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Science Fiction Trouble Feature: 10 of the Best Sci-Fi Horror Books

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Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Science fiction and horror: two great tastes that taste great together! Genre mashups are a blast. (Not “pew-pew” blast, but “rollicking good time” blast.) And there are so many great sub-genres: dystopian fiction, medical experimentation, robots, space travel, aliens. Sometimes a few of those things at once. There’s so many great books to choose from. That’s why we’re shining a spotlight on some of the best sci-fi horror books of the last two years. So you get right down to reading about alien robots in space performing medical experimentations, or something similar that makes your brain happy. We got you, boo.

Frightening creatures, spaceship massacres, natural disasters — these are a few of the scary events that you’ll find in this list. And as it always happens when I write these posts that I have a perfect title to recommend, but it isn’t out yet. Curses! So I will shout it out here so you can mark it down on your TBR: The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown, out April 4, 2023. If you love a “scary things on spaceships” story like I do, you’ll want to read this the minute it’s available. As well as The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei, out July 18, 2023! I also loved this novel and it’s also a thriller aboard a spacecraft. But enough about upcoming books. Let’s get weird and scary with books you can get now!

cover of Full Immersion by Gemma Amor; swirly colored smoke against a black background

Full Immersion by Gemma Amor

These are three things that are upsetting: 1. Being dead. 2. Finding a body. 3. Not remembering anything. Now imagine they’re all occurring at once. That’s what happens to Magpie. She finds a dead body by the river, and it’s her. How is that possible? She doesn’t know, because she can’t remember what has happened or how she got there. She also doesn’t realize she’s being monitored as part of an experiment.

cover of Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes, featuring image of gloved space suit hand pushed up against the inside of a portal window

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

This is one of the best sci-fi space horror books to come along recently. It’s a little like Event Horizon meets Avenue Five. The crew of Claire Kovalik’s salvage ship are about to complete their last mission when they hit paydirt: they find the Aurora. The Aurora was a luxury space cruise liner that went missing two decades ago. Now it’s floating on the outer rim of explored space. Claire decides to check the ship out, because the money they can get from a famous ship could solve their problems. But even though the ship has been missing for 20 years, the horrors that occurred on board are still present.

cover of Leech by Hiron Ennes; image of a glass bottle full of black smoke that forms a castle

Leech by Hiron Ennes

So this is one of those books that the less you know, the better. It’s Gothic horror, but it’s also labeled as science fiction. What? Yep. But to explain why that is would spoil the story. So let’s just say it’s a horror novel set in a desolate chateau, involving doctors, a medical institute, and a very unusual narrator. Oh, and it’s weird and gross AF, and you should read it right now.

cover of Aurora by David Koepp; image of a hose in the dark under a sky full of stars

Aurora by David Koepp

Koepp’s last book, Cold Storage, was a horror novel about a biohazard with a body count, featuring a lethal alien species that escapes a military facility. This time, he’s using reality to frighten us. A giant solar flare could destroy our access to technology and electricity on the plane, and that’s just what happens in Aurora. In the world that follows such an incident, Aubrey Wheeler must guard her neighborhood against the very real violence that will follow in the new dystopian reality. All while trying to keep her ex-husband and criminals from her home.

cover of We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen; illustration of rock formations on an alien planet with a giant moon in the sky

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

Like many of the best science fiction novels, this one starts out with space exploration. The Deucalion has set out from Earth to investigate a possible habitable planet. Dr. Grace Park is the alternate psychologist aboard the ship. She’s mostly there to observe, since there’s already a doctor dealing with the crew. But then things start to go very, very wrong. Grace is left to try and manage the sessions of an increasingly erratic crew. Meanwhile the ships AI are also getting weirder, and Grace discovers there might be something hidden in the bowels of the ship that is causing all the problems.

cover of The Void Ascendant by Premee Mohamed; black and white swirls

The Void Ascendant by Premee Mohamed

This is one of two sequels I want to highlight on this list, because the whole series is so freaking good. So as not to spoil the first two books, I will give you a brief overview of the Beneath the Rising series. While trying to invent technology that will help the planet, humans instead create a device that awakens the Ancient Ones, who are not happy about being disturbed. At all. Now the human race must figure out a way to survive a whole new thing they didn’t know existed. It all concludes spectacularly in The Void Ascendant!

cover of Your Mind is a Terrible Thing; illustration of an outline of a person standing in front of a giant brain with tentacles

Your Mind is a Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper

First, I want to say how much I love this title. There’s the expression “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” And the Ministry album The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste. (Omg I am so old.) But this nails it: minds are terrible. Good grief, are brains trouble sometimes. And in this spacecraft horror novel, they’re going to cause people a lot of problems, when aliens figure out how to hack them like computers and turn people into their puppets.

cover of Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky; illustration of alien habitat of a sunny planet

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

More space horrors! It’s the future, and a demon is terrorizing a distant planet. The fourth daughter of the planet’s queen wants to try and save the planet’s people, since the rest of her family doesn’t seem to want to do it. She may not be able to do it alone, so she turns to the anthropologist from an Earth mission, who has been in a deep sleep for the last several years, waiting for new instructions. But demons were definitely not in the job description. It’s a little ancient horrors, a little fairy tale, and a whole lot of fun.

cover of The Legacy of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson; photo of a young Black woman in profile, with a young white woman in the background

The Legacy of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

This is the other series I wanted to mention because it’s so scary and gory, and such a great time. The Molly Southbourne series starts off with a young girl who has big problems. If Molly ever sheds a drop of blood, that blood turns into a new version of her — and it tries to murder her. As you can imagine, it’s hard to go through life without ever getting a scratch or a bloody nose, and Molly has to kill a LOT of versions of herself. But why is she like this? Where did she come from? And what’s going to happen when she gets the answers? Find out in this amazing conclusion, after you read the first two of course! And for a great space murder mystery, check out Thompson’s most recent book, Far from the Light of Heaven.

cover of Dead Space by Kali Wallace; image of an astronaut close up surrounded by a teal honeycomb pattern against a black background

Dead Space by Kali Wallace

And last but not least, a thrilling story about murder on a space station! Space suddenly feels a whole lot smaller when you’re sharing it with a killer. Hester Marley has a boring job as a security guard for a space mining company. Injuries sustained in a terrorist attack years earlier destroyed her grand dreams of space travel. Then she hears from an old friend who has new information about the attack. But before they can share it, he is murdered. Now Hester must figure out what he uncovered and who she can trust.

I want to give a special shout-out to my friend Emily Hughes, who is an expert in all things scary, and was happy to sit and talk scary sci-fi with me while I brainstormed this post. And for more great reads, check out 9 Sci-Fi Horror Books To Challenge and Scare You, 20 of the Best Genre-Blending Horror Novels, and 20 of the Best Science Fiction Books of All Time.