As speculative literature returns to its roots with big, bombastic space operas and fantasy epics, it brings those subgenres into the 21st century with complex story structures and frank examinations of gender, race, politics, and power.
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter
Alexis Hall. Ace, June 18 (trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-440-00133-1)
RITA-winning romance author Hall dives into speculative fiction with an homage to Sherlock Holmes, set in a fantasy city full of danger, magic, queerness, and whimsy.
Elizabeth Bear. Saga, Mar. 5 (hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-5344-0298-0)
Bear’s outstanding space opera begins as a salvage mission and soon expands to address deep philosophical ideas as drama plays out on a galactic scale.
The Bird King
G. Willow Wilson. Grove, Mar. 12 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-8021-2903-1)
During the Spanish Inquisition in the royal court of Granada, Hassan, the palace mapmaker, can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. But his gift is seen as a threat to Christian Spanish rule.
Rivers Solomon et al. Saga, June 4 (hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-5344-3986-3)
Solomon (An Unkindness of Ghosts) crafts a novella about an underwater society populated by the children of enslaved Africans, based on a Hugo-nominated song by Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes (members of the band Clipping).
The Grand Dark
Richard Kadrey. Harper Voyager, June 11 (hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-267249-0)
Urban fantasy author Kadrey brings cyberpunk and new weird sensibilities to a land where the end of a devastating war results in a plunge into uncontrolled hedonism.
Cadwell Turnbull. Blackstone, June 18 (hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-5385-8464-4)
When aliens occupy St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a young man’s death leads to a horrifying cycle of violence. This is a rich debut novel about family, love, and loyalty in turbulent times.
A Memory Called Empire
Arkady Martine. Tor, Mar. 26 (hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-18643-0)
Debut novelist Martine sets a careful course in this gorgeously crafted diplomatic space opera that raises questions of memory, identity, and culture.
The Raven Tower
Ann Leckie. Orbit, Feb. 26 (hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-316-38869-6)
Celebrated SF author Leckie wows with her mythic, metafictional first work of epic fantasy, narrated by a god speaking to a transgender warrior.
The Ruin of Kings
Jenn Lyons. Tor, Feb. 5 (hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-250-17548-9)
Kihrin, a street thief turned prince, unearths his complicated family history and faces devious magic-wielding foes in this intricate epic fantasy series launch full of mystery and lore.
The Women’s War
Jenna Glass. Del Rey, Mar. 5 (hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-984817-20-4)
Glass’s debut stands out as both social commentary on contemporary issues of bodily autonomy, gender, and social power and as feminist retribution fantasy.
SF, Fantasy & Horror Listings
Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg (Feb. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-5039-0543-6). An enslaved woman fleeing for her life must work with a jaded thief to keep her freedom in Holmberg’s enthralling fantasy.
The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw (Mar. 19, trade paper, $11.99, ISBN 978-1-78108-645-2) concludes the Gods & Monsters urban fantasy series starring cannibal chef Rupert Wong. In the wake of the Greek Pantheon’s destruction, he and his team seek out the world’s father gods.
Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs (Mar. 5, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-425-28129-1). In coyote shape-shifter Mercy Thompson’s 11th outing, she and her pack try to keep their community safe while humans and fae carry out tricky negotiations, and death threatens them all.
Wild Country by Anne Bishop (Mar. 5, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-399-58727-6). In Bishop’s seventh Others novel, a ghost town—where humans targeted shape-shifters, and shifters killed humans in revenge—is reimagined as a shared human and shifter community, but not everyone supports the plan.
The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (July 11, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-947727-77-9) opens a series in which an archaeologist looking for Atlantis ends up in Venice, tracks down magical artifacts, and dodges a killer. 30,000-copy announced first printing.
Atlantic Books (U.K.)
America City by Chris Beckett (Mar. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-78649-154-1). A century in the future, America’s North/South divide is exacerbated by climate change as Southerners flee the heat and Northern states threaten to close their borders. A charismatic politician and an optimistic publicist try to unite the country, but things go awry.
The Gordion Protocol by David Weber (May 7, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-4814-8396-4) is a standalone novel of alternate realities and time travel in which memory and reality are malleable and multiplicitous, and a threat to the world could destroy the entire multiverse. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Today I Am Carey by Martin L Shoemaker (Mar. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-4814-8384-1). In this meditative debut, Shoemaker unravels the heartbreaking, beautiful story of Carey, a medical droid who gains sentience over the course of living with three generations of the Owens family.
