invading alien space ship

8 Thrilling Alien Invasion Books That Will Unnerve You

Eight of the best alien invasion books, including classics, indie pubs, and short stories. These titles will thrill you, creep you out, and make you look at the night sky a little differently.

Alien Invasion Books

Like stories about alien invasions? Who doesn’t? They provide a thrilling what if that puts us all on edge. Alien invasion stories are often about a hero who faces the ultimate bad guy – a superior race with superior technology and *gasp* superior intelligence?! It’s about more than just one hero, too. If we were faced with global extermination, we’d put our little fights down and take care of the big one. Alien invasion stories serve to say one common thing: WE are human.

Alien invasion books have as many different scenarios to offer as they do titles. Here’s a list of many different flavors for your picking.

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke is a classic science fiction author. Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968 which was based off of one of Clarke’s short stories. The movie was about a space crew on a mission to Jupiter, alongside an A.I. computer, heading to investigate an alien structure that was influencing human evolution. The film was selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress because it was deemed one of the most influential films of all time.

Childhood’s End (1953) is a book about a rather peaceful invasion—the silent kind, like ants sneaking through the cracks in your home’s foundation that you don’t even realize is there until half your pantry has been decimated. The aliens in Childhood’s End gift humanity with a new age of peace and harmony, but at a hidden expense. The aliens hide from sight and when they finally reveal themselves they resemble the Demons of the old Bible: hoofed feet, bat wings, horns, and red skin. At their management, humanity moves forward into a sort of hive-mind and experience total obliteration of their creativity and individuality. While pockets of people resist, it’s the children who choose to embrace their new forms. For a half-century-old novel, this is one ground-breaking plot.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants (2016) is a sci-fi thriller about a little girl named Rose who falls through the ground and into the hand of a giant robot. Nearly two decades go by and Rose becomes a top physicist piecing together chunks of the giant robot, scattered around the globe. She’s trying to figure out just what it is and what it was made for. The story is in the style of documentaries, interviews, and journal entries. This book is the first in The Themis Files. The idea for the novel, Neuvel says, came from creating a backstory with his son for the model robot they were building together.

Out of the Dark by David Weber

In this book you’ll get cinematic battle scenes pulled through a high-action plot: The Galactic Hegemony doesn’t like the newly discovered humans—too unpredictable—and they use an equally aggressive but more carnivorous species called the Shongairi, to attack Earth. Half the human race is wiped out in a matter of minutes and the ensuing story is about attempted resistance. Out of the Dark (2010), a trilogy, first appeared as a short story in George R. R. Martin’s Warriors anthology.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu, winner of numerous prestigious awards, is one of China’s most prominent sci-fi voices. The Three-Body Problem was first published in China in 2007 and has been translated to English. The story is about an alien race on its way to exterminate Earth. Humans form into groups to either welcome our deserved demise or to fight for their lives. This saga has received unabashed praise from all around. Word is, it will change the way you see space, human nature, and the way they impact one another.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

Another piece of classic science-fiction literature, the language in The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) is contemplative and thorough. This story is about an ambassador from the council of humanity (the Ekumen) who travels to a planet called Winter populated by beings that change between male and female. The ambassador, Genly Ai, puts his safety at risk to bring that nation of Karhide into the light of technology and information, only to be betrayed. His only option is to team up with an exiled traitor while they both seek refuge.

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Estelle Butler is a multiple award-winning African American science-fiction author. She wrote from the late 1970s until her death in 2006. Octavia’s mother wanted her to become a secretary so she could have a steady income, but Octavia chose temporary work instead so she could get up at three in the morning to do what was really important to her: write. Writer Harlan Ellison was one of her teachers at a workshop for the Screen Writer’s Guild of America which led her to also develop a relationship with Samuel R. Delaney.

Octavia Butler traveled to the Amazon rain forest as well as the Andes to do research for the collection that later became Lilith’s Brood (also called the Xenogenesis Trilogy). These books aren’t about the act of the alienation, but what happens after. The first installment, Dawn (1987), begins after Earth is destroyed by an apocalypse. Lilith awakes in the hands of an insect-like alien species. These aliens merge human DNA with theirs to eliminate the humans’ self-destructive nature. Surviving humans set up a colony on Mars with the goal of abolishing the tie between humans and the insect creatures.

Indie Pub Options

The following two independent authors have written stories complex and tense enough to stand up with the big guys. Being an indie author is a tough feat and when indie titles have good sales ranks, that means their work is worth the time. There’s no greater compliment to a self-published author than picking up their book.

The Dominant Species Series by David Coy

Dominant Species by David Coy

Part sci-fi, part horror, this series is about a teacher named Phil who’s paralyzed, taken captive, and infected with alien parasites. Along with other human prisoners aboard the space craft, Phil is pressed with finding a way to tell the rest of Earth that the aliens are there. Fast-paced and multi-faceted, Natural Selection (2012) will lure you in and creep you out.

Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

In Fluency (2014), Dr. Jane Holloway is recruited by NASA to travel to a spaceship that’s been silently drifting inside an asteroid belt since the 1960s. The crew is gone, but the ship is not abandoned. Dr. Holloway makes telepathic contact with the navigator of the ship – the one remaining being – who tells her “you are home”.

Follow author Jennifer Foehner Wells at her blog:

Short Reads (For Free!)

And if you’re not into any of that, or if you just started that next book that finally rose to the top of your mountainous to-be-read pile, we’ve got you covered. For your immediate enjoyment, here are four free short stories about alien invasions.

  • The Invasion From Outer Space by Steven Millhauser, a New Yorker short story. The most gentle invasion you’ll ever encounter.
  • The Road Not Taken by Harry Turtledove (dubbed “The Master of Alternate History” by Publisher’s Weekly).
  • The Gift of Mercy, by Anonymous, a Creepy Pasta story. One alien race to another: We don’t like you. The last line of this story really puts it up.
  • Appointment In Tomorrow, by Fritz Lieber, one of the fathers of the Sword & Sorcery subgenre. This is a Project Gutenberg story; Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library. They’re committed to the preservation and distribution to public domain books (books become public domain after the copyright expires).

Hopefully this list has provided some exciting reading material for the next week or two, or at least before the next reading binge gets hungry for more pages. Comment to let us know if you have an alien invasion favorite that’s not on the list!

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