30 Best Space Opera Books (2020) Review

Space Opera is a thrilling genre to read about as it is among the favorite sub-genres of all science fiction lovers and enthusiasts. The Space Opera genre offers reading material about stories that are always set in space or at least a huge portion of the story goes on in outer space. This can include large and astonishing battles, space exploration filled with unexplainable and strange things, awesome tech, large ships, and so on.

Be sure to check out our best space opera books list if you wish to find some of the top picks in this genre.

Best Space Opera Books

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Photo Title Rating Length Buy
Dune 8.46/10 688 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Hyperion 8.48/10 482 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Pandora's Star 8.48/10 768 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Old Man's War 8.46/10 332 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Leviathan Wakes 8.52/10 561 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Forever War 8.30/10 278 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Photo Title Rating Length Buy
On Basilisk Station 8.26/10 458 Pages Check Price On Amazon
A Fire Upon The Deep 8.28/10 613 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Photo Title Rating Length Buy
Gateway 8.14/10 278 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Ancillary Justice 7.96/10 386 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Foundation 8.34/10 244 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Dauntless 7.90/10 293 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Reality Dysfunction 8.28/10 1223 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Shards of Honor 8.22/10 313 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Photo Title Rating Length Buy
Redshirts 7.70/10 320 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet 8.30/10 518 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress 8.34/10 288 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Ender's Game 8.60/10 324 Pages Check Price On Amazon
The Stars My Destination 8.22/10 258 Pages Check Price On Amazon
Pushing Ice 8.10/10 458 Pages Check Price On Amazon

Dune Book Series by Frank Herbert

 

The Dune book series will have the pleasure of starting off our review of a few of the top space opera books out there and this book tells you an amazing adventure story about a character who lives on the planet called Arrakis. Learn more about the series in our selection of the best science fiction book series or the best science fiction books ever.

The main character who will be taking you on the amazing journey that follows is called Paul Atreides and his whole life is about to change after he and his family are betrayed.

After this event, Paul begins his difficult journey which will teach him so much and transform him into a mysterious person who will be known as Muad’Dib. You get to read the thrilling story of how this person overcomes all and obtains such a power that no person was ever meant to wield. We covered the first book of the series in our articles about the top classic science fiction books and the best science fiction fantasy books.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

 

In this story, the events that you will be reading about take place in a distant world called Hyperion and you are about to discover what strange things can be found here. One of those things is the civilization of inhabitants called Hegemony of Man but an even stranger and deadlier thing is present on this planet.

There is a creature known as the Shrike and this beast has managed to obtain influence over almost everyone on the planet. For more information, take a look at our article about the top science fiction book series.

Some of the people worship it, others fear it strongly so they stay as far away as possible, and the last want to destroy it once and for all as they are tired from living in fear. The story only gets more exciting from there as you find out just how scary this beast is. We also covered the book in our selection of the best sci-fi fantasy books. Make sure to check it out!

Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton

 

The third book in our article about the best space opera books is another thrilling one that takes place in a sphere of stars far into space in the year 2380. The place where everything happens includes a sphere of these worlds that is somewhere around four hundred light-years in diameter and is home to 600 worlds.

The plot revolves mostly around what is about to happen next. A scientist observes that a star near to them just simply vanishes in an instant and no one is sure how this can be possible.

The location where this happens is not very far but it is still too far to reach by one of their wormholes so Wilson Kime, an ex-NASA pilot is put in command to go there and observe what just happened to that star. A lot more will come out of this story after he starts his adventure. Learn more about this amazing book in our review of the best hard sci-fi books.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

 

Be prepared to witness the impossible in this thrilling space opera book as the main character of the story will definitely surprise you. This book can be also found on our list of the top military science fiction books.

John Perry is the protagonist of this book and he is about to join the military to make a difference in the long interstellar war that has been going on in space between humans and a dangerous race of aliens.

All of that is fine as you can guess but there’s just one thing, this man just turned 75 years old and this army actually prefers old dudes for soldiers as their experience in life is definitely needed where he is about to go and for what he is about to see. This book is, without a doubt, one of the best space science fiction books ever. You can learn more about the series in our reviews of the best sci-fi book series ever or the top sci-fi books!

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

 

The story in this book takes place in a world where humans have no problem traveling around in their solar system and they have colonized a ton of it for that matter. There is still one problem remaining, they still have trouble reaching the further stars of the galaxy and this is where the fun begins.

The main character who will be taking you with him on this journey is called Jim Holden and he is about to discover something that plenty would have no trouble killing for. The book is part of a series, which you can learn more about in our review of the great science fiction book series.

