What's after the Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon
August 15, 2020 1:45 PM   Subscribe

I finally gave in to the 'you need to read Murderbot' recommendations on MetaFilter and loved the books. But it also made me realize that I've read like three sci-fi books since I've been able to read and would like to remedy that by adding to my TBR pile. So if you enjoyed the Murderbot series, what sci-fi book should I read next?

I would prefer no bummer endings because *waves in general direction of 2020* and am not in the right headspace right now. But you know, if the writing is fantastic or you feel it's a must-read, recommend anyway and hopefully I'll get there. But other than that I'm open to series, MG/YA, cross genre, etc.
Bonus if the book made you laugh or get on Ao3 to find fanfic.
posted by later, paladudes to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The standard response to this is that you want the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers and the Ancillary series by Anne Leckie. And their unrelated works as well. Arkady Martine's A Memory Called Empire is another good one.
posted by mumkin at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2020 [10 favorites]

Yep, was gonna go straight to Becky Chambers!
posted by matildaben at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2020

Best answer: Definitely Becky Chambers, also check out John Scalzi's Interdependency Trilogy. I'm also going to hesitantly suggest Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb trilogy - the pitch for that one is "lesbian necromancers in space." I hesitate because the third book hasn't come out yet and I'm only about 3/4 of the way through the second, and the first doesn't exactly have a happy ending (even though I wouldn't exactly call it a bummer).
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've read all the above books, they are good. I found A Memory Called Empire a little plodding but I may have been alone in that, she is a great writer.

Also the Expanse series which is a kind of out there spacer but has a range of characters, some alien interactions and most of the main characters do okay most of the time.
posted by jessamyn at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Ancillary series is thematically quite similar (rogue AI seeking justice/revenge/personhood). Murderbot, to me, felt more than a little like a tribute to it. Ancillary is better written but more serious.

(now it looks like I gotta check out Chambers)
posted by neckro23 at 2:16 PM on August 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing Becky Chambers. Also, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is fluffy, sarcastic, sci-fi fun.
posted by gnutron at 2:18 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ken MacLeod's Cosmonaut Keep
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:23 PM on August 15, 2020

Best answer: Could always go earlier Martha Wells: Books of the Raksura is very good.
posted by Anonymous Function at 2:24 PM on August 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

cstross's Family Trade, Atrocity Archives, and Singularity Sky.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:27 PM on August 15, 2020

I'm not sure it fits, but I recently read Station Eleven, and it has really resonated. Post-Apocalyptic.
posted by theora55 at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For laughs, definitely John Scalzi. The Collapsing Empire series is a great starting place.

Also Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. There are many entry points (chronological by pub date? in-story? by relevance?) but I think Warrior's Apprentice is probably a good place to start.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:03 PM on August 15, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Ancillary Justice as similar in theme and tone. I also recommend Julie Czerneda's Beholder's Eye, about a shape shifting alien that is trying to surreptitiously study human kind. She is well written as an "other" and her interactions with her human friends and her alien family was refreshing.

In terms of characterization, I think the protagonist of Scalzi's Lock In is quite similar to Murderbot - a little prickly, highly competent but unsure of their own social abilities. That character was explicitly written without using any gendered pronouns, so the reader can gender them (or not) as they prefer.
posted by Illusory contour at 3:09 PM on August 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen is a delightful spy romp in space, and there's a sequel, Kangaroo Too.

Jade City by Fonda Lee is a family saga, a story of clan war, with magic-enhanced martial arts. I'm not doing it justice, but it's really good and you should read it and the sequel, Jade War (book 3 is coming out next year). She's also written a more YA-focused duology set on Earth after its been conquered by an alien race - book 1 is Exo, and she also wrote Zeroboxer, about MMA in zero gravity.

The Company series by Kage Baker is about a group of time-traveling, artifact-stealing cyborgs. Book 1 is In the Garden of Iden - the series is quite funny with poignant moments.

You might enjoy Red by Linda Nagata. Military and AI like Murderbot, but it goes in a different direction.

More on the fantasy side:
The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman is about a thief and her apprentice who travel to different timelines to acquire various versions of books.

Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix is a Regency romance in a magical world and very entertaining.

Stargazy Pie by Victoria Goddard, is the first book of a "fantasy of manners" series set in the village of Ragnor Bella, where nothing exciting happens - until our protagonist comes back to town after graduating from university. Also her book The Hands of the Emperor is the story of a civil servant who changes the world for the better and his relationship with his boss (again I am describing this extremely poorly but trust me and read it).

I feel like I'm the only person on this site who read the first Becky Chambers book and thought it was just okay. I started the second and never finished it. So, your mileage may vary.
posted by mogget at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Vina Jie-Min Prasad's short stories! Specifically Fandom for Robots and A Guide for Working Breeds. I also loved her novelette A Series of Steaks.

