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The Best Space Opera Novels

Space opera is the science fiction version for chivalric romance and warfare. If you enjoyed Dune by Frank Herbert and Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, you need to check out these other notable titles in the space opera sub-genre.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The first installment of the Hyperion Cantos features different characters across multiple timelines. It is set in the 27th century when the humans have mastered most of the planets in the galaxy using instantaneous travel.

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
The novel is told from three perspectives that later merge into one story as the story progresses. The novel introduces the characters Dan Sylvests, Ilia Volyova, and Ana Khouri.

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
This novel has everything you’d expect from space opera: space wars, aliens, superhuman intelligence, physics, and love and intrigue. The book introduces the idea of a galaxy divided into four zones.

Ringworld by Larry Niven
The novel is an expanded story taken from Larry Niven’s Known Space series and is set in 2850 AD on Earth. It features Louis Gridley Wu who was invited to an expedition beyond the Known Space.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
Set against the Idiran-Culture War, the story is told from the point-of-view of Bora Horza Gobuchul, a changer and Idiran Empire operative.

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
This collaboration explores the possibilities of the first contact between the human race and an alien species. The novel is set in Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominium where humans have just recovered from a civil war.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
The first book in the series of the same name, it tells the story of John Perry and his work with the Colonial Defense Forces. Perry is exposed to the wonders and the horrors of colonization.

Gateway by Frederik Pohl
The first installment of the HeeChee series, it introduces the space station Gateway, which was built within an asteroid and constructed by an extinct alien race.

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson
Based on one of Poul Anderson’s earlier short stories, it chronicles the trip of a colonization starship which was destined for a faraway star system. The ship, however, failed to decelerate and continued its journey far beyond its destination.

The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison
The book introduces space captain John Truck who transports drugs during his spare time. It is set in a corrupt and stagnant world where Truck is hunted because of his origins.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The first title in the Imperial Radch series as well as the author’s debut novel, it features a sole survivor of a starship that has been betrayed by its A.I.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Set in the future when humans have explored and claimed most of the Solar System, it highlights the conflict between the alliance of superpowers and the marginalized Belters of the Asteroid Belt.