It’s a little late in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer season, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t all looking for the perfect reads to take our mind off the heat. Science fiction tends to be left off of most beach read recommendation lists, so I wanted to put together a list of fast-paced and page-turning science fiction books that make for perfect summer reads.
What is a Beach Read, anyway?
We’ve all heard the phrase, but have you ever actually thought about what beach read even means? I took to my best friend Google to find out… and of course there isn’t one easy answer.
“Generally, when most think of beach reads, they think of romances, thrillers and fiction featuring an emotional journey,” explained Suzanne Skyvara, the VP of editorial and marketing at Goodreads
The area nearly everyone seems to agree is that the book is easily digestible that aren’t necessarily deep (sorry Tolstoy). There’s a reason that most beach read lists out there are full of mysteries, thrillers, and romances: they’re not only fast-paced but also tend to resolve with happy endings. But what about the science fiction lovers? I’ve got you covered!
6 Sci-Fi Beach Reads
My criteria for a sci-fi beach read: exciting page turners with a fast pace. These are the books suck you in and keep you engaged in the sun or melting in your home, helping you forget the heat. Most of these recommendations are soft sci-fi in that they are focused more on the characters and aren’t necessarily full of futuristic technology, perfect for someone dipping their feet into the genre!
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
A reimagining of Indian epic Mahabharata, this trilogy brings to life a fantastical tale of capricious gods and destiny set among the stars.
This is a perfect read for someone uncomfortable with science fiction as it’s mostly limited to the setting (space) and the talking spaceship Titania. Very character-driven and fast-paced with rich worldbuilding. You can easily devour these three books!
Dustborn by Erin Bowman
Erin Bowman is one of my favorite midlist authors, and her recent Dustborn is a must-read for fans of Mad Max and and stories of humanity’s hopeful perseverance in the face of adversity.
Expertly plotted and paced, the book starts out running and never loses steam. Light on technology so this is a book that’ll appeal to a wide audience there isn’t a lot of worldbuilding beyond the setting (what happened to this planet), the beliefs of the Wastes (the stories passed down of gods and history), and the dangers of life in the Wastes (if the planet won’t kill you, the raiders probably will).
Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor
Tarnished Are the Stars is a beautiful science fiction debut with the characters at the heart of its tale. In the various kinds of love we experience as well as the different kinds of strength we all possess. I loved the world that Thor crafted and the steampunk elements, as well as the discussion of the positives and negatives of technology in a world destroyed by it. The question explored in this book is “are we as a species capable of learning from our mistakes, or are we doomed to repeat them?” and I loved Thor’s take on this central question in the genre.
This is book does have technology elements but is easily accessible and the characters are precious, okay?
Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove
If you’re like me and have been craving more Firefly without accepting the events of Serenity, the new Firefly books are for you!
The book contextually happens in the middle of the short-lived tv series, which means that some jobs and events from the eleven episodes are referenced, but the great thing is that a reader new to the Firefly franchise will not feel lost among references. Holder and Lovelace did an excellent job of including references for fans of the tv series without alienating an entirely new audience.
The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee
I’ll admit reading this duology during a worldwide pandemic may not be on the top of everyone’s list, but this is a book you should read eventually because it is so good.
The Fever King is an amazing debut fantasy/speculative fiction novel that takes place in the year 2123 in an alternate United States. I think for me the thing that stuck out the most about this was how incredibly authentic the speculative future was. In this 2123 new countries exist but there is still the same hatred and nationalistic rhetoric that we are experiencing today. Not to mention how creepily prophetic the book felt when I re-read it in 2020.
Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Fans of science fiction & horror crossovers need to add Pitch Dark onto their summer reading lists!
An excellent and fast-paced story that’s an excellent combination of the horror and sci-fi genres, Alameda delivers a page turning story about redemption and survival. The technology included is really interesting but doesn’t overtake the narrative either. The narrative builds tension and really delivers on the horror as well. If you like infection/mutation science fiction stories, I definitely recommend this book to you!
Well there you have it – a list of page turning and engaging science fiction stories that you can take to the beach with you! I feel so slumpy during the summer months because I find it difficult to get into a lot of science fiction and fantasy books when it’s hot outside. Hopefully this list helps some of you out!
💬 What is your definition of a “beach read”?
💬 Did I convince you to add any of these books to your TBR?
💬 What fast-paced and easily digestible sci-fi books do you recommend? What should I add to my TBR?