The Lives of Tao

Nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 Finals for Best Science Fiction

Winner of the Alex Award for the American Library Association’s 2014 Youth Media Awards

Few books begin more engagingly than The Lives of Tao, a science fiction romp which wears its principal strength — the wit and humor of the narrative voice — on its sleeve.Huffington Post

Chu’s good-natured adroitness with character development is matched by his thriller-style plotting, a fine blend of gentle humor and sharp suspense.Barnes & Noble Review

If you want something to read on a plane or settle into over the weekend, this is the book you want to pick up. But like most great stories, there’s a little more going on under the surface.SF Signal

“a science fiction story that is one part spy novel, one part buddy flick, one part comic book, one part eye-opener history lesson…among many other elements. Yes, it’s a lot of parts, but they blend together quite well.”Examiner


When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.

He wasn’t.

He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes.

Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well”¦

Read an excerpt on

Angry Robot Books Press Release

You can buy The Lives of Tao at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Amazon UK, or your local bookstore.

The Tao books have been translated to German, Hebrew.


“Filled with non-stop action and brilliant asides on the history of our species, the book is sure to thrill and amuse. Once you start, you will not be able to resist the call of ‘just one more chapter.’”

Ken Liu, Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of The Paper Menagerie

“The Lives of Tao is an original, deft take on the superhero origin story. Tipping his hat to both science fiction novels and comic books, Chu delivers a narrative that is at times pulse-pounding, laugh-out-loud funny and thoughtful. Part James Bond, part Superman, part Orphanage. There’s something here for everyone.”

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops: Control Point and Fortress Frontier

“In THE LIVES OF TAO, newcomer Wesley Chu delivers an action-laced sci fi thriller filled with clever ideas and witty, engaging characters. A thoroughly enjoyable ride.”

John Marco, author of The Inhumans and The Tyrants And Kings trilogies

“Just your usual ‘I’ve got an immensely wise alien in my head who wants me to become and international man of mystery’ story. Which is to say, Page Turning homage to other classic SF like Hal Clement’s NEEDLE. Recommended.”

Steven Gould, author of the Jumper series

“Wesley Chu is my hero… he has to be the coolest science fiction writer in the world.”

Lavie Tidhar, World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama and The Bookman Histories

“A fast-paced, high action SF mix of Jason Bourne meets the Hero’s Journey, jam-packed with dark conspiracies, wild romance, ancient aliens, and a secret, globe-spanning war. Loved it!”

Matt Forbeck, author of Amortals, Hard Times in Dragon City, and Leverage

“This book is high-octane spy vs spy action with a sly sense of humor. Pure pleasure from beginning to end. Highly Recommended!”

Ann VanderMeer, Hugo winning editor of Weird Tales and British Fantasy Award publisher of Buzzcity Press

“A totally original sci-fi thriller that will have you hooked from page one with both riveting action and a sly wit. This is a story of human history, the hidden powers that have shaped it, and one man’s transformation from a nobody to a key fighter in the war for humanity’s future.”

Ramez Naam, author of Nexus

“Take one part Deep Space Nine symbiote, three parts Babylon Five, and two parts Chuck, shake, don’t stir, pour into a magnetic bottle, sit back, and enjoy living the life of Tao.”

Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series


Since the moment I finished Wesley Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, I called reading it ”˜the most fun I’ve had this year.’ – Staffer’s Book Review

Note to James Patterson fans: this is how to write a sci-fi page turner. – Sci-Fi Bulletin

A sci-fi thriller this may be, but it has a lot of emotional depth to it. – Fantasy Faction

Wesley Chu’s debut novel The Lives of Tao is a fun book that will appeal directly to those who enjoy Charles Stross’s Laundry novels (2004-). – Strange Horizons

Interesting enough to engage adults yet fast moving and relatable enough to capture the interest of teens, The Lives of Tao is a rollicking good story that has you rooting for the little guy. As the tag line to the novel says, “There’s a hero inside every one of us.” If Roen Tan can do it, so can we, no matter who we are. And that’s not a bad thing to root for. – LitStack

The Lives of Tao is Wesley Chu’s first novel, and I kind of hate him a little bit for that. – Jim C. Hines

The Lives of Tao is a fun book with a lot of energy and it really worked for me. Full of action, adventure, martial arts, gunplay, and large quantities of geeky goodness. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something a lighter than the current swathe of serious sci-fi / fantasy. – Fantasy Book Review

An exceptionally entertaining book, Chu’s writing is easy to consume and leaves you wanting more. Definitely one to read, and an author to watch. – British Fantasy Society

…makes this book what it is: one of the freshest, most fun debuts I’ve read in quite a while! – My Bookish Ways

