Dan Simmons has attracted a loyal following with his Hyperion Cantos series. The space opera spans four novels and features many of the characteristics fans of the sub-genre of science fiction have come to love: dramatic storylines featuring romances and heroism, galactic wars, and time travel, all set against the backdrop of outer space.
The series focuses mainly on the planet of Hyperion, which is just one of the planets that humans now inhabit. On that planet are the Time Tombs, which are protected by the Shrike, a creature that has attracted a cultish fascination, inspiring ill-fated pilgrimages to see it.
Under the Hegemony government, a former council member has been told he must join a pilgrimage to the Shrike. Along with several others who ultimately recount their stories of how they are connected to the creature, the counsel sets off on a dangerous journey through space.
Simmons’s series has attracted praise for its intense world-building, and his skillful allusions to other authors’ works. The structure of the novels is based on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, as each member of the cast tells their own story.
If you love a great space opera and are searching for read-alikes to Hyperion, read on! We’ve rounded up the 20 best books and series that will satisfy your craving for more books like the Hyperion Cantos series.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
For a modern-day classic space opera, pick up the Ender’s Game series. The series begins with the title book, in which Ender, who has been genetically altered and trained to play simulated war games, is called upon to save the Earth from the aliens called Buggers.
Add to that heavy burden the fact that his power-hungry brothers are also plotting against him, and this makes for a highly compelling, action-packed space opera.
Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
For a highly compulsive, action-packed space opera that focuses on an anti-hero, try out the Sun Eater series, which begins with Empire of Silence.
Hadrian Marlowe finds himself fighting a war that he never intended to be a part of. A man who is both considered a hero and evokes fear, he is well-known for his past accomplishments and failures. After defeating aliens, unexpectedly killing four billion humans, and escaping his dismal future, he is forced to fight as a gladiator.
Follow along as Hadrian catapults through galaxies, attempting to create peace and settle the score with his enemies.
Salvation Sequence by Peter F. Hamilton
Fans of Peter F. Hamilton are loyal and vocal in expressing their admiration for this science fiction writer. Set in another galaxy with superb world-building by the author, the Salvation series focuses on the Connexion Corp, which is connected by time-travel portals.
When an alien spaceship is discovered on a planet with mysterious cargo aboard, a crew is called to explore. Readers are catapulted through space and time as they are introduced to the major players of the galaxy.
Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft
While technically falling under the genre of Steampunk, Bancroft’s series has garnered lots of praise from readers for being a great read-alike to space operas. In the first installment, Senlin Ascends, readers are introduced to the Tower of Babel.
Within the exquisite and ancient structure are different Ringdoms, which are each intensely different from each other. When the main character, Thomas Senlin, arrives at the Tower of Babel for his honeymoon, he becomes separated from his wife and must journey through each layer of the Tower on his quest to find her.
The series captures the expanse and drama that space operas are known for. Pick this series up if you’re looking for familiarity mixed with a daring sense of adventure.
Dune Novels by Frank Herbert
Chances are you’ve heard of the Dune series, since there’s a hit movie that’s based on them starring Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet.
Set on Arrakis, the series follows main character Paul Atreides, whose family is stewards of the planet. The scrappy but noble family has a heavy job to do, as their planet is known throughout the galaxy for producing the addictive spice melange.
When the Atreides family must ally with the Freman, Paul is thrust into action and eventually transforms into Muad’Dib. A fascinating series that has won over legions of fans, these books are not to be missed.
The Lensman Series by E.E. “Doc” Smith
The first in The Lensman series, Triplanetary occurs billions of years in the past, as two ancient civilizations battle over their influence on Earth. The Ariasians and the Eddore and incredibly different from each other, and the Ariasians attempt to prevent the evil Eddore from gaining power. The following books introduce the Galactic Patrol and the Lens that give its wearer certain powers.
The 6 books in the series capture intergalactic warfare and cover centuries and are considered to be one of the best series of all time.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
For an action-packed space war series, pick up Haldeman’s The Forever War series, which focuses on Private William Mandela. The private has been sent on a journey light years away to fight against opposing alien forces.
As he risks his life in the galaxy, his chances of returning home present challenges, as he’s aging slower than the earth. For a fast-paced, action-packed space opera adventure, this is the perfect book to add to your TBR after reading Hyperion Cantos.
The Expanse by James S.A. Corey
As the first book in the Expanse Series, Leviathan Wakes will draw you into its interstellar world. Set in the future, when the solar system is inhabited by humans, the Earth and Martian Navy are at war with each other.
Complete with warships attacking warships, a mystery of an empty ship, and a missing young woman, who is the daughter of a powerful family, this series is addictive. Prepare to hurtle through space with these books.
The Inhibitor Trilogy by Alastair Reynolds
For fans of space operas that enjoy surprising plot lines, pick up Revelation Space, the first in The Inhibitor Trilogy. This space-opera series is a breathtaking convergence of three stories that at first, have nothing to do with each other.
Readers meet archaeologist Dan Sylveste, who is working on studying the Amarantin race from the Resurgam planet hundreds of years in the future. Ilia Volyova is searching for Sylveste, and is aboard a spaceship whose captain is plagued with a plague. They hope the archaeologist can help cure him. Ana Khourin is also on the search for Sylveste, but her purpose is to kill him.
As the three stories converge, readers will be driven to read each book in the series. Be sure to have all on hand so you can binge on this one!
The Commonwealth Saga Peter F. Hamilton
It’s no surprise that Peter F. Hamilton appears on this list twice, since the author is a giant in the space-opera genre.
