Fantasy and Science Fiction
The City We Became by N.K. JemisinStarring: New York City, its five human avatars, and the Lovecraftian evil that threatens them all.
Author alert: After winning multiple awards for her Broken Earth trilogy, N.K. Jemisin launches a new series that expands on her novella, The City Born Great (found in How Long 'Til Black Future Month).
For fans of: Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Daniel Jose Older's Bone Street Rumba series, or Bryan Campbell's Crescent City novels.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ KluneWhat happens: Linus Baker, a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), is dispatched to an orphanage housing six unusual orphans and their enigmatic caretaker, Arthur Parnassus.
Why you might like it: This heartwarming and whimsical contemporary fantasy debut contains quirky characters, an atmospheric setting, and a gentle romantic subplot.
Think: Diana Wynne Jones meets Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, plus a dash of Emily Tesh's Silver in the Wood.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken LiuWhat it is: a collection of 19 short stories by Ken Liu (The Paper Menagerie) in an impressive range of styles and subject matter.
About the author: Not only has Liu won every major speculative fiction award for his short stories, he's also an acclaimed editor and translator of Chinese SF (see Invisible Planets and Broken Stars).
Bonus content: "A Chase Beyond the Storms," an excerpt from the forthcoming 3rd installment of the Dandelion Dynasty series.
88 Names by Matt RuffOn the internet, nobody knows you're a...dictator? At least, that's what Sherpa, Inc. founder John Chu is starting to suspect about his newest client, who's paying John a LOT of money to guide him through a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).
Why you might like it: a diverse cast of well-drawn characters and an unflinching look at the more unsavory side of online gaming culture distinguish this SF thriller by the author of Bad Monkeys.
For fans of: Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Ernest Clines' Ready Player One.
A Pale Light in the Black: A Neog Novel by K.B. WagersIntroducing: the Near-Earth Orbiting Guard, outer space's version of the U.S. Coast Guard.
What happens: While preparing for the Boarding Games, a competition between the different branches of the armed services, the crew of the Zuma's Ghost must solve a mystery that threatens one of their own.
For fans of: the upbeat tone and found families of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series; the conspiracy-laden intrigue of James S.A. Corey's Expanse novels.
A Little Hatred by Joe AbercrombieWhat it is: the opening installment of the Age of Madness trilogy, set in the world of the author's First Law series.
Why you might like it: This intricately plotted epic fantasy boasts a large cast of morally ambiguous characters, an unsentimental look at revolutionary politics, and a rapidly industrializing world where magic is (grudgingly) giving way to technology.
Reviewers say: a "brutal fantasy that cuts keen and refuses to soothe the sting" (Booklist).
The Waking Land by Callie BatesWhat it's about: Lady Elanna Valtai grew up as a hostage in the court of a king who took her to ensure her rebellious father's compliance. Now the prime suspect in the king's murder, Elanna has nowhere to go to but the homeland she's spent her life trying to forget and no one to turn to except the family she's been raised to hate.
Why you might like it: Elanna's transformation from sheltered girl to courageous leader may appeal to fans of Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling.
Empress of Forever by Max GladstoneStarring: maverick tech entrepreneur Vivian "Viv" Liao, transported mid-heist from a Boston server farm to a far-future, posthuman realm ruled by the ancient and powerful Jade Empress.
Now what? Viv assembles a ragtag crew (including a cyborg monk, a space pirate, and a lesbian warrior princess) to face off against the Empress in a fast-paced, action-packed story that reads like a mashup of Journey to the West, Flash Gordon, and The Matrix.
Want a taste? "Viv wasn't a mad scientist. She just wanted to crush her enemies, and save the world."
Whispers of Shadow & Flame by L. PenelopeIntroducing: Nethersinger assassin Kyara ul-Lagrimar, the infamous "Poison Flame" and a reluctant conscript in the True Father's army; Earthsinger Darvyn ol-Tahlyro, whose nom de guerre is Shadowfox.
What's at stake: If she succeeds in her mission to kill Shadowfox, Kyara will deliver a mortal blow to the resistance. But falling in love with Darvyn complicates her plans.
Can you start here? The events of this 2nd installment of the Earthsinger Chronicles run parallel to those of Song of Blood & Stone but feature different characters. Given the depth and complexity of the world-building, starting at the beginning is probably your best bet.
The Freeze Frame Revolution by Peter WattsWhat it's about: Sunday Ahzmundin wants to start a revolution, but it's difficult when she spends most of her time in coldsleep, her potential co-conspirators are assigned to different shifts, and her prison is an AI-controlled starship on a 65-million-year mission.
Series alert: This stand-alone novel is part of the Sunflower Cycle, a loose collection of stories about the voyage of the Eriophora.
Don't miss: the secret message embedded in the text. (Yes, really.)
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