“I read all your stuff … now what?”

Or: A primer on peeps who write like me

The monster from the movie RELIC, based on the book by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

I am a lucky dude who has a bunch of fans who read everything I put out. You all rock. Your farts aren’t stinky, they actually smell like roses. You will live forever in big castles with big giants protecting the gates. I know this. Is pravda.

When people finish the Scott Sigler catalog, I get one of two questions (well, one of three, questions, because one is always ‘Are you working on MT. FITZROY right now?’*). They are, “When is your next book out,” or, “Do you have recommendations for authors who write the same kind of stuff you do?”

That phrase, “the same kind of stuff,” refers to my modern-day hard-science/horror books. You know, when the scares come from a sciencey base rather than a supernatural one. I’m pretty sure people aren’t asking who else writes about an American football league 700 years in the future with aliens playing positions based on their physiology, because — odds are — for that there can be only one. So, lemme give you a quick run-down on people that I think create hard-science/horror similar to my work.

Jonathan Maberry's Patient ZeroJonathan Maberry:
For this rather specific list, J-Mabs is #1. His Joe Ledger series is all about hard science + zombies and (insert cool monster here). If James Bond swilled marcobrews instead of Martinis and went up against freakin’ vampires instead of Cold War Russians, he would be Joe Ledger. If you like INFECTED or NOCTURNAL, I can’t pimp the Joe Ledger series enough.

Warren Fahy: Fahy isn’t as prolific as Maberry, but he’s got some really dope stories that take solid science and pump it full of PED/Steroid goodness. FRAGMENT is like JURRASIC PARK but on a cocktail of acid and moonshine with some cough syrup thrown in for flavor. The sequel, PANDEMONIUM, has one of the most bug-nuts, over-the-top finales I’ve ever read. Absolute summer popcorn-movie goodness.

Jeremy Robinson: Possibly tied with J-Mabs as “the hardest-working man in the book biz,” I’m pretty sure Robinson doesn’t sleep. You can’t produce as many solid books as this dude if you bumblefuck around with something trivial like sleep, man. It’s just not possible. Which books of his should you read? Why, the CHESS TEAM “Jack Sigler” series, of course! Is that a tip of the hat to moi? Yes, yes it is. Well-trained, wise-cracking people with lots of guns who seem to always wind up around a lab where science went horribly wrong. If that’s not enough for you, one of the books in this series has a plausible scientific take on a hydra. No, not the little microorganism, a full-on, many-headed hydra that eats faces. Yeah. It’s like that.

Mira GrantMira Grant's PARASITE: Less summer blockbuster and more social commentary, Grant’s PARASITE series will science your head clean off. She’s dope. She’s also the author of the NEWSFLESH series, which drops some sciency knowledge on the zombie trope.

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child: If you like my stuff and you haven’t read RELIC, you are missing out. Full stop. This is the book that changed my writing career. I loves me some Stephen King, and that’s who I wanted to be as a young lad, right up until I read the one-two punch of JURASSIC PARK and RELIC. Waitaminutehere … you can scare the crap out of people with science, and not just ghosty stuff? I’m in! Hard to go wrong with any book written by this tag team of bad-assery. The picture at the top of this post? Oh, it’s no big deal, just the Kothoga from the movie based on that book.

James Rollins: Just about anything he writes. Dude is pimp, and so nice in person he’d shake Ghandi’s hand and leave Ghandi thinking “Wow, I really gotta learn how to be better to people.”

Amazon told me what people who bought INFECTED also bought. A couple of names came up repeatedly, although I haven’t read these peeps (yet).

The aforementioned Stephen King and his biggest contemporary, Dean Koontz, sometimes put a crunchy science shell around their gritty, character-driven horror tales. But even their more-sciencey (maybe THE STAND for King, and WATCHERS for Koontz) are more hand-wavey, “some science stuff happened and now we are all just completely fucked” type stories. The five authors I mentioned up top try hard to give you a scientific explanation for their various plots, getting more into the nuts and bolts of how things really work in the world. Richard Matheson (I AM LEGEND) and Jack Finney (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) are also more in the hand-wavey camp. The real focus of authors like King, Koontz, etc., is to show you the human cost of science gone wrong and how real people would react to unreal situations, rather than “let’s see if we can make this insanity really plausible with real nuts-and-bolts biology.”

I know there’s a bunch I’m not thinking of, probably even some folks I have read who just aren’t popping into my head. If there’s a hard-science/horror writer you dig, tell me in the comments.

* No, I am not working on MT. FITZROY right now. 

About The Author


  1. Daniel Gonzales

    Forgive me for arriving so late to this party, but I’ve got to add Michael Crichton (RIP) to the mix. His main body of work seems to follow the theme “Look how technologically wonderful we are… oops! We didn’t think about THAT”. I love how he didn’t just throw us in the middle of dinosaurs, he showed us how they got here. I have to admit tho’, that his latest works didn’t engage me as much as he used to.