I think this is one of the best amalgamations of SF, Thriller, buddy-stories, comedy and other genre assortments, which was even more impressive because it’s a debut and is funny as hell. The story is a nice one with a bit of everything to satisfy most readers, beginning with characterization. – Fantasy Book Critic

We need to be able to identify with what’s going on, and while sci-fi has historically given us a vehicle to discuss some very serious things by using the unreality as a smokescreen (female officers on the Enterprise and whatnot) to tell a really compelling and interesting story in science fiction, the window dressing of future worlds and alien species needs to still allow reasonable suspension of disbelief and Chu absolutely nails it. – Speculative Post

“Vividly entertaining, this is a book that looks past the lively and thrilling glamour of life as an international spy and also merges several genres together into a cohesive whole to tell a story that rocks from start to finish.” – The Founding Fields (Shadowhawk)

“The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu is a very interesting book, and right from the start you will find yourself drawn into the strong narrative and the interesting characters.” – The Founding Fields (Bane of Kings)

You guys, this book was just AWESOME. I literally don’t have a single complaint about it. It was an action-packed, fun-filled joy ride and I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Roen and Tao. – Sarah Says Read

It’s easy to forget about all of that science fiction stuff when you are busy laughing at and cheering for Roen Tan. And that, more than anything else, makes The Lives of Tao one of the best debuts I’ve read this year. – The 52 Review

I was enthralled by Mr. Chu’s debut and think it is one of the top science fiction books I have read so far this year. His prose was cleanly done and the conversations between the characters were peppered with hilarious and insightful quips. Mr. Chu lives up to Angry Robot’s reputation of fine science fiction and fantasy authors and has definitely found himself a new fan in me. – Badass Book Reviews

The Lives of Tao is a fun, exciting, alien, sci-fi romp through history and espionage. Tao has had way too many lives to meet them all, but you should be sure to give it a shot by reading this book! 9 out of 10 Liams – The Troubled Scribe

Chu’s book is ridiculously good. The fish out of water scenario always has potential, and what he’s written here is like the coolest bar band cover of that classic setup. Wesley’s goal is to take us on an incredible ride, and he absolutely succeeds. – Untitled United

It is now official: I have read the best book of 2013 thus far. It is THE LIVES OF TAO, and it will blow your socks off. – Matthew Scott Baker

That’s it. Sign me up. I’m hooked. Gimme moar. And if you haven’t read this yet, you are absolutely missing out. This one is definitely going on my favourites of the year pile. – Over the Effing Rainbow

…if I had a Most Entertaining Read category in my end of year posts, it would definitely come out in one of the top spots! – A Fantastical Librarian

The whole “aliens-on-earth-inhabiting-human-bodies” plotline has been done more than once, but not like this. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. – Geeky Library

The Lives of Tao is a very different take on a secret agent thriller. It’s shot through with a sense of fun that makes the whole book a good time, even during the darker scenes. – Buzzy Mag

Not only was it funny it really made me think. Take a real good look at your life and I think so many people just live through each day rather than living their lives. This smacks you in the face with that knowledge and forces you to wonder if there is a little bit of Roen Tan in yourself. – My Shelf Confessions

So you get the rich background story born of centuries of history. You also get great fight scenes. And lastly you get rather complex characters who feel rather real and have some serious objectives that they need to achieve. Don’t let the humor fool you – there is a greater conflict on-going and Roen together with Tao are but one cog in a larger machine. – Geeky Guide

I had a great time with The Lives of Tao and will be checking in this October for the second installment in this series, The Deaths of Tao. Great ideas mixed with great action and a non-stop pace made this book extremely hard to put down. Bravo, Mr. Chu! – Only The Best Sci Fi

Wesley Chu has written a fun, thrill ride of a novel that I devoured in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. … I’m thinking a studio will snap this one up and turn it into a film. Hello out there entertainment industry – potentially fun summer movie material! – Popcorn Reads

I got hooked right away and when all was said and done, I can safely declare it as my favorite novel of 2013 so far. – Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

You can have more fun and action than can fit in one life. The Lives of Tao is a complete story with heroes and villains, life and love and non-stop action. But Wes Chu has more to tell us about The Lives of Tao and that’s a good thing. – Kent’s Books

The premise was fun, the pace was exciting, the writing was engaging, the story was compelling, the characters were likeable, and the humor was appealing. – Fantasy Literature

Definitely on my summer reads rec list – it’s like a spy movie mashed with an alien flick and you don’t have to spring for overpriced popcorn. – Kindleholic

Movie-like is damn accurate way to look at the book, I think many of us who have finished this book realise that it was born to get snapped up for a film but I think that misses how well it could work as a TV Series. – Paper Mages

…one of the best first chapters I’ve ever read. This story had everything I love in a book: great pacing, characters who are conflicted and have lots of growing to do, and all sorts of layers that add unexpected emotional depth. – Books, Bones, Buffy

