Want to immerse yourself in new worlds? Below you’ll find 20 of the best sci-fi books like Project Hail Mary to help you escape reality.
Andy Weir’s books typically uncover stories within space, and Project Hail Mary is no different. It follows protagonist Ryland Grace who is a standard junior-high school teacher specializing in science.
He wakes up on a spaceship, suffering from temporary amnesia, and cannot remember why he is in space or what he is supposed to do. Alone, scared, and confused, Ryland must patch together the fragments of memories he has left and when he realizes he is the last hope for humanity’s survival, he must carry out the most important and the most difficult task ever given. He quite literally has to save the world all while trying to manage his own mind.
Weir brings yet another astonishing sci-fi novel to his loyal fanbase, intertwining the mental strength Ryland needs to battle amnesia and isolation with the pressure of the ever-important task. Saving humanity is hard enough as it is – throw in a man battling amnesia all alone and that’s a totally different story.
Weir’s most recent novel lives up to the expectation created by his other explosive books and will keep the reader fascinated, enthralled, and quickly turning pages.
If you have read and love Project Hail Mary or any of Weir’s other masterpieces, you will most likely enjoy the recommendations on this list. It encapsulates some of the most celebrated sci-fi novels ever written while also paying homage to the more overlooked, niche novels that deserve more recognition.
Whatever your reading preference, there’s something for everyone on this list, so here are the 20 best sci-fi books like Project Hail Mary to help immerse you in another world.
A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
One of the most famous and well-read books in the sci-fi genre is Clarke’s A Space Odyssey. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard of it. The basic plotline follows an alien species that uses a ‘monolith’ to discover information about other worlds across the universe.
This runs alongside human characters, who are sent to space to investigate a mysterious electromagnetic disturbance found. The group encounters numerous issues with their spacecraft, discovers new things about their planet and each other, and must stick together when personal issues arise – but will their path intercept with the aliens?
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Often known as the ‘Father of Sci-Fi’, be sure that you’re in safe hands when reading this author’s work.
Unlike Project Hail Mary and A Space Odyssey, The War of the Worlds is not directly set in space, but rather unravels the events that follow after Martians land on Earth and take over.
This novel, originally released in 1898, dives into the personal destruction of many lives and goes into depth about the terror experienced by so many during the invasion.
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Set in the distant future, Earth is invaded by a giant alien species called ‘Bugs’. Their intention is to wipe out the Earth’s population and take the planet for themselves.
Although Starship Troopers is a sci-fi classic and has been read and loved by so many fans over the years, the novel series has been critcized in recent years for its politically charged metaphors and its advocation of fascism and arguably racist portrayals.
Because of this, the novel series has struggled to be adapted into a film or television series and remains one of the few sci-fi classics without an adaptation to go with it.
The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
The Foundation series has been widely celebrated across the world as one of the most significant sci-fi stories of all time. It has recently been made into a series adaptation by Apple TV+, which stars Lou Llobell, Lee Pace, and Jared Harris.
The story follows the Galactic Empire that has been ruled supreme for the past 12,000 years but is now failing. Psychohistorian Hari Seldon can see into the distant future and warns that a movement must begin to preserve humankind. Journeys across the galaxy provide inspiration and hope for this Empire and only on the Foundation will they find their answers.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’Engle
If you’ve watched the movie Interstellar, this book is for you.
When a mysterious creature appears at their door one dark night, Meg and Charles Wallace learn about time travel and ‘tesseracts’ which, according to this stranger, is a wrinkle in time.
Searching through space and time for their lost father who disappeared after experimenting with time travel, Meg and Charles must outsmart everything that is thrown on their path to find their missing dad.
A Wrinkle in Time utilizes scientific principles, fantasy, and emotional relationships to tell this brilliant story that will have you turning pages as quickly as possible.
Dune by Frank Herbert
This novel series and subsequent film series has taken over the sci-fi scene recently since the release of the latest film adaptation featuring Timotheé Chalamet and Zendaya.
Dune follows the story of a young man who has a destiny that stretches beyond his comprehension. He is responsible for the future of his people and must travel to the notoriously dangerous planet in search of answers.
Although these books are highly rated and contain fantastic stories, each novel is very long, so if you have a shorter attention span, maybe miss this one out.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel
This New York Times best-seller is a story of time travel, art, love, and disease that transport the reader from 1912 Vancouver Island to a futuristic colony on the moon 500 years after.
Sea of Tranquility is not your usual sci-fi book, interpolating strong themes that belong to other genres – romance, thriller, historical fiction. But as the novel progresses and it begins toying with time and space, it blossoms into one of the most well-told sci-fi stories in history.
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
Founded in the very real and topical setting of a Chinese cultural revolution, one military project is tasked with trying to make contact with aliens. What begins as an innovative plan and arguable last resort, soon turns into a disaster.
The aliens take this opportunity to exploit human vulnerability and invade the planet, bringing an already turbulent society to the brink of collapse.
The Three-Body Problem is part of a trilogy that has won various awards and sold millions of copies worldwide.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Cloud Cuckoo Land is a story of connection – to one another, to oneself, and to other species. The novel toys with time and centers around a Greek myth that’s tale holds the answers to many questions and transports the reader between time and space.
