Fantasy and Science Fiction
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah GaileyWhat it is: a pulp SF Western set in alternate-timeline dystopian American Southwest and featuring an LGBTQIA cast.
What happens: After her best friend (and secret lover) Beatriz is executed for possession of Unapproved Materials, Esther Augustus seeks to hide in plain sight by joining the Librarians, who pose as "Morally Upright Women" while distributing seditious literature.
Reviewers say: "a feat of writerly sorcery that packs a sweeping political epic into fewer than 200 pages" (Booklist).
The Unspoken Name by A.K. LarkwoodWhat it's about: Csorwe, the sacrificial Chosen Bride of chthonic deity The Unspoken One, becomes the apprentice of her just-in-time rescuer, wizard Belthandros Sethennai, and accompanies him on a quest for an ancient relic.
Why you might like it: This debut crafts a compelling coming-of-age story while paying homage to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Tombs of Atuan.
Want a taste? "In the deep wilds of the north, there is a Shrine cut into a mountainside. The forest covers these hills like a shroud. This is a quiet country, but the Shrine of the Unspoken One is quieter still."
Stormsong by C.L. PolkWhat it is: the 2nd book in the Kingston Cycle, focusing on politically engaged Dame Grace Hensley (sister of Witchmark protagonist Miles) and fearless photojournalist Avia Jessup.
Read it for: an Edwardian-inspired setting, a suspenseful plot rife with political intrigue, and a sweet f/f romance.
What about Miles and Tristan? After upending their society in Witchmark, the couple plays more of a background role here.
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha PulleyStarring: clairvoyant watchmaker Keito Mori, and his lover, Thaniel Steepleton, whose work with the Foreign Office takes the couple (and their adopted daughter) to Mori's native Tokyo, where Thaniel investigates supernatural activity and makes some surprising discoveries about his partner.
Why you might like it: This sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street offers well-drawn characters, a Steampunk-infused Victorian setting, and an intricate plot whose seemingly unrelated parts fit together like clockwork.
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. VillosoIntroducing: Queen Talyien of Jin-Sayeng, who survives an assassination attempt en route to a meeting with her estranged husband, who abandoned her the night before her coronation. (And that's just the beginning of her adventures.)
Read it for: a tough-as-nails heroine, immersive world-building, knotty political intrigue, and a shocking ending.
Series alert: Originally self-published, this debut by Filipina author K.S. Villoso kicks off the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series.
Vanguard by Jack CampbellIn a world...where Earth can no longer protect its far-flung colonies, veterans Robert Geary and Mele Darcy lend their military expertise to the inhabitants of fledgling settlement Glenlyon as they fend off an invasion.
Why you might like it: Author Jack Campbell draws on his former career in the U.S. Navy to write authentic-feeling military SF.
Series alert: Vanguard kicks off the Genesis Fleet series, which serves as a prequel to the author's popular Lost Fleet trilogy and explores the creation of the Alliance.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha LeeThe mission: Disgraced Captain Kel Cheris must reclaim the Fortress of Scattered Needles in the name of the Hexarchate.
The weapon: a risky procedure that will graft Kel's conciousness to that of long-dead General Shuos Jedao, a brilliant but erratic military tactician best remembered for slaughtering his own troops.
Why you might like it: Set in a vast interstellar empire based on higher mathematics and featuring an intriguing post-human cast, this 1st book in the Machineries of Empire series unfolds in dense, allusive prose.
The Red: First Light by Linda NagataIntroducing: Lt. James Shelley, the anti-war protester who enlisted to avoid a prison sentence and now leads a five-member linked combat squad (LCS) as they fight a ground war engineered by defense contractors to enrich themselves and their shareholders.
Want a taste? "If robots were cheaper, we wouldn't have to be here."
For fans of: the cynical narrators and gritty combat action in Joe Haldeman's The Forever War or T.C. McCarthy's Subterrene War trilogy.
Embers of War by Gareth PowellStarring: sentient warship Trouble Dog, who seeks to atone for her role in a genocide by joining rescue organization the House of Reclamation.
What happens: This intricately plotted series opener follows Trouble Dog and crew as they undertake what they believe to be a simple search-and-rescue operation and find themselves embroiled in galactic politics.
For fans of: Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
Infinite Stars: The Definitive Anthology of Space Opera and Military SF by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (editor); introduction by Robert SilverbergWhat it is: an anthology of 24 classic and contemporary short stories and novellas by an all-star roster of science fiction authors, most set in the worlds of their best-known series.
Includes: stories by Catherine Asaro, Lois McMaster Bujold, William C. Dietz, David Drake, Linda Nagata, Elizabeth Moon, Nnedi Okorafor, Alastair Reynolds, and David Weber, among others.
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