His job as a miner in the asteroid fields of Saturn has allowed him to discover a derelict ship, The Scopuli, and this definitely didn’t look like good news. Be sure to find out exactly what this leads to as you check out the book for yourself. We also covered it in our article about the best hard science fiction books. Make sure to check it out.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

 

Another one of our top picks for the best space opera books ever is this one by Joe Haldeman. The story inside talks about a never-ending and dangerous war between humans and aliens that has been going on for a long time. For more similar books, don’t miss out on our articles about the best military sci-fi books and the top science fiction books ever.

Another important thing to know here is that this war is taking place far away from Earth so in order to get there quickly, the form of interstellar travel is used and if you have heard of that, then you know how tricky that can be.

Interstellar travel tends to mess with time and Private William Mandella is about to find that out the hard way as he is sent in the middle of the battlefield to try and make a difference. Upon returning to Earth a while after, he will finally learn what interstellar travel can actually lead to. You can read more in our standalone review of The Forever War book series. We also included it in our selections of the best time travel book series and top classic sci-fi books.

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

 

This story starts out as you read about something that happened in the past to a civilization that was known as the Amarantin civilization. 900.000 years ago, they were just about to discover space flight, and then suddenly, something completely wiped them all out in an instant and no one knows what happened to this day.

The story then introduces you to a scientist called Dan Sylveste who is determined to learn what happened there all that time ago before history does the same again. In the adventure that follows, you get to see a lot of cool things such as cyborgs with whom Dan has no other choice than to work together as he has nothing of his own to make his job easier.

Be sure to remember what your face looks like when you finally discover the truth about the destruction of the Amarantin civilization as this story is simply thrilling. You can also find this book in our review of the top hard science fiction books. This book belongs to the Revelation Space series, which you can learn more about in our selection of the top sci-fi book series.

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

 

You definitely know what good space opera books look like when you start reading them and this one is definitely one of those books. We also covered it in our articles about the top military sci-fi books and the top science fiction book series.

The main character in this thrilling story through space is Honor Harrington and you are about to read the thrilling adventure and mission that he has been sent on. The story follows him and Her Majesty’s light cruiser Fearless on an assignment that leads them to the Basilisk Station. For more similar books, take a look at our selection of the best science fiction books with female protagonists.

A lot of things happen on this journey that is going to leave you stunned and we definitely don’t want to spoil those exciting events for you so be sure to follow Honor Harrington on the adventure that is about to become serious enough to be continued in the sequel from the series that this book is in, called Honor Harrington.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

 

If you are ready to read about a lot of action in a science fiction story, then this book is definitely for you as the amount of war, battles, destruction, violence, and simply thrill in this story is insane.

The book starts immediately with war as you read about the fight that has been going around all over the galaxy. The lives lost in this war are in the billions and the ones affected by it in the crossfire are in the billions too.

Countless worlds are destroyed, moons, big planets, small planets, nothing is safe. This war was between the ones known as the Culture and others known as the Idirans as they both fight for their own beliefs. Then comes a thrilling character who will bring this whole fight and war to a whole another level. You can also find Iain’s name on our list of the top sci-fi book series.

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

 

The next one in our best space opera books list is this thrilling story that has another amazing and thrilling galactic war to tell you about. You can read more about the book in our selection of the best science fiction books.

A huge problem is unleashed onto the Universe after a very powerful artifact has been used by the Straumli realm as they unleash a power so large that it completely enslaves all-natural and artificial intelligence.

The story then takes you to meet a few characters who will take over from there, they are a family of scientists who are taken captive by the Tines and are used as pawns in a game for more power. Then you read about an exciting rescue mission launched to save the two children in this family as they might just be the key to saving countless lives.

Ringworld by Larry Niven

 

This is the story of Ringworld, a huge structure that resembles a ring that is six hundred million miles long and ninety million miles in radius, just imagine how much that is for a bit and what kind of story could this artifact hold. Take a look at our review of the top sci-fi book series for more information about the series that Ringworld is part of.

The aliens who first discovered this great big world are referred to as Pierson’s puppeteers and these creatures are definitely feeling threatened and might just be afraid of encountering the ones who created such a thing.

So instead of going to discover more about it themselves, they send a team that they have created consisting of two humans, a mad puppeteer, a kzin, and an enormous cat-like alien to find out more about this mysterious structure. The exciting story that follows is too good to be spoiled so definitely expect some exciting pages after this. You can learn more about the book in our selections of the best classic science fiction books and the top sci-fi fantasy books.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

 

Here is a story by a science fiction and fantasy author who has no problem creating bestsellers as her stories are also something to be fascinated by. The story in this particular book of hers talks about an interesting and unique character known as Helva.

She is initially born human but soon after birth, she wasn’t looking like she would make it in this world so her brain was somehow saved and was implanted into a titanium body that belonged to an intergalactic scout ship.

Now, as you can imagine, she is a living ship and before her thrilling story begins, she must choose a human partner to keep each other safe during all of the dangers that are ahead.

