As a fan of sci-fi and romance, I love sci-fi romance books: an action-packed, fast-paced genre mash-up between the two.
Primed for big events, big settings, and love stories that are literally out of this world, sci-fi romance rules my heart for the simple fact that it has the potential to whisk me away into the thrill of the unknown. I love the idea that there can be someone out there for you, anyone out there, in the vastness of space.
If you’re new to the genre and you want to explore further, we’ve got a few recommendations. Without delay, here are five sci-fi romance novels that you should read if you’re just starting out.
1. The Rogue Queen Series by Jessie Mihalik
Heat Level: Hot
Love Interest: Galactic Emperor
The Rogue Queen is a sci-fi romance series I’ve mentioned before; specifically the first book, when I put together a list of the best role-reversal novels to check out.
That said, Rogue Queen Books 1 – 3 is also a great intro to this space-oriented subgenre. As such, I’m going to recommend the series in full.
In short, Rogue Queen is a fast-paced narrative where a pirate queen and a futuristic emperor navigate intergalactic politics, shoot down enemy ships, and fall in love. If you’re looking for an easy landing and a story that will give you a good overview of what to expect, then these are the books for you.
2. The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee
Heat Level: Sweet
Love Interest: Robot
This book was one of the first sci-fi novels I ever read. Although it’s an older story, it remains one of my favorites to this day.
The first novel in a series written by the legendary Tanith Lee, THE SILVER METAL LOVER follows Jane, a sixteen-year-old girl who lives a pampered life. Devoid of true affection from the people around her due to her status, Jane is desperate for a real, tangible connection.
She finds her chance in Silver, a robotic entertainer who is brought to a luxury party as a gift.
Hungry for the kind of unconditional love only a machine can give, Jane runs off with Silver and away from her opulent existence. Meanwhile, she grapples with the concept of consent and what it means to be human. Simultaneously, Silver begins to exert his own boundaries, too.
A small note of caution: It’s been more than a few years since I’ve read this novel, and my mind is fuzzy on the details. There may be missing content warnings attached.
3. Neon Gods by Katee Robert
Heat Level: Explicit
Love Interest: Hades
NEON GODS is an interesting inclusion for this list, in that it’s probably as soft on the sci-fi side of things as one can get. Despite this, I’m going to make the case that it still belongs as a sci-fi romance book.
Set in a high-tech, glittering, futuresque city, NEON GODS retells the tale of Hades and Persephone in a very explicit fashion. In this story, all inhabitants in the city are ruled over by Thirteen Houses that come with inherited titles. The Thirteenth House, overseen by Hades, is on the other side of the river, dividing the metropolis in half.
When Persephone is sold to Zeus in marriage in order to secure an alliance, she panics; the man is a modern-day Bluebeard, surrounded by a string of dead wives. Persephone knows that if she marries him, she’ll be next, so she runs away. Fleeing across the river, she runs into Hades. There, they strike a bargain to humiliate Zeus.
Extremely hot and heavy, NEON GODS is a recent release and a good starting point for the genre.
Content Warnings: Implied domestic abuse, implied off-page sexual assault, on-page dubious consent involving secondary characters.
4. Machinations by Hayley Stone
Heat Level: Sweet
Love Interest: Long-Lost Flame
MACHINATIONS is technically a sci-fi novel with a romantic subplot instead of a capital R romance. That said, it’s an easy way to dive deeper into the mash-up arena. It’s also one of my favorite sci-fi books that I’ve read this year.
The first in a series, MACHINATIONS follows Rhona: a resistance leader brought back from the dead during a robot rebellion. After she is revived, she discovers things are the same, but not quite. The reason for this? She’s a clone.
With her old memories intact, Rhona wants nothing more than to reintegrate into her previous life and rekindle her relationship with Camus: her second-in-command and erstwhile lover whose connection with her was tragically cut shut. Unfortunately for Rhona, Camus is still mourning her death, and he sees her as an imposter for the woman he loved. Amidst all this, the killer robots have come back for round two.
Heavy on the angst, but with a great conclusion, MACHINATIONS is perfect for anyone who reads a lot of sci-fi and wants to check out a romance novel instead.
That said: I haven’t read the rest of the series, so I can’t speak to its final HEA.
5. Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
Heat Level: Sweet
Love Interest: Astronaut
Last on this list for space-bound love stories, I’m going to recommend FLUENCY. Like MACHINATIONS, this book is the first in a series and technically a sci-fi with a romantic subplot. However, it’s a great intro for this genre, to see if it’s for you.
Set in the near future when humanity has discovered a derelict alien ship floating in the asteroid belt, FLUENCY follows Dr. Jane Holloway: a brilliant linguist who is abruptly recruited for a mission to decipher the language on board the ship. The person to recruit her is a hotshot astronaut whom she initially clashes with. Over the course of their adventure into the alien vessel, however, they grow close.
I really loved this novel for its plot and its pacing, and how it wove together elements of horror and sci-fi and romance. That said, it ends in a cliffhanger due to its series status.
Find a Love Story That Is Out of This World
The sci-fi romance genre is as vast and endless as the space it’s set in: full of niche tropes, high-flying love interests, and scenarios that explore the limits of the human mind.
If you’re looking to read more in this genre, then check out this space-themed addition for trope rec Tuesday.