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GURPS Space – Cover

You can find an index of all the GURPS bibliographies we have online here. If you spot any broken links or other problems with this page, please report them to

Bibliography for GURPS Space


Asimov, Isaac. The Universe (Avon, 1966). Clear, readable survey of science by an SF writer. Dated, but still very informative.

Asimov, Isaac. "Not As We Know It" in View From a Height (Avon, 1963). One of the few studies of possible alien biochemistries.

Bova, Ben, and Lewis, Anthony R. Space Travel (Writer's Digest Books, 1997). A handy guide to space drives, orbits, and delta-V for aspiring SF writers.

Bretnor, Reginald (editor). The Craft of Science Fiction (Barnes & Noble Books, 1976). A collection of useful essays on creating SF settings and stories.

Carroll, Bradley W., and Ostlie, Dale A. An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (Addison-Wesley, 1996). A solid introduction to how planets and stars work.

Clark, Stuart. Life on Other Worlds and How to Find It (Springer, 2000). Solid, readable introduction to astrobiology.

Clute, John, and Nicholls, Peter (editors). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (St. Martin's Griffin, 1995). Massive and massively useful overview of the entire field.

Cohen, Jack, and Stewart, Ian. What Does a Martian Look Like? (Wiley, 2002). Wide-ranging and interesting exploration of possible types of alien life, by a scientist who designs aliens for writers.

Cox, Arthur N. (editor). Allen's Astrophysical Quantities, Fourth Edition (Springer-Verlag, 2000). Highly useful encyclopedia of data and equations about the universe.

Darling, David. The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia (Three Rivers Press, 2000). Another useful compendium of information about other worlds and star systems.

Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel (Norton, 1997). Examines the growth of civilizations and technology; very useful for anyone creating alien civilizations or alternate histories.

Dozois, Gardner, et al. (editors). Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (St. Martin's, 1991). Another collection of "how-to" essays, including an extremely useful piece by John Barnes on extrapolating future trends.

Feinberg, Gerald, and Shapiro, Robert. Life Beyond Earth: The Intelligent Earthling's Guide to Life in the Universe (Morrow, 1980). Fascinating if occasionally over-cute study of alien biology, which inspired a decade of SF stories by authors cribbing ideas.

Gillett, Stephen L. World-Building (Writer's Digest Books, 1996). Very useful guide to planet design.

Goldsmith, Donald, and Owen, Tobias. The Search for Life in the Universe (Cummings, 1980). Actually a basic science textbook, using the question of alien life as a unifying theme. Slightly dated, but a useful reference.

Henbest, Nigel, and Couper, Heather. The Guide to the Galaxy (Cambridge University Press, 1994). As the title says, a guide to the Galaxy, with fairly up-to-date information and lots of maps.

Heppenheimer, T.A. Colonies in Space (Warner, 1977). A cheerleading book about O'Neill habitat colonies, somewhat dated now but a good source of ideas and background for space habitat settings.

Kaku, Michio. Visions (Anchor, 1998). An exciting look at future prospects in science and technology, by a theoretical physicist.

Langford, David. War in 2080 (Morrow, 1979). Study of possible future evolution of weapons and defenses, from a strictly hard-SF perspective. Some of its predictions have been overtaken by events.

McGowan, Christopher. Dinosaurs, Spitfires, and Sea Dragons (Harvard University Press, 1991). Interesting study of animal size and engineering, very useful for its information on flight and locomotion.

Regis, Ed. Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (Perseus Books, 1990). Fun, irreverent guide to transhumanism, space colonization, nanotech, cryonics, and general wackiness.

Sagan, Carl, and Shklovskii, I.S. Intelligent Life in the Universe (Dell, 1966). Very dated now, but this was the first scientific study of the topic in half a century.

Schmidt, Stanley. Aliens and Alien Societies (Writer's Digest Books, 1995). A nuts-and-bolts "how-to" guide for aspiring SF writers.

Vogel, Steven. Life's Devices (Princeton, 1988). An introduction to the mechanical engineering of living things, essential for designing alien life.

Zuckerman, Ben, and Hart, Michael H. (editors). Extraterrestrials: Where Are They? (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Wide-ranging collection of pieces on SETI, alien intelligence, methods of star travel, interstellar colonization, and terraforming.


Many of these works are classics which have gone through dozens of editions. Publishers and dates listed are for the most recent versions.


Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Ballantine, 1995). The first book in a series of very popular SF comedies.

Ford, John M. How Much for Just the Planet? (Pocket Books, 1999). A slapstick Star Trek novel which generates very strong reactions from readers.

Crime and Mysteries

Bester, Alfred. The Demolished Man (Vintage, 1996). Murder mystery set in a society of telepaths.

Delany, Samuel R. "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones." This novella won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1969, but still seems fresh and cutting-edge more than 30 years later.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer (Ace, 1995). Hugo and Nebula winning novel which was the template for much cyberpunk to come. It has two sequels, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

Niven, Larry. The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton (Del Rey, 1977). A collection of stories about a future policeman battling organleggers and technological criminals.

Hard Science Fiction

Benford, Greg. In the Ocean of Night (Warner Aspect, 2004). First volume of an epic series following humans trying to survive in a Galaxy dominated by hostile machine intelligences.

Bova, Ben. Privateers (Eos, 2000). Red-blooded entrepreneurial adventure, an example of the technothriller genre in space.

Clarke, Sir Arthur C. The Fountains of Paradise (Warner Aspect, 2001). Heroic Engineering at its finest, as the protagonist struggles to build a space elevator.

