Top 5 underrated sci-fi novels

From lesser-known books by famous authors to a Star Wars backstory, Tom Merritt counts down his top five most underrated science-fiction novels.

5 of the most underrated sci-fi novels Tom Merritt counts down the top 5 most underrated sci-fi novels.

When you're looking for a good sci-fi book, you don't need to be told the classics. Dune, Foundation, Neuromancer—you already know those, and most likely you've even read them. What I love is when someone tells me about a book they loved that I've never even heard of! So with a small hope that maybe you could find a couple gems here, here are my top five underrated science-fiction books.

1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: Fans of Star Trek and Firefly often claim they are good because you love everyone in the crew. I love everyone on the Wayfarer. Even Corbin.

2. Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson: An author best known for steampunk paranormal romance kills it telling a compelling backstory for one of Star Wars' most underutilized movie characters. Not only will Captain Phasma make more sense after you read this, but you get an amazing story of a postapocalyptic society.

3. After On by Rob Reid: If you've read tech news for the past 5-10 years, you must read this book. Superintelligence, quantum computing, and biohacking are just the base of modern trends that form a fun adventure as a Silicon Valley startup tries to convince a budding AI that she can trust them.

4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest: Steampunk zombies in a fictional Seattle. It makes Amazon and Microsoft's troubles look like a walk in the park—or a bicycle in the park, maybe.

5. Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick: You think you know Philip K. Dick because you've seen Total Recall, Blade Runner, and Minority Report, right? I submit that you don't really know Philip K. Dick until you read this book set on a planet that is also a mental institution where clans have arisen centered around their diagnosis. It features a slime mold named Lord Running Clam.

For 21 more sci-fi reading suggestions, check out my list of the top 26 most underrated science-fiction books.

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By Tom Merritt

Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, coverin...