The Most Unique Books About Aliens

Are we alone in the universe? Or are there other civilizations out there, beyond the reach of our technology? This question has inspired countless movies, TV shows, and books. If you’re a reader and want a more unique take on the well-worn alien genre, check out these four:

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler

This trilogy is comprised of of the books Dawn, Adulthood Rights, and Imago. The story begins with a woman waking up in a cell, with vague memories of a nuclear war and the death of her husband and child. Over time, she’s visited by a voice, and then aliens, who are initially terrifying because of their appearance, but they seem kind. The truth about what happened to earth, what life will be like for humans in a new world, and what it means to be free is explored through the series.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

A shorter work, this novella won the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novella. It follows Binti, a young woman living in a world where humans have made contact with alien civilizations. She is taking off to study at an alien university, but soon meets less-than-friendly extraterrestrials. At less than 100 pages, it proves that the best writers can create vivid worlds with very few words. Binti has two sequels.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Faber chooses to divert his alien book from the usual lasers-and-danger and instead focus on religion, philosophy, and relationships. A missionary is sent to a new planet to preach to a group of aliens eager to learn about the Bible, which they refer to as “The Book of Strange New Things.” While he works, the missionary’s wife sends him messages revealing the fast degradation of earth and her wavering faith. Will their relationship hold?

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

The first in a trilogy, this fast-paced book stars Roen, a normal IT guy who suddenly finds himself hearing the voice of an ancient alien calling itself Tao. He’s part of an alien race that have been secretly living among humans for thousands of years. There’s also a civil war raging on, and one side wants to destroy humanity in order to finally leave earth. Tao might be used to mind-melding with humans (he once spoke to Napoleon, among others), but this is all new to Roen, who must now represent the peaceful faction in this war.