Epic Adventures: Best Crew-centered Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted on July 11, 2024

by Amy H

Family is random, friends come and go, and lovers can be too needy. When crap gets real, your crew always has your back. You don’t always even need a ship (though a sentient one is mighty nice), but you do need trust, dedication, and most importantly, someone good at yelling, “Aw, Crap!! Here we go!!”

Book Jacket: All Systems Red

all systems red by Martha Wells

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied android -- a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as "Murderbot." Darkly humorous, scornful of humans (yet fascinated by movies and video series), and best friends with its sentient ship, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring exploratory mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth. First book in an excellent series, the audiobook narration is wonderful.

Book Jacket: Invictus

invictus by Ryan Graudin

Son of a time traveler from the 24th century and a first-century Roman gladiator, Farway's very existence defies the laws of nature. He longs to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for joining a black market, time-traveling crew that steal valuables from the past. During a routine heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl named Eliot who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Eliot has secrets-big ones-that will affect Far's life. Armed with the knowledge that history is not as steady as it seems, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to set things right before the clock runs out.

Book Jacket: The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet

the long way to a small, angry planet by Becky Chambers

First in a series. Rosemary Harper doesn't expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a chance to explore the galaxy, and most importantly, get some distance from her past. She's never met anyone remotely like the ship's diverse crew, and life is about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. The tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary's got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs - an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Book Jacket: Leviathan Wakes

leviathan wakes by James S. A. Corey

First in a series that was made into a fantastic streaming series. When Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.

Book Jacket: The Malevolent Seven

the malevolent seven by Sebastien De Castell

Real mages are nothing like the stereotypical bookish, amiable, floppy-hat types. Real war mages are violent, angry, dangerously broken people who sell their skills to the highest bidder and to hell with any moral or ethical considerations. At least, until such irritating concepts as friendship and the end of the world get in the way. Cade Ombra is a mercenary wonderist who just discovered the people he worked for weren't quite as noble as he'd thought. Now he's on the run and his only friend, a homicidal thunder mage, has invited Cade to join him on a suicide mission against the seven deadliest mages on the continent. Time to recruit some very bad people to help with this job . . .

Book Jacket: Meddling Kids

meddling kids by Edgar Cantero

SUMMER 1977: The Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster-another low-life fortune hunter trying to get rich. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids. 1990: The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final case that cannot be easily explained. Intrepid Andy is tired of running from her demons. To find answers, she will need Kerri, the one-time kid genius, now drinking her ghosts away with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their team leader . . . which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years. The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It’s their chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps…save the world.

Book Jacket: You Sexy Thing

you sexy thing by Cat Rambo

Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera. TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that's just how Niko Larsen, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it. Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance. But, some wars can't ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren't content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

Book Jacket: Pushing Ice

pushing ice by Alastair Reynolds

In 2057, Bella Lind and the crew of the Rockhopper mine comets for their ice, but when Janus, one of Saturn's ice moons inexplicably leaves its orbit and heads out of the solar system at high speed, Bella is assigned to follow it, unaware that the moon has some most unusual surprises in store.

Book Jacket: Chilling Effect

chilling effect by Valerie Valdes

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship's hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

Book Jacket: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

a big ship at the edge of the universe by Alex White

A crew of outcasts tries to find a legendary ship before it falls into the hands of those who would use it as a weapon in this science fiction adventure series for fans of The Expanse and Firefly. A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society are all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it's been destroyed, and some think it's only a legend, but one thing's for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long. . .

Book Jacket: Shards of Earth

shards of earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

After Earth was destroyed mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared. The war over, its heroes forgotten, Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him. He scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. Now, fifty years later, his crew has discovered something strange abandoned in space... something many would kill to obtain. It's clearly the work of the Architects-- but are they returning? And if so, why?

Book Jacket: Ancestral Night

ancestral night by Elizabeth Bear

Salvage operators Halmey Dz and Connla Kurucz roam space searching for lost human and alien vessels, but when they discover the truth about an alien species thought to have died out long ago, they risk sabotaging the fragile peace protecting humans.

Book Jacket: Cascade Failure

cascade failure by L. M. Sagas

There are only three real powers in the Spiral: the corporate power of the Trust versus the Union's labor's leverage. Between them the Guild tries to keep everyone's hands above the table. It ain't easy. Branded a Guild deserter, Jal "accidentally" lands a ride on a Guild ship. Helmed by an AI, with a ship's engineer/medic who doesn't see much of a difference between the two jobs, and a "don't make me shoot you" XO, the Guild crew of the Ambit is a little . . . different. They're also in over their heads. Responding to a distress call from an abandoned planet, they find a mass grave, and a live programmer who knows how it happened. The Trust has plans. This isn't the first dead planet, and it's not going to be the last. Unless the crew of the Ambit can stop it.

