If you’ve ever tuned in for an episode of Star Trek, Futurama, or Cowboy Bebop; binged the Star Wars movies one weekend with friends; sat down to read Dune or Ender’s Game; or played Mass Effect or Starfield, you have enjoyed a space opera story.

This sub-genre of sci-fi is known for its character-driven stories set in a futuristic society with rich world-building, complete with audacious space adventures and tense conflicts.

But once upon a time, space operas were not so beloved. In fact, its very name was intended to be an insult.

Author Wilson Tucker, who coined the term space opera in 1941, defined this type of story as a “hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn, spaceship yarn.” Oof.

Hard sci-fi, because of its emphasis on scientific accuracy and realism, was considered more “literary” and therefore the better option by sci-fi snobs.

And yet, space opera’s popularity continues to grow. Much like high fantasy, audiences love space opera because of its epic scale and scope, and its focus on the personal rather than nitty-gritty specifics. No, we might not have a clue about how the replicators or the warp core in Star Trek work, but that’s not why we watch.

For those who love a dramatic space romp and exploring strange new worlds, we’ve rounded up some exciting space opera audiobooks to take you to foreign solar systems far, far away, even if your feet remain firmly planted here on Earth.


Ocean’s Godori

Written by Elaine U. Cho, narrated by Judy Alice Lee

Releases April 23!

Becky Chambers meets Firefly in this big-hearted Korean space opera debut about a disgraced space pilot struggling to find her place while fighting to protect the people she loves.

Ocean Yoon has never felt very Korean, even if she is descended from a long line of haenyeo, Jeju Island’s beloved female divers. Ocean’s also persona non grata at the Alliance, Korea’s solar system–dominating space agency, since a mission went awry and she earned a reputation for being a little too quick with her gun.

When her best friend, Teo, second son of the Anand Tech empire, is framed for murdering his family, Ocean and her misfit crewmates are pushed to the forefront of a high-stakes ideological conflict.

A thrilling adventure across the solar that delivers hyperkinetic action sequences and irresistible will-they-won’t-they romance alongside its nuanced exploration of colonialism and capitalism.

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On the Run

Written by James David Victor, narrated by Trevor Wilson

Releases April 9!

The fifth installment in the Sentinels series has Melias and crew on the run with the most powerful weapon in the galaxy.

Melias and crew have somehow managed to survive and keep possession of the device that could save or destroy the galaxy. When the most powerful factions in the galaxy converge on them and demand he surrender the weapon, he instead takes off with it. Can he keep the factions off his tail and figure out how to save everyone in the process?

Those who enjoy sci-fi adventures, space battles with alien invaders, and unexpected twists in humanity’s exploration of the stars will like this series.

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Written by M V Melcer, narrated by Patricia Rodriguez

Set in the near future when the world has been reshaped by climate change, an interstellar rescue mission faces deadly betrayals in this first-in-a-series audiobook.

Bethesda, humanity’s first human colony in another solar system, has ceased all communication with Earth after two decades of apparently thriving. An international volunteer crew is set to rescue the colony, but of course, the expedition turns out not to be so simple.

Nathalie Hart wakes from cryo-sleep early to discover something has gone very wrong on board the rescue vessel. Now suddenly thrust into command of a crew of strangers, all of whom have a secret to hide, she must decide who she can trust as they race towards the colony. Someone is willing to do anything to stop them from reaching Bethesda, but if their mission fails, five thousand innocent lives are at risk.

A locked room mystery in space, Melcer describes her story like this:

At its thematic core, it is a story about manipulation… of unchecked capitalism and weaponized prejudice, of propaganda and disinformation used as tools to divide and control.

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Sunken Spaceship

Written by Anthony Melchiorri, narrated by Paul Heitsch

Sunken Spaceship audiobook cover

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will want to check out this first-in-a-series space adventure.

Ex-Army paratrooper Fin Brooks thought he left danger behind when his battlefield injuries forced him to pursue a new career in marine biology. Then a starship nearly crashes into him.

When a pair of interstellar investigators respond to the crash, Fin learns the rare extraterrestrial on board is being smuggled across the galaxy – and then accuse Fin and his dog of crimes he’d didn’t even know existed.

To clear his name, Fin must take the creature to its home planet and find out who’s responsible for killing the starship’s pilot. Fin will need every skill he’s honed as a paratrooper and marine biologist if he – and his dog – are to survive.

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Taken to Heimo

Written by Elizabeth Stephens, narrated by Joy Beharie and Curtis Michael Holland

Want a space story with a little more focus on romance? Love enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, and fated mate tropes?

Then check out the fourth installment in the Xiveri Mates series featuring an angry alien and a head-scarf-wearing human heroine who is far too polite to meet anger with anger… most of the time.

There are a few things my Tri-God did not prepare me for. The first? Niahhorru pirates. They want the coordinates to an unprotected human satellite, and I have them.

The second? The human Council’s secrets that I’ve uncovered and that may get me killed.

The third? The powerful draw I have towards the male who hates me and all other humans.

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Jack Foster Space Opera Box Set

Written by John Hindmarsh, narrated by Shawn Compton

audiobook cover image for the jack foster space opera box set by John Hindmarsh

Dive into an epic space-opera series with this 3-in-1 audiobook box set!

Violent Graduation It’s easy to ignore dangerous issues while you’re studying at the Royal Space Navy’s academy – that is, it is until a sniper attempts to assassinate you.

Rescue the Princess Join Jack and his bot and AI friends as they combat sabotage and alien threats as they search for a missing princess… who just might rescue herself.

Jack’s Planet Join Jack and his team – ever increasing – in their venture to help their new friends, the Tirage, against slave traders and Jack Foster’s Planet against illegal mining.

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Superdreadnought Bundle, Books 1-3

Written by C. H. Gideon and Tim Marquitz, narrated by Phil Thron

An action-packed, high-stakes, military sci-fi space epic – with the first three books all in one place!

Book 1 – Integrated with a superdreadnought, the AI known as Reynolds embarks on a mission to find the elusive Kurtherians. He comes to a revelation: he’s better in the company of living creatures. Now he needs a crew, information, and to continue his search-and-destroy mission.

Book 2 – The superdreadnought crew is on foot to win the hearts of a planet’s native population as they continue their search for the Kurtherians.

Book 3 – Krokus 4, the system’s nexus of intelligent life. Who are the Krokans? Who are the Orau? Are there any good guys to protect? Reynolds is positioned to keep the sides from killing each other while he and the crew dig deeper to find the truth, all while fighting for their lives.

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