If Jupiter Ascending crashes and burns; 3 books to console yourself

in Fiction by

I’ve been drooling over the Jupiter Ascending trailer for almost a year now. And here’s why:

A hot, alien Channing Tatum? Mila Kunis kicking some serious sci-fi ass? Produced and directed by the Wachowski siblings (also responsible for a little movie called The Matrix)? Seriously, what’s not to like here?

Ascending was originally supposed to come out in July—we even paid a little tribute to it with our Five Powerhouse Heroines article. But due to marketing and additional special effects, the release date was delayed until winter. Now the film is finally, finally in theaters February 6, and, trust me—I will be the first in line.

Just in case the movie doesn’t quite live up to its potential, I’m stocking up on some Jupiter Ascending-inspired reads to get me ready for the premiere. Here are three must-read sci-fi stories to prepare you for a little space exploration of your own:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy like jupiter ascending

I can’t think of a better time to reread this classic sci-fi tale. Like Kunis’s character Jupiter, Arthur Dent is living a pretty normal (and slightly boring) life before he barely escapes from an apocalyptic Earth and takes to space. The reason? It’s being paved for a hyperspace bypass. While definitely more tongue-in-cheek than the tone of Jupiter Ascending, both movie and book deal with a complicated, consumer-driven space system where earth is only a tiny little cog. Which certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

scarlet like jupiter ascending

Meyer started her Lunar Chronicles with Cinder, a sci-fi reboot of Cinderella, where instead of balls and pumpkins, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic. But for a more Jupiter Ascending-style book, try Scarlet, a revamped version of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Scarlet is looking for her grandmother when she runs into Wolf, a mysterious young street fighter. Together, the two of them battle the evil Lunar Queen, search for Scarlet’s grandmother, and slowly fall in love. Sounds more than a little like Tatum’s Caine Wise, tasked to protect the secretly royal Jupiter.


The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

the forever war like jupiter ascending

Described as one of the best sci-fi war novels of all time, Haldeman’s Forever War tells the story of William Mandella, a conscripted soldier from Earth sent to the outer reaches of space to fight a thousand-year war. Time moves more slowly, the enemy seems unbeatable, and Mandella finds that he cannot adjust to life back on Earth after being away for what eventually amounts to centuries. Epic and yet still very human, this is exactly the kind of timeless sci-fi story that I’m hoping Jupiter Ascending will become.

Are you equally excited for Jupiter Ascending, or just hoping Channing Tatum takes his shirt off a lot? (No judgment!) Let us know in the comments!

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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