Best Indie Science Fiction Books

These books are all self-published, or at least began their life as self-published.


The Inevitable
by Daniel Hope – 2013

Tuck is on his last legs, literally. He’s the last functioning bot in the galaxy, a broken machine that used to look like a man.

Long ago, bots were a luxury on Earth, back before they were hunted down and destroyed. Now he wanders between planets, searching for spare parts that can keep him running for a few more years. But he’s out of parts, and he’s nearly out of time. He was originally programmed to value human life, even if they don’t value his, but he can’t ignore his own need to survive, at any cost. The truth is, Tuck is afraid to die. That’s why he’s haunted by memories of the sixteen people he has killed over the last 150 years.

After a particularly dangerous run-in with a collector, Tuck meets a mysterious man dressed in white who offers a solution. In exchange for some help in a less-than-legal business venture, he’ll give Tuck what he really wants: immortality. Tuck knows it’s a bad idea, but he can’t ignore it. Even if it means killing again.

Before and After
by Andrew Shanahan – 2020

Ben Stone is terrified. He’s terrified because he weighs 601 pounds and needs his right leg amputated. He’s terrified because a crane will shortly lift him from his fourth-floor flat and lower him 44 feet to an ambulance waiting below. He’s terrified because he hasn’t been outside in nine years and he doesn’t know who will look after his beautiful dog.

He needn’t worry though, because the world is about to end.

“If you’re looking for a lovable main character, an action-packed story and a load of humour and horror along the way, you should definitely grab a copy of Before and After. Gore, humour, suspense, heart—it has everything, with as many twists and turns as you could hope for.”

Do Not Resuscitate
by Nicholas Ponticello – 2015

Do Not Resuscitate is a story told by the aging Jim Frost, who’s being harassed by a daughter with control issues to get his brain downloaded and backed up. As he considers what this means about the impermanence of death, and how much he doesn’t agree with it, he tells the story of his life. He’s seen a lot of the world go to pot while transporting red coolers for a mysterious boss.

Filled with interesting characters and a strong storytelling style that only slips a couple times, Do Not Resuscitate had me continually wanting to get back to reading it. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

In fact, while this book isn’t as dark or deep or weird as anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Ponticello’s writing somehow has the same music as those works. Maybe it’s the cadence of the words, or the patter of a slightly odd person talking about the insane world around them, but Do Not Resuscitate continually reminded me of Vonnegut, and that’s never happened before, in decades of reading science fiction.

by Hugh Howey – 2011

Hugh Howey initially wrote Wool as a stand-alone short story and self-published it on Kindle. The story was popular, and he began to write more entries for it, eventually delivering multiple books in the very popular Silo series.

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper: Uprising.

The Martian
by Andy Weir – 2011
Having been rebuffed by literary agents when trying to get prior books published, author Andy Weir decided to put The Martian online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website. At the request of fans, he made an Amazon Kindle version available at 99 cents (the minimum allowable price he could set). The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles, selling 35,000 copies in three months. This garnered the attention of publishers, and Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for over US$100,000.

The Martian is one of the most enjoyable science fiction books I’ve ever read. An astronaut is left behind on Mars, and must survive by himself for over a year, using only his wits and what was left behind by a few previous missions.

Author Weir does a masterful job in creating his highly likable, intelligent, and deeply human protagonist Mark Watney. The science in The Martian is hard and feels as real as stone.

This book is a great combination of man vs. nature à la Jack London, with the inventiveness of MacGyver, moments of laugh-out-loud humor, page-turning pacing, and plot twists that are surprising but in hindsight feel inevitable.

“Andy Weir delivers with The Martian…a story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, non-fiction, or flat-out adventure [and] an authentic portrayal of the future of space travel.”
—Associated Press

10 thoughts on “Best Indie Science Fiction Books

  1. Honored to have made the list! Thank you for supporting my little book all these years later. FYI, the audiobook version of DO NOT RESUSCITATE was just released a week ago. The narrator is great, and it gives the whole book a new life. If you want a promo copy on Audible, just let me know by email and I’ll send you a code. Cheers!

  2. When I read The Martian, I thought it’d make a great movie and it was a good movie. I wished the end would’ve stuck more closely to the book. I read Wool and was not too impressed and traded it for other books. Now, I have another copy and will try reading it again. Hopefully, it’ll be better. I like the work you do Dan, and have bought several books on your recommendations.

    1. Is this self-published? It looks like it was published by Plume, which is an imprint of the Penguin Group. In any case, I’m glad you liked it.

      1. He self published it at first, sold a million copies, quit his job, and got signed up by Plume who sold the book into the Walmart and other big sellers channel. The last books in the ten book series are all self published still.

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