"A Guide for Working Breeds" was originally part of an anthology called Made to Order that has lots of good robot stories. In particular, Suzanne Palmer's "Chiaroscuro in Red" has a similar hopeful but angry about capitalism feeling to it. (My absolute favorite story of that anthology is Tochi Onyebuchi's "The Hurt Pattern," which is about burnout and student loans and police brutality. It's hilarious in places, but save it for a moment you can bear to look at how furious you are with this year.)
posted by yarntheory at 3:40 PM on August 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also, Mogget, I'm the other person on this site who has mixed feelings about Becky Chambers!

I would say that if what you like best about the Murderbot books is that Murderbot finds a group of friends who accept it for who it is, Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet might work for you. If you specifically appreciate the fact that Murderbot is a grouchy, hypercompetent problem solver, if you like the action-adventure elements and want another book with fast-paced plot, or if you are interested in thinking about Murderbot from a disability studies framework, then you may find Small, Angry Planet frustrating.
posted by yarntheory at 3:57 PM on August 15, 2020 [8 favorites]

I just came to second The Expanse series — I picked up the first book when I finished the Murderbot series, and I’m on the fifth now.
posted by bradf at 4:19 PM on August 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Came here to recommend Chambers, but I see that's well covered.

Fair warning, I would NOT be able to read Station Eleven right now. The book is about an apocalyptic pandemic -- about 2/3 of it is set post-event, but the third of it that covers the pandemic times will be rough going right now. It does end on an uplifting note, and it's a GREAT book, but...yeah.

The Martian by Andy Weir should definitely be on your list -- lone astronaut on Mars uses science and hard work to survive. I've best heard it described as "if you liked that scene in Apollo 11 where they dumped all the stuff on the table and said "Make an air filter," you'll love this book."

You might like The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. It's sort of Hidden Figures meets The Right Stuff/A Man on the Moon, where the action is kicked off by an apocalyptic meteor and they're ultimately trying to get to Mars to save humanity. Terrible sex scenes though...

If you're OK with short stories, try Ursula LeGuin's Changing Planes. Her canonical sci-fi books are The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, but they're both a little heavier than you might want. Changing Planes is one of my comfort reads.
posted by natabat at 5:31 PM on August 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Le Guin’s Earthsea books end happily enough, though.

Cherryh’s Chanur series is a rip-roaring far-ranging adventure with friends made into family and family made into friends and the fate of a world in the balance. Lots of anthropology undergirding it. I think of it as “Star Wars but not dumb”.
posted by clew at 7:42 PM on August 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Butterfly and Hellflower by Eluki bes Shahar ought to have fanfic. (Dune, but slightly less self-indulgent.) The extending graphic novel _Girl Genius_. M.J. Locke’s _Up Against It_ (Heinlein, but not creepy.) Pat Cadigan’s _Synners_ (cyberpunk, but not on the side of the violent).

Way too many of my keepers have sad endings, huh.
posted by clew at 7:50 PM on August 15, 2020

Best answer: Nthing the Ancillary books, and the two others by Ann Leckie; the Expanse books are also a whole lot of pages of fun. (The TV version is surprisingly great, but the books are somewhat better, and you may as well read them first). In my opinion we should all read everything ever written by LeGuin.

I’m currently reading Archivist Wasp, by Nicole Kornher-Stace, and though it is not robots-and-spaceships sci-fi it is excellent and shares some similarities of tone.
posted by Erroneous at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2020

"Sea of Rust" by C. Robert Cargill and "Saturn's Children" by Charles Stross are two good books, both written from the point of view of sentient robots.

Jo Walton's "Thessaly" trilogy, starting with "The Just City" is about Greek gods trying to create a version of Plato's Republic in a kind of science fictional setting. I know it doesn't sound similar but I think it has the same kind of mixture of cynicism and idealism somehow.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2020

I haven't actually read Murderbot yet so I'm technically disqualified from answering this question, but over in the Sci Fi with Sympathetic Protagonist thread people are recommending Connie Willis in conjunction with Murderbot, so I'm going to go ahead and recommend Connie Willis, starting with "To Say Nothing of the Dog".

Also if you're open to goblins and elves rather than spaceships, I recommend "The Goblin Emperor" every chance I get.
posted by kristi at 9:18 PM on August 18, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I'm excited to pick up new books instead of rereading Murderbot, which is not a complaint, but it's time to branch out.
posted by later, paladudes at 11:07 AM on August 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think people will probably also share some answers in this new front-page post thread.
posted by brainwane at 12:53 PM on August 30, 2020

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