Skip Navigation

What do you read to scratch the "Mass Effect Itch"?

Politics, combat, exploration, found family. Recs?

  • If the show is anything to go by I would say The Expanse series of books. Less variety of aliens but it's got politics, combat and found family. Very enjoyable.

    • I've read the books and I largely agree. It hits most of the points except the aliens. Admittedly there is the ancient alien menace element.

      Actually, if you replace the ring gates with mass relays, the first ~four to six books could almost be read as a Mass Effect prequel of sorts. Except, upon discovering the mass relays, they discover a universe


      Purged of life

      I'd give it a 5/7 for matching the recommendation ;)

  • Star Trek novels? Wide array of them of very different styles. Read a bunch of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers ones and a few of the old TOS ones. Maybe not the best writing but fun enough.

    Think the Bobiverse could be what you want too, although again more pulpy then high brow.

    But I'll admit mass effect is still in my backlog, I've only maybe played the first act of game 1.

    • There was a remaster release maybe a year or so ago (I have no concept of time) and it gave me a chance to replay it. Mass Effect 1 was actually originally conceived as a Star Trek game, but they couldn't properly secure the rights and ended up pivoting into their own IP. Mass Effect 2 is a storytelling masterpiece though, as far as games go. And I wish I could find books that properly captured that feeling.

      One of the important distinctions though, versus Star Trek books which are non-canonical-- main characters, except your POV character, can and will die in Mass Effect, and this has a knock on effect as you continue. In game terms, this means that decisions you made in Mass Effect 1 will affect your roster in Mass Effect 2, etc. The Star Trek novels, excepting spinoff series like the Peter David stuff, could not affect canon. In other words, you couldn't kill Riker. So you know there's no risk, and no development either.

      Anyway, good suggestion nevertheless. I used to devour those books, haha. And I also recommend the games if you aren't allergic to the shooter aspects -- because the lore is so good. :)

  • The Primaterre series by S.A. Tholin starting with Iron Truth was recommended to me to itch Mass Effect scratches and it quickly became my favorite new series. It starts more Doom/Warhammer than anything but evolves quickly over time. Namely I like the following things about both ME and Primaterre books:

    • choices of characters have consequences, good or bad. Setups and payoffs everywhere. Ramifications that benefit or make life more complicated for characters and factions
    • wild, urban, metropolis, etc. type planets that get explored for various reasons
    • characters have their own motivations, beliefs, styles etc. They all feel alive and unique, not star trek "all Klingons dress and act like this" if you know what I mean
    • fantastic villains that are unique and sometimes terrifying
    • memorable action scenes both in space and on ground, but also believable romances and friendships that evolve over time. Great characterization while maintaining amazing world building, as opposed to someonelike Reynolds who has good world building but paper thin characters
    • interesting aliens, although I can't dive into this much without spoiling, I will say they're not as eclectic, ubiquitous, or as integrated like Mass Effect but the aliens that are present are engaging, unique and used well
    • tight knit crew solving problems and investigating and dealing with politics

    For something different, I just finished the currently released books by Linda Nagata in the Inverted Frontier series and they also scratched the Mass Effect itch but differently. The first book is almost like an anime? I'm not sure how to describe it, if you end up ever reading it let me know if you had the same vibe. But they're very interesting, thoughtful and unique. Wild ideas, technology, culture. You follow a crew from the edge of human expansion after a collapse to see what became of their ancestors and former territories. Though my main complaint was that after 3 books I felt the author spent too much time on specific plots, which held up exploring "the frontier", but I learned there are still 2 more books coming that I believe will dive more into this vast frontier referenced in the premise for the series. Either way they were exciting reads that I couldn't put down even with how weird they can get.