I’ve been reading a ton of science fiction novels with high stakes and serious atmospheres because of the impending doom, the alien invasions, the planet-level catastrophe, etc.
To slow down a bit, I decided to read some sci-fi books on the lighter side. In this article, I’ve listed down 17 best light-hearted sci-fi books that you should definitely check out.
1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam
The Earth is to be demolished to make way for a space highway. Billions would lose their home including Arthur Dent.
Just as the planet is about to be destroyed, his friend Ford Prefect plucks him off and takes him on a journey through space. Ford is a researcher of the revised edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide”, a book with advice for any interstellar hitchhiker.
On their journey, they meet the president of the galaxy and a depressed robot among many other things.
2. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Ryland wakes up to the strange voice of a machine, strapped to the bed. He soon learns that he’s on a spaceship millions of miles away from Earth on a mission to save the planet and humanity.
But, he doesn’t remember how he got there or who he even is. He would ask his crewmates, but they’re dead.
Hurtling through space, with no memories and nothing but two corpses to accompany him, he must still complete his mission and stop a planet-level threat that could result in human extinction.
3. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
A casual question from the U.S. leads Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, to create Ice-9, a dangerous chemical that can freeze the entire planet.
Years after his death, his three eccentric children got their hands on his creation. The charmless Angela sells it to the American government in exchange for a good-looking husband.
His son Newt sells it to the Russians for a crazy weekend with Russian dancers, and his other son Franklin sells it to “Papa” Monzan. Soon, global destruction begins…
4. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash is a great Cyberpunk sci-fi book for people who love authors like Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and John Brunner.
In the real world, Hiro is a normal pizza delivery guy, but in the Metaverse, he’s a warrior.
When a computer virus starts taking down hackers around the world, he takes it upon himself to hunt down the virtual villain and kill it on the spot, preventing the apocalypse in the virtual world.
5. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
In a future where governments have fallen and space is controlled by corporations, every mission or job must be approved by the company. For the safety of human workers, every mission has a security android supplied by the company.
Muderbot is one such android, though it’s a name he gave himself. He despises humans and just wants to be left alone. But, when things get bad, it’s up to him and the human scientists to complete the mission without any casualties.
6. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
On his 75th birthday, John visited his wife’s grave before taking the next step in his life – joining the military. But, not the regular one.
He joins the Colonial Defense Force that’s been fighting against alien races to take a piece of the planetary real estate. They recruit only old people with enough experience and skills.
Genetic engineering is used to make the soldiers stronger and better, and once his service is done, he gets his own piece of land in one of the human colonies. With nothing keeping him attached to Earth, he travels light-years away from home to fight the biggest fight of his life.
7. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
With the desire to run away from her past and the need for a bed to sleep on, Harper joins the odd crew of the Wayfarer. Her new motley crew includes their captain Ashby, the reptilian pilot Sissix, and the engineers Kizzy and Jenks.
She learned early in her life to keep to herself and never trust anyone in this cruel world, but she must learn to trust her new crew and survive the coming troubles as they take on a job to tunnel wormholes through space to a remote and dangerous planet.
8. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
While traveling between Earth and Mars, Winston Rumfoord goes through a weird phenomenon and now lives as waves. He doesn’t have a physical body anymore but materializes every 60 days.
Malachi, the richest man in the world, is invited to have a conversation with Rumfoord by his wife Beatrice. Rumfoord can now see the future in his wave form and he informs Malachi about the journey he will be taking and how he will eventually end up on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.
But, Malachi is not keen on following a future that has already been written for him and plans to do everything in his power to prevent it.
9. Redshirts by John Scalzi
Andrew couldn’t be happier when he was assigned to the Capital Ship Intrepid. But, his happiness soon fades away as he starts noticing strange coincidences every time they go on a mission.
On every mission, they end up having a confrontation with some alien forces and at least one low-ranking officer always dies, while the captain, the lieutenant, and the chief officer never suffer any injuries at all.
Soon, he discovers the secret of the ship Intrepid and the purpose it truly serves.
10. We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor
Bob couldn’t be more excited to live a leisurely life after selling his software company for a huge sum. But, before he can get to the books and movies he’s been wanting to enjoy, he dies in an accident while crossing the street.
A hundred years later, he wakes up once again as he learns that scientists have uploaded his mind into a computer.
He is now the AI controller of a spaceship. His mission is to find habitable planets for humans and if he refuses, he’ll be turned off, never to wake up again. With no other option, he agrees…
11. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman
Year 2380, the last year cadets of the Aurora Academy have just graduated and Tyler Jones is one of them. He’s always been a star pupil at the academy and now, he plans to recruit the best of the best in his team.
But, his plans fail. He ends up with the worst student in the academy that no one else wants like the cocky diplomat, the smart-ass technician, and the sociopath scientist.
When his team rescues a girl named Aurora who’s been sleeping for over two centuries, the fate of the entire galaxy somehow ends up on their shoulders.
12. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Traveling too many times to the past leaves the Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted and looking for a relaxing getaway. A vacation in Victorian England would be perfect for that as long as he doesn’t do anything to change the past.
But, he soon finds himself falling in love with a woman. You must check out this delightful romantic comedy by award-winning author Connie Willis.
13. Columbus Day by Craig Alanson
It’s a pretty light-hearted sci-fi book with comedy. It’s got some dark moments but still good.
It was supposed to be just another normal day in space for Earth when the Ruhar ships surrounded the planet and soon, we were at war. The enemies are much more technologically advanced than us.
Fortunately, we found allies in the Kristangs who were willing to help us against the Ruhar. But, we’ve fighting the wrong people all along. Ruhar are not the enemies, our new allies are.
14. Tuf Voyaging by George RR Martin
Haviland Tuf is the most honest trader in a space full of rogues and scammers who are just waiting to backstab you.
Somehow, he finds himself in possession of one of the most powerful seedship humanity has ever created – the last ship of the legendary Ecological Engineering Corps.
He is set to help solve the problems humans have created while colonizing planets. The only thing that stands between the colonists and destruction is him and his integrity.
15. The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
In a galaxy where crime has mostly been eradicated because of the advanced technology that detects and eliminates criminal-minded people before they can even commit a crime, Jim diGriz is the most notorious criminal that no law enforcement has ever managed to capture.
He can con any human, alien, or robot with zero effort. The only option the cops had was to make him one of their own.
16. Shockwave by Lindsay Buroker
What if being a hero was in your genes and everyone wanted a part of it for themselves?
Casmir Dabrowski was living a very good life as a genius professor and scientist who built a robot at a very young age. Until some robot assassins try to kill him and he’s forced to flee, leaving his life behind.
17. Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw
Space adventurers were all the hype when space travel was first discovered but things changed after Quantum teleportation was discovered and space adventurers are not needed anymore.
When an unlucky ex-adventurer masquerades himself as a famously hated pilot named Jacques McKeown, he ends up getting involved in a deep political conspiracy that could destroy the universe, but maybe, he can prevent that.