Fantasy and Science Fiction
Tarnished City by Vic JamesWhat it's about: Rebellion against the "Equals," England's magic-wielding, aristocratic ruling class, is not going well for enslaved siblings Abi and Luke Hadley.
Series alert: This sequel to Gilded Cage is the middle volume of the Dark Gifts trilogy; newcomers should start with book 1.
You might also like: Samantha Shannon's Bone Season novels, which chronicle uprisings by an oppressed underclass in an alternate dystopian version of England; Zen Cho's Sorcerer Royal series, set in a rigidly hierarchical historical Britain in which magic equals power.
Markswoman by Rati MehrotraIntroducing: Kyra, a newly minted Markswoman in the Order of Kali, which relies on martial arts and teleportation to dispense justice, and Kyra's rival-turned-romantic-interest Rustan, her counterpart in the all-male Order of Khur.
Read it for: a sisterhood of assassins who telepathically bond with their weapons, an Asia-inspired setting, and the dramatic story of a young woman who must kill or be killed after she uncovers a terrible secret.
Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi OkoraforStarring: Binti, the young Himba woman whose mathematical talents gained her admission to prestigious Oomza University, which in turn has led to interstellar adventures.
Read it for: a powerful coming-of-age story featuring a heroine who struggles with her own complex identity while navigating different cultures, plus vibrant Afrofuturism.
Should you start here? Lavishly detailed world-building and some complicated character backstory mean that it's best to start at the beginning, with Binti, followed by Binti: Home.
Ambiguity Machines: And Other Stories by Vandana SinghWhat it is: This collection marks the North American debut of science fiction writer and physicist Vandana Singh, known for her lyrical prose and moving, yet thought-provoking, stories.
Reviewers say: Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, praises the "delicate touch and passionately humanist sensibilities" of these wide-ranging speculative tales.
Don't miss: "With Fate Conspire," a story about a refugee whose unique ability to peer through time allows her to influence history.
The Gone World by Tom SweterlitschWhat it's about: NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss chases a suspect through different timelines and soon realizes that all possible futures indicate disaster.
About the author: Tom Sweterlitsch's debut, Tomorrow and Tomorrow, featured criminal investigations into alternate worlds of a different sort: archived digital reconstructions of a pre-apocalyptic society.
For fans of: twisty time travel tales such as Robert Dickinson's The Tourist or William Gibson's The Peripheral.
Life after Life: A Novel by Kate AtkinsonStarring: Ursula Todd, born on a winter's night in 1910 England -- again and again, as each death brings her back to the same point in time and space. Does Ursula choose her path(s) in life, or do they choose her?
You might also like: Jo Walton's My Real Children, which also offers a haunting meditation on life and death, fate and free will, by recounting an ordinary 20th-century British woman's alternate lives.
The Medusa Chronicles: A Novel by Stephen Baxter and Alastair ReynoldsWhat it is: a sequel to Arthur C. Clarke’s Nebula Award-winning novella A Meeting With Medusa by acclaimed SF writers Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds.
Starring: Howard Falcon, a pilot who undergoes experimental cybernetic surgery. Neither human nor machine, he becomes a liaison between biological and artificial life forms.
Try this next: Frederik Pohl's Man Plus, about a cyborg astronaut whose augmentations cause him to question his own humanity.
Altered Carbon by Richard K. MorganIn a world... where a person's "cortical stack" (digitized consciousness) can be "re-sleeved" (downloaded) into a new body after death, recently revived cyber-soldier Takeshi Kovacs is hired by centuries-old Laurens Bancroft to investigate Bancroft's murder.
For fans of: the gritty future dystopias of William Gibson's Neuromancer or Norman Spinrad's Deus X, or fast-paced and intricately plotted tales of technologically assisted immortality, such as Iain Banks' Surface Detail.
Media buzz: Altered Carbon is now a Netflix series.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire NorthWhat it's about: Harry August is a kalachakra, an immortal reborn again and again with memories intact. Interwoven with Harry's recollections of his many lives are tantalizing hints about the end of the world.
You might also like: Matt Haig's How to Stop Time, another engaging novel whose effectively immortal protagonist attempts to make sense of his own existence.
Reincarnation Blues: A Novel by Michael PooreIntroducing: Milo, who has been reincarnated 9,995 times. If he fails to achieve perfection before he reaches his limit of 10,000 lives, he'll just...end. That would mean losing his lover, Death (a.k.a. "Suzie").
Want a taste? "This is the story of a wise man named Milo. It begins on the day he was eaten by a shark."
For fans of: the gentle but incisive humor of Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man; the ontological quirkiness of Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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