Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Hidden Gems in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Genre

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

 I’m casting a wide net for this week’s post because there are so many stories in the SFF universe that haven’t received as much as attention as I think they should. These books are about everything from nineteenth century ghost stories to the adventures of sentient dinosaurs to dystopias set in the distant future.

If you love the science fiction and fantasy genres as much as I do, I hope you find something here that makes you smile.

1. Angelica: A Novel by Arthur Phillips.

This is one of the creepiest ghost stories I’ve ever. The main character was a spiritualist living in the late 1800s who was hired by a family to figure out if their young daughter was being haunted by a ghost of her deceased sibling or if there was some other reason for all of the strange things that happened around her.

2. Westlake Soul by Rio Youers.

Westlake, the main character, was a young man who was in a permanent vegetative state after a surfing accident. He has to use his newfound ability to astral project figure out how to save himself from a dangerous, supernatural villain who wants to kill him.

The storytelling was phenomenal. I honestly didn’t know what would happen to Westlake next while I was reading it because of how many plot twists there were.


3. Ember from the Sun by Mark Canter.

What would it be like to raise a Neanderthal child in contemporary society? After a group of scientists discovered a band of Neanderthals who had been frozen for millennia, they rescue an embryo from the womb of one of them and implanted it into a human woman’s body.

The little girl who was born as a result of that experiment grew up in a world where there was no one else like her. I loved seeing how she adjusted to the news that she wasn’t human and what she did with her life as she grew older. This was such a unique story.

4. World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler.

I’ve often wondered what life would be like if some kind of disaster shut down the federal government and towns were left to their own devices. How long could the average town provide for the people who lived there without receiving any outside help at all?

This story asked this question as well as answered it. It wasn’t exactly post-apocalyptic, but it did take an honest approach to what would happen after a community’s roads, hospitals, and social safety net begin to break down badly.

5. Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer.

I’m a huge fan of all of Robert J. Sawyer’s books, but Far-Seerer is special because the main character isn’t human. He was an intelligent dinosaur living on a faraway planet who was trying to figure out where his species came from and why they evolved to be so violent.

The adventure he went on in order to find answers to those questions is a must-read.

6. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Like World Made By Hand, the characters in this book had to rely on themselves to stay alive after an asteroid knocked the moon a little closer to Earth and society fell apart completely.

Unlike the characters in World Made By Hand, though, Miranda and her family must survive the severe after-effects of tsunamis, earthquakes, and a sun whose rays have been severely dimmed from volcanic ash that is cluttering up the sky.

There were many sad ways to die in this tale, but I loved its descriptions of what happens when people run low on food without losing hope.

7. Mara and Dann: An Adventure by Doris Lessing.

This is set in Africa several thousand years from now when almost no one remembers the technology and knowledge that humans used to possess.

Mara and Dann were two young siblings who must try to survive in a world where climate change has left large pockets of land uninhabitable and there is danger at every turn. One of my favorite parts of this book was reading the descriptions of the few pieces of modern technology that have survived and trying to guess what they originally were. Some of them were put to use in ways that contemporary people would never have thought of.

8. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

The main character, Connie Ramos, was a woman who was seriously mentally ill. While being treated for her illness in our timeline, she started to communicate with someone from the future. Were her conversations real or another symptom of her disease? Figuring out the answer to that question was nearly as interesting as watching Connie explore a society so different from her own.

9. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.

If aliens ever do contact Earth, the first city they visit could very well be Lagos, Nigeria. This was such a suspenseful tale. I caught myself holding my breathe more than once while reading it, especially during the scene when humanity first makes contact with another species.

10. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo.

Imagine being married off to the spirit of someone who has already died. I had never heard of this custom before, but I was fascinated by the idea of an unmarried ghost being restless and needing a spouse in order to find peace.

The murder mystery that Li Lan eventually found herself tied up in only made the plot better.

What are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy books that aren’t well known?


  1. Westlake Soul, Life As We Knew It and Lagoon sound amazing! I am a huge Sci-Fi fan so thank you so much for bringing these to my attention. I’m constantly looking for new Sci-Fi reads.

    Rekha @ Million Book Mill

    • You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy those books! I’m also always on the lookout for new Sci-Fi reads. It’s a wonderful genre.

  2. I always like seeing lists where I haven’t read or heard of most of the books because I love hearing about new (to me) books.

    My TTT: Marie @ Pages to Explore

    • Yes, it’s so delightful when that happens. I’m glad that I was able to recommend books you haven’t tried yet, and I hope that one or two of them caught your attention.

  3. Nice list. Almost all of them are new to me so I look forward to check them out. The Doris Lessing book sounds especially good.

    • Thank you. Yes, Doris Lessing is an incredibly gifted writer. I hope you enjoy Mara and Dann if you read it.

  4. I’ve actually come across The Ghost Bride a few times in a book store but never could quite pin what the focus was with this story so I never picked it up.
    Westlake Soul has a gorgeous cover.

    • I totally agree with you on how beautiful the cover of Westlake Soul is.

      I’ve had similar experiences with other books. It makes it much easier to decide if you want to read something if the blurb is written clearly. 🙂

  5. These all sound very interesting. I’ve only read Life As We Know It. I’ll need to check some of these out.

  6. Ooo! I love the Ghost Bride! It’s been one of my favourites I’ve read this year.

  7. Oh great list. 😀 I haven’t read any of these, in fact the only one I’ve even heard of is Life As We Knew It, so I’d say for me these are definitely hidden gems. I may have to check some of them out and add them to my TBR list because they sound quite interesting. 🙂

  8. I’ve just read Lagoon earlier this month, and thought it was so different and interesting. I’ve also read Life As We Knew It (really loved it, but enjoyed the series less as it went on) and Woman on the Edge of Time. Great choices! I’ll have to check out more from your list. 🙂

    • It’s nice to hear that you’ve already read and enjoyed a few of the books from my list. I hope you find a couple others that appeal to you as well.

  9. I’ve been interested in Life as We Knew it.
    I had forgotten about it so I am so glad you put it on your list!
    Thank you for sharing =)
    Ashley @ Books To The Tea

  10. I absolutely love fantasy books! The only one that I’ve heard of on this list is Life As We Knew It, which I’ve been meaning to read for a long time! Several of the books on this list sound interesting though!

    • It’s nice to hear that, Taylor. I hope you enjoy the books that caught your eye, and thanks for stopping by.

  11. I read Life As We Knew It back in middle school and it freaked me out SO much… but I still enjoyed it, so I guess that’s a good sign 🙂

  12. Bev Baird says:

    Wonderful list – surprised I haven’t read any of these as I love fatasy & scifi. Will have to add them to my TBR list.

  13. Great list! I’ve been meaning to read Life As We Knew It for a long time! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. I read “Life As We Knew It” FOREVER ago, but I never finished the series. I thought it was super interesting. Maybe I need to revisit it. I haven’t read any others, but the one with the intelligent dinosaur main character sounds epic! 🙂

    • I haven’t actually finished that series either. Maybe we should both read the whole thing? Haha! 🙂

      And, yes, Far-Seer was an amazing read.

  15. I may have to try Angelica! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • You’re welcome. Since you love horror, I think you’d really enjoy Angelica. It’s not gory at all, but it does have some incredibly frightening moments.

  16. I’ve read life as we know it but haven’t continued with the series yet. All the others are new books to me, need to check those out!

    • I hope you find a few other books on my list that pique your interest as well. I think it’s a lot of fun when other TTT bloggers choose books I’ve never heard of before.

  17. Life As We Knew It is one I want to read. I love the idea of it and want to see how they survive (assuming they do)! World Made by Hand is new to me but I’m interested for the same reason. And Far Seer sounds VERY interesting. that one’s new t ome as well!

    • I think it’s great that so many of the books on my list caught your interest. I hope you enjoy them if you get a chance to read them.

  18. I haven’t read any of these but I have The Ghost Bride on my TBR pile.😊 Some of my favorite SFF authors are Megan Whalen Turner, Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, Juliet Marillier and Andrea K. Host.💖

    • I hope you enjoy The Ghost Bride.

      Thank you for the SFF author recommendation. I’m going to go look them up right now as I’m always on the lookout for great new stories.

  19. I read Life As We Knew it years before I started blogging, but I remember loving it. Definitely deserves more attention. Great list!

  20. You’ve just reminded me to bump up woman on the edge of time and the ghost bride to my list!

  21. All these books have such interesting plots! I especially like the sound of Westlake Soul, Ember from the Sun and Ghost Bride – they’ve all gone on my TBR!

  22. I’ve never heard of any of these, hence why they’re hidden gems. Ghost Bride sounds good!

  23. I’ve barely seen anyone have “Life As You Know It” on their list ever! Time to read more man!!

  24. I have not heard of these…not surprisingly. 😂😂 But I’m SO intrigued for some of them! I particularly adore that cover (and premise!) of Westlake Soul…*dashes for goodreads*

  25. Great list! I added Angelica to my TBR!

  26. What a great take on today’s topic! I loved The Ghost Bride and am so glad to see it on your list. I haven’t read any of the others, but I definitely want to now! Thank you for sharing, and I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

    • Thank you, Literary Feline! It’s nice to meet another fan of The Ghost Bride. Have a good weekend yourself. Mine has been great so far.

  27. Just added Westlake Soul and Woman on the Edge of Time to my TBR! They sound amazing and intense. Great list!

  28. Woman on the Edge of Time and Lagoon sounds TBR worthy. Thanks!!

  29. I can’t say I’ve heard of any of these books but a few of them look quite interesting. I might have to check them out.

  30. I don’t read very much SFF, so it’s not surprising that I haven’t heard of these – but nonetheless I love that it’s such a diverse list and that it seems that you’ve managed to hit on some truly hidden gems. I am actually interested by some of the descriptions you’ve given, and I’ll be bookmarking this post to come back to in the future when I have time to explore SFF more!

    • Thank you, M. I think it’s incredibly important to read stories about people from many different walks of life. I’m glad you value that as well, and I hope you enjoy my recommendations.

  31. Okay, so the one with the girl who is the saved neanderthal embryo sounds sososo interesting! I can’t even imagine how that would feel to learn about yourself.
    Mara and Dann also sounds super interesting! Also, I think it carries an important message considering climate change and the impact that we as humans are having every single day on the Earth and what that could mean for the future.
    I haven’t heard of a single one of these! Lovely, lovely underrated list!

    • Thank you! Both of those books were fabulous. And, yes, Mara and Dann definitely did have an environmentalist spin to it. I sure hope you like both of them.

  32. Oooh very curious about some of these! Westlake Soul looks really good, as do Lagoon and Ghost Bride! I read Life as We Knew It a long time ago, and I was really into the story. It was haunting, and felt SO realistic. I haven’t finished the series though, because I heard some “meh” things about book 2. I really should thougH! Great list!

  33. These are all unknown titles/authors to me… but ‘Ghost Bride’ sure has a pretty cover. 🙂

    Thanks, as always, for visiting Finding Wonderland.

  34. I very rarely read sci-fi/fantasy so all of these are new to me. Ghost Bride definitely sounds intriguing, though… and has a gorgeous cover! Thanks for introducing me to some new options!

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