Best Alien and Outer Space Books

Alien figure

Alien and outer space books can range from science fiction to horror, but are typically about people dying—or being found dead—and those who are sent to uncover the mysteries behind the strange occurrences.

There are the completely original ones, however, like the Planet of the Supreme Predatory Octopus or Solaris, featuring an alien that is actually an ocean.

Whether you’re looking for something tried and true, or a novel that’s…well, novel, the genre is extensive enough to provide countless titles to suit your otherworldly needs. Here are some of the best alien and outer space books to read when you need an escape of light-year proportions.

 

The War of the Worlds (1897)

H.G. Wells

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

This is the book that alien stories are built on. To think that H.G. Wells was able to tell such a detailed story about Mars and alien invasion that was somewhat eerily accurate is outstanding enough.

But to top it off, Orson Welles turned it into a real-life horror when he broadcasted the tale via radio for all to hear. Panic ensued as the broadcast was presented as real news bulletins.

As for the book itself, it’s a fantastic Mars-attacks scenario wherein giant tripod-like monsters and other weird creatures kill or abduct everyone they see.

Tom Cruise is the star of the most recent adaptation of the movie (2008), so “book first, then movie” readers will enjoy comparing the two versions.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Alien (1979)

Alan Dean Foster

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

Rarely is a novelization of a film worthy of serious bookworms’ time, but Alien is a delightful exception.

The classic film’s storyline, adapted tirelessly in future films and books, is well-known and versatile: the unnerving notion that aliens could be hidden among our friends, coworkers…or even ourselves.

A team on board a spacecraft receives an SOS from a nearby planet. They go to help, but one of them is attacked.

They eventually make it back to the ship and head for home, unaware that the Alien has planted itself inside a crew member.

Most will remember the film’s iconic scene where the alien bursts out of his chest. Rest assured, it’s described quite brilliantly in the book, one of many reasons this novelization of a film is worth the read.

Find the hardcover on Amazon here.

 

Contagion (2018)

Erin Bowman

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

Although it may seem too similar to Alien to be worth the time, Contagion has many parts that are different and, as some dare to say, even better.

This might be due to it’s updated take on the plot elements of Alien. Or, possibly, it’s because Contagion feels like Alien and The Walking Dead got together and had a baby book.

The crew of a ship gets a distress call from another planet and they go to help, just like Alien. Where it differs, however, is that the crew discovers several dead bodies—and one “survivor,” who may or may not be infected by some dangerous, mysterious contagion.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

The Void (2012)

Brett J. Talley

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

A spaceship’s crew is kept in stasis to survive the voyage, but this deep sleep comes fraught with nightmares.

Literally: each of the six crew members have vividly terrifying nightmares during their stasis. Upon waking, they’re gripped with fear and declining mental stability, which worsen when they find an abandoned ship…and their dreams start coming true.

This is a fast-paced thrill ride that will keep you hanging on until the end.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Sphere (1997)

Michael Crichton

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

By the author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and Prey, Sphere guarantees thrills from the moment you pick it up.

Although the story takes place underwater rather than in space—which, honestly, almost makes it more terrifying—it is an alien ship at the bottom of the ocean.

A group of scientists, biologists, and other -ists are flown out to a ship and taken deep into the sea to examine a UFO that they want to open. They soon find out it was an American-made craft that was somehow sent back through time and space.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

The Martian (2011)

Andy Weir

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 10/10

Even if you caught the blockbuster adaptation starring Matt Damon, you won’t want to miss this standout novel from Andy Weir.

Firstly, as with most books-turned-movies, important and vivid details are lost between the page and big screen. This lends The Martian a richness even the movie, well-made as it was, can’t capture.

The story follows Mark Watney, a botanist left stranded on Mars after his crew mistakes him for dead. Watney survives the harsh environment by growing his own food, and burns hydrazine to provide water.

Knowing that there will be another team landing in four years, he prepares to meet the team when they land. But things never go as planned…especially in space.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Parasite (2016)

Darcy Coates

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 9/10

As you may guess from the title, Parasite operates on a similar idea as Alien (and countless other alien and outer space books): alien lifeforms are able to infiltrate their victim’s bodies, then pretend to be them.

In Parasite, the alien is able to use its host to infect countless others before anyone suspects a thing. It then goes on to wreck satellites and communication networks, wipe out earth’s defenses, and attempt to take over the world.

Never fear: like most alien novels, there are always survivors fighting to stop the alien and ensure humanity will prevail. Whether or not they succeed…well, that mystery is the fun of reading this genre.

Chilling and well-written, Parasite is a modern take on these classic alien tropes, and readers will enjoy every last page.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Obscura (2018)

Joe Hart

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 9/10

In a world where people suffer from mysterious dementia at all ages, one doctor is determined to find the cure after she loses her husband to the illness.

Further upping the ante? Now her daughter has dementia, as well.

The doctor is offered a trip with NASA to a space station so they can study an inflicted crew. However, the doctor soon finds herself suffering from the disease, and learns that it may be something from outer space causing the illness.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Event Horizon (1997)

Steven E. McDonald

Genre: Alien, horror, science fiction
Rating: 9/10

In 2039, a spaceship (Event Horizon) disappears. It is found seven years later, in orbit around Neptune. A team is then sent to find out what happened, only to find the crew was massacred.

The rescue ship becomes damaged, leaving the rescue crew stranded on the Event Horizon. Some of the crew become possessed by an alien entity and start killing off the others.

You’ll have to read the book (or watch the movie, if your TBR list is just a little too full) to see who, if anyone, survives the mayhem.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

Ender’s Game (1985)

Orson Scott Card

Genre: Alien, horror, military, science fiction
Rating: 9/10

Earth has been attacked twice by insect-like aliens known as “buggers.” Preparing for a third invasion, those on earth begin training children in combat to ensure humanity’s survival.

The story follows Ender, a young man who attacks and, unknowingly, murders a bully. Sensing promise in Ender similar to that of his sociopathic elder brother, the powers that be recruit him into Battle School in the hopes of training him to fight the buggers.

Isolated and forced to battle in intense simulations, Ender soon grows depressed, especially when he advances to Command School and is entrusted with more complex work. Eventually, he learns these training exercises aren’t quite what they seem.

Find it on Amazon here.

 

This is just a short list of some of the best alien and outer space books out there. The genre is vast and continues to grow, from thrillers to horrors, to YA, to apocalyptic or pandemic genre crossovers.

For more extraterrestrial entertainment, check out the best alien and outer space movies now streaming on major platforms, or curl up with these sci-fi or pandemic books for an endless supply of addictive page-turners.