Books

12 of the Best Romancifi Books to Read When You’re Tired of Romantasy

Romantasy has taken over the book world, in no small part thanks to TikTok — and it’s easy to see why. These books combine high-stakes epic fantasy with swoon-worthy love stories. They have magic, dragons, and — often — steamy scenes. What’s not to love? Romance with fantasy elements and fantasy novels with romantic subplots are not new, but romantasy stands out for a couple of reasons: 1) good branding, and 2) in theory, a fairly equal focus on both the genres. There’s no reason this kind of genre mash-up has to be isolated to fantasy, which is why I predict the next hot new trend in reading will be romancifi books.

What are romancifi books? Just like romantasy, romancifi (pronounced like a spell: romansify!) balances two popular genres in one story — in this case, romance and sci-fi. Like romantasy, romancifi relocates familiar love stories to new and interesting locales. In this case, that means falling in love on (or with) a spaceship, while time-traveling, or on a far-flung planet. And just like monster romance and erotica, alien romance and erotica is a popular subgenre. (As far as I know, a portmanteau of romance and sci-fi has not yet taken off, so I’m coining romancifi.)

If you’ve been burning through romantasy books and are looking for something a little difference, here are 12 romancifi books to get you started in the genre.

12 of the Best Romancifi Books

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone book cover

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Perhaps no single book better encapsulates romancifi than this one. It follows two people on opposite sides of a war, time-traveling to try to secure their victory. But as these agents communicate through letters, they begin to fall in love. Talk about an epic love story: it’s poetic, epistolary romance meets sci-fi adventure.

Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell Book Cover

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Prince Kiem and Count Jainan are about to be wed, but it’s not for love. Jainan is the representative of a rebellious planet, and the Emperor is marrying off his grandson Kiem to keep this alliance intact. To make things more complicated for the prince, Jainan is a widower suspected of murdering his first spouse. When a conspiracy is unearthed, they’ll have to find a way to work together. The New York Times Book Review promises this one will have you shouting, “Now kiss!”

The AI Who Loved Me book cover

The AI Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

What better way to dip your toe into romancifi than with award-winning romance author Alyssa Cole? Trinity is trying to live a peaceful life working from home when her neighbor’s nephew moves into the building. Li Wei is hot, but he also keeps causing mishaps in the apartment building. Soon, Trinity realizes he’s actually cutting-edge AI, and she agrees to help him learn how to be human…and what’s more human than falling in love?

the cover of Ice Planet Barbarians

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Look, we can’t talk about romancifi without mentioning the sci-fi erotica series that scandalized BookTok: Ice Planet Barbarians. Georgie has been abducted by aliens, but that’s only the start of her troubles. After some spaceship malfunctions, the aliens decide to ditch the humans on an ice planet. Good news: Georgie found an alien, Vektal, on the planet who can help them survive. Bad news: Vektal says Georgie is his mate, and she’s not sure he’ll let her go.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz Book Cover

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

I want to offer a broad range of romancifi for you to choose from, so here’s a quieter, cozy romancifi novella. Sal is a robot built before AI became illegal. Her master had died, and now she lives out her days running their tea shop while slowly breaking down and facing societal stigma. Clara is a traveling AI repair tech who stumbles into the shop. This is a thoughtful asexual F/F romance that’s perfect to enjoy with a hot mug of tea.

The Red Scholar's Wake Book Cover

The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard

Rice Fish is a sentient pirate ship, leader of the fleet. When her wife, the Red Scholar, dies under suspicious circumstances, she’s determined to get revenge. When they board tech expert Xích Si’s ship, Rice Fish makes her a deal. If Xích Si marries Rice Fish, she’ll be under her protection. In exchange, Xích Si will use her technical knowledge to help find Red Scholar’s killer. Their marriage is purely a business arrangement…until it’s not. Meanwhile, an interstellar war rages in this romantic space opera.

the cover of The Best of All Possible Worlds

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Dllenakh is a Sadiri refugee searching for a way to save his culture. Because the Sadiri survivors are mostly male, that means reaching out to the people of the world that has taken them in, looking for compatible cultures. Grace is a government official helping Dllenakh in this effort, but it’s not easy for them to work together: Sadiri are embarrassed by shows of emotion. If you’re looking for a slow-burn, cerebral romancifi, put this one at the top of your TBR.

cover of The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis; cartoon illustration of marquee sign advertising the title with a cow being tractor beamed up into a spaceship behind it

The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis

How about a humor take on romancifi? Francie is a skeptic who is reluctantly attending a friend’s UFO-themed wedding in Roswell…when she is abducted by aliens. Well, doesn’t she feel silly for rolling her eyes. As the alien continues to pick up a ragtag group of people, Francie becomes convinced he’s in trouble and isn’t trying to hurt anyone. But how can she help when she doesn’t even know what the danger is? This promises to be “part alien-abduction adventure, part road trip saga, part romantic comedy.”

Crier's War by Nina Varela Book Cover

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

The Automae were meant to be the royals’ playthings. But now, they rule over humanity. Ayla is a human servant determined to get revenge for her family’s deaths. She just needs to rise up the ranks until she can get close enough to Lady Crier to kill her. Crier is an Automae who is beginning to question her father, the king. When the two meet, Ayla finds she can’t go through with killing her. But together, they might take down the whole system.

the cover of The Darkness Outside Us

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

In this YA romancifi story, Ambrose and Kodiak are two teenage boys who have just woken up on a spaceship. Ambrose is missing memories, and it seems like strangers have been onboard the ship, but he’s determined to complete their rescue mission to save his sister. Kodiak barricading himself away isn’t helping, though. They’ll have to find a way to work together to survive.

Book cover of The Kindred by Alechia Dow

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

Joy Abara is a commoner on a lowly planet, but she has a connection to fame: she’s Kindred with Duke Felix Hamdi. They’ve never met, but they have a mental connection. When Felix’s family is murdered — and he’s framed for it — he steals a spaceship, picks up Joy…and accidentally crashes on Earth. Now they’ll have to see if their bond can survive life together on this strange planet.

Always Human cover

Always Human by Ari North

In a future where body modifications are the norm, Sunati is stunned by the brave woman she sees who isn’t using them. But it turns out Austen isn’t being brave or rebellious: she has Egan’s Syndrome, and she’s allergic to mods. As the two of them get to know each other on dates, they go through miscommunication and missteps, but ultimately accept each other and grow. This is a sweet sapphic graphic novel where the sci-fi elements are more subtle than most of the other romancifi on this list.

Looking for more romancifi? Check out these Science Fiction Romance Books! You might also like these Best and Swooniest Romantasy Books, Genre-Bending Sci-Fi Books, and Genre-Defying Sci-Fi Books.

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