The setting of this series is 300 years in the future, when The Intersolar Commonwealth has connected stars by wormholes, which allow transportation to various worlds. Trouble brews when Dudley Bose, an astronomer, notices that stars are disappearing. Could it be that aliens are using technology to alter the universe?
If you enjoy space operas with intergalactic travel and aliens, this is the perfect series for you!
Culture Series by Iain M. Banks
Author Iain M. Banks has amassed a loyal following of readers who wax poetic about his incredible writing. His novel, Consider Plebas, is the first in the 10-book Culture series, and introduces readers to a futuristic society in which aliens and humans coexist.
An ages-old battle has been waged between two civilizations, each fighting for their own beliefs and ways of life. When an AI called The Mind, becomes trapped on the Planet of the Dead, the opposing sides attempt to search for it. But when the Changer finds it, who belongs to neither of the civilizations, destruction occurs and sets the space opera into motion.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
John Scalzi’s premise for Old Man’s War is fascinating: in a futuristic society where humans have settled on various planets, retirees are recruited to the Colonial Defense Force to fight against aliens for space on planets.
When John Perry turns 75, he signs up for the CDF, with the hope of surviving his brief stint in the special forces and earning a parcel of land on another planet. As he travels into space to serve his enlistment, readers join him on the journey.
The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
Perhaps one of the few space operas that are told from a female’s point of view, the first book in this saga, Shards of Honour, focuses on Cordelia Naismith. When she and her crew are attacked by members of the Barrayan ship, she is taken prisoner.
As she falls for her captor, Aral Vorkosigan, the commander of the ship, readers are brought on their adventures through space. The first in a 16-book series, readers will meet several characters along the way as they journey through space.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
This fascinating trilogy by Tchaikovsky begins with the first installment, in which survivors of Earth are searching for another planet to colonize. When they come across a planet that has been terraformed and is able to support human life, they occupy it.
But as they settle in, the refugees begin to realize that all is not as it seems, and they must battle another civilization for their own survival. The first in a trilogy, this riveting premise will compel you to tear through its pages.
Transformations Series by Neal L. Asher
The first book in the Transformation Series, Dark Intelligence focuses on Thorvald Spear, who wakes up after having died 100 years earlier. He seeks vengeance on the AI named Penny Royal who destroyed him just as he had almost been rescued from an enemy planet.
He hires Isobel Satomi, who paid Penny Royal to make her partially AI; during the process though, she has been taken over by dark forces and has ulterior motives. As the two search for Penny Royal to exact revenge, Isobel threatens to turn on Thorvald and send his plans spinning out of control.
Jack Foster Space Opera by John Hindmarsh
A fresh take on space operas, Violent Graduation, the first book in the new series, focuses on Jack Foster, who is about to graduate from the Royal Space Navy Academy. When a sniper attempts to snuff out his life, he realizes what danger he’s in.
While aboard a ship during his final task pre-graduation, it collides with an alien spaceship, sending Jack and his girlfriend into survival mode as they are the only survivors. Fans love this addictive, thrilling space opera.
Shamans and Shifters Space Opera by Jenny Schwartz
If you’re searching for a space opera with some romantic tension, Jenny Schwartz’s series is perfect for you. When humans evacuated Earth centuries ago, shifters lost their ability to transform, remaining trapped in their human form.
Jaya is set on healing these shapeshifters, while also guiding her employer’s through different wormholes based on her knowledge of the energy flows of the universe. Yet her plans go awry when she is abducted by bounty hunter Vulf, who has his own agenda.
The Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee
In this recently published series, Yoon Ha Lee focuses her first installment, Ninefox Gambit, on a female protagonist who is fighting for her reputation. When Captain Kel Cheris is given a chance to redeem herself, after questionable choices in a battle she led against the heretics, she must pair up with war legend Shuos Jedao.
Despite his tactical skills, Jedae has a questionable past himself: years ago he massacred two armies, one being his own. Can Captain Kel Cheris and Jedao join forces to retake the Fortress of Needles, or will Jedao become a danger to Cheris?
Castle Federation by Glynn Stewart
Welcome to the Terran Commonwealth, a futuristic society whose goal is to conquer the far reaches of space. In the primary work, Avalon, readers are introduced to Kyle Roberts, who is promoted throughout the military regime.
Kyle is on the Avalon warship as it makes its way through space on its farewell tour. While it’s meant to be a peaceful and grand exit for the most decorated and oldest warship of the fleet, pirates and dangerous encounters make it anything but.
The Interdependency Series by John Scalzi
If you read and enjoyed Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, which was an earlier recommendation on this list, do yourself a favor and pick up the Interdependency series. This fresh take on a soap opera will leave you entranced and devouring more of Scalzi’s work.
In the future, The Flow is discovered; this extra-dimensional field allows humans to be transported to other worlds. As its name suggests, The Flow is constantly changing, and often leaves outposts without a connection to others. When it begins changing faster than expected, three individuals are tasked with determining if and how their civilization can be saved.
What are space operas?
Space operas fall in the genre of science fiction; characteristics of this sub-genre include settings in space, warfare, and melodramatic elements including romance.
How many books are in the Hyperion Cantos series?
There are 4 books in the series.
What other books has Dan Simmons written?
Simmons has written several novels and short stories, including Song of Kali, Carrion Comfort, and Omega Canyon
What series are like Hyperion Cantos?
There are several soap operas that have been compared to Hyperion Cantos, including Salvation Sequence, Castle Federation, and The Inhibitor Trilogy.
What’s considered to be the first space opera?
The Skylark of Space, written by Doc Smith, is considered to be the first space opera.