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

 

Our next top pick for one of the best space opera books ever is Gateway, a book that talks about a gateway famous to many that once crossed, has the potential of making anyone filthy rich and could offer many more desired futures.

The main character who you will be reading about inside is called Rob Broadhead. The story follows this character on his journey to fame and fortune and all of the exciting events that happen along.

You get to read about a man who thought he could control himself once he crossed the gateway and that he would know which mission would be the right one. Three missions later, he is famous and rich but also a totally different man. Be sure to find out what exactly happened beyond that gateway. Take a look at our selection of the great sci-fi book series for more info.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

 

This is another thrilling science fiction story that has cool worlds, a lot of artificial intelligence, action, and much more. The main character in this book is a character called Breq, she is a soldier who you get to meet on a remote icy planet as she is mere moments away from completing her quest.

This is definitely one of the most unique characters in our best space opera books review as when the story starts, she is actually embodying a colossal starship known as the Justice of Toren and she was serving the empire that conquered the entire galaxy.

Now all she has is a weak human body thanks to an act of treachery that has managed to flip her entire life. There are many secrets that remain to be uncovered and that’s your job from here.

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

 

The story in this one talks about a terrible prophecy that one who can see into the future fears. This person is actually the main character and protagonist of this book as well and his name is Hari Seldon. This book is also a part of our list of the best sci-fi books ever!

He lives in a world where the Galactic Empire has ruled over everything for 12 thousand years and it has finally started falling apart and the prophecy has begun.

This dark future that everyone is afraid of seems completely inevitable but Hari Seldon refuses to accept it without even a fight so he starts doing something about it. He finds some of the brightest beings in this world and together they try to figure out a way to save everyone from this terrible future that is approaching. They open a sanctuary called Foundation that will stand as the last hope of their world.

Dauntless by Jack Campbell

 

Another war is the main focus of the plot in this amazing science fiction story and this war is going on between The Alliance and the Syndics for almost a century now. That’s one of the reasons why we covered it in our selection of the top military science fiction books as well.

The Alliance is losing badly now as its fleet has been almost destroyed and the survivors are completely stranded in the middle of enemy territory.

This is when you get to meet the main character of this tale, his name is Captain John Geary, also known as Black Jack, and he is a famous hero who was thought dead. Now, he wakes up from a 100-year hibernation to try and save The Alliance from their troubles.

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton

 

Finally, we have our own world as the focus of this story’s topic but it’s still not the same as the time that these events will be happening in is AD 2600. You will get to see another version of the human race that has scattered around the stars, inhabiting countless worlds and forming tons of different and unique cultures.

This world in which humanity lives now seems totally perfect as there is no more disease and everything they can ever wish for is within their reach.

However, this golden era seems to be threatened after something that hasn’t been seen for so long is unleashed again and this is no ordinary evil, this is something capable of destroying so much that humans have worked for in a mere instant. How this story ends is completely up to you to find out.

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

 

Here is a fascinating science fiction book that also has a bit of romance in the story that will definitely fit very nicely with the plot that is about to be revealed. A few of the main characters who you will be reading about inside are Cordelia Naismith and Lord Aral Vorkosigan. They are both very different people but that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. The book is part of Vorkosigan Saga, which you can read more about in our article about the best sci-fi book series ever.

Cordelia is the captain of an astronomical survey ship and she originates from the Beta colony, a place described to be very peaceful. Take a look at our selection of the best science fiction romance books for more information.

Lord Aral, on the other hand, is the leader of a secret military mission from a planet known for constant war activities known as Barrayar. A lot of thrilling things will happen in this book and it all comes down to these two main characters who have a lot more to show you about them and their lives. Learn more about the book in our review of Shards of Honor.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

 

This specimen for one of the best space opera books is definitely worth being on our list as it holds yet another thrilling story about space and its mysteries. The story starts as astronomers discover a huge object in space that they have titled Rama.

They believe that it is some kind of natural object coming from something they haven’t seen before but it all gets super serious when they finally discover that this is no natural object and that it is actually an interstellar ship.

You can imagine the reaction of the characters inside as this is humanity’s first-ever encounter with alien life as this enormous object definitely wasn’t built by them. The moment you have been waiting for when the aliens finally emerge from it will finally be here and it is up to you to find out what happens next. Clarke’s name can be also found on our lists of the best science fiction book series ever and great science fiction book series ever.

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

 

The first book in Peter’s amazing science fiction series is the start of a thrilling story that will be taking you on a long and wild journey. The events take place in the year 3589, just five hundred years after human extinction was almost possible thanks to a horrible war with aliens.

If you thought a threat for the humans was bad enough, wait until you see this one that has presented itself in this book. Now, the whole entire Universe might be in danger and the events that follow are definitely no joke.