Book Jacket: Revenger

revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger is a rocket-fueled tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism. . . and of vengeance. . . Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest crew members of the legendary Captain Rackamore's ship, using their mysterious powers as Bone Readers to find clues about their next score. But there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen, in particular. The galaxy is filled with treasures. . . if you have the courage to find them.

Book Jacket: Saturn Run

saturn run by John Sandford

When a Caltech intern notices what seems to be a spaceship decelerating towards Saturn, a new space race begins as governments hurry to get their hands on the technology and the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond.

Book Jacket: Redshirts

redshirts by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on away missions alongside the starship’s famous senior officers. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that (1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and (3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs. Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Book Jacket: Six Wakes

six wakes by Mur Lafferty

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer -- before they kill again. It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died. Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently...

Book Jacket: Blindsight

blindsight by Peter Watts

CHANGE TO ISBN 9781250237484 Two months have past since a myriad of alien objects broke through Earth's atmosphere, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since-until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who should we send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder and a biologist so spliced with machinery that he can't feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust them with the fate of a world. They may be more alien than the thing they've been sent to find. . . .

Book Jacket: Dark Run

dark run by Mike Brooks

The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune, and adventurers travelling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job. And they never talk about their past-until now. Captain Ichabod Drift is being blackmailed. He has to deliver a special cargo to Earth, and no one can know they’re there. It’s what they call a dark run…And it may be their last.

Book Jacket: The Last Watch

the last watch by J. S. Dewes

The Divide. It's the edge of the universe. Now it's collapsing-and taking everyone and everything with it. At the Divide, Adequin Rake commands the Argus. She has no resources, no comms-nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted-the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military. Her ace in the hole could be Cavalon Mercer--genius, asshole, and exiled prince who nuked his grandfather's genetics facility for "reasons." They soon realize they are all that stands between humanity and annihilation.

Book Jacket: Terminal Alliance

terminal alliance by Jim C. Hines

The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. But they hadn't counted on a mutated plague wiping out half the human population, turning the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroying human civilization. Yeah, kind of your standard apocalypse. The Krakau's first impulse was to turn around and go home. (After all, it's hard to have diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.) Their second impulse was to try to fix us. Now, a century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they're no longer trying to eat everyone. Mostly.

Book Jacket: Stars Uncharted

stars uncharted by S. K. Dunstall

Captain Hammond Roystan is a simple cargo runner who has stumbled across the find of a lifetime: the Hassim, a disabled exploration ship--and its valuable record of unexplored worlds. His junior engineer, Josune Arriola is decked out in high-level bioware that belies her humble backstory. A renowned body-modification artist, Nika Rik Terri has run afoul of clients who will not take no for an answer. She has to flee off-world, and she is dragging along a rookie modder, who seems all too experienced in weapons and war . . .Together this mismatched crew will end up on one ship, hurtling through the lawless reaches of deep space with Roystan at the helm. Trailed by nefarious company men, they will race to find the most famous lost world of all--and riches beyond their wildest dreams . . .

Book Jacket: The Wreck of the River of Stars

the wreck of the river of stars by Michael Flynn

Their ship and skills rendered obsolete by a new technology, the misfit crew of the once-enviable luxury liner River of Stars plans one last glorious sail in the wake of a catastrophic engine failure.

Book Jacket: The Salvage Crew

the salvage crew by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

An AI overseer and a human crew arrive on a distant planet to salvage an ancient UN starship. The overseer is unhappy. The crew, well, they're certainly no A-team. Not even a C-team on the best of days. And worse? Urmahon Beta, the planet, is at the ass-end of nowhere. Everybody expects this to be a long, ugly, and thankless job. Then it all goes disastrously wrong. What they thought was an uninhabited backwater turns out to be anything but empty. Megafauna roam the land, a rival crew with some terrifyingly high-powered gear haunts the dig site, and a secret that will change humanity forever is waiting in the darkness. Stuck on this unmapped, hostile planet, lacking resources, and with tech built by the cheapest bidder, the salvage crew must engineer their way to payday . . . and beat Urmahon Beta before it kills them all.

Book Jacket: The Stars Too Fondly

the stars too fondly by Emily Hamilton

When they accidentally steal a spaceship, Cleo and her friends are soon en route to Proxima Centauri, and as they go deeper into space, the laws of physics start twisting, old mysteries come back to life and Cleo’s battle with the hologram of the ship’s missing captain turns into something desperate.

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