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SF/F Book Recommendations > Ship/Crew oriented Sci-Fi

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message 1: by jaw (new)

jaw | 12 comments I've been reading more sci-fi recently - John Scalzi, James S.A. Corey, Chris Wooding - I'm starting to get a feel for what I prefer to read.

I'm calling it ship/crew oriented sci-fi. Mostly because I found this blog post by Tobias Buckell (http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/20...) and he is calling it ship oriented sci-fi.

Here is what I've read so far that I think fits the bill:

Consider Phlebas by Iian Banks
I kind of liked this book but I don't think I'll be completing this series. I read it based on Buckell's recommendation and another recommendation that said it was a book that reminded them of Firefly. I didn't really see the similarity except for The Culture = The Alliance? Small crew, small ship: Captain Horza/Captain K and crew in the Clear Air Turbulence. I would prefer a good captain and a crew that likes each other.

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey (Leviathon Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate)
This is an ongoing series, I believe. Love this series and I highly recommend it. Crew and ship: Captain Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos in the Rocinante (formerly the Tachi).

Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding (Retribution Falls, The Black Lung Captain, The Iron Jackal and The Ace of Skulls)
The Ace of Skulls is still being written, I think and The Iron Jackal is out in the UK and will be available in the US in 2014, I think. This gives me lots of Firefly vibe and it took me a while to warm up to Retribution Falls. But these books are fun. Crew and ship: Captain Frey, Jez, Crake, Pinn, Slag and two others I can't remember. An alcoholic doctor and twitchy pilot. And they're on the Ketty Jay (big surprise)

Going back to Buckell's blog post, I've already got them on my 'considering' list:

Merchanter's Luck by C.J. Cherryh. Do I need to read Downbelow Station first? I probably will because I'm like that but I was just curious.

Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. Should I read Shards of Honor before The Warrior's Apprentice? Again, I probably will - still curious.

And now to the real point of my post - heh, someone once made a joke about me that I couldn't explain something or answer a question without starting with "First there were the dinosaurs...".

Anyway, what other books are like these? Can anyone recommend any similar books? Less like Consider Phlebas and more like The Expanse series.

I'll also take recommendations on ships that have personalities. Margaret Weis had a space opera series where there was a ship that refused to get upgrades to it's personality and was very opinionated. It was very funny. I think I read somewhere that the pilot of that ship was Han Solo and the ship itself was the Wookie. It stuck with me because it was the series that had "lightsabers" that had needles in the handles and the needles did something but I can't remember what.

Ok. Thanks! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 11, 2013 02:08PM) (new)

jaw wrote: "Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds..."

I think this would fail the "I would prefer a good captain and a crew that likes each other" criteria, since it's about the crew dividing into two increasingly hostile camps over how to deal with a totally unexpected situation they encounter while mining ice from asteroids, with ensuing power struggles and mutinies and counter-mutinies.

If you're into shipboard camaraderie where nothing much really happens, Nathan Lowell has a series of stories starting with Quarter Share that deal with life on a merchant freighter. Mostly it's about how to maximize profit while trading goods between star systems; which is to say, nothing more exciting than price fluctuations, coffee-brewing and emergency drills happens.

Elizabeth Moon has written a couple of space opera series that spends a lot of time on life aboard a ship. Hunting Party begins the Serrano/Suiza series, with former military captain Serrano taking a job as a private yacht captain for rich old lady who enjoys flitting around the galaxy to go fox hunting on various planets. Also, they clean out the air filtration system and redecorate the passenger compartments. Moon really seems to enjoy these details. By the time the series gets to be Suiza continuation, it will have evolved into a political and military story, but the first 3 books are mostly shipboard (except when we're hunting foxes.)

Trading in Danger begins another Moon series, Vatta's War. The Vatta's run one of the large interstellar merchant trading companies, and when Kylara gets booted out of school, dad gives her a captaincy of one of his ships to learn the family business, and she sets out to meet contracts, negotiate new ones, and follow the company's creed, "trade and profit". Lots of ship maintenance, managing the crew, hiring new crew, rearranging cargo, and counting credits. (Over the 5-book series, this will also become more military and develop space-station-based and planet-based subplots.)

Poul Anderson's hard Sf classic Tau Zero is all shipboard as a experimental Bussard ramjet accelerates around the galaxy on an improbable adventure.

Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series is a military fleet sci-fi story about a defeated flotilla trying to make its way back home through enemy star systems, but the action all takes place aboard the flagship, where Capt "Blackjack" Geary finds himself the senior surviving officer despite having just been rescued from a stasis pod that left him decades out of touch with the current world. People interaction, not much about actually running a ship, tho.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Diving into the Wreck treats exploring derelict/wrecked spaceships much like deep-sea diving into old galleons, and focuses on a team of such "divers" checking out a mysterious wreck.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2139 comments I'll second Elizabeth Moon's books. Very good & add that Anderson had the Flandry series & some short stories about a spaceship trading Dutchman that were good.