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay (May 14, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-451-47298-4) evokes early Renaissance Italy with a dramatic tale of murder and hope, and characters driven by destiny, love, and ambition.
The War Within by Stephen R. Donaldson (Apr. 2, hardcover, $28,
ISBN 978-0-399-58616-3) returns to the world of Donaldson’s Great God’s War fantasy epic as two reluctantly united kingdoms prepare to face a powerful enemy.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Feb. 26, hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-1-63557-029-8). Shannon (The Bone Season) satisfyingly fills this massive standalone epic fantasy with court intrigue, travel through
dangerous lands, fantastical religions, blood, love, and rhetoric. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Empire of Grass by Tad Williams (May 7, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-7564-1062-9). In the second Last King of Osten Ard epic fantasy, war threatens the peaceful kingdoms from several sides. King Simon and Queen Miriamele must solve the mystery of the Witchwood Crown to save their land and people.
Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove (July 2, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-399-18149-8). After a dirty bomb is detonated in downtown Tel Aviv, archaeologists in the tunnels deep under the Temple Mount find signs that the end of days is nigh.
The Stiehl Assassin by Terry Brooks (June 4, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-553-39154-1). In Brooks’s third Fall of Shannara fantasy epic (now approaching 40 volumes), the invading Skaar army arrives in the Four Lands, while the lands’ foremost defenders fear other dangers closer to home.
10,000 Bones by Joe Ollinger (Feb. 5, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-63576-056-9). In this vision of the near future, the scarcity of calcium on a colonized planet leads to a premium being paid for bones, with grim consequences.
Mars: Stories by Asja Bakic, trans. by Jennifer Zoble (Mar. 12, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-936932-48-1), collects darkly humorous stories by poet Bakic in which a series of beleaguered characters must come to grips with their strange universes.
The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston (Mar. 14, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-78758-143-2). The alien Zhen adopt humans found on a drifting colony ship, but they are second-class citizens forbidden to study human history or languages. When their descendants go searching for Earth, they make a dramatic discovery.
Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton (Apr. 23, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5387-3039-3). Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma. When the sun begins to die—five billion years ahead of schedule—she races to save the humans she’s programmed to care for. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst (Mar. 19, hardcover, $21.99, ISBN 978-0-06-269084-5) is a standalone set in the world of the Queens of Renthia series. When a young woman reveals she has spirit powers, she’s whisked away from her island home and forced into a brutal competition to be named an heir to the queen.
Winds of Marque by Bennett R. Coles (Apr. 16, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-06-282035-8). A crew of misfits on a naval spaceship are sent to take down pirate raiders—while dodging threats from within their own ranks—in this swashbuckling interplanetary adventure.
Reentry by Peter Cawdron (June 11, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-328-58991-0). An astronaut returns from Mars, where she nearly died, to find that America is almost as dangerous, as revolutionaries battle a devious artificial intelligence.
Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker (Apr. 16, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-328-91628-0). The young heirs to the vast Krushan empire—one blind, one albino—are threatened by a powerful demonlord who’s determined to bring the empire down.
Tantalus Depths by Evan Graham (July 9, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-947848-66-5). A mining ship pilot gets more than she expected when the asteroid where she’s setting up a mining colony turns out to be an alien construct, and her team’s AI goes haywire.
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang (May 7, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-101-94788-3). Chiang’s outstanding second collection brings together two original stories and several well-regarded reprints. The milieus and plots vary greatly, but all have Chiang’s signature philosophical approach to science fiction. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff (June 11, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-73264-401-4). This collection of interconnected short stories crosses many genres, the past, and the future in describing the generations of two intertwined Jewish immigrant families.
Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss (Feb. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-73264-400-7) collects stories and poems that reimagine fairy tales with a focus on female characters.
In Beta by Prescott Harvey (June 11, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-947848-50-4). When two high school seniors discover a computer simulation of their town that lets them edit reality, they gleefully hack their lives—until the program’s creator catches up with them.
Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker (May 7, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-59780-991-7) is cyberpunk author Rucker’s first novel since 2013. Three teens take a road trip through a bizarre parallel universe, hoping to stop flying saucers from invading Earth.
A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, edited by Victor Lavalle and John Joseph Adams (Feb. 5, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-525-50880-9). Speculative stories from some of the field’s biggest names challenge oppression and imagine new futures for America.
The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-316-44908-3) continues the Wormwood trilogy, in which a Nigerian city grows on the back of an enormous alien. A government agent seeks a woman who is the key to human survival, but unexpected enemies bar the agent’s way.
Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker (Apr. 9, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-316-27079-3). This epic military fantasy series launch, an allegory of racial oppression, stars an army engineer whose genius can only get him so far in the face of prejudice—but he may be his city’s only hope.
Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey (Mar. 26, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-316-33287-3). The eighth Expanse novel sees humans building an interstellar empire on the backs of alien ruins. The Rocinante’s crew are caught between an authoritarian emperor and terrifying threats from deep space.
The Last Road by K.V. Johansen (May 7, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-63388-554-7). In the fifth Gods of the Caravan Road fantasy, a deity called the All-Holy devours other gods and steals the souls of their followers, and only a few champions dare to defy him.
Fireborn by Katie MacAlister (June 11, e-book, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-63573-073-9). As the war between the Fireborn and Starborn enters the Fourth Age, three unlikely heroes emerge: a young priestess with impressive battle skills, an apprentice without a master, and a child of both worlds who could be the key to peace or a devastating weapon.
The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (Mar. 12, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-9848-7). A small group of Quakers decide to leave a devastated Earth and colonize a new planet.
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (Mar. 19, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-4814-4796-6). In Hurley’s smart, brutal, and structurally sophisticated military SF novel, a soldier begins living through her combat experiences—and the entire war—out of order. Her story is both a gripping tale of future warfare and an incisive antiwar fable.
Nest of the Monarch by Kay Kenyon (Apr. 16, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1-5344-2973-4) features a rich cast of diverse characters and near-catastrophic escapes amid searing prewar tensions. British spy Kim Tavistock, undercover in a magic-infused 1936 Berlin, uncovers a Nazi scheme to infiltrate Europe with vampiric augmented psychics.
The Obsoletes by Simeon Mills (May 14, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-5011-9833-5). Two humanlike teen robots in a “robophobic” 1980s Michigan town navigate high school basketball fame while trying to hide their true natures.
New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-78108-578-3) showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many ethnicities telling a wide variety of stories in various speculative genres.
More Walls Broken by Tim Powers (Feb. 28, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-59606-886-5). Three professors fumble their way through opening interdimensional gates to increasing disaster in Powers’s enjoyable novella.
The Book of Disappearance by Ibtisam Azem, trans. by Sinan Antoon (Mar. 15, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8156-1111-0), is set in an alternate Tel Aviv from which all Palestinians have mysteriously vanished. Narration is shared by Palestinian-Israeli Alaa, whose journal recounts his grandmother’s memories of Jaffa, and his Jewish neighbor Ariel, who is disconcerted by the disappearances.
The Hive by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston (June 11, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7564-3) continues the Second Formic War series as the threat of the alien Formics forces diverse Earth interests to work together in defense of humankind.
The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick (June 25, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-19825-9) returns to the setting of his 1993 novel, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, for a standalone about the half-human pilot of a sentient mechanical dragon in a strange postindustrialist fairyland.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (June 4, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-250-17461-1). Gailey’s first full-length novel introduces a magicless and resentful woman who must investigate a murder at the magic academy where her estranged twin sister teaches.
Radicalized by Cory Doctorow (Mar. 19, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-22858-1) collects four novellas of the present and near future, all of which tackle social issues such as immigration, police corruption, uneven wealth distribution, and access to medical care.
Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan, trans. by Ken Liu (Apr. 30, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-8931-2), explores the repercussions of climate change through the eyes of people working in and around an electronic waste recycling plant off China’s southeastern coast.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (May 7, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-250-19552-4). This standalone fantasy novel centers on twins—one gifted with words, one with math—and the entity who created them and wants to turn them into gods.
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (July 2, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-0-525-43556-3), following The Big Book of Science Fiction, is a global anthology (including 14 stories translated into English for the first time) that unearths the origins of fantastical fiction.