the revival (it's going to be OK). If you "want to believe" in all kinds of sci-fi, paranormal nonsense, then you should check out National Geographic Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories by David Braun, for some real world unsolved cases. Or try sci-fi thriller A Vision of Fire, written by X-Files star Gillian Anderson herself.


If you like 'The Expanse'...

...then read Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, since the show is, after all, based on his series. And once you've read that, and written several blogs comparing the book and the show, try Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton. Hamilton will bring you lots more political intrigue and human-based space mysteries that range far away from Earth.


If you like 'Orphan Black'...

...then you're in luck, because there are a lot of great identity crisis books out there. For something a little bit more contemplative, try Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, a book that looks into the heartbreaking consequences of normalized cloning. For more of a mind-bending mystery, in which one girl finds herself being murdered every two years on her birthday, try Nemesis by Brendan Reichs.


If you like 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'...

...then you should go read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, because it's not a real Next Gen episode unless Moriarty finds a way off the holodeck. If you're a big Data fan, try I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, for a whole bunch more robo-men who long for humanity. And if you just want future humans and their alien buds exploring weird new worlds and blasting things with phasers, check out Ringworld by Larry Niven.


If you like 'Rick and Morty'...

...then you like your sci-fi to be fast, funny, and full of fart jokes (no judgment here). Read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams for a healthy dose of hilarious sci-fi absurdity.