  2. Chris Carroll

    I just finished A. J. Coluccie’s The Colony. Good book about genetically altered killer ants in New York. Got to add it to this list.

    1. scottsigler

      Chris : Yes! Damn, how could I forget about that one? I gave it a pre-read for her before it was published. Secret Agent Chris Grall helped with firearms consultation as well. Fun book.

  3. ratman19

    I am glad you mentioned Jeremy Robinson, I have a few of his books but haven’t read them yet. I don’t know about the Jack Sigler series though, I have always disliked series books if they exceed a trilogy. I have come many good characters in series books, such as Dirk Pitt from Clive Cussler’s The Dragon or Joe Ledger from Maberry’s Patient Zero. Unfortunately I can not stand that authors feel the need to create long running series. I find it an excuse used to be able to reduce reuse recycle. I may be the minority in this feeling, but going into a book knowing that the protagonist isn’t going to die and that the book most likely means nothing in the whole spectrum of the series (I’ve never truly needed to read the previous book in a series in order to properly understand the book).

  4. Farhan

    Mr. Sigler, I’m a huge fan of yours. I read a lot for a guy who is not in the publishing business. One of my all-time favorite science-based thrillers do not involve the usual suspects. I suggest you give Patrick Lee’s outstanding trilogy a chance. The first novel is called ‘Breach’ and if you don’t finish it in one sitting, I’d personally take off my shirt and eat it.

    1. scottsigler

      Farhan: Get ready to eat that shirt. I am not a fan of time travel books. When I got to the end of THE BREACH, I wanted to track Patrick down and demand those 10 hours of my life back. Definitely not the story for me.

  5. Jesper Schultz

    Matthew Reilly’s ‘Contest’ was a page-turner for me – it’s probably over in the hand-wavey scifi departement; but the action is nonstop, it has aliens, a sporting tournament setup, horror and suspense. Good stuff.

    I was blown away by Fahy’s Fragment, but felt that the sequel Pandemonium was too much over the top. Probably good for a summer holiday movie action extravaganza though 🙂

    Good article – it’s girthy!

  6. Chris Carroll

    Here are some I’ve read lately that fit into this category and are worthy of your time:
    Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace
    Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon
    The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

  7. Dave Fisk

    I make it a point to get any new thing Jeremy Robinson puts out. You are right. That dude is a dynamo of content. He just released a new Chess Team book called Cannibal. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m sure it’ll be great. His “Antarktos Rising” series is more “hand wavy” but still good stuff. If you like time travel stuff, check out his book The Didymus Contingency. It was the first anything (book/tv/movie) that I’ve seen that actually does time travel right, and it’s a mega cool story to boot.

    I haven’t met him in person, but I have emailed him expecting to never hear back, and he somehow manages to find the time to email me back!

    There needs to be a Sigler/Robinson cross over somehow…like Chess Team meets up with Brian Clauser and takes on Marie’s Children in a giant ass fight.

  8. Evan Hammerman

    My late wife and I wanted to live at The Dakota so we would be neighbors with Agent Pendergast, the character that became the main character of Preston and Child.

    Hard science with explanations? Neal Stephenson. REALLY hard science with long explanations. Not horror though.

    You can’t mention Stephen King without mentioning Peter Straub. Ghost Story is probably his best known; you will read Shadowland several times just to figure it out.

    Richard Matheson has written lots of stuff you have seen on Twilight Zone. And the whole “push the button”: meme is his. And he went to my high school!

    You mentioned Jurassic Park. Michael Crichton definitely brought the science.

    And if you like science, you have to go back to the immortals, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

  9. Mike Wyzlic

    I’ve read some of those authors as well. I agree completely with Maberry and Robinson. Love them both!

    What’s your take on Crichton? You mentioned Jurassic Park, but that’s it. I found his stories to be science based, too. Maybe a little in between science and hand wavey at times. His book Prey is what got me reading again as an adult after a long lapse where my life was taken over by movies (not TV).

  10. Marcel Schindler

    Nice selection and I must say, I read Robinson and Child as well. If I might add Donn Cortez. Closer and the Sequel to Closer are awesome and while the first book is quite brutal the sequel called “remote” is more like a psychotic game. “Genome Inc.” by Matthew Delaney was okay, too. And Meat by Joseph D’Lacey was something I liked.

    Thanks for the other hints, I have to check them now 🙂

    1. scottsigler

      Cal: I left THE TROOP out because I felt it was more hand-wavey science. Wel, we all are, but that one was over the top with a take on “evolution.” Love-love-love that book, though.

  11. Tony Jones

    Nice article Scott. “The Girl With all the Gifts” was a pretty hefty selling zombie novel with some cool science in it by M R Carey. Also recently read Will McIntosh’s “Defenders” which is the best aliens take over the world novel Ive read since Pandemic. Again a lot of science, violence and mass destruction. You’d love it. I did both these books for my Psychotronic Book Club at school/work. Tony