This novel is written by a well-established and decorated author and has reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list nearly 20 times.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Upon the attack of an alien species called the Formics, Earth retaliates using a forceful military program in which talented adolescents are trained for victory.
This story follows outcast Ender Wiggin, a highly skilled genius that stands out amongst the other trainees. His superior Mazer Rackham decides to take Ender on as a protege and personally train him up for war.
Ender’s Game was made into a film in 2013, featuring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield, which has since drawn viewers to the original novel.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Seveneves is a novel by a #1 New York Times best-selling author that follows the catastrophic end of the world.
When it is discovered that the world will inevitably come to an abrupt end, enemies, nations, and races must come together to devise a solution. There is, however, only one answer – they must find a new world to populate.
As this storyline merges with one set 5000 years after, Stephenson sets his readers on a journey through time and space, combining technology, science, and psychology to create one of the most visionary pieces of fiction in its decade.
Shards of the Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
To protect the survival of mankind, another species was created, an enhanced species of humans. Idris is one and after Earth was destroyed he was tasked with communicating with the alien enemy.
50 years later, secrets begin emerging and new discoveries are found. Idris and others alike must search abandoned space for answers while running from those who hunt them.
Shards of Earth blends standard space fiction with fantastical species and hyperintelligence to create an enthralling sci-fi novel.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch
This New York Times best-seller follows an ordinary man who is genetically upgraded, with the aim to save humanity.
Following the same ‘save the world’ trope as Project Hail Mary, this book takes a technological approach rather than an astronomical one. With scientifically accurate references throughout, Upgrade is a scary insight into what humanity’s future may look like.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
This innovative novel is set sometime in the future and follows the development of artificial intelligence. Josie, a young girl, chooses Klara, an ‘Artificial Friend’ as her close companion, and the novel is interestingly written from Klara’s perspective.
Insightful, scarily accurate, and cleverly written, Klara and the Sun brings a new perspective to the ever-evolving field of artificial intelligence.
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
This novel, written in 2000 is the first of Reynolds’ series set in his eponymous universe. With a PhD in Astronomy, Reynolds is able to bring his fictional universe to life through real science.
Revelation Space is the story that tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to the Amarantin species, which has been extinct for 900,000 years. This project is led by our narrator, xenoarchaeologist Dan Sylveste.
One Way by S.J. Morden
Frank is a murderer and is 8 years into his life sentence. He and eight other inmates have been given the opportunity to complete a mission on Mars under the impression that they’ll receive a better life at the end of it.
But upon arriving on the red, dusty planet, accidents begin happening left, right, and center which provokes them to think – are these accidents? Or was this all a trap?
One Way is a sci-fi thriller bound to keep you guessing until the very end.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Loosely based on the structure of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, this interesting sci-fi novel features 7 people on a quest to save humanity.
Hyperion incorporates fantasy, science, loss, and psychology. It can be difficult to follow, flicking between many timelines simultaneously but it’s worth the read!
Leviathan Wakes by James Corey
This enthralling sci-fi book is set after mankind migrates into space. With a population on the brink of collapse, the revelation of hidden secrets throws everything further askew.
A ship’s captain and a detective find clues for a case involving a missing girl, which uncovers some of the ugly truths capable of provoking a civil war in our solar system.
Leviathan Wakes is the perfect mixture of sci-fi, mystery, and suspense. It is an award-winning classic for good reason!
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
All Systems Red is the first novel in Martha Wells’ Murderbot series. It is set in the future, on an interplanetary system fully controlled by one company. Murderbot is tasked with protecting humans from planetary turmoil and alien species.
Startide Rising by David Brin
Startide Rising is a complicated story but it’s worth the hype! Set in 2489 C.E., it focuses on one spaceship holding 7 humans, 1 uplifted chimpanzee, and 150 uplifted dolphins. The story starts as they discover a cluster of 50,000 spaceships.
Whatever you’re looking for in the sci-fi genre, this list can provide you with some fantastic recommendations. Whether you prefer whacky, fantastical stories or futuristic, scientifically accurate novels, there’s something here for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Project Hail Mary worth the hype?
It really depends on what genre you enjoy reading, but if you’re a sci-fi fan, this is an absolutely astonishing read. Having received awards and a wide range of positive reviews since its release in 2021, this is a must-read book for sci-fi fans.
Is Project Hail Mary a religious book?
No. The book’s only reference to religion is the spaceship’s name, Project Hail Mary, and that’s more of a reference to a last-ditch effort of humanity to survive, rather than anything religious.
Is Andy Weir writing more books?
He has not announced any upcoming books since his most recent release in 2021.
What does Sci-Fi mean?
Sci-Fi is short for Science Fiction and it is a sub-category of fantasy that refers to any book or film that involves scientific principles as the story’s base. This could be technology, the laws of physics, space, or chemistry.
Does Sci-Fi have to be scientifically accurate?
Not always – sci-fi is a branch of fantasy, so readers and viewers aren’t expecting realism. However, some of the plots in sci-fi stories are based on scientific fact, so although the plotlines may verge off in fantastical directions, the foundational principle can still be rooted in scientific logic.