Fantasy and Science Fiction
Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan; translated by Ken LiuWelcome to: "Silicon Isle," the e-waste recycling capital of southern China, which serves as the setting of this class-conscious, cyberpunk-inflected debut.
Featuring: "waste girl" Mimi, who sorts trash; Luo Jincheng, Mimi's boss and the scion of the family that controls the industry; American businessman Scott Brandle; and his translator, Chen Kaizong.
Try this next: Director Jiulang Wang's 2016 documentary Plastic China, which takes viewers behind the scenes of China's recycling industry and looks at the lives of the low-wage workers who make it possible.
Exhalation: Stories by Ted ChiangWhat it is: the long-awaited 2nd short story collection by the author of Stories of Your Life and Others.
Don't miss: "The Life Cycle of Software Objects," in which humans and machines form parent-child bonds; "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a time travel tale in the style of One Thousand and One Nights.
Reviewers say: "likely to linger in the memory the way riddles may linger -- teasing, tormenting, illuminating, thrilling" (The New Yorker).
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel KayWhat happens: Elderly courtier Guidanio Cerra recounts how his life changed forever after a fateful encounter with assassin Adria Ripoli. His story, and hers, intertwine with other people's perspectives on the event.
Read it for: an evocative setting inspired by Renaissance Italy, and a richly detailed tapestry of a narrative that explores the ripple effects of individual actions and choices.
Want a taste? "It was interesting, I suppose it still is, how vicious men can take power and be accepted, supported by those they govern, if they bring with them a measure of peace."
Middlegame by Seanan McGuireWhat it's about: Created by alchemists, twins Roger (linguistically talented) and Dodger (mathematically gifted) can communicate via quantum entanglement yet can't escape their fate.
Is it for you? This dark and stylistically complex novel by the author of the Wayward Children series opens with the line, "There is so much blood," giving readers some idea of how much violence to expect.
For fans of: the complex characters and exploration of moral gray areas in V.E. Schwab's Villains series.
The Gordian Protocol by David Weber and Jacob HoloIntroducing: 21st-century history professor Benjamin Schröder, who has two sets of conflicting memories, and 30th-century time traveler Raibert Kaminski, who has an explanation for Schröder's plight that involves multiverse theory and temporal knots.
About the authors: David Weber is best known for his Honor Harrington series; Jacob Holo wrote the military SF novel The Dragons of Jupiter.
Reviewers say: "time travel enthusiasts will enjoy the moral dilemmas, nonstop action, and crisp writing" (Publishers Weekly).
Ironfoot by Dave DuncanWhat it's about: Known as "Ironfoot" on account of his prosthetic boot, Saxon adept Durwin must use his magic to solve a murder after a grim prophecy comes to pass.
Why you might like it: Set during the reign of Henry II, Ironfoot balances a fantastical premise with historical details of 12th-century England.
Series alert: This engaging whodunit kicks off the Enchanter General series, which continues with Trial by Treason.
A Study in Honor by Claire O'DellStarring: Dr. Janet Watson, a disabled veteran of America's second Civil War, and her new roommate, the enigmatic Sara Holmes.
Why you might like it: Full of literary references (Watson is very well-read!), this near-future gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes adaptation introduces a pair of LGBTQIA women of color who solve mysteries.
You might also like: Alexis Hall's The Affair of the Mysterious Letter.
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José OlderWhat it's about: Neither fully alive nor fully dead, "inbetweener" Carlos Delacruz, an agent of the New York Council of the Dead, must apprehend a malevolent sorcerer who plans to open an entrada to the Underworld, literally unleashing Hell upon an unsuspecting city.
Crossover alert: This 1st book in the Bone Street Rumba series is loosely linked to the author's YA Shadowshaper Cypher series.
Try this next: For more urban fantasy about the thin line between life and death, check out Doug Dorst's Alive in Necropolis.
Rosewater by Tade ThompsonWelcome to: Rosewater, a doughnut-shaped Nigerian city that rings the mysterious alien biodome that has become an object of veneration since it first appeared back in 2055.
Meet: government agent Kaaro, who owes his psychic abilities to the biodome. When his fellow "sensitives" start dying, Kaaro investigates and makes some unsettling discoveries about his past -- and his future.
Book buzz: Rosewater, the 1st installment of the Wormwood trilogy, made the 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist.
Bannerless by Carrie VaughnIn a (post-apocalyptic) world... where giving birth is a privilege to be earned and murder is almost unheard of, Enid of Haven and her partner Tomas investigate a suspicious death.
Why you might like it: If there's such a thing as a post-apocalyptic cozy mystery, Bannerless is it.
Series alert: This Philip K. Dick Award-winner kicks off a series that continues with The Wild Dead.
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