There's nothing better than a gorgeous coffee table book or special edition to leaf through during the holidays. We've got recommendations of gift books for people who are fans of scientific discovery — and science fictional exploration.
Science and History
Southern Light: Images from Antarctica
Luminous photography from the world's least-explored continent.
Out of the Wild: Zoo Portraits
Incredible, regal portraits for animal lovers.
This is an incredible collection of satellite photography of the Earth, revealing gorgeous patterns and incredible landscapes.
All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals
We love this art book, which uses the latest scientific discoveries to speculate about how dinosaurs might have looked and behaved. Prepare to have all your preconceptions about these animals turned upsidown — in a wonderful way.
Photographer Bryant Austin takes pictures of the biggest animals on Earth — using a technique that allows him to capture them using the biggest images he possibly can. This book reproduces those enormous images, showing us up close, in granular detail what it's like to encounter these extraordinary creatures in the wild. Utterly gorgeous.
Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects
A beautifully-illustrated history of 101 objects that tell the story of the United States through objects in the Smithsonian collection — some owned by extraordinary people, and some representing life at a particular time in history.
This is a new edition of the science classic, which teaches you about anatomy — while also letting you spend some quality time coloring.
Learn to blow things up and launch ordinance (you know, like potatoes) in your own backyard — safely! Well, mostly safely.
Zero to Maker
If you're fascinated by the maker movement, you'll love David Lang's story of how he fell in love with DiY electronics and helped to create OpenROV, a remote-controlled, ocean-exploring vehicle for amateur scientists.
The Art of Rube Goldberg
A terrific collection of work from the artist who invented the (what else?) Rube Goldberg Machine, the ultimate overly-engineered contraption.
For lego fans of all ages.
Recently brought back into print, this mysterious art book is the story of another world, full of bizarre animals and cultural traditions, written entirely in a constructed language. It's the weirdest and most wonderful art book you've ever seen — especially if you love alien worlds.
A collection of art from 30 years of the career of the famous goth-style artist.
A new collection of concept art from Stephan Martiniere, whose gorgeous science fiction art has graced the covers of many of your favorite novels.
The Discworld Collectors Library
These collectors editions will be coming out all next year, but in December you can get all four books in Gollancz's handsome "Death Collection" — Reaper Man; Mort; Hogfather; and Soul Music.
Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister
Can't wait for more Game of Thrones? Bask in the brilliance of the only Lannister we truly love.
Princess Bride Illustrated Edition
Because you always need more Princess Bride — especially at the holidays.
Batman The Court of Owls Mask and Book Set
Come for the mask; stay for the book.
Death Star Owner's Technical Manual
Geek out over the incredible drawings of the Death Star's design.
Doctor Who the Vault
Go behind the scenes with this compendium of production notes, memorabilia, and collectables from the show's first 50 years. A must-have for fans.
Middle Earth Envisioned
This unique and richly-illustrated book explores the artistic legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien's series, from the world of theater to painting. It's a great homage to the books, and will introduce fans to adaptations they've probably never heard of.
Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years
This gorgeous collectors item is a history of the first century and a half of the Federation, chronicling wars, first contact with the Vulcans, starships, and of course the history of the Enterprise. If you know a Trek fan who likes to geek out over worldbuilding, this is the Star Trek book for them.
Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities
The modern master of movie monster horror, del Toro has directed everything from Hellboy and Blade II, to Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim. He also designs all his own monsters, and this book collects drawings from his sketchbook.
The Adventure Time Encyclopedia
Everything you ever wanted to know about Adventure Time, all in one place. You didn't even have to go to lumpy space to get it.
Star Wars: Frames
An incredible book of stills from the Star Wars films, curated by George Lucas.
Twenty-First Century Science Fiction
This incredible compendium of short stories written in the past 13 years gathers together work from our century's greatest science fiction writers, as well as authors who are about to change the genre as we know it. Edited by legendary SF editors David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen-Hayden, this book is ideal for introducing people to the next generation of SF writing.