Updated: Nov 19, 2021
In a continuation from my mega-list of books of fantasy with animal companions, below is a list of science fiction books that feature animal and creature companions—from dogs to flying snakes to aliens and more!
The animal companion trope is less common in sci-fi and harder to find, so I plan to keep adding to this list as I discover more books that fit the bill.
Tags to help you navigate: dog, cat, dingo, alien, slug, snake, wolf, sloth, spider, monkey, dolphin, invented creature.
1. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Companions: slug/invented animal/monster
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
2. The Animals In That Country by Laura Jean McKay
Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue.
As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, heading south, Jean feels the pull to follow her kin.
Setting off on their trail, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun, they find themselves in a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species. Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in That Country asks what would happen if - for better or worse - we finally understood what animals were saying.
3. The Mount by Carol Emshwiller
Charley is an athlete. He wants to be painted crossing the finish line, in his racing silks, with a medal around his neck. But Charley isn't a runner. He is a human mount, the property of one of the alien invaders called Hoots. Charley hasn't seen his mother in years, and his father is hiding out in the mountains with the other Free Humans. The Hoots own the world, but the humans want it back. Charley knows how to be a good mount-now he's going to have to learn how to be a human being. This remarkable novel, winner of the 2002 Philip K. Dick Award, should be read by every fan of speculative fiction, teenagers and adults alike.
4. Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
In a far-future, post-holocaust Earth, a young healer named Snake travels the world, healing the sick and injured with her companion, the alien dreamsnake. But she is being pursued. . .
5. On Basilisk Station by David Weber
Honor Harrington in trouble: Having made him look the fool, she's been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her. Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship's humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system's only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament isn't sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling, the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called "Republic" of Haven is Up to Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn't work to police the entire star system.
But the people out to get her have made one mistake.
They've made her mad!
6. Damia’s Children by Anne McCaffrey
Companion: alien/invented creature
Damia and Afra-Raven-Lyon had reared their children in a brilliant and unorthodox way. All their young had been 'paired' when six months old with the furry, one-eyed Mrdinis, the only other sentient beings in the Alliance, who could communicate with humans by their 'dream messages'. Together, Man and Mrdini worked to create prosperous worlds and guard against the terrible threat of the annihilating Hivers.
And now, in the deeps of Space, Mrdini scouts had crossed the path of three Hive ships—ships that were giant hulks of cell units, bearing the queens and workers out into space, to breed and multiply and destroy wherever they found a viable planet.
It was the four elder children of Damia—Laria, Thian, Rojer and Zara—all uniquely talented in their various ways, who were to play their part, helped by their life-long Dini friends, in the conquering and investigation of the Alien threat of the Hivers.
7. Pip & Flinx series by Alan Dean Foster
Companion: invented creature/snake
Moth was a beautiful planet, the only one with wings -- two great golden clouds suspended in space around it.
Here was a wide-open world for any venture a man might scheme. The planet attracted unwary travelers, hardened space-sailors, and merchant buccaneers -- a teeming, constantly shifting horde that provided a comfortable income for certain quick-witted fellows like Flinx and his pet flying snake Pip. With his odd talents, the pickings were easy enough so that Flinx did not have to be dishonest ... most of the time.
In fact, it hardly seemed dishonest at all to steal a starmap from a dead body that didn't really need it anymore. But Flinx wasn't quite smart enough. He should have wondered why the body was dead in the first place...
8. Heirs to the Throne by Diane Rapp
Drako is a planet on the fringe of civilized space. It proves suitable for colonization, but a society of telepathic wolves already occupies the world. When a colony ship lands on Drako, the wolves try to communicate but find no intelligent creatures to speak with them. The wolves watch as colonists develop Drako into a recreation planet for wealthy tourists. Settlers became feudal lords, desert sheiks, oriental samurai, and ordinary peasants depending on their level of investment. After several generations the monarchy revolted against technology and closed Drako to offworld visitors. Distaste for technology mutated into superstitious hatred. Anyone caught with spacer tools or weapons could be executed.
In civilized space scientists invented Transfer, a means to insure immortality by moving a human mind into a clone—free of hereditary defects. Every fifty years (a span) an individual qualified for Transfer but the tradeoff was large debt to the Institute. Governments toppled and war left the Institute in total control. Individuals were virtual slaves to Institute rules, but the inventors of Transfer became a threat.
