Science fiction and fantasy have long been used as vehicles for examining topical concerns. As those real-world issues evolve, so too do the stories authors choose to tell. This feature looks at trends in three areas: apocalyptic fiction, military-themed speculative fiction, and fantastical or supernatural stories in recognizable settings.

Climate change continues to haunt many authors’ end-of-world imaginations, and though it has largely replaced the Looming Asteroid That Will Destroy Earth, other disasters lurk at the fringes.

Fantasy writers, many of whom ply their trade in just slightly askew realities, reflect the complexity of our world by blurring the lines between genres. Military-oriented SF, meanwhile, offers its own take on authenticity, whether imagining space battles in the distant future or reimagining history.

With apologies to Freddie Mercury: Is this the real life? Is this just (science fiction and) fantasy? As it turns out, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Apocalypse Soon?: Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016–2017

New books warn of impending catastrophe and imagine how we might survive it.

Border Crossings: Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016–2017

Diverse characters and genre mashups reflect the complexities of our world.

Authenticity Counts: Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016–2017

Readers of military SF expect authors to do their homework.

Select Forthcoming Titles: Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016–2017

New books, and excerpts from PW’s starred reviews.

Alex Daniel is a writer living in New York City.