The Ship Who Sang & its sequels by Anne McCaffrey were good. Brain ships, regular human pilot.

Larry Niven wrote a lot of great ones. The Mote in God's Eye & his other space stories & books were just as good. I recently listened to Protector & really enjoyed it.

You might also check out some of L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s SF books. I loved the The Forever Hero trilogy, The Parafaith War & his Ecologic books. The Ecologic Envoy is one.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Ship/Crew stories...the most famous ship and crew in all of SF is the good ship Enterprise and her crew...i prefer the orignial series, with Capt. Kirk...you can still get the TV shows on DVD and there are tons of Star Trek books out...keep in mind the books can be hit and miss as far as quality.


message 5: by jaw (last edited Jun 11, 2013 11:41AM) (new)

jaw | 12 comments G33z3r wrote: "jaw wrote: "Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds..."

I think this would fail the "I would prefer a good captain and a crew that likes each other" criteria, since it's about the crew dividing into two ..."


My preference isn't set in stone. The way you describe it makes it sound far more interesting than any description I've read about it.(view spoiler)

Jim wrote: "...You might also check out some of L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s SF books. I loved the The Forever Hero trilogy, The Parafaith War & his Ecologic books. The Ecologic Envoy is one. "

I didn't much care for Modestitt Jr.'s Recluse series. I read a few books into that but I'll add him to the list. I think I was just burnt out on that type of fantasy or the fantasy the first two books made it seem like it was.

Spooky1947 wrote: "Ship/Crew stories...the most famous ship and crew in all of SF is the good ship Enterprise and her crew...i prefer the orignial series, with Capt. Kirk...you can still get the TV shows on DVD and t..."

I had the entire original series on VHS (haha - what are those?) and have pretty much had my fill of Star Trek with the Orginal, Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Scott Bakula...

Though, I won't rule out Star Trek novels. Can you recommend any of the books that were a hit?

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys! I want my to read/considering list to become unmanageable. :D


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

If you can find a copy, Spock Must Die! by James Blish was a good one...he also did 13 books where he "novelized" the TV scripts of TOS...i also enjoyed Best Destiny by Daine Carey, Final Frontier, also by Carey, and The Kobayashi Maru by Julia Ecklar...all those were really good ones, and filled in quite a bit of back-story that stands up well. Also try the Star Trek Log series...(Log One, Log Two, ect) where Alan Dean Foster does for the "cartoon" series (and a good one) what Blish did for TOS.


message 7: by Conal (new)

Conal (conalo) | 26 comments Some nice recommendations so far. You might try some of these that I enjoyed.

The Antares series by Michael McCollum which starts with Antares Dawn or his Maker series which starts with Life Probe.

The Rissa and Tregare series by F.M. Busby which start with Young Rissa or Star Rebel


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

another ship/crew...see if you can find The Voyage of the Space Begial (spelling?) by a e van vogt...it was a "fix-up" novel...van vogt took 4 stories and linked them into a novel...if i rember right the first story in the series was Black Destroyer, published in Astounding in the late 30s and marked the begining of the "Golden Age" of SF...also the story inspired the Alien movie series...all that is from memory, if im wrong my face will be mighty red....


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2139 comments It's The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. van Vogt. I thought it was only 3 stories, although I wouldn't swear to it. The common thread is one scientist with a new discipline. Good book.


message 10: by Adam (new)

Adam Tritt (adam_tritt) | 6 comments I can recommend, as a sci-fi action and comic series, Phule's Company and Phule Me Twice by Robert Asprin.

Great ship-oriented sci-fi with a crew of misfits who come to each other's aide in extraordinary, and often hilarious, circumstances.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Phule series is a good one...i also recomend Robert Asprin's Myth series, i think the first was Another Fine Myth...this is a comic fantasy series, no ship but a fine crew.


message 12: by Nicolas (new)

Nicolas Wilson | 11 comments I've heard good things about Robert Asprin, Elizabeth Moon, and Modessit. From what my wife says, Apsrin is a quick read, very lighthearted... Somewhere between Douglas Adams, and serious sci-fi.


message 13: by L.L. (new)

L.L. Watkin (LLWatkin) | 12 comments I don't mean to be picky, but was the Phule series not set on a planet after his ship got taken away for misbehaviour? Not unlike the most recent Star Trek in fact.


message 14: by Bryce (last edited Jun 12, 2013 04:21PM) (new)