When the medical spaceship Zebulon flees from an Institute death sentence, they don’t know an assassin infiltrated the crew. They picked the remote planet of Drako for their exile. They encounter a dying king and hereditary lords who hate spacers. When the king proclaims the Zebulon’s captain his heir, Donovan must compete for the crown to protect his crew. Faced with superstitions, hatred, and eminent danger, the crew must adapt to a feudal society without using modern tools or weapons. Fortunately the Transfer process enhanced the natural talents of each person and might give them an advantage. The wolves make telepathic contact and decide to protect Donovan’s pack from the assassin who is determined to kill their doctor and captain.
9. Ghatti's Tale series by Gayle Greeno
Companion: invented creature
Their technological resources destroyed, a colonizing expedition from Earth has been stranded on the world of Methuen for over two hundred years. Their continued survival is largely due to the organization of healers known as the Eumedicos and to the Seekers Veritas, a unique group composed of pairs of Bondmates, one human and one ghatti—a telepathic catlike being native to Methuen who bonds with a specific human for life. These Bondmates travel from town to town, settling disputes by truth-reading the minds and emotions of plaintiffs and defendants. While most people respect the Seekers, there are those who fear the ghatti powers. And now someone has begun attacking Seeker pairs.
What no one knows is that this destroyer has targeted one specific pair of Bondmates as special victims—the woman Doyce and the ghatta Khar'pern. For the key to defeating this deadly foe is locked away in Doyce's mind behind barriers even her ghattas has never been able to break down.
10. The Awakening series by Paul B. Spence
Companion: cat (panther)
Lt. Commander Hrothgar Tebrey is assigned as a military attaché to an archaeological expedition as light duty to recover from the disaster of his previous mission. But things quickly begin to go wrong on Cedeforthy. Someone, or something, is manipulating events to sabotage the expedition.
When the science team becomes marooned on the planet by the tides of war, the sinister force reveals itself, and Tebrey must fight against a seemingly unstoppable enemy to save not just himself, the expedition, and the woman he loves, but his very soul.
Some things are worth dying for; it is the things worth living for that matter.
11. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons.
Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell’s undertow.
Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own.
12. Presumed Dead by Rick Kennett
Being genetically engineered as an integral part of a starship's weaponry system for the Martian Star Corps is something Lieutenant Cy De Gerch deeply resents. When a failed war game leaves her marooned on an uninhabited planet with a monster intent on destroying her, Cy sees this as an opportunity to desert the Corps with an almost clear conscience. The ghosts of two former lovers, one male, one female, and an alien spider cross-dressing as a lobster have other ideas.
13. Doomed? series by Rita de Heer
Companion: alien, dog
Tardi Malko is a 22nd century Byron Bay truck-jockey. For his second job, he surfs for a never happy Virtual Surfing outfit. His ex-girlfriend refuses to accept they aren't a couple anymore and secretly signs him up for a job with her, and his brought-back-to-life brother wants to stay dead next time his CPU freezes.
When Tardi is infected with a sentient alien substance by falling against some coral, the Moogerah Monster comes alive in his mind. This alien, wanting to escape its prison in Brisbane, picks Tardi for its waterman.
Tardi begins his resistance by intending to stay himself. Quite soon he needs to work on how he will stay human. The Monster's control over him increases. Then the Stormies, a mysterious underclass, claim Tardi as their own. Tamer, they call him. Will they help or hinder his quest to find a cure?
As events unfold, Tardi Malko becomes a mongrelised cross between human, Stormy-kind and the alien infections he carries.
14. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples [graphic novel]
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
15. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Goran Sudžuka and José Marzán Jr. [graphic novel]
"Y" is none other than unemployed escape artist Yorick Brown (his father was a Shakespeare buff), and he's seemingly the only male human left alive after a mysterious plague kills all Y-chromosome carriers on earth. But why are he and his faithful companion, the often testy male monkey Ampersand, still alive? He sets out to find the answer (and his girlfriend), while running from angry female Republicans (now running the government), Amazon wannabes that include his own sister (seemingly brainwashed), and other threats. The Vertigo team of Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and José Marzán Jr. have given us a great read!
