Fantasy and Science Fiction
Foundryside by Robert Jackson BennettWhat it's about: Talented thief Sancia Grado discovers a powerful magical artifact that could forever alter the balance of power in Tevanne, a city-state controlled by four merchant houses.
About the author: Robert Jackson Bennett is best known for the detailed world-building of his Divine Cities series, which begins with City of Stairs.
For fans of: Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards novels, starting with The Lies of Locke Lamora.
Competence: The Custard Protocol: Book Three by Gail CarrigerWhat it is: a Steampunk adventure featuring the crew of the Spotted Custard and focusing on series regulars Miss Primrose Tunstell and her twin, Percival.
Why you might like it: Sky pirates and vampires and werelionesses, oh my!
Series alert: Following Prudence and Imprudence, this is the 3rd installment of the Custard Protocol historical fantasy series, which is a spin-off of the Parasol Protectorate novels.
Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu; translated by Joel MartinsenIntroducing: scientist Chen, whose parents' incineration by ball lightning sparks an obsessive quest to understand the phenomenon; army major Lin Yun, who's also interested in ball lightning -- as a weapon.
Author alert: Multi-award-winning Chinese SF novelist Cixin Liu is the author of the epic trilogy that begins with The Three-Body Problem.
Read this next: If you're interested in the growing body of Chinese speculative fiction, check out the anthology Invisible Planets: Contemporary Science Fiction in Translation, edited by Ken Liu.
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuireWhat it's about: Is there a fate worse than death? Rose Marshall, the "vanishing hitchhiker" of American urban legend, may find out if her now-immortal murderer manages to catch up to her.
Series alert: The Girl in the Green Silk Gown is the 2nd book in the Ghost Stories series, after Sparrow Hill Road.
Want a taste? "This is a ghost story. If you're not comfortable with that -- if you like the lines between the living and the dead to be a little more cleanly drawn -- this is your chance to bail."
Focus on: Inhospitable Environments
Semiosis by Sue BurkeWhat it is: a multigenerational saga about a group of colonists who settle on the planet Pax, which hosts a variety of sentient native flora.
Want a taste? "The war had begun long before we arrived because war was their way of life."
For fans of: episodic character-driven SF such as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles or Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth DurstThe situation: Something's rotten in Renthia, where elemental spirits are kept in check by the chosen Queen, her elite guard of Champions, and their apprentices, the Heirs. The spirits are breaking free of their wards...
Starring: Daleina, who survived the spirit attack that devastated her village, and disgraced Champion Ven, who joins her on a mission to save the realm.
Why you might like it: This 1st installment of the Queens of Renthia series contains both an action-packed quest and ample palace intrigue.
The Fifth Season by N.K. JemisinStarring: Essun, an "orogene" whose ability to shape the contours of the land make her subject to persecution.
What happens: When her husband murders their son and abducts their daughter, grief-stricken and vengeful Essun pursues him across The Stillness, a vast and dynamic super-continent on the brink of catastrophe that will usher in a "fifth season," a time of uncertainty and hardship.
Did you know? All three books in the Broken Earth series, including sequels The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky, have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard JonesDoing it for the insta: Now that a tick-borne pandemic has forced humanity to retreat behind chemical barriers known as "Salt Lines," well-heeled thrill-seekers pursue a form of "extreme tourism" in the wilderness beyond the boundaries.
What it's like: Scott Smith's The Ruins meets Alexandra Oliva's The Last One.
Is it for you? Descriptions of the damage inflicted by deadly miner ticks make this debut best for readers with strong stomachs.
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley RobinsonWhat happens: Sea-level rise, the result of climate change, transforms 22nd-century New York City into a partially submerged metropolis.
Introducing: a large and diverse cast of characters living in, on, or near Manhattan's MetLife Tower, including a hedge fund manager speculating on coastal real estate and a pair of treasure-hunting adolescents.
What sets it apart: New York 2140 is more optimistic than most apocalyptic fiction, though it does offer a pointed critique of capitalism's role in exacerbating social inequality.