Clarke, Sir Arthur C. Rendezvous With Rama (Bantam, 1990). One of the great First Contact stories and a seminal Big Dumb Object novel as well. Human astronauts explore a vast alien ship which has entered the Solar System. Avoid all sequels.

Forward, Robert. Dragon's Egg (Del Rey, 2000). Following a suggestion by Shapiro and Feinberg (see above), this novel examines life on a neutron star.

Heinlein, Robert. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Orb, 1997). Lunar colonists rebel against a tyrannical Earth, aided by an AI computer.

Landis, Geoffrey. Mars Crossing (Tor, 2001). Astronauts struggle for survival on Mars after their ship is crippled. Landis is also a NASA scientist.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Mars (Bantam Spectra, 1993). First volume of a trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) chronicling the terraforming of Mars and the new society which develops there.

Steele, Allen. Orbital Decay (Warner Books, 1990). Gritty stories of life among blue-collar workers building space habitats.

Sterling, Bruce. Schismatrix Plus (Ace, 1996). A novel and short stories set in a hard-SF world of genetic engineering, cybernetic enhancement, and space colonization.

Varley, John. Red Thunder (Ace, 2003). Amazingly talented teenagers build a miraculous rocket in a Florida warehouse. Three sequels have been published, with the final book released in August 2014.

Weir, Andy. The Martian (Crown, 2014). Widely acclaimed novel about the nuts and bolts of one man's struggle to survive after being presumed dead and stranded alone on Mars.

Military SF

Haldeman, Joe. The Forever War (Eos, 2003). Perhaps it would be better to call this anti-military SF, as its depiction of a slower-than-light interstellar war is vicious in its condemnation of military stupidity.

Heinlein, Robert. Starship Troopers (Ace, 1987). The seminal work of military SF, chronicling one soldier's life in the armored Mobile Infantry as they fight an interstellar war. Avoid the film.

Pournelle, Jerry. Mercenary (Baen, 1986). A mercenary commander fights for the collapsing CoDominium.

Saberhagen, Fred. The "Berserker" series. A long-running series of books and stories about humans battling implacable robots programmed to destroy all life.

Weber, David. On Basilisk Station (Baen Books, 2002). The first of the long-running "Honor Harrington" series of space opera war stories with a strong flavor of Nelson's navy.

Wells, H.G. The War of the Worlds (Tor, 1993). The original alien invasion story, and still the greatest. First published in 1898.

Planetary Romance and Big Dumb Objects

Brackett, Leigh. The Book of Skaith (Doubleday, 1976). Tough guy Eric John Stark penetrates the mysteries of the dying planet Skaith. Published in three volumes as The Ginger Star, The Hounds of Skaith, and The Reavers of Skaith.

Niven, Larry. Ringworld (Del Rey, 1985). One of the original Big Dumb Objects, Ringworld inspired several sequels and a Chaosium roleplaying game.

Vance, Jack. Planet of Adventure (Orb, 1993). The four Tschai novels are classic Planetary Romance, and the stories inspired GURPS Planet of Adventure.

Varley, John. Titan (Berkeley, 1984). First of a trilogy of novels exploring the giant sentient space habitat Gaea, orbiting Saturn.

Space Opera

Banks, Iain M. The Player of Games (HarperCollins, 1997). One of several novels set in "The Culture," a spaceborne transhuman civilization. The best of the new wave of "postmodern space opera" from the UK.

Brin, David. Sundiver (Spectra, 1985). The first of the "Uplift" series, chronicling humanity's struggle to survive in a Galaxy of ancient civilizations which uplift other species to sentience. Inspired GURPS Uplift.

Bujold, Lois McMaster. Shards of Honor (Baen, 1991). The first of her ongoing Barrayar series, chronicling the adventures of Cordelia Naismith and her son Miles Vorkosigan. Unapologetic old-school space opera.

Herbert, Frank. Dune (Ace, 1996). Transformed the classic space opera genre with a generous helping of mysticism and ecological awareness. Spawned several sequels by Herbert and a recent series by his son; quality varies.

Niven, Larry, and Pournelle, Jerry. The Mote in God's Eye (Pocket Books, 1991). Excellent fusion of space opera and first contact story; the sequel is much less successful.

Resnick, Mike. Santiago (Tor, 1992). Bounty hunters and space pirates on the lawless Galactic frontier. Resnick has written many other books and stories using the same general setting.

Reynolds, Alastair. Revelation Space (Ace, 2002). The first of a loosely-connected series of novels exploring nanotech plagues, ancient alien civilizations, and crazed starship captains. Postmodern hard-SF space opera.

Smith, E.E. Triplanetary (Old Earth Books, 1997). The first book in the "Lensman" series. The ultimate Golden Age space opera series, with all its faults and virtues turned to 11. Inspired the book GURPS Lensman.

Wright, John C. The Golden Age (Tor, 2003). Space opera set 10,000 years in the future, when humans have godlike powers.


Aliens (James Cameron, 1986). Straddling the border between action and horror, this film features Marines battling alien predators on a distant world.

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). The cyberpunk film, based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Tells of a future cop hunting rogue androids.

Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977). The original film is now Episode 4 in the series, which has proved markedly uneven in quality. One of the most successful films in history.


Babylon 5 (Warner, 1993-98). Excellent old-school space opera, centered on a vast space habitat.

Firefly (Fox, 2002). A short-lived but superb spaceship drama, with clear Old Western inspiration.

Star Trek (Paramount, 1966-69). The original series has spawned twelve films and four more television series. For most non-fans, this is what science fiction is.

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