16. Earthrise series by Daniel Arenson
They came from deep space. They came to destroy us.
Fifty years ago, bloodthirsty aliens devastated the Earth. Most of humanity perished. We fell into darkness.
But now we rise from the ashes. Now we fight back.
Marco Emery was born into the war. After his mother is killed, he joins the Human Defense Force, Earth's ragtag army. Emery must survive basic training, become a soldier, and finally face the aliens in battle.
Against the alien onslaught, Earth stands alone. But we will fight. We will rise. We will win.
17. Ringworld by Larry Niven
The artefact is a circular ribbon of matter six hundred million miles long and ninety million miles in radius. Pierson's puppeteers, the aliens who discovered it, are understandably wary of encountering the builders of such an immense structure and have assembled a team of two humans, a mad puppeteer and a kzin, a huge cat-like alien, to explore it. But a crash landing on the vast edifice forces the crew on a desperate and dangerous trek across the Ringworld.
18. Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search for a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. Enter the Hell Divers—men and women who risk their lives by diving to the surface to scavenge for parts that keep their homes in the air. When one of the two surviving airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there that’s far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past—something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.
19. A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
In an alternate world in which John F. Kennedy survived and scientific breakthroughs in animal research and telepathy allow for advanced communication with animal companions, fifteen-year-old Vic and his telepathic dog, Blood, scavenge the wastelands of a war-torn United States, survivors of a nuclear World War III between the Americans and the Soviets. While Blood guides Vic toward women—to be used for sex—Vic ensures that Blood has food, but the symbiotic relationship is put at risk when the pair meets Quilla June Holmes, who lures the boy to an underground civilization. A piece of shocking, dystopic science fiction, A Boy and His Dog questions the boundaries and nature of love while crafting a vision of a dark future guaranteed to leave chills.
20. Watchers by Dean R. Koontz
From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose... Bestselling author Dean Koontz presents his most terrifying, dramatic and moving novel: The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless storm of mankind's darkest creation…
21. Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
Companion: alien/invented creature
The chartered Zarathustra Company had it all their way. Their charter was for a Class III uninhabited planet, which Zarathustra was, and it meant they owned the planet lock stock and barrel. They exploited it, developed it and reaped the huge profits from it without interference from the Colonial Government. Then Jack Holloway, a sunstone prospector, appeared on the scene with his family of Fuzzies and the passionate conviction that they were not cute animals but little people.
22. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein
When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his table, Dr. Richard Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions, where a plot to rescue a sentient computer could alter human history…
23. The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian Walker
Every dog has its day…
And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.
Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.
But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…
24. Artemis Awakened series by Jane Lindskold
Companion: cat (puma)
Artemis is a pleasure planet created by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…
But the Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology, and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world.
After crashing his ship, he encounters Adara the Huntress and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey with her will lead Dane to discover the planet's secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind.
25. The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle
Martin lives in a perfect world.
Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they've stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It's business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.
And it's all about to come crashing down.
Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin's sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.
26. Wolves and War by Candy Rae
An imaginary world somewhere in the galaxy with two warring continents inhabited by large telepathic wolverines. Find out what happens when two refugee spaceships arrive. Will human and wolf learn how to live with each other? Can they? Planet Wolf is about to change forever.
27. Startide Rising by David Brin
Brin's tales are set in a future universe in which no species can reach sentience without being "uplifted" by a patron race. But the greatest mystery of all remains unsolved: who uplifted humankind?
The Terran exploration vessel Streaker has crashed in the uncharted water world of Kithrup, bearing one of the most important discoveries in galactic history. Below, a handful of her human and dolphin crew battles armed rebellion and a hostile planet to safeguard her secret--the fate of the Progenitors, the fabled First Race who seeded wisdom throughout the stars.
28. Chanur series by C J Cherryh
No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company -- a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown -- and he was a prisoner of his discoverer/ captors the sadistic, treacherous kif, until his escape onto the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.
Little did he know when he threw himself upon the mercy of The Pride and her crew that he put the entire hani species in jeopardy and imperiled the peace of the Compact itself. For the information this fugitive held could be the ruin or glory of any of the species at Meetpoint Station.
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