Bryce | 72 comments Robin Hobb has a trilogy called The Liveship Traders, these lean more into the Fantasy genre and less of the Sci-fi. However the books are quite interesting, and the Liveships come to being in a rather unique way, and there is plenty of high seas swashbuckling, and other such hijinx.


message 15: by Rustys29 (last edited Jan 23, 2015 09:37PM) (new)

Rustys29 | 1 comments Me, I kind of read lots of the Sci-fi genre and do enjoy the ship/crew type books, but really enjoy series.
Some of those that meet both are:
David Weber - Honor Harrington series + Safehold Series.
Elizabeth Moon - Vattas War series.
Jack Campbell - Lost Fleet series. Also has a few other good small series.
Lois McMaster Bujold - Vorkosigan Saga.
Stephen W Bennett - Koban series.
Christopher Nuttall - Ark Royal series.

On my To Read list this year are:
BV Larson - Star Force series
Peter F Hamilton - Commonwealth series.
James S.A. Corey - Expanse series.

A couple slightly off the ship/crew but very much worthwhile reading are:
EE Doc Smith - Lensman series. This guy started it for most.
John Ringo - Posleen Wars series.

My current read and one of my favorites is Ryk Brown and his continuing Frontiers Saga series A++


message 16: by Mary (last edited Jan 23, 2015 06:47AM) (new)

Mary Catelli | 679 comments Second the Lois McMaster Bujold and Jack Campbell recommendations. You may also like Campbell's earlier Paul Sinclair works, published under his real name John G. Hemry.


message 17: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 679 comments Other possibilities:

Endless Blue by Wen Spencer

Satan's World and Mirkheim by Poul Anderson -- probably better after the earlier David Falkyan short stories, but I don't know what the collections are titled now. Also After Doomsday.

Limbo System by Rick Cook


message 18: by Deeptanshu (new)

Deeptanshu | 120 comments I second Elizabeth Moon's Trading in Danger.
Also David Weber Honor Harrigton series is quite a good military sci fi. It starts off with On Basilisk Station.


message 19: by Fisch (new)

Fisch | 3 comments A couple I don't think were mentioned are...

David Drake-RCN: Lt. Leary series.
Jean Johnson-Theirs Not To Reason Why series.


message 20: by Silvana (last edited Oct 03, 2016 01:53AM) (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) I love this thread. Space crew novels are my favorite.

I would not recommend Honor Harrington series - unless you want super lengthy irrelevant info dumps in every scenes. But, to each his or her own.

The Expanse series are pretty amazing - that would be my first choice.

I have heard good things about Retribution Falls and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and from what I have read so far they are pretty great too.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Silvana wrote: "I have heard good things about Retribution Falls and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and from what I have read so far they are pretty great too..."

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was a very enjoyable spaceship crew tale from last year.

Aurora is an excellent story that follows a couple of characters on a generation ship that has to make some tough decisions.

Also from last couple of years, Saturn Run has a ship racing to Saturn to be the first to reach some presumed alien MacGuffin believed to be orbiting it; mostly hard SF until I actually get to the alien BDO.

Blindsight is another novel of a ship on a first contact mission, this one a little less friendly among the crew and light on hard SF.


message 23: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikekeating) | 242 comments Spooky1947 wrote: "If you can find a copy, Spock Must Die! by James Blish was a good one...he also did 13 books where he "novelized" the TV scripts of TOS...i also enjoyed Best Destiny by Daine Carey, Final Frontier,..."

I would completely ignore the Blish novelizations. He leaves out some scenes and story elements altogether and reduces others to characters taking a sentence or two to describe what happened in a later scene. (As an example, "Mirror, Mirror" contains no mention at all of Spock having a beard in the parallel universe in Blish's version, and it's an iconic part of the episode.) Some story elements disappear from the novelization of one episode to mysteriously show up in another. He needlessly changes episode titles. There's even some throwaway references to his own fiction, putting it in the same universe as Trek. Talk about hubris on that last bit. I think of his Trek work as the worst novelizations of any film or TV project ever.

Originally written Trek novels have had some total garbage but some really good ones. Some of these eventually got superseded by canon that came later.

The Entropy Effect by Vonda McIntyre
Imzadi by Peter David
The Final Reflection by John M. Ford. Some awesome worldbuilding and development of Klingon society before TNG took things in another direction.
How Much for Just the Planet? also by Ford. This one follows in the tradition of Trek's more humorous episodes. I consider it one of the funniest sci-fi novels I've ever read, tie-in or not.
Yesterday's Son and Time for Yesterday by A.C. Crispin. Longtime fan favorites. The latter book is a sequel so I recommend you read them in this order.
My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way by Diane Duane. Develops and fleshes out Romulan society like Ford did with the Klingons. Duane wrote three more books in her Romulan series but I haven't read those. She also developed the Vulcan culture some in Spock's World.


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