Fantasy and Science Fiction
The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi EiseleWhat happens: As society breaks down, a high school principal embarks on a journey across the United States to find his long-distance lover.
Is it for you? Fans of gritty post-apocalyptic survival stories à la Cormac McCarthy's The Road should look elsewhere, as this hopeful debut focuses on community-minded folks rebuilding after catastrophe.
For fans of: Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and James Howard Kunstler's World Made By Hand.
Null Set by S.L. HuangPreviously: Super-powered mathematician Cas Russell endured a brutal mind-meld to defeat Pithica, a syndicate of telepaths using mind control to secretly rule the world.
Now: This sequel to Zero Sum Game finds Cas adjusting to her new normal, which is anything but. Can she overcome altered memories, a sociopathic frenemy, and more to stop a crime wave?
Read it for: a complex (anti)heroine; a twisty, adrenaline-fueled plot; and math-infused fight scenes worthy of an action movie.
The Dragon Republic by R.F. KuangWhat it's about: Haunted by her deeds during the Third Poppy War, warrior and shaman Rin is determined to redeem herself -- by allying herself with the Dragon Warlord to depose the treacherous Empress.
Is it for you? This dark and ultra-violent military fantasy, set in a world reminiscent of 19th-century China and starring an opium-addicted heroine struggling with PTSD, does not pull any punches.
Should you start here? Due to the complexity of the plot and world-building, newcomers should start with The Poppy War.
Jade War by Fonda LeeWhat it is: the fast-paced, action-packed sequel to Jade City.
Starring: the Kaul siblings, Hilo, Shae, and Anden. As leaders of the No Peak Clan, they battle the rival Mountain Clan for control of the island of Kekon and its valuable natural resources.
Why you might like it: This 2nd installment of the Green Bone Saga revolves around magic-infused gang warfare in a setting reminiscent of contemporary Hong Kong.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-GarciaWhat happens: After 18-year-old Casiopea Tun accidentally reanimates Hun-Kamé, Lord of Shadows, she must accompany the Mayan death god on a quest to regain his stolen body parts and defeat his brother.
Why you might like it: the evocative 1920s Mexico setting; a slow-building romance; and a quest storyline that unfolds like a dark fairy tale.
About the author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Signal to Noise and Certain Dark Things.
Wanderers by Chuck WendigWhat happens: A mysterious epidemic of sleepwalking accelerates societal collapse as sufferers and their caregivers traverse a deeply divided near-future United States.
Why you might like it: Unfolding from multiple perspectives, this sprawling yet suspenseful apocalyptic novel combines action with explorations of contemporary social issues.
For fans of: Stephen King's The Stand.
Radicalized by Cory DoctorowWhat it is: a quartet of thought-provoking science fiction novellas by Cory Doctorow (Little Brother, Walkaway).
Includes: "Unauthorized Bread," which pits refugees against their "smart" appliances; "Radicalized," in which domestric terrorists target insurance companies; "The Masque of the Red Death," about doomsday preppers unprepared for an actual apocalypse; and "Model Minority," in which superheroes fail in the face of a racist criminal justice system.
Why you might like it: each story examines the intersection of technology, politics, and social issues as it envisions a plausible near-future world.
A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary... by Victor D. LaValle and John Joseph Adams (editors)What you'll find: 25 dystopian and utopian visions of the future by writers of color, LGBTQIA writers, Muslim writers, and other underrepresented voices in speculative fiction.
Includes: stories by Charlie Jane Anders, Omar El-Akkad, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Daniel José Older, and Charles Yu, to name just a few.
For fans of: anthologies such as Octavia's Brood, edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha or New Suns, edited by Nisi Shawl.
Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea: Stories by Sarah PinskerWhat it is: a brain-bending collection of 13 short stories by the author of A Song for a New Day.
Don't miss: the Hugo-nominated "And Then There Were (N-One)," which reads like Agatha Christie meets Being John Malkovich.
Reviewers say: "An auspicious start to what promises to be one wild ride of a literary career" (Kirkus Reviews).
How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen; introduction by Marissa MeyerContains: inventive adaptations of classic fairy tales by fantasy author Jane Yolen.
Includes: detailed author's notes describing the origins of the stories, plus original poetry.
Is it for you? Like fairy tales themselves, the stories in this collection vary in tone, from the lighthearted Pied Piper retelling "Green Plague" to the heartbreaking "Granny Rumple," about a Jewish Rumpelstiltskin.
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