The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky ChambersWelcome to: Gora, an airless, waterless, mostly uninhabited planet that's home to the Five-Hop One-Stop, a rest station run by friendly Laru proprietor Ouloo and her child, Tupo.
Where... three stranded alien travelers -- Pei, an Aeluon; Speaker, an Akarak; and Roveg, a Quelin -- get acquainted.
Can you start here? Although fans of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet will recognize Pei, this hopeful and character-driven 4th novel in the Wayfarers series stands on its own.
Defekt by Nino CipriWhat it is: the not-quite-a-sequel to Finna, which gives "a delightful middle finger to capitalism and conformity" (Publishers Weekly).
Starring: Derek, perpetual "Employee of the Month" at retail superstore LitenVärld, whose loyalty to the company is called into question when he takes his first-ever sick day.
What happens: To redeem himself in the eyes of management, Derek must work a dangerous overnight shift alongside a team made up of...versions of himself?
The Unbroken by C.L. ClarkWhat happens: Lieutenant Touraine of the Balladairan Colonial Brigade returns to the city of El-Wast, her birthplace, where Princess Luca of Ancier tasks her with spying on the Qazāli, her people.
Why you might like it: This opening installment of the Magic of the Lost series tests Touraine's conflicted loyalties by pitting duty against desire.
For fans of: Seth Dickinson's Masquerade series.
I'm Waiting for You: And Other Stories by Kim Bo-Young; translated by Sophie Bowman and Sung RyuContains: four tales by one of South Korea's most acclaimed speculative fiction writers, translated into English for the first time.
Don't miss: I'm Waiting for You and On My Way to You, a pair of poignant novellas that follow an engaged couple's separate attempts to find their way back to each other across space and time.
For fans of: Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others or Vandana Singh's Ambiguity Machines, both story collections that blend the metaphysical and the deeply personal.
The House of Styx by Derek KünskenVenus, 2255: an inhospitable world colonized by French Canadians, who live in one of two places: artificial habitats in the upper atmosphere or organic "trawlers" closer to the surface.
What happens: a member of the long-ostracized d'Aquillon family (motto: "family first") makes a discovery that could forever change their fortunes -- if it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
For fans of: the technologically rigorous world-building of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, or the space colony-set dynastic intrigue of Ian McDonald's Luna series.
A River Called Time by Courttia NewlandWhat it's about: In the heart of Dinium, an alternate version of London, is the Ark, an enclosed inner city inhabited by the elite...and infiltrated by Markriss Denny, who uses astral projection to experience the lives of other Dennys in other dimensions.
What sets it apart: Despite its dystopian vibe, the timeline envisioned by novelist and screenwriter Courttia Newland (the films Lover's Rock and Red, White, and Blue) includes neither European colonization nor slavery.
For fans of: Afrocentric alternate histories such as Nisi Shawl's Everfair or Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood.
Race the Sands by Sarah Beth DurstThe premise: Humans reincarnated as monstrous kehoks must win a race across the deserts of Becar to free their condemned souls.
Starring: Tamra, a down-on-her-luck trainer in dire need of a victory, and Raia, an equally desperate novice rider who forms a unique bond with her racer, a highly intelligent and lethal kehok known as the Black Lion.
Read it for: detailed world-building, strong female characters, and layers of political intrigue wrapped around a moving underdog story.
Master of Poisons by Andrea HairstonStarring: Djola, Master of Poisons, tasked with saving the Arkhysian Empire from the ecological disaster threatening to destroy it; and Awa, a griot-in-training whose ability to navigate the spirit realm of Smokeland puts her in danger from those who would exploit her talent.
Read it for: lush and lyrical prose, detailed world-building inspired by a variety of African cultures
Want a taste? "Too often, the heroes or gods we bow down to become the monsters that stomp our bones and drink our blood."
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley RobinsonWhat it is: political climate fiction in the vein of the author's Science in the Capitol trilogy (beginning with Forty Signs of Rain).
What sets it apart: Informed by copious research, this plausible future history is told through a wide range of eyewitness accounts, whether human, animal, or elementary particle.
Reviewers say: Kim Stanley Robinson "transforms the existential crisis we face into a modern fairy tale of resilience and redemption" (Rolling Stone).
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonWhat it is: a lush epic fantasy saga by the author of The Bone Season.
Why you might like it: In addition to detailed world-building and an intricate plot, this stand-alone saga boasts a predominantly female cast of queens, mages, alchemists, warriors, assassins, and dragon riders.
You might also like: Sofia Samatar's The Winged Histories, another woman-centered fantasy novel told from the perspectives of LGBTQIA characters.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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