A discovery has been made, a Void exists in the center of the galaxy that is spreading rapidly and consuming everything in its path, it cannot be destroyed, breached, or simply stopped in any way. You will definitely be surprised at how this story continues after this threat starts getting closer and closer in this one of the best space opera books ever.

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

 

The story in this book is from the epic Star Wars saga and what is about to happen takes place five years after the destruction of the huge Death Star and after Darth Vader and the entire Empire were completely stopped.

It seemed that the rebels had finally won the long and difficult war and now there is a new Republic formed that would serve with justice. But the fun is not yet over as the dark side is still nowhere near being destroyed as the last of the Empire’s warlords has managed to stir up a few evil plans that will make sure you have more thrill to read about.

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

 

This next book in our science fiction books about space list will be telling you a story that involves all-new characters in strange and mysterious worlds. This fascinating story talks about events that were started six million years ago when a new era was born, the star-faring era.

You get to meet Abigail Gentian who then managed to split herself into one thousand male and female clones that were called shattering. The thrill of this story arrives when you find out that someone is killing off the Gentian line and something must be done about this before it is too late.

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven

 

When it comes to some of the best space opera books, there is no way that we can miss this one as the story here has a chance of topping most of the books on our list.

The reason for that is because this is another thrilling story that talks about man’s expansion throughout the universe and all of the excitement that comes with that journey.

The discovery of a new and mysterious alien civilization, one million years old, will be the main focus of this story and the main source of excitement and thrill for you to read. The book is also covered in our reviews of the top classic science fiction books and the top sci-fi fantasy books.

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

 

The story in this book takes place in the year 4034 and in a world where humans have spread throughout the galaxy.

What you get to read in this book is a story that will be taking you on a journey, together with the main characters, that will lead to the discovery of a secret that has been hidden for half a billion years.

On top of that, there is a war coming between a few alien races who you get to meet here, and that will definitely be something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

 

This is another thrilling story that will be introducing you to even more awesome characters. The main one here is Ensign Andrew Dahl and he is super excited to be finally assigned to the most prestigious and famous ship in the Universal Union.

A series of exciting missions on this ship will teach our main character that outer space is super dangerous and on many of the thrilling and deadly missions, someone always ends up being killed. Who will it be next?

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

 

We are getting closer to the end of this best space opera books selection and the stories just keep getting more and more exciting. This time, you read about an adventurous crew and one special character who will be showing you a new level of excitement.

Rosemary Harper is the protagonist in this one and she is about to see what the thrilling everyday lives of the Wayfarer crew look like. This crew consists of a few really interesting characters and you can find out all of that for yourself as you start this amazing sci-fi book.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

 

This is a story about revolution, about freedom, and about a few amazing characters who will be taking you on this fantastic journey. Read more about the book in our articles about the best classic sci-fi books and the best sci-fi books ever!

The story follows the penal colony located on the moon, called Luna. The events take place in the 21st century and these people in the colony live in a world ruled by a dictator and a very hated one for that matter.

The thrilling parts start coming in when a group of cool and smart characters band together, along with the master computer watching over them, and start devising plans for freedom. If you like Heinlein’s work, take a look at our articles about the best military science fiction books and the top science fiction fantasy books, where you can find one of his books as well.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

 

Humanity faces another alien threat in this epic science fiction book and the whole story gets super interesting once you meet the main character and protagonist in the book. This book is definitely one of the best science fiction books for teens!

The story follows Andrew Wiggin, also known as Ender, as he thinks that he is only playing computer war games until he finds out that he has what it takes to help the military in a war against aliens.

The game was only a test to find the best soldier so his world gets super thrilling when he finally discovers that he is the one they were looking for. Take a look at our selection of the best science fiction book series ever to learn more.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

 

This is one of those stories about worlds in which the rich have a lot of power and they use it in all sorts of ways against the other people.

In this world, they are able to “jaunte”, teleport instantly, anywhere, with only a mere thought. They also barricade themselves in huge labyrinths and hire deadly hitmen for extra protection.

Then you meet the protagonist of the series, he doesn’t look like much at first, but he then becomes the most valuable person in this world, be sure to find out why for yourself. It is really not so surprising that we included this book in our selection of the best classic science fiction books. Make sure to check it out.

Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

 

And the last thrilling book on our list is this one, a story that talks about a character called Bella Lind and her space crew.

They work as space miners with their nuclear-powered ship and the thrilling part of this story begins after Janus, an ice moon that belongs to Saturn, leaves its natural orbit somehow and heads straight for Earth.

These are some of the coolest space opera books in our opinion and there is no doubt that all of them will present exciting reading material if you truly are a huge science fiction enthusiast.

Author
Robert Hazley
Robert Hazley
Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)