This is science fiction that has cross-genre appeal. I think fans of the thriller genre, especially Clive Cussler readers, would enjoy Lives of Tao quite a bit. – Stuff and Junk

There are comic moments, there are tender moments and there are moments where I wondered what I would do if I had an alien inside me, and moments where I wished I did as it might push me into doing stuff! – Normal In London

Because this is a series, right? It has to be! I really enjoyed The Lives of Tao and had a hard time putting it down. It’s a great addition to the science fiction catalogue and a great read. – Lit Nerd Around the World

A perfect date book! Action, comedy, romance, cool factor. Bill and I read this one together over the course of a month. Though we tried to pace ourselves, by the end we couldn’t put it down. – After Glow Book Reviews

All in all, Chu’s writing is strong, and his ability to write tragic, heart-rending scenes into such a fun, easy story is proof that he’s found his calling as a writer. – Always Unmended

Wesley Chu proves once again that Angry Robot people have great noses for sniffing our new talent and we are eagerly awaiting for the sequel. – Upcoming4Me

Two alien factions waging war against each other using humans as hosts and pawns? What’s not to like? Nothing, as it turns out. Lives of the Tao is an engaging read from start to finish. – Shelf Inflicted

The Lives of Tao is one of those good books that pulls off the mash-up perfectly. We get the full sci-fi feeling combined with the spy genre without either side getting diluted or ignored. We get the full effect and in turn get a character we care about. – 42 Webs

Roen and the other characters are so easy to like, just like the villains are easy to hate. By the end of the books I was close to tears, which proves my emotional investment in the characters and their fates. I wish every book made me care about the characters as much as The Lives of Tao. – I Will Read Books

The Lives of Tao is an early front-runner for favorite book of 2013 – Every Read Thing

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu is definitely a fun read with a concept that was not only novel, but also, just frankly, very cool. It is extremely rare for a book to literally make me laugh out loud, but The Lives of Tao achieved this not just once or twice, but a myriad of times. – Wilder’s Book Review

I would highly recommend this book to fans who like their espionage tinged with sci-fi, or vice-versa. – Being a Big Sandwich

This novel is incredibly inventive and entertaining and I did pick it up with the intention of reading a couple of chapters at a time in-between other books, but I ended up reading almost the entire thing in one sitting. – Mass Movement Magazine

some authors write in ways that make you weep due to having to fight through the words. Wesley Chu invited me to a party instead. – The Media File

There’s a dash of romance, plenty of action and the plot carries you along but with nice variations in pace so it isn’t all go go go. It is all combined very well and I really appreciate that the violence is not romanticised or gratuitous. Roen’s reactions to the fighting is very human and I think brings a moment of contemplation. It’s good to have this kind of balance in a book. – Vinx Books

It is really fantastic how the author, Chu, incorporates the historical milestones within the context of the Tao’s lives. I found it believable! THIS COULD ALL BE TRUE. – Tiffy Fit

The actions scenes in particular are very well crafted, with a great sense of motion, excitement and tension. It’s also worth noticing how the romance is handle during Roen’s training. It’s probably one of the most realistic I’ve seen alongside a hollywood-style action story. – Writing’s Hard

So you get the rich background story born of centuries of history. You also get great fight scenes. And lastly you get rather complex characters who feel rather real and have some serious objectives that they need to achieve. Don’t let the humor fool you – there is a greater conflict on-going and Roen together with Tao are but one cog in a larger machine. – Geeky Guide

Reading this story was like watching an awkward friend grow into a graceful swan. It was funny, endearing, and just a tad bit cute””all things considered. – BiblioSanctum

The Lives Of Tao is brain candy, no doubt, but with an uncanny gravitas which keeps it stuck in your head well after you finally force yourself to put it down. – Taichung Bookworm

Combining a sci-fi with a spy thriller (or I suppose spy-fi), done to a very high standard, and also intertwining historical events that shaped the world Wesley Chu certainly has created something really special. – Sleeping Muses

The dialog for one, is flat out brilliant. Writing natural sounding dialog is not easy, and Chu pulls it off with effortless flair. – Little Red Reviewer

The Lives of Tao is highly accessible science fiction with an emphasis on characters you are sure to enjoy. – Stainless Steel Droppings

There’s plenty here to enjoy. Chu choreographs vivid action scenes, he injects humor seamlessly into dialogue, and he makes the worldbuilding fun. Chu had all of history at his disposal, after all, and he took full advantage. – Black Gate

Unexpected, hilarious, downright witty and made me tear up. – The Bookery

This book is recommended to any and all readers. If you’re not a SciFi fan give this book a chance, I’m positive you too will be a fan of Mr. Wesley Chu and be on the edge of your seat rooting for Roen and Tao. – Fantasy Addict Reviews

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