Science fiction fan? Everyone loves a good story, especially if it seems to provide a realistic view of our world in the future.

And when you think about it, things they did in movies 20 or 30 years ago are now part of our reality. We launch satellites, use robots in multiple industries and make video calls to friends and family.

While certain things retain the science fiction stage, some others seem to point out the direction the world is moving to.

If you’re into science fiction, perhaps this is the time to move on to the next level, hard science fiction.

Hard science fiction is basically science fiction based on more realistic things. It includes a technical approach and more accuracy. It basically brings in the details that define the entire science fiction genre itself.

With these thoughts in mind, some of the authors actually have a scientific background and rarely write out of imagination.

Here are some of the best hard science fiction books to make your imagination go wild.

What Are The Top Hard Science Fiction Books?

The Krill Enigma, by Brandon Q. Morris (2024)

When NASA's Jupiter Probe vanishes without a trace, the official statement blames a software malfunction. But Bavin, the software engineer behind the probe's programming, knows the truth isn't so simple. After his proof that the software was flawless mysteriously disappears, his career at NASA abruptly ends. Worse yet, shadowy figures start trailing him, plunging Bavin into a maze of paranoia and betrayal.

Thousands of miles away, in the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean, marine biologist Isabella makes a groundbreaking discovery about the krill population—supposedly a sign of ecological recovery, until she uncovers the unsettling reason behind it. The krill have been genetically modified, but by whom and for what purpose remains a mystery.

As Bavin and Isabella's paths cross, they unravel a conspiracy that bridges the cold depths of space and the remote expanses of the ocean. Someone has tampered with the building blocks of life itself, but the scale and intent of this interference are far more disturbing than either could have imagined.

Mythion: Human Transformation, by Jason Davis (2023)

The storyline is epic and will hook you in after a few pages only. The action keeps unveiling more and more, making you crave for more action. The author builds up tension nicely until everything explodes.

But let me start with the beginning and give you a few hints…

Gavin ends up in a hospital, but he can't remember why. One unusual thing leads to another, and he ends up in one of the most adventurous experiences of his life.

He’s part of a modern RPG where he has one mission only. He needs to fix his body and past traumas in order to become more powerful.

Everything takes place in a different reality known as Xenxu.

In order to complete his task, he'll realize that he's only a guest. The world is run by artificial intelligence and has its own unique rules. He'll find help in a few mentors, both humans, and robots, but the experience is also enhanced by a stunning alien girl.

He’ll even meet a few future versions of himself.

All in all, his life is like a game now, and new abilities are discovered and unlocked as he completes the task. He feels like all this training has a bigger purpose, but he doesn't know what it is yet.

And his final mission will blow your mind! That’s where everything unveils. To me, this book felt like a virtual explanation of life, as we all have to work hard in order to improve ourselves. But the ending is just wow…

Conjunction, by A. D. Zoltan and Steven N. Nagy (2022)

The first book in The Wise Society series brings in an intriguing mix of spiritual stories and modern science fiction including several essential sociological topics.

This isn’t just a story that hooks you in. Instead, I find it to be an exclusive masterpiece digging deep into the secrets of human psychology, not to mention the society around us.

Anyway, when it gets to the actual story, it takes place in 2610. Erin is incredibly clever and needs to handle some of the powers revolving around the planet and threatening to destroy it. The purpose of these powers? Reordering human society.

I won’t give you too many spoilers now, but fast forward, the action moves to year 3200, when Erin’s work leads to a superior form of artificial intelligence, called Central Intelligent System or simply CIS that aims to rebuild the solar system. The humankind can now travel from one galaxy to another, and the story jumps to Keat, a traveler who is about to change everything what we understood about human psyche.

At first glance, you might assume that this narrative is a social science fiction tale set in the near future, focusing on human society and its technological advancements. However, the shape of the story undergoes a dramatic transformation when the characters encounter a non-human race for the first time. This meeting ushers in an entirely new perspective, expanding the scope of the narrative in unexpected ways. The wisdom of this non-human race is nothing short of astonishing, elevating the tale from a commentary on human society to a more profound exploration of universal truths.

I have a strong conviction that this book is destined to become a classic in twenty years.

Heaven’s River, by Dennis E. Taylor (2020)

Heaven’s River is one of my favorite hard science fiction books, mostly because it is incredibly long and spreads over a bunch of different layers.

It doesn't feel like a book, but like a long TV series that never ends, and I must admit it's incredibly good.

Anyway, Bender takes a trip towards the stars and disappears. Numerous scientists have tried to track him, but all missions failed.

Now, Bob wants to find out more about what happened. He’s not certain whether or not Bender is still alive, but he wants to learn his fate, so he starts organizing a new expedition.

But this new world is different from what we know it. Bob has numerous descendants, many of them sharing his beliefs, while others having their own plan.

The world is out of control now with clones and different individuals based on others’ DNAs.

Bob doesn’t give up though…

He gathers a team of experts and manages to go after Bender. However, they’re about to discover something they never even imagined before.

And this is when it got a bit challenging for me because the universe is so complex that you may struggle a bit to understand.

All in all, at some point, every piece falls into a beautifully crafted puzzle, and that's when everything makes sense.

Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2017)

This is the first book in the Children of Time series and a great start to an incredible adventure.

The universe is facing a race for survival. Different stars and their populations and races fight each other. Humanity is nearly gone, but a few survivors have managed to get out and find a new home.

Desperate to find a settlement, people manage to locate a world that supports human life.

It looks great at first, especially since everyone’s desperate for peace. However, this planet does have a bunch of secrets.

It was inhabited before, and those who were there have managed to destroy it. It's still facing destruction, and nightmares start becoming a reality for the humankind survivors.

A war is about to erupt, and two different civilizations are about to clash. How far are they going to go to survive?

The book is an excellent read with good plot twists, but at the same time, it made me feel like we’re actually the original civilization on our planet, a planet that we’re slowly destroying. The story is a bit frightening when you think about it, but also gripping.

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (2021)

Ryland Grace is the ultimate survivor. His world is nearly gone now, as well as those around him. But he’s got a last mission, a mission that could save whatever’s left. If he succeeds, he’ll be able to set the foundation to a new world. But if the fails, the world will perish.

However, he doesn’t know all these. He has no idea who he is, not to mention details about his mission or what he’s supposed to do.

There’s only one thing he’s certain of… Being asleep for ages. And now that he woke up, he’s in a completely different world with two dead bodies next to him.

His memories slowly come back, and at some point, Ryland understands that he has an impossible mission.

He’s got a tiny ship, and he needs to use it around space to solve the mystery behind everyone's disappearance.

As if all these were not enough, he needs to battle whatever threatens to destroy the species. Time's limited, and the nearest human is too far to help, so he needs to do everything by himself.

Things are about to change, though, and I won't give you any other spoilers, but I'll let you discover plot twists by yourself.

The Martian, by Andy Weir (2020)

You might have seen the movie, but you know what they say. Movies are much worse than books, and they miss countless details.

Anyway, the story follows astronaut Mark Watney. He’s one of the first people to be able to walk on Mars. It all started nearly a week ago.

A few programming disasters caused a catastrophe. At this point, he’s likely to become the first human to die on the red planet too.

But he's not ready to give up, though. He knows that his crew thinks he's dead, so no one will really bother to look for him.

Alone and hopeless, Mark decides to push his boundaries and try to survive for as long as possible with some leftover supplies.

There are plenty of plot twists in this book, and obstacles kick in one after the other. Mark has two missions. One of them is to survive. The other one is to let everyone else know that he is alive.

How is he going to do it? Will he manage to survive?

Final thoughts on Hard Sci-fi Books

I  find the exploration of the implications and consequences of concepts and technologies to be the most engaging aspect in these hard science fiction works. The characters and their personal journeys also can be very engaging, additionally, the sense of exploration, discovery, and adventure that is often present in hard science fiction books can also be a draw for most of the readers.

You’ll notice these books are more than just the classic hard sci-fi books you used to like as a kid. These scenarios are actually realistic – even when some of them includes spiritual perspective -, and things could actually go in one direction or another in reality.

Let your imagination go wild and get ready to be surprised, but also amazed and intrigued by some of the potential scenarios the humankind is going to.

Check also our all time selection of science fiction books.

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