20 engaging First Contact novels reviewed here

Rendezvous With Rama is one of a dozen First Contact novels reviewed here.

Since the earliest days of science fiction as an established genre, writers in the field have imagined what has come to be called First Contact with a capital F and a capital C. Most of the early speculation in the so-called Golden Era of Science Fiction (the 1930s and 40s) was laughable. But in more recent times most authors have sought to ground their work in the thinking of scientists rather than fantasists. The result has been a flurry of thought-provoking books and films that raise questions about human existence as well as the prospects for encountering intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And here are twenty of those books. One (Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama) is a classic, but all the others have been written far more recently. They’re arranged in alphabetical order by the authors’s last names, and each is linked to my review.

Semiosis (Semiosis Duology #1) by Sue BurkeCan plants think? These colonists on an alien world learn the answer the hard way.

Interference (Semiosis Duology #2) by Sue Burke—Humans, intelligent plants, brilliant insects, and that’s not all!

Dawn (Xenogenesis Trilogy #1) by Octavia E. Butler—A science fiction novel that illuminates the human condition

Neptune Crossing (Chaos Chronicles #1) by Jeffrey A. Carver—Chaos theory triggers an interplanetary adventure

3zekiel (First Contact) by Peter CawdronA thoughtful treatment of First Contact in this new sci-fi novel

But the Stars (First Contact #11) by Peter Cawdron—An alien encounter that questions the nature of reality

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky ChambersAn excellent hard science fiction novella from Becky Chambers

Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke—Arthur C. Clarke’s believable First Contact novel

Skywave (Rorschach Explorer #1) by K. Patrick Donoghue—A private space company threatens a decades-long government coverup

Axiom’s End (Noumena #1) by Lindsay Ellis—First Contact is old news in this sc-fi thriller

The Visitor: First Contact Hard Science Fiction by Tony Harmsworth—What happens after First Contact

Tomorrow’s Kin (Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy #1) by Nancy KressHard science fiction doesn’t get much better than this

Remnant Population by Elizabeth MoonAlien encounters of the strange kind in a captivating sci-fi novel

Transmission (Invasion Chronicles #1) by Morgan RiceA YA novel about first contact that’s . . . well, childish

Saturn Run by John Sandford and CteinFirst Contact: Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind

First Encounter by Jasper T. Scott—Hostile First Contact in this promising prequel to a new sci-fi series

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington—In a classic First Contact novel, astronauts meet . . . something very strange

Blind Lake by Robert Charles WilsonAn award-winning sci-fi novelist writes a disappointing book

Spin (Spin Trilogy #1) by Robert Charles Wilson—A Big History of the future in this popular visionary science fiction novel

I might add an excellent story that is only in part what might be called a First Contact novel: The Forge of God (Forge of God #1) by Greg Bear—Greg Bear’s powerful